Voted one of the most beautiful lighthouses in the world

Standing between idyllic Lough Swilly and sandy Mulroy Bay, Fanad Head Lighthouse has been voted one of the most beautiful lighthouses in the world. It is one of 70 lighthouses operated by the Commissioners of Irish Lights around the coast of Ireland and continues to provide a vital role in maritime safety today. This dramatic landscape has been shaped by geological processes which include the effects of periodic covering with ice sheets and glaciers as recently as 14,000 years ago. The earliest evidence of human settlement in this area dates back to c.3500BC and 40 ring forts have been found that date to the Iron Age (c.500BC -300AD). Over the millennia this area has been ruled by various Gaelic clans including the Cenel Conail, the Cenal Eoin, the O’Breslins, the O’Donnell’s, and the Mac Sweeneys. The MacSweeneys were mercenary warriors from the west coast of Scotland that originally descended from Vikings and were known as Gallowglasses. After the plantation of Ulster, the lands fell into the ownership of the Knox family. There are an estimated 700 people living in the Fanad parish and 30% still speak Irish as their first language. It is regularly visited by whales, porpoises, and dolphins. In 1917 the SS Laurentic, one of the most technologically advanced ships in the British navy, hit two mines just at the entrance to Lough Swilly. The ship quickly sank with the loss of over 300 lives. Her secret cargo of 3,211 gold bars worth £5 million (or over €410 million today) was also lost. In the right sea conditions, you can dive to the wreck of the SS Laurentic. It’s also worth noting that 22 of those gold bars are still missing…