Blackrock Island (Mayo)

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Blackrock
Black Rock Island - County Mayo - Ireland.jpg
Blackrock Island is located in Ireland
Blackrock Island
Blackrock Island
Geography
LocationOff coast of County Mayo, Ireland
Coordinates54°04′01″N 10°19′14″W / 54.0669°N 10.3205°W / 54.0669; -10.3205
Length0.4 km (0.25 mi)
Width0.25 km (0.155 mi)
Highest point82 metres (269 ft) (approximate)
Administration
IRL
Demographics
PopulationUninhabited
Blackrock (Mayo) Lighthouse[1][2]
Blackrock Lighthouse.jpg
Blackrock Lighthouse, County Mayo
LocationBlackrock Island, Off coast of County Mayo, Ireland
Coordinates54°4′0.67″N 10°19′12.66″W / 54.0668528°N 10.3201833°W / 54.0668528; -10.3201833Coordinates: 54°4′0.67″N 10°19′12.66″W / 54.0668528°N 10.3201833°W / 54.0668528; -10.3201833
Year first constructed1864
Year first lit1864
Automated1974
Constructionlocal stone from island
Tower shaperound rower
Markings / patternwhite
Tower height15 metres (49 ft)
Focal height86 metres (282 ft)
RangeW 20 nautical miles (37 km), R 16 nautical miles (30 km)
CharacteristicFl WR 12s
Admiralty numberA6270
NGA number7388
ARLHS numberIRE-010
Managing agentCommissioners of Irish Lights

Blackrock Island (54°4′0.67″N 10°19′12.66″W / 54.0668528°N 10.3201833°W / 54.0668528; -10.3201833; Irish: An Tor) is a rocky island rising to a height of 70 metres above sea level and located northwest of Achill Island approximately 12 miles west of Blacksod Bay.[3] Typical rainfall is 72 inches per annum, and the island is often shrouded in mist.[4] It is visible from near the Glosh Tower on the Mullet Peninsula, with reference to the other islands in the area, is sometimes described as the "one that looks like a volcano".[5]

There is a small rocky islet 125m to the east with a length of 80m. There are about five rocky islets including Fish Rock, Carrickaduff and Carrackabrown spread 1km to 2km in a generally westwards direction.

Waters around Blackrock Island[edit]

The waters around Blackrock Island are noted for large ocean swells and waves,[6] as evidenced by the difficulties faced in relieving the lighthouse keepers and with Rescue 116 helicopter wreckage recovery in 2017.[7] Water depths descend to 40m within a kilometer of the island, with depths of 60m and lower more typical towards Achill Island.[8] The Blackrock grounds are popular with sea anglers due to the attracting of larger fish species: Blue Shark; Porbeagle;Halibut and Bluefin tuna.[9][10][11]

Blackrock Lighthouse[edit]

The lighthouse on Blackrock Island was constructed in 1864. It is a 50 foot high round stone tower with lantern and gallery attached to a single storey keeper's house. The lighthouse is painted white. It is one of Ireland's most remote lighthouses and the most westerly lighthouse off the Mayo Coast. It was converted to unmanned in 1974 after which the island became uninhabited. The lighthouse was converted to solar power in 1999.[1][4] The resident lighthouse keeper of Blacksod Lighthouse on the mainland, which is still manned, is also responsible for maintaining the Blackrock lighthouse. Inspection and maintenance visits are periodically made by helicopter (via a helipad on the island), the only way to get to the island on a regular basis. In order to accommodate work-crews on extended maintenance and repair jobs at the lighthouse, one of the old keepers houses has been restored.[2]

Accidents and incidents associated with the island[edit]

Loss of lighthouse keeper in 1937[edit]

In September 1937 the then lighthouse-keeper, Patrick Monaghan, was swept from the lighthouse by a freak wave. The visit of his descendants to the island is described in the RTÉ radio documentary 'Good Day at Blackrock'.[12]

Attack by German bomber in 1940[edit]

