Northern Ireland news

Adventurer joins fight to save St John's Point lighthouse

Alex Ellis-Roswell joining the campaign to preserve St John's Point beacon with 84-year-old former lighthouse keeper Henry Henvey, and Henry's labrador Jake
Andrea McKernon

AN adventurer waking almost 10,000 miles around the coasts of Ireland and Britain has stopped at a Co Down lighthouse to join a campaign to save the historic landmark.

The 130ft lighthouse is the tallest on the island of Ireland and has shone for 176 years, providing safe passage to people on land and at sea. Dating back to 1839, it was used as a marker on a test run for the Titanic.

A storm has been brewing since March this year in the small coastal community at Killough over a plan to replace a traditional lighthouse beam with a new, cheaper lighting system.

The building is now maintained by the Commissioners of Irish Lights, which plans to replace the sweeping beam with a static light-emitting diode. The commission argues the new light is more environmentally friendly and less dangerous that the present mercury beam.

However, conservationists - including former lighthouse keeper Henry Henvey have begun a campaign to keep the existing light on - saying it has never posed a health and safety risk.

Ardglass man William Mulhall who is leading the lighthouse campaign said: "The light is highly efficient and doesn't need inferior LED bulbs or whatever the Commissioners of Irish Lights are threatening to install," he said.

The campaign enlisted the help of Alex Ellis-Roswell who is on a quest to walk the entire shoreline of Britain and Ireland to raise money for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

Nearly 4,000 miles into his epic 9,500 mile challenge that will take three years to complete, the 22-year-old walker took a well-earned weekend off in Ardglass to support the lighthouse campaign.

"I decided to take few days off to enjoy Ardglass," said the 22-year-old who decided to set out on his 'bucket list' journey after his father died at Christmas.

The campaign to preserve the lighthouse is also supported by rowers from Charity Row 2015 who also visited Killough at the weekend.

The four seafarers are rowing their Australian surf boat Lexi-May 2,500 miles around Ireland and Britain in 100 days to raise £100,000 for worthy causes.

Skipper Mark Green said: "We've had our fair share of spills and scares, and we usually know where we are using electronics, but it's very reassuring to have things like lighthouses to confirm our position."

:: Further information on the St John's Point lighthouse campaign can be found on Facebook, The Lighthouse People (Killough).

Donations via Alex Ellis-Roswell to the RNLI can be made at https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/longwalkround

UK Charity Row 2015 can be supported at http://ukcharityrow2015.co.uk

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