Lismore Lighthouse at Sunset

I have passed this iconic lighthouse on numerous occasions when traveling to Mull, Coll or Tiree and always thought it would be great to swim under it.

Well didn’t I go and tick that box – it was an amazing experience following the tidal pull down the side of the island to the peninsular.

Why is the light house so special?

Not only is it prominent but it has an awesome history.

Lismore lighthouse was built in 1833 by Robert Stevenson and was automated in 1965.

Lismore is situated on Eilean Musdile in the Firth of Lorne at the entrance to Loch Linnhe. This is separated from Lismore Island by a Sound ¼ miles broad.

On 13 January 1830 the Commissioners purchased, from Charles Campbell Esq of Combie, the small island of Mansedale, lying off the south west point of Lismore, for the sum of £500. The island extends to approximately ten acres.

James Smith of Inverness was the contractor responsible for building Lismore at the price of £4,260. The light was first exhibited in October 1833 and was fixed white. The report at the time stated the light will doubtless be of great service to numerous vessels which frequent the sounds of Islay, Luing and Mull. It also opened up the firth of Lorne and Loch Linnhe for the western entrance to the Caledonian Canal.

Mr Robert Selkirk, a lineal descendant of Alexander Selkirk, was the first Principal Lightkeeper at Lismore. He had been in the service since 1808. As Lismore was a Rock Station, it was relieved fortnightly, so the four Keepers had six weeks on the rock followed by two weeks ashore with their families. Provisions and other light stores were brought by a boatman permanently attached to the Station who also did reliefs.

In 1910 most of the NLB lights were changed to dioptric but Lismore and Fidra were left as the only remaining purely catoptric lights in the service.

The war years provided extra work for the Lightkeepers and in 1940 two Keepers at Lismore rescued, under very difficult conditions, two airmen who were clinging to a piece of wreckage in the sea.

In June 1965 the lighthouse was converted to automatic operation at an estimated cost of £10,000. More than 11 tons of building material was transported from Oban by MV FINGAL. The lightkeepers were then withdrawn.


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