Roaring Water Bay - Fastnet

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Fastnet Rock lies out in the Atlantic Ocean, 6km  south-west of Cape Clear Island. It is the most southerly point in Ireland and roaringwater bay and consists of a jagged pinnacle of hard clay-slate rock, surrounded by deep water on all sides. Strong currents circle the Rock and the water is rarely calm enough to allow landing directly from a boat except in very calm conditions. It is locally known as 'Irelands Teardrop', as Fastnet Rock was one of the last parts of Ireland seen by Irish emigrants as they sailed to America.

Fastnet Lighthouse - One of the first lighthouses in the south-west region was built on Cape Clear Island in 1818. However, the light was too high and was not visible to ships in foggy conditions. In 1847 the American liner Stephen Whitney with 110 passengers and crew foundered on the West Calf Island. 90 lives were lost including the captain. After this mishap it was decided to move the light to the nearby Fastnet Rock.

The first Fastnet lighthouse was built in 1853 and was constructed of cast iron.   A light shone for the first time on January 1st 1854. It was one of the first oil-burning lights in these islands and was 38,000 candle power(today's light normally is 1,3 million candle power). This lighthouse was designed by George Halpin, who designed many lighthouses around Ireland and Britain, and cost 17,390 to build. However, cast iron lighthouses were found to be unsafe and towards the end of the 19th century it was decided to build the present day lighthouse.

Preparations for construction commenced in 1897. Taking five years to complete, the first block was sent in June 1899 and the last in June 1904. The granite blocks came from Cornwall ( a total of 2,074 blocks) to Rock Island (near Crookhaven on the Mizen Peninsula ). All material from Rock Island were transported to  the Fastnet Rock on the steamer Ierne which was especially built for the project.  The lighthouse cost almost 90,000 to construct and the present light shone for the first time on June 24th 1904. The light is now automatic and the last lighthouse keeper left the Fastnet in 1989.

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