The lighthouse on the Fastnet rock in the Atlantic Ocean south of Cork has been a navigational aid to ships for one hundred years.

The Fastnet, located on Ireland’s most southerly point, this afternoon celebrated its centenary.
Designed by British engineer William Douglass, construction began in 1897 and was built for £90,000. It replaced an earlier lighthouse built on the same island of rock. The light was first lit in 1904.

Speaking at the opening of the exhibition in Crookhaven Sailing Club, Chairman of the Commissioners of Irish Lights Terry Johnson paid tribute to the dedication of James Kavanagh, master stonemason and the Fastnet’s site foreman who,

Laid every stone by hand. The great tragedy was that Mr Kavanagh died shortly after it was completed, and before the light was actually lit.

Sir Robert Ball, a scientific advisor to the Commissioners of Irish Lights in the 1880s, was also an amateur photographer. He travelled around the country with the Commissioners during their annual inspections of Irish lighthouses. His photographs of Fastnet are a record of how it was constructed, and of the men who built it,

Building work which overcame the massive difficulties of moving more than 2,000 granite blocks weighing 4,300 tonnes onto the rock.

James Kavanagh’s spirit of service to seafarers was passed down to his family, as one of his grandsons, also called James, who himself served in the lighthouse service for thirty years received a special presentation today.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 29 June 2003. The reporter is Tom MacSweeney.