In 1819 the Ballast Board's Inspector of Works and Inspector of Lighthouses, George Halpin, visited the rocks after the Board had received applications from Admiral Hallowell and the merchants of Larne for the establishment of a lighthouse on Maiden Rocks. The Inspector recommended two lighthouses which were sanctioned by Trinity House in August 1824. The towers were designed by George Halpin, who supervised their erection. The tower on the northern rock, known as the West Tower, was 84 feet above high-water with a visibility of 13 miles, and the tower on the southern rock, known as the East Tower, was 94 feet high and visible for 14 miles. The two towers were 800 yards apart. The lights were first exhibited on 5th January 1829.
Originally the Keepers lived with their families on the two rocks all the year round.
In 1889 an auxiliary light was introduced to cover the Highland Rocks. This light was built into a window of the East Tower.
In December 1898 the Engineer to the Commissioners of Irish Lights, William Douglass, proposed that a lightvessel be moored northwards of the Highland Rocks with a powerful light and fog siren and that the West Light be discontinued; also to increase the power of the East Light and establish an explosive fog signal there.
It was suggested in March 1899 that the explosive fog signal station should be established on the Highland Rocks with accommodation for a signal man and perhaps a small light too. The Engineer was to report on the scheme, of which nothing materialised.
In November 1899 the Engineer decided against installing John R. Wigham's Quick Revolving Light on the ground that if anything went wrong with it it might be days before assistance would reach the Maidens.
On 12th March 1903 an improved light was exhibited on the Maidens East Lighthouse (now known simply as Maidens) and the West Tower light was discontinued.
In 1906 Maidens Lighthouse became a combined station with Ferris Point, with the Principal Keeper of Ferris Point Lighthouse responsible for both. Shore dwellings for the families of the four Maidens Assistant Keepers were built at Ferris Point. Three of the Assistant Keepers were on duty on Maidens at any time. Each Assistant Keeper in turn spent 30 days on Maidens Lighthouse followed by 10 days ashore with his family at Ferris Point, where he assisted the Principal Keeper with fog watch duties for Barr Point Fog Signal Station (which was also under the control of the Principal Keeper of Ferris Point), and with painting and repair work on buoys at the Ferris Point Buoy Depot. The Principal Keeper paid periodic visits to Maidens to ensure that the station was being kept in proper order but these were brief day-time visits only, since the Principal Keeper also kept night watches in the lantern of Ferris Point Lighthouse (shared with a Female Assistant Keeper, usually his wife or other female relative).
In 1951 Maidens Lighthouse was given its own Principal Keeper and was separated from the Ferris Point combination of stations. The Maidens Keeper ashore was no longer required to assist in the Buoy Depot, and an Assistant Keeper was added to the staff of Ferris Point.
In the early 1970s the Commissioners adopted a modernisation programme, part of which detailed that Maidens Lighthouse would be automated and controlled from Ferris Point. The programme included the development of Ferris Point and the demolition of the Maidens Shore Dwellings, following which the Keepers were no longer required to live in Service accommodation when on shore liberty.
In 1974 the ratio of Keepers' periods of duty on the rock to shore liberty was improved and two additional Keepers were appointed to the station.
On 12th October 1977 the installation of an electric light at Maidens Lighthouse was completed and the station was converted to automatic operation. At this time the character of the auxiliary light was changed to one red flash every 5 seconds. The Keepers were permanently withdrawn on 31st October 1977, and the station was monitored and controlled by the Keepers at Ferris Point. The station is now in the care of an Attendant and the aids to navigation are also monitored via a telemetry link from Irish Lights Dun Laoghaire.
On 15 September 2010 the character of Maidens Lighthouse was changed to 3 white flashes every 15 seconds and its range reduced to 23 nautical miles.