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Tearaght Island 200m,
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Dingle West Area
Maximum height for area: 516 metres,   Summits in area: 14,   Maximum prominence for area: 461 metres, OSI/LPS Maps: 70 For all tops   Highest summit: Mount Eagle, 516m
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Tearaght Island Hill An Tiaracht A name in Irish
(Ir. An Tiaracht [logainm.ie], 'the westerly (island)') Kerry County, in Binnion List, Cross-bedded sandstone Bedrock

Height: 200m OS 1:50k Mapsheet: 70 Grid Reference: V18100 94900 This summit has been logged as climbed by 1 members. Recently by: patmccarthy
I have climbed this summit: NO (You need to be a logged-in member to change this.)

Longitude: -10.653976, Latitude: 52.076631 , Easting: 18100, Northing: 94900 Prominence: 200m,   Isolation: 3.7km
ITM: 418090 594957,   GPS IDs, 6 char: TrghIs, 10 char: TrghtIslnd
Bedrock type: Cross-bedded sandstone, (Coumeenoole Sandstone Formation)

This is the most westerly of the Blasket Islands. Its profile is remarkably similar to that of Skellig Michael. Its only human inhabitants were the lighthouse-keepers and their families. As the lighthouse was on the side facing the Atlantic, the view only reinforced their isolation. A natural rock-arch connects the two parts of the island.   An Tiaracht is the 1387th highest summit in Ireland. An Tiaracht is the most westerly summit in the Dingle West area. It's also the most westerly summit in .

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MountainViews.ie Picture about mountain An Tiaracht in area Dingle West, Ireland
Picture: Tiaracht
wicklore on An Tiaracht, 2010
by wicklore  22 Jan 2010
PART ONE-History

An Tiaracht has long been an island of mystery. There is little information in the public domain about it-no detailed maps, hardly any photos, and virtually no reports of visits there. It sits 12 kms off the Kerry coast, the farthest of the Blasket group of islands. Inis Tiaracht means Westerly Island, and it is the most westerly land of Ireland and Europe. Also known as Inishtearaght, it is similar to Skellig Michael in appearance, but one big difference is that An Tiaracht does not have tourist trips out to it. It doesnt have landing places for boats, or stone steps or anything that would enable a sailor to land there. Helicopter is the only way to access An Tiaracht in modern times. The island is inhospitable-two steep pinnacles rising to 106 metres and 200 metres, joined by a saddle. There is a sea arch under the narrow saddle, adding stark beauty to this remote island.

An Tiaracht belongs to the Commissioners of Irish Lights. It was first mooted that a lighthouse be built there in 1846, and work eventually began in 1864. Large quantities of rock were blasted in the cliffs to make suitable space for a lighthouse, dwellings and a covered walkway between the two.

Ships were originally used to reach the island, and over the years a funicular railway was used to transport materials up the steep slopes. After years of difficult work the lighthouse was first lit on 1st May 1870. Sitting over 80 meters above sea level, the lighthouse was manned by two keepers and their families, and they kept goats and rabbits on the island. It still has a population of rabbits, although they were described to me recently as so thin your fingers nearly met when you held one in your hand. The steep slopes are prone to losing their meagre soil in heavy rain, so goats and rabbits alike had a very tough life. Tiaracht also has one of the biggest puffin and storm petrel colonies in Ireland, with many thousands of both species living there.

The complex of buildings in the cliffs of An Tiaracht includes the lighthouse, outhouses and old accommodation quarters. They huddle together on the southern and western face of the island, perched above the boiling sea below. There are also many old ruins, remnants of the funicular railway and ship activity that used to take place there. On 6th April 1988 the lighthouse was converted to automatic operation and the Keepers were withdrawn from the station. Now Tiaracht is deserted and the lighthouse continues its lonely vigil of the sea using solar power and back-up generators. Currently the lighthouse receives an inspection visit every 9 weeks or so when the Attendant is flown out by helicopter to assess its functioning and carry out maintenance work. Often the helicopter cant land because of wind or bad weather. Sometimes the Attendant has to remain on the island for several days or more if the weather turns foul. Tiaracht really is a most lonely and bleak place indeed.
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MountainViews.ie Picture about mountain An Tiaracht in area Dingle West, Ireland
Picture: Preparing for Adventure!
wicklore on An Tiaracht, 2010
by wicklore  27 Jan 2010
PART TWO-First Attempt
I first made enquiries with a boat operator in Kerry in February 09 about going to An Tiaracht. They explained that the island is the private property of the Commissioner of Irish Lights and that visitors are not allowed. It was also explained to me that landings are just not possible due to the nature of the rocks and cliffs of the island. In mid 2009 I contacted the Commissioners of Irish Lights directly and spoke to Robert Sparkes there. After explaining my interest he kindly offered to make an exception and allow me to go out to An Tiaracht as a guest of the Commissioners. That would involve flying out and spending the night in the lighthouse, accompanying the Attendant on his scheduled maintenance visit.

