Built in 1968 to guide oil tankers into Bantry Bay and Whiddy Island terminal, this little lighthouse is perched on the very end of the Sheep's Head Peninsula. The white tower is 7 metres tall, although the whole thing is 84 metres above sea level. Steps lead down then up to the light, the railings painted a bright orange. There are no roads to the end of the peninsula so all materials had to be helicoptered in from Kilcrohane, 9 miles away . 250 lifts were needed, the lantern and the optic being two of the last things to be brought in. A helicopter landing pad is still close by, outlined by white stones and now used for rescue operations.
The light flashes three times every 15 seconds. It has a light range of 18 nautical miles. it was originally maintained by the keepers at the Mizen Lighthouse but when that was automated in 1993, a local part-time attendant was appointed.
Park at Toreen and take a leisurely amble down to the very end of the peninsula along the clearly marked Sheep's Head Way. The views are incredible - on every side! Heather and gorse line the path in the summer and autumn, and bog cotton, orchids and asphodel in the spring. There's plenty to admire on the 40 minute walk from steep dramatic cliffs to a deep and mysterious reed filled lough to stone paths through red tinged bog. The white painted circle of the helicopter landing area is just before the steps down to the lighthouse - the last time I went a little fairy ring of mushrooms was inside it. A bit of a scramble downwards and you might be able to identify the EIRE sign marked out in rocks. It;s a bouncy climb down to the light house, clinging on to the orange painted railings and then a steep climb up to the the little look out platform. On a clear day the views are breath-taking - looking west there is just sea, next stop America; looking north a great sweep of Bantry Bay with the Beara beyond, looking south, the impressive Mizen headland and Dunmanus Bay.
You can return to the parking place along the northside- a rather more challenging walk with some amazing scenery including a scree filled mountain face, a path scattered with huge boulders, breathtaking views to the rocks below and a small ruined homestead, complete with an old field system. Wild flowers abound and you are quite likely to see choughs and gannets If you are really lucky whales and dolphins may be glimpsed. Enjoy a well earned cuppa and some freshly made scones as a treat when you arrive at Bernie's cafe.