Hook Head Lighthouse – The Guardian Light of the South East.

By | 2017-03-15T10:39:09+00:00 March 11th, 2017|Places to Visit, Wexford|0 Comments

Contact Information.

Hook Lighthouse, Churchtown, Hook Head, County Wexford.
Phone – 051 397055
E-mail – info@hookheritage.ie
Website – www.hookheritage.ie


Admission TypePrice
Family (1 Adult + 1 Child)€12
Family (1 Adult + 2 Children)€15
Family (2 Adult + 1 Child)€20
Family (2 Adult + 2 Children)€22
Family (2 Adult + 3 Children)€24
Child Under 5 (must be with accompanying adult or group)Free

Opening Times

Hook Lighthouse Visitor Centre is open all year round.

The lighthouse is closed December 18th and reopens December 26th

Summer opening hours
June, July and August 9:30am – 6pm
May and September
9:30am – 5:30pm

Winter opening hours.
October to April 9:30am – 5pm

Guided Tours

•The guided Tour lasts approximately 40 minutes.
•Assess to inside Hook Lighthouse is only possible on a guided tour.
•Tours are carried out by trained tour guides familiar with all aspects of Hook Lighthouse and its history.
•Assess to the highest outside areas of the Lighthouse may be restricted if the weather is very bad.

Sinead’s thoughts on the Hook Lighthouse.

Have you ever wondered where the famous phrase “By Hook or By Crook” came from, a phrase we have all heard and quite possibly used. Well it is was born here having been famously said by Oliver Cromwell, when he was invading Ireland. He rounded Hook Heed and on the opposite side of The Estuary in Co. Waterford in the village Crooke. This was the vow he made to conquer Ireland, by any means necessary.

giant water buoy at hookhead

Having grown up lucky enough to be able to look out over The Estuary, at Hook Head and see the Lighthouse flash throughout the night, shining in through my bedroom window. During the day the black and white Lighthouse stands off in the distance, reminding of the dangers surrounding this mystical and mysterious landscape, where with Rivers of The Three Sisters meet the sea. Its long and distinguished historical story stuck in my mind, it’s safe to say it’s one of my favorite places in the world.

view from hook head lighthouse

As testament to how amazing the Hook Peninsula and its world famous Lighthouse is, anytime I have friends or family visiting, it’s the first place we bring them to visit. Its staggering beauty can only be truly believed by seeing it with your own eyes. Not only for it’s splendid history but also for its scenery and a coastline that has been carved out by the terrifying power of a sometimes violent and untameable ocean.

Everyone I know visiting Ireland wants amazing pictures of our coastlines with our dramatic cliffs and wild seas, this is one of the most scenic and stunning places in Ireland and the photographs you will get here will be unbelievable, not only of Hook Head but of gorgeous villages as you drive there. On my trips there we take the Passage East Car Ferry from The beautiful village of Passage East, Co. Waterford to the village of Ballyhack, Co Wexford, the area is very well signposted. As you follow the coastline of the beautiful Hook Peninsula, you will see the Lighthouse calling you closer with breathtaking views every inch of the way.

On my visit I was lucky enough to be accompanied by members of my family, who have never been in the lighthouse and they were left speechless by its magnificence. We visited on a day when the winds were very high and the sea was turbulent, we all had an amazing day and on the way home in the car, discussed excitedly when we would visit again. It was a cold day and as we entered the warm and inviting visitor centre, we were welcomed by lovely staff who were so helpful, the smell of freshly brewed coffee coming from the lovely café, was the perfect way to start our day of adventures on the Hook Peninsula.

Holding on for dear life…

The gift shop is amazing and full of lovely items, there is something for everyone, with a wide range of items, including items for kids, books on Hook Head and Maritime History, as well has many wondrous items with a nautical theme. Personally I was in heaven, with so many items for sale with a nautical theme. If I could have bought everything I would have. I was also informed that the gift shop, will soon be stocking exciting new ranges.

hook lighthouse gift shop in Ireland

Although I live within sight of the Hook Lighthouse and visit there several times a year, it has been many years since I have ventured inside the Lighthouse itself and I had forgotten the fabulous and wondrous secrets that the internal areas of this medieval structure hold.

As I walked inside I am reminded of the age of this magnificent building, its thick walls making the inside of this building feel so safe, even though I could hear the wind and sea roaring outside. The steps and vaulted ceilings reminding me of the architectural genius that our medieval ancestors possessed. Walking up the steps of this lighthouse and exploring its individual floors, it literally climbing your way through history.

The guided tour of Hook Lighthouse is beyond excellent, and our tour guide Emmet was wonderful and was able to answer all of our questions, even the more complex questions that we may have had. The guided tours of the Lighthouse are informative and interactive, you are given time to explore the areas within this historical structure, absorbing its history and beauty.