It was mid November 09 when I got the call to say that I could be accommodated on the next trip in early December. I signed the necessary indemnity forms and read the indepth safety rules of the trip. Amongst other instructions were the following:

The Attendant is in charge of the lighthouse and any instructions, including safety precautions, given by the Attendant must be complied with

You will need to bring your own food, and bedding, including reserves of food in case your visit is longer than planned.

This is a dangerous rock that can easily be wave swept.

Early on the 8th December I waited at the Irish Lights building in Castletownbear in Cork. There was a buzz of activity as Attendants prepared for various helicopter trips to some well known lighthouses Fastnet Rock and Skellig Michael are two that I knew. After a full safety briefing we suited up in our bright orange flight suits designed to protect us in the event of the helicopter ditching into water. The trip to An Tiaracht would be the first of the day and we assisted in the loading of the cargo. The pilot, Colm Martin, was wonderfully friendly and put me at ease about the trip.

The helicopter lifted off and we were airborne. We flew across the Beara Peninsula and skirted the Iveragh Peninsula on our way to the first stop at Valentia Island. We landed in a field next to the home of Aidan Walsh, the Attendant who visits An Tiaracht for scheduled inspection and maintenance. After he clambered aboard we were off again out to sea. I was mesmerised by the views of the coasts of Cork and Kerry. The mountains and hills were mere bumps as we flew past them. The islands of the Blaskets and Inishvickillane floated by below and we were on target for remote An Tiaracht. The weather had been fine up to now partly cloudy with a medium breeze. The pilot Colm had explained that precise conditions are needed to land on Tiaracht. The wind direction is critical, and could prevent a safe landing. And that is what happened. The weather turned against us. Trackback: http://mountainviews.ie/summit/1037/comment/4366/
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MountainViews.ie Picture about mountain An Tiaracht in area Dingle West, Ireland
Picture: The sea arch
wicklore on An Tiaracht, 2010
by wicklore  29 Jan 2010
PART THREE-Too Dangerous to Land
As we approached An Tiaracht the weather turned suddenly. It was like flying into a dark tunnel. The bright sky grew gloomy and the rain started. The wind rose and the wind direction changed suddenly within seconds. Out of the gloom An Tiaracht finally appeared, its base lashed by high waves and foaming sea. For the first time I got to witness this mysterious island in all its glory, from its jagged peaks and cliffs to the sea arch which almost divides the island in two. And there, as I had imagined it, was the lighthouse nestled into the cliffs, looking impossibly balanced over the boiling sea below.

Pilots flying for the Commissioners of Irish Lights are acutely aware of the dangers of updraft, southerly winds and the looming cliff walls when they attempt the landing on An Tiaracht. They are highly trained and have to be approved by the Commissioners in order to land at the highly restricted landing place on An Tiaracht. Sometimes when applying the force needed to counteract the strong updraft coming up the rock walls, that updraft can suddenly cease causing the potential for the helicopter to drop heavily. When landed, the tail of the helicopter hangs at the edge of the cliff. It really is not a job for the fainthearted pilot and passengers alike.

Our helicopter made some passes of the lighthouse as the pilot assessed the likelihood of a safe landing. He made some dummy runs but eventually declared that it wasnt going to be possible to safely land on that occasion. My disappointment was balanced by the fact that it was the right decision-landing on the island is a fearsome task that has to be done precisely. I would rather wait for another safe chance in the future. We left the island and were soon headed back to Valentia Island where the Attendant Aidan was dropped off at his home. We were then dropped back to the helipad at Castletownbear. Later it was confirmed that no further attempt would be made that day due to the inclement weather. A subsequent trip the following day was also cancelled due to fog.

And so the anticipation of a visit to An Tiaracht continues. The Commissioners of Irish Lights have kindly offered to try and get me out there sometime during 2010. Many factors can suddenly arise to cancel these trips, including bad weather and the necessity for repair work at the lighthouse. I am deeply indebted to Robert Sparkes at the Commissioners for Irish Lights for his continued support and willingness to entertain my requests for a visit to the island. I also wish to thank the organisation of the Commissioners for Irish Lights, the pilot Colm Martin, and the Attendant Aidan Walsh. Without all of their support this trip would not be possible. The Commissioners have asked me to mention that An Tiaracht is private property and that visitors are not allowed on the island.

