Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Last blast for Down lighthouse foghorn

It has been signalling a safe route for mariners off the Co Down coast for over 100 years.

But yesterday the haunting sound of St John’s Point lighthouse foghorn was silenced for ever.

Built in 1884, the lighthouse and its fog signal has guided sailors around Dundrum Bay, but a decision by the Commissioners of Irish Lights has brought the era of the distinctive horns to an end. The lighthouse was among the last nine around the island of Ireland to have its foghorn turned off.

Captain Harry McClenahan, a marine inspector with the commission, said that although they have been in use for hundreds of years, fog signals are no longer considered reliable or accurate in navigation and they had been gradually shutting them down over the past 20 years.

“With a fog signal you cannot tell what direction it’s coming from and you can’t tell how far away it is,” he said.

But Mr McClenahan, who has been a seafarer for 35 years, said the sound of the foghorn would be missed by many.

The decision to discontinue the signals was announced in September last year as part of a larger review of the system of aids to navigation used in UK and Irish waters.

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