The mighty Roches Point Lighthouse is one of Ireland’s most iconic lighthouses and we’d argue that it’s one of the most overlooked of the many Cork attractions!
Located in the southern corner of Cork, Roches Point Lighthouse stands proudly overlooking the entrance to Cork Harbour.
This hidden gem has been in operation for over 200 years and the now-infamous Titanic had its last anchor nearby!
In the guide below, you’ll discover everything you need to know if you plan on visiting the brilliant Roches Point Lighthouse in 2021.
Some quick need-to-knows before visiting Roches Point Lighthouse
Although a visit to Roches Point Lighthouse is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
The iconic lighthouse sits perfectly at the entrance of Cork harbour in a townland known as Trabolgan. If you are driving from Cork city, it should take you 41 mins to reach Roches Point. If you are coming from Cobh, the distance is roughly the same.
Fortunately, there is a free car park a few minutes from Roches Point Lighthouse. It’s perfectly located so that you can look out into the Atlantic Ocean. On a normal day, there should be plenty of space to park, however, if there is a large or ‘famous’ boat docking, it can get busy.
3. Access to the lighthouse
Currently, there is no public access to the lighthouse. The one exception to this was in 2017 when, for the first time ever, 1,500 people were allowed to enter as part of the Cork Harbour Festival.
4. The Titanic link
The Titanic was anchored not far from Roches Point before setting off on its journey to New York. Interestingly enough, it was the wireless station at Roches Point Lighthouse that the Lusitania sent an SOS message to after it was hit with a torpedo near the Old Head of Kinsale in 1915.
A brief history of Roches Point Lighthouse
Although the story behind Roches Point Lighthouse isn’t as long and colourful as the likes of Hook Lighthouse in Wexford, it’s an interesting one.
And it all began when the very first lighthouse was established on the 4th of June, 1817, as a means of helping ships to safely enter Cork’s harbour.
The original lighthouse
As was the case with many Irish lighthouses, the original at Roches Point was eventually deemed too small and unfit for its purpose.
As a result, the original was replaced in 1835 bu the current structure. At 49 feet in hight and measuring 12 ft in diameter, the current structure has operated successfully ever since.
The Lusitania link
If you’re not familiar with the Lusitania, it was a luxury British passenger ship that was hit with a torpedo from a German U-Boat in May, 1915.
The tragedy, which took place about 14 miles off the Old Head of Kinsale, resulted in a staggering 1,198 passengers and crew loosing their lives.
It was the wireless station at Roches Point Lighthouse that the Lusitania sent an SOS message to after the torpedo hit.
Although you can’t stay in Roches Point Lighthouse, you can stay next to it in some cottage accommodation.
From here, you’ll be treated to ocean views for as far as the eye can see. You can book a night on VRBO here (affiliate link).
Things to do near Roches Point
One of the beauties of Roches Point Lighthouse is that it’s a short spin away from a clatter of other attractions, both man-made and natural.
Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from Roches Point (plus places to eat and where to grab a post-adventure pint!).
1. Ballycotton Cliff Walk
The Ballycotton Cliff Walk is only a 34 min drive away and it offers glorious coastal views from start to finish. The walk is not a loop and is around 3.5 km and can take around 3 hours to complete.
2. The Midleton Distillery
Midleton is located 30 minutes east of Cork City and is home to the magical Midleton Distillery. Whiskey-lovers will particularly enjoy the Jameson Experience Tour here, where you can find the world’s biggest pot still, learn about the old factory. There’s plenty of other things to do in Midleton when you’re done.
Cobh was the last port of call for the tragic Titanic, so this is an ideal visit for history-buffs or anyone in love with the movie. You can learn about the ship at the Titanic Experience or you can tackle some of the many other things to do in Cobh.
4. Cork City
Cork is compact enough that you could easily explore the city by foot, which is highly recommended after getting a good feed in the English Market. For a bit of history, visit the Cork City Gaol or dip into our guide on the best things to do in Cork City to discover more.
FAQs about Roches Point Lighthouse
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from whether you can go inside Roches Point Lighthouse to what there is to see nearby.
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
Can you go into Roches Point Lighthouse?
No – unfortunately Roches Point Lighthouse is not currently open to the public. You can, however, soak up some magnificent sea views from nearby.
Can you stay in Roches Point Lighthouse?
No – you can’t stay in the lighthouse itself, but you can spend a night in the cottages right next to the lighthouse (link above).
What is there to see near Roches Point?
You’ve everywhere from Ballycotton and Cobh to Cork City and more a short spin away from Roches Point.