Until my next attempt, The Spirit of Adventure lives on! Trackback: http://mountainviews.ie/summit/1037/comment/4367/
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by patmccarthy  18 May 2010
I enjoyed reading of Wicklore's efforts to reach An Tiaracht, the most westerly of the Blasket Islands, in January 2010.
Back in the late 70s, I was a post-grad student at UCC interested in the lichens of off-shore islands. Thanks to the generosity of the Commissioners of Irish Lights I was fortunate to be able to visit An Tiaracht for 2-week periods in the summers of '76, '77 and '78.
Then, as now, helicopters flew out from Castletownbere, but they carried lighthouse-keepers as well as hitch-hiking biologists. The island was manned by 3 keepers, and I and my colleagues stayed in a very comfortable tradesman's cottage. We each carried food (mostly dehydrated) for our 2-week stay, although this was supplemented by pollock and mackerel which we caught most evenings in great quantities from the small jetty on the south side of the island. We hacked a narrow path and hammered in pitons and laid ropes along the southern cliffs (for the older and less agile expeditioners) and made frequent trips to the summit.
Access to the peak was easist up through the grassy valleys of the south slope, being helped by the conglomerate sandstone bedrock that provided reliable hand- and foot-holds. My one attempt at reaching the peak via the much steeper and grassier east slope was barely successful: a most unpleasant experience.
The peak, at 184 metres, has a deeply shaded metre-wide ledge on the north side which has plants and animals found nowhere else on the island. Here they are above the salt spray, but they are moistened by frequent low cloud. This ledge drops away to the sheer north face. The head-keeper on my first visit guided me to the peak and appeared almost to take delight in showing me where, as a young man, be fell and bounced more than 100 m, breaking both arms and legs!
Long days, wonderful weather, calm seas that allowed tethered swimming from the jetty, 100,000 + nesting seabirds and sleeping out just below the peak, being disturbed only by returning shearwaters mistaking my sleeping-bag for their burrows. Trackback: http://mountainviews.ie/summit/1037/comment/4748/
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MountainViews.ie Picture about mountain An Tiaracht in area Dingle West, Ireland
Picture: Most Westerly building in Europe
Like Father like Son
by wicklore  25 Sep 2011
The life of a Lighthouse Keeper on Tiaracht Island must have been tough. When the Lighthouse first became operational in 1870 two keepers and their families lived on the island. The accommodation was confined to the cluster of buildings on the steep SW slope. They lived here permanently, receiving supplies of food and coal a few times a year. They also grew vegetables in small gardens which were built on tiny pockets of flat ground round the island. We saw remains of some of these little plots, with their old walls stopping the whole lot sliding down the slopes into the sea. There was also a constant supply of fresh fish, and goats were kept for milk, and hens for eggs. Having such secure lodgings and food at a time of great poverty in Ireland must have helped balance the pain of isolation and fierce weather experienced on this rocky outpost of Europe. However the isolation proved too hard, and in 1896 the Keepers requested that An Tiaracht be made a ‘Relieving’ station. This was granted, meaning that the Keepers would no longer live there permanently, but would be relieved on a scheduled basis. Housing was provided on Valentia Island for their families, and from around 1900 only Keepers lived on the Island. Their number was boosted to three which was standard on remote Lighthouses.

In 1901 the Census of Ireland took place. The record names the three Keepers on the Island. They were Jas Connell, aged 35, who was Head Keeper. His Assistants were Peter Roddy, 44, and John Connolly, 21 years. Of interest is that the next Census 10 years later shows all three men were still Keepers, and that the two Assistants had become Head Keepers in their own right. By 1911 Jas Connell was married with children and was based at Rotton Lighthouse in Donegal. Peter Roddy had moved to the Point Lighthouse in Co. Louth, and John Connolly was now Head Keeper at Ballycotton in Cork.

So if these Keepers had all moved to other Lighthouses by 1911, who was minding An Tiaracht? The 1911 Census shows that it was now Daniel Twohig, 44, who was Head Keeper, assisted by Edward Kennedy, 24, from Cork and Francis Corish, 24, from Antrim. Where had they been 10 years previously in the 1901 Census? The Head Keeper Daniel Twohig had been based at Aranmore Lighthouse in Donegal. His Assistants were mere children in 1901 - young Edward Kennedy lived with his father, Head Keeper Hamilton Kennedy, at Howth Lighthouse, and young Francis Corish’s father was Head Keeper at Ballycotton Island in Cork.

This small piece of research seems to show that Lighthouse Keeping ran in the family, and that Keepers were moving around the various Lighthouses. I wonder if it was either of these two Assistants named in the 1911 Census who was the unnamed Assistant who fell to his death from An Tiaracht in 1913? This unfortunate person had been trying to catch goats for milking, and had fatally slipped down the ever present steep slopes. This was a tough life. Trackback: http://mountainviews.ie/summit/1037/comment/6530/
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MountainViews.ie Picture about mountain An Tiaracht in area Dingle West, Ireland
Picture: Isolation
wicklore on An Tiaracht, 2010
by wicklore  29 Jan 2010
This photo, taken through the window of the helicoptor, shows the rugged cliffs and rocks of An Tiaracht being lashed by the violent sea. It is easy to see how a landing by boat would be impossible.

Although many Mountainviews summits have more 'isolation' in terms of distance to the next hill, surely Simon3 is right when he suggests that this lonely, uninhabited rock, 12 kms off the coast of Kerry is the real most isolated summit on MV? Trackback: http://mountainviews.ie/summit/1037/comment/4368/
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