Sheeps Head Lighthouse


51°32.591' North 09°50.923' West

Aids to Navigation


R011.3°-016.6° (5.3°), W016.6°-212.5° (195.9°)

Height of Tower:

7 metres

Height of Light MHWS:

83 metres


Fl(3) WR 15s


White 18 nautical miles, Red 15 nautical miles

Radar Beacon:



Sheep's Head Lighthouse, which marks the southern tip of Bantry Bay, was built in 1968 as a consequence of the development of the oil terminal at Whiddy Island. The geographical position of the lighthouse is Latitude 51º 32.5' North, Longitude 9º 50.8' West. The design of the lighthouse is similar to that on Achillbeg, built in 1965.

Because of the remoteness of Sheep's Head (also called Muntervary) and the lack of a road, the building materials and equipment for the lighthouse were lifted from Kilcrohan, 9km away, to the site by helicopter. About 250 lifts were needed. The equipment included 19 poles and a transformer to enable the Electricity Supply Board to connect the lighthouse to the national grid.

When the construction of the lighthouse and the long flight of steps leading up to it was completed, the helicopter was again used to lift the lantern, optic, standby engine and control gear to Sheep's Head.

The lighthouse was put into operation for the first time on 14th October 1968.

The lighthouse comprises a 7 metre high white round tower on a square building. The lantern is 83 metres above sea level.

The character of the light is 3 flashes every 15 seconds. The light is white through the arc 017º to 212º. A red sector through the arc 007º to 017º warns mariners of the submerged South Bullig rocks, off Three Castle Head to the south.

The source of light is a 100 Volt 150 Watt electric lamp. The light shines through a 800mm dioptric drum lens which gives a light intensity of 59,000 candelas in the white sector, with a reduced intensity of 15,000 candelas in the red sector because of the red filters. This provides a nominal range of 18 miles in the white sector and 15 miles in the red sector.

If a lamp fails an automatic lamp changer immediately substitutes a standby lamp. Power is provided by mains electricity but in the event of a mains failure the standby diesel generator automatically takes over.

Sheep's Head Lighthouse is looked after by a part time Attendant who lives nearby and carries out routine maintenance. Major maintenance work is carried out by Service engineering technicians.

The operation of the lighthouse was originally monitored by the Keepers at Mizen Head Lighthouse through a UHF radio link. Mizen Head Lighthouse was itself converted to automatic operation in 1993.

Sheep's Head was then linked by telephone and UHF radio to Irish Lights' Remote Control and Monitoring System, the control centre for which is at Irish Lights, Dun Laoghaire.

Tags : lighthouse , Sheeps