On the 24th of March 1997, the Baily Lighthouse in Howth was the last of Ireland’s lighthouses to be automated. The first station for so many keepers throughout the years, it was a fitting place for the role of the keepers to end. This was the culmination of an automation programme that had been carried out progressively since the eighties.
While Irish Lights still provides aids to navigation for mariners, its lighthouses are now a secondary backup to GPS and other electronic marine navigational systems. They maintain some seventy-two lighthouses around the island of Ireland and are now moving to repurpose some of these as tourist destinations under the Great Lighthouses of Ireland programme.
To locals and seafarers alike, lighthouses remain icons of the community and a reassurance in both day and night that land is there. The stories of a lighthouse come from the people who lived and worked there - the keepers, the families and the ships they protected. As the years go by and the keepers grow less and less in numbers, it is their stories which will continue to preserve a way of life that no longer exists.