By Maolsheachlann O Ceallaigh
Last time, in our ongoing tour through the great lighthouses of Ireland, we looked at Rathlin Island West lighthouse in Antrim. Today, we stay in that same county, this time taking a look at Blackhead lighthouse on the northern tip of Belfast Lough, near the town of Whitehead.
Blackhead lighthouse is a relatively new structure, having been erected in 1902. In a sense, it could be said that Blackhead was many decades ahead of its time, in terms of lighthouses being used to generate tourism – it lies at the end of the Blackhead Coastal Path, a special walkway along the nearby coast developed by a visionary railway engineer named Berkeley Deane Wise, around the same time as the lighthouse was built.
The walkway (which required the building of special bridges and tunnels) was created in order to draw railway trippers to the area. It was hugely successful in this, leading to a growth in the town of Whitehead.
Wise went on to build the even more ambitious Gobbins cliff path a few miles away, which has drawn tourists from all around the world for decades, and has recently reopened after a long hiatus.