On 20 August 1940, a German bomber attacking the SS Macville which was passing close to the island damaged several lantern panes and the roof.[13][1] A Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor of Kampfgeschwader 40 was claimed to have dropped two SD250 bombs and damaged a freighter southwest of Blacksod (possibly Macville) on this date,[14] with other sources confirming damage (though no confirmed casualties) to Macville.[15][16]

Stranding of keepers in 1942-1943[7][edit]

Three lighthouse keepers were stranded on Blackrock Island in the winter of 1942-1943 during the Emergency in World War II. Storms were particularly ferocious in this period and the landing stage and associated derricks were destroyed in the gales. The keepers, who normally expected to be supplied every 10 days, who started with reduced supplies due to being subject to rationing in the emergency, were at points critically low on supplies. Captain John Padden at considerable risk made several resupply attempts and supply baskets on a few occasions were successfully thrown to the island. On 17 February 1943, in a short lull in the weather he was able to relieve Walter Coupe (117 days) and Michael O'Conner (~ 90 days). Jack Scott, the principal keeper, remained to direct recovery operations.

Crash of Rescue 116 in 2017[edit]

On 14 March 2017 the Irish coast guard Rescue R116 helicopter impacted the island with the wreckage coming to rest in 40m of water south west of the island with four persons lost.

The preliminary report of the Air Accident Investigation Unit had found that (as of March 2017) Blackrock Island had been omitted or had an incorrect and significantly lower height in some terrain and obstacle databases.[17][18]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Tourism / Our Lighthouses / Black Rock (Mayo)". Retrieved 26 March 2017.
  2. ^ a b Rowlett, Russ (5 November 2009). "Lighthouses of Western Ireland (Ulster and Connacht)". The Lighthouse Directory. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Retrieved 26 June 2010.
  3. ^ "Le Blackrock Mayo". Retrieved 22 March 2017.
  4. ^ a b "Lighthouse may be automated but life on the rock is a must". Irish Times. 1 February 1999. Retrieved 22 March 2017.
  5. ^ "Blackrock Light, Mayo". 14 April 2012. Retrieved 23 March 2017.
  6. ^ Joly, J (1920). Reminiscences and anticipations. London: T. Fisher Unwin Ltd. p. 112. OCLC 1052523074. OL 7167502M.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  7. ^ a b "The siege of Blackrock Lighthouse". 2017. Retrieved 28 March 2017.
  8. ^ "Online chart viewer". Marine Navigation App. Retrieved 28 March 2017.
  9. ^ "Fishing in Ireland". 2009. Retrieved 28 March 2017.
  10. ^ Dunlop, Norman. "A GUIDE TO SEA ANGLING IN THE NORTH WESTERN FISHERIES REGION" (PDF). p. 38.
  11. ^ Walsh, David (1 March 2014). Oileáin – 2nd Edition: The Irish Islands Guide (2nd ed.). Pesda Press. pp. 163–164. ISBN 9781906095376. F483-156. Retrieved 2 April 2017.
  12. ^ "Good Day At Blackrock". RTE. Retrieved 22 March 2017.
  13. ^ "Lighting The Emerald Isle: IRISH LIGHTHOUSES". Lake Effect Living. Retrieved 22 March 2017.
  14. ^ Fw 200 Condor Units of World War 2. Osprey Publishing. 16 August 2016. p. 89. ISBN 9781472812674.
  15. ^ WORLD WAR II SEA WAR Volume 2: FRANCE FALLS, BRITAIN STANDS ALONE: Day-to-Day Naval Actions from April 1940 through September 1940. Bertke Publications. 1 July 2011. ISBN 9781937470005.
  16. ^ "General Cargo Ship MACVILLE". Retrieved 23 March 2017.
  17. ^ Schiller, Robin (14 April 2017). "Island 'obstacle' was not on crew's warning system". Irish Independent. Retrieved 15 April 2017.
  18. ^ "Sikorsky S-92A, EI-ICR Black Rock, Co. Mayo, Ireland 14 March 2017 PRELIMINARY REPORT" (PDF). AAUI. 13 April 2017. p. 15. Retrieved 15 April 2017.

External links[edit]