Being inside the Lighthouse is a wonderful and humbling experience; it is a living time capsule. The Medieval mixed with the modern it’s absolutely wonderful and exits the imagination. You get a clear picture of the life of the monks and lighthouse keepers who lived and worked here, in every sort of weather you can imagine, the good and the terrifying. Life would not have been easy here in the past in this exposed location; this Lighthouse protected the lives of those that cared for her.

On the day of our visit the winds were particularly high and we were not allowed to the highest point of the Lighthouse, please remember if this happens it is for your own safety. As you look at some of our pictures I look like I am hanging on to the railing of the balcony for dear life, I can promise you I was, it was very windily, but I am also not very good with heights but I loved it, I could see for miles and cannot wait to do it again, it was a wonderful experience.

grounds of hook head

The grounds of Hook Lighthouse are full of interesting items from the Maritime History of this area, take your time and breath it all in. As you walk around the grounds and viewing platforms you will feel the wildness of this peninsula, the rocks below reminding you of the treacherous nature of the area and the essential role the Lighthouse has played during its long and distinguished life.

As the wind blows and you hear the waves crash upon the rocks it’s impossible not to think of how uncontrollable and sometimes violent the sea can be, her power, beauty and temper always drawing our fear, love and respect. A wild sea that fascinates us, with its magical beauty but reminds us that she can be formidable, unforgiving and terrifying.

Please remember when you visit Hook Head, certain areas will be sign posted as dangerous, closed to the public and no entry, please pay attention to these warnings, they are there for your own safely. Do not go into areas that you are advised to keep away from.

Hook Lighthouse – A Brief History.

Hook Lighthouse situated on Hook Head, is on the wild and exposed Hook Peninsula in County Wexford. It’s rocky and wild surroundings completely exposed to the sometimes angry and violent waves of the sea. It is renowned as the one of the world’s oldest Lighthouses and the world’s oldest working Lighthouse. According to local history, the first Lighthouse at this location was a beacon put there by the missionary Dubhán in the 5th century. The Monks from the nearby monastery at Churchtown tended to this original beacon. Hook Head is referred to in Irish as Rinn Dubháin, or Saint Dubhán’s Head

The Lighthouse we see today has its roots in the 12th Century, styled in the Norman Juliet Fashion, which was a style of round Keep. The Norman Lord Strongbow’s (Richard De Clare, Earl of Pembroke) Son- in-Law, William Marshall, Earl of Pembroke, who was also Strongbow’s successor as Lord of Leinster. Marshall decided to build a beacon at Hook Head, Marshall founded the town of New Ross in County Wexford, as a trading post within the lands he had been granted.

inside hook head

This new trading post was set up by Marshall to trade directly with his trading post in Pembroke, Wales where he also established a Lighthouse. Marshall established New Ross as a trading port to compete with the wealthy Port of Waterford and his new Ports success depended on the safe arrival of vessels carrying trading goods to his port in Ireland. The Lighthouse we see today was established at the beginning of the 13th Century to protect Marshall’s interests. Marshall’s wealth and hold on power in this area depended on his ability to maintain a tight grip on trade routes and the ships that carried goods.

The first Lighthouse Keepers were the monks from the local monastery and church in the nearby Churchtown, the ruins of which can still be seen today. They would have lit the fires to warn ships of the treacherous rocky coastline, that they were about to round. The monks diligently tended to the tower and their duties as Lighthouse Keepers, carrying heavy amounts of coal up over 100 steps throughout the night. Protecting the unknowing ships the dangers they were about to face until the17th century when they were relieved of their duty by full-time Lighthouse Keepers.

puppy hookhead light house

I even managed to make a new friend on my trip… Paddy will be jealous when he sees this one.

These new Lighthouse Keepers operated a new lantern; this was to be replaced again during the early 1870’s by a gas-fired lantern. Eventually in the early 1970’s the Lighthouse Lantern became operated by electricity. In 1996 Hook Lighthouse converted to an automatic system, her faithful Lighthouse Keepers no longer needed to keep their faithful watch. The beacon is now operated from Dun Laoghaire by the Commission of Irish Lights. Hook Lighthouse was one of the last manned Lighthouse’s in the Ireland.

Due to advances in technology such as GPS in 2011 the decision was made to turn off the Fog Horn that had sounded for centuries, and it called out its warning for the last time.  The Lighthouse was constructed from limestone with the walls at the base measure 4 meters thick and get thinner further up the body of this dramatic Lighthouse. Hook Lighthouse has survived for over 800 years and still serves to keep sailors safe whilst rounding this wild and rocky coastline.

About the Author:

Sinead is the head of our Historical and Cultural research team. Sinead studied Archaeology with modular Anthropology, and has Post Graduate qualifications in Heritage Management, including History, Museum Management and Religious Studies.

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