Fastnet Rock, Carraig Aonair, meaning “lonely rock”, in Irish is a small clay-slate islet in the Atlantic Ocean and is the most southerly point of Ireland. It lies 6.5 kilometres southwest of Cape Clear Island and 13 kilometres from County Cork on the Irish mainland. Fastnet is known as “Ireland’s Teardrop as it was the last part of Ireland that 19th century Irish emigrants escaping the Great Famine saw as they sailed to North America.
The current lighthouse is the second to be built on the rock and is the highest in Ireland.
The first lighthouse was constructed in 1853 of cast iron with an inner lining of brick and was designed by George Halpin. (see above image taken circa 1900)
In 1891, however, the Commissioners of Irish Lights had resolved that the light was not sufficiently powerful, particularly for the first landfall for many ships crossing the Atlantic. The replacement was constructed of stone, cast iron now being considered unsatisfactory – the whole of the nearby Calf tower above its strengthening casing had been carried away during a gale on 27 November 1881, although without loss of life. On the same day, the sea had broken the glass of the Fastnet Rock lantern.
The new lighthouse was designed by William Douglass and built under the supervision of James Kavanagh. Construction started in 1897 and it entered service on 27 June 1904. The first floor of the original tower remains, on the highest part of the rock, having been left when it was demolished and converted into an oil store.
I was recently commissioned to create a painting of the Fastnet Rock for a Wedding gift and have tracked the progress in the images below:
The finished painting: