The 'Ierne' vessel lighthouse service is to be replaced by a helicopter service.

Michael Ryan reports on the lightships around the coast of Ireland and the men and women that run them. 

Off the coast of Castletownbere in West Cork, Michael Ryan meets the crew of the Irish Lights vessel 'Ierne', who tend the lighthouses of the Cork and Kerry coast. Their grandfathers fished for mackerel but these men's jobs were born in a different era of technological development which produced the lighthouses, the beacons and the buoys which are our seas warning system. However, this may be one of the last voyages they make as the technology which gave them their jobs moves on and embraces the use of the helicopter. 

The 38 men on board the 'Ierne' have been told that the ship is being withdrawn from operation and the men will have to join one of the other three ships that man our coasts which operate out of Dun Laoghaire. The men are now being offered 11 months work every year in Dublin. The men tell Michael Ryan about their long list of objections to the move.

Due to the weather conditions of the wild Atlantic, lighthouse keepers were often stranded for weeks on end. While the 'Ierne' was able to get out to see it was often too dangerous to navigate the rocky waters. However, a helicopter could get a keeper off a lighthouse even in force 9 winds. 

This report for 'Newsbeat' presented by Michael Ryan was broadcast on 1 April 1971.