Commissioners of Irish Lights
|Coimisinéirí Soilse na hÉireann|
|Motto||In Salutem Omnium Latin: For the Safety of All|
|Headquarters||Dún Laoghaire, Ireland|
|Sheila Tyrrell, Chairperson
Yvonne Shields, chief executive
The Commissioners of Irish Lights (Irish: Coimisinéirí Soilse na hÉireann ) is the body that serves as the General Lighthouse Authority for the island of Ireland plus its adjacent seas and islands. As the Irish Lighthouse Authority it oversees the coastal lights and navigation marks provided by the local lighthouse authorities; the county councils and port authorities.
It is funded by light dues paid by ships calling at ports in Ireland, pooled with dues raised similarly in the United Kingdom. This recognises that a large volume of shipping, typically transatlantic, relies on the lights provided by the CIL but never puts in to its ports.
Signal fires to guide shipping have long existed. Hook Head is the oldest continuous (with some interruptions) light in Ireland, it was originally a signal fire or beacon tended by the monk Dubhán in the fifth century. Monks continued to maintain the light until the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland in 1641.
King Charles II re-established the lighthouse in 1657. He granted a patent for the erection of six lighthouses to Robert Reading, some replacing older lighthouses, at Hook Head, Baily Lighthouse at Howth Head, Howth sand-bar, Old Head of Kinsale, Barry Oge's castle (now Charlesfort, near Kinsale), and the Isle of Magee.
In 1704 Queen Anne transferred the lighthouses around the Irish coast to the Revenue Commissioners.
The Commissioners of Irish Lights, or "CIL" was established under an Act of the Parliament of Ireland passed in 1786 and entitled An Act for Promoting the Trade of Dublin, by rendering its Port and Harbour more commodious (26 Geo. III, c. xix). Lighthouses were not included until the 1810 Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. These Acts, as confirmed by the Irish Lights Commissioners (Adaptation) Order, 1935, remain the legislative basis for the CIL.
The services provided by the Commissioners are financed from the General Lighthouse Fund. The income of the General Lighthouse Fund is mainly derived from light dues charged on commercial shipping at ports in Ireland and the United Kingdom, (i.e. user pays) supplemented by an annual contribution from the Irish Government towards the cost of the service provided by the Commissioners in Ireland.
The General Lighthouse Fund is administered by the UK Department for Transport. It also finances:
- Trinity House Lighthouse Service – the General Lighthouse Authority for England, Wales and the Channel Islands;
- Northern Lighthouse Board – the General Lighthouse Authority for Scotland and the Isle of Man.
The accounts of the Commissioners of Irish Lights are consolidated with those of Trinity House Lighthouse Service and the Northern Lighthouse Board to form part of the General Lighthouse Fund annual accounts which are published in London by HMSO.
The Commissioners currently have only one light tender in service named ILV Granuaile. The hull was built at Galaţi shipyard, Romania, in 2000 and fitted out at Damen Shipyards in the Netherlands. She is registered in Dublin and has a 2,625 gross tonnage (GT), has a length overall of 79.6 m and a beam of 15.99 m. She is the third vessel named Granuaile to have served the Commissioners. Granuaile II was in service between 1970 and 2000, and she was preceded by the first Granuaile from 1948 to 1970. Because of the automation of lighthouses, and the extensive use of helicopters by the Commissioners, CIL now need only one tender in service. The ship has diesel electric propulsion and is extremely manoeuvrable, and is therefore ideal for her role in maintaining the automatic navigation buoys in Irish waters. In 2003 she was involved in the recovery of the fishing boat Pisces, which sank off Fethard, County Wexford, in July 2002.
- Princess Alexandra (1863–1904)
- Tearaght (1892–1928) – see Kingstown Lifeboat Disaster
- Moya (1893–1905)
- Ierne (1898–1954)
- Alexandra (1904–1955)
- Deirdre (1919–1927)
- Nabro (1926–1949)
- Isolda (1928–1940) (Sunk off the Saltee Islands County Wexford by German aircraft)
- Discovery II (1947–1948)
- Valonia (1947–1962)
- Granuaile (1948–1970)
- Blaskbeg (1953–1955)
- Isolda (1953–1976)
- Ierne II (1955–1971)
- Atlanta (1959–1988)
- Granuaile II (1970–2000)
- Gray Seal (1988–1994)
Commissioners of Irish Lights is a cross-border body, with its headquarters in Dublin. The current flag of the CIL features lightships and lighthouses between the arms of the St. Patrick's Cross. The St. George's Cross was used until 1970. CIL vessels in Northern Ireland fly the Blue Ensign defaced with the Commissioner's badge and those in the Republic fly the Irish tricolour.
- "History". Hook Head. Commissioners of Irish Lights. Retrieved 16 May 2015.
- Leach, Nicholas (2005). The Lifeboat Service in Ireland. Tempus Publishing. p. 13. ISBN 0-7524-3509-4.
- "Constitution". About CIL. Commissioners of Irish Lights. Retrieved 16 May 2015.
- "Finance". Information on Irish Lights. Commissioners of Irish Lights. Retrieved 16 May 2015.
- "Ships in the Irish Lighthouse Service". Commissioners of Irish Lights. Retrieved 16 May 2015.
- "ILV Granuaile" (PDF). the Marine Department. Retrieved 16 May 2015.
- Grieve, Martin; Miles Li; Jarig Bakker; Rob Raeside (19 July 2008). "Commissioner of Irish Lights". Flags of the World. Retrieved 27 April 2011.
- Dillon, Jim (1995). "The Evolution of Maritime Uniform". Beam (Commissioners of Irish Lights) 24. Retrieved 27 April 2011.
In the Lighthouse Service the cap badge originally was a St George's Cross surrounded by a wreath of laurel leaves but from 1970 the St Patrick's Cross has been used.