Storm brewing: Campaign to save Titanic’s guiding light

A storm is brewing on the coast of Northern Ireland over plans to replace the antique lamp in a lighthouse with a cheaper LED version. The beam from St John’s Point at Killough, County Down, guided the Titanic, and residents have signalled their intention to oppose any downgrading of it. Eileen Peters, who leads the local campaign group, said: “If that were to go, all you would have would be a thing like a bicycle light or an airport landing light.” With a beam stretching to Dublin and the Isle of Man, the iconic light is of huge cultural and historical significance to this coastal community.

A very ugly LED light at the front of the building, which is a listed building and shouldn’t really be desecrated in that way.

Eileen Peters, who leads the local campaign group

The Commissioners of Irish Lights in Dublin fear the six-tonne lamp, rotating in mercury, has become a health hazard. But Chris Murphy, a maritime conservationist, disagrees. He explained: “Before these lights went automatic, they had to be turned hourly by lighthouse keepers. They had to physically turn the mercury bath so it’s just nonsense to claim now that this is a health and safety issue. Nobody has suffered from mercury poisoning.”

When you’re out at sea, it’s very cold, dark and lonely and once you can see the light, you know where you are, where home is, you feel a sense of security and it reassures you.

Local fisherman Ross Mulhall