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The WW2 Look-Out Posts of Waterford (LOPs)

LOP at Ram Head, Ardmore
LOP at Ram Head, Ardmore

A network of 83 Look Out Posts (LOPs) was constructed at approximately 10 to 20 mile intervals around the coast of Ireland during “The Emergency”.  These single bay, single story, flat roofed mass concrete structures were built to the standardised designs of William Henry Cooke (1881-1977) of the Office of Public Works.  It is said that these look outs could be constructed in a single day, using 137 precast blocks.

The LOP were numbered and in Waterford they  were built at Brownstown Head, LOP 17, Dunbrattin, LOP 18, Helvick, LOP 19 and Ram Head, LOP 20.  These posts were manned by the Marine and Coastwatching Service, which comprised  of members of the Local Defence Force (LDF)  and it was the primary intelligence-gathering system  responsible for  reporting all incidents at sea and in the air to Military Intelligence (G2). The service was disbanded in October 1945.

If you would like to find out more, the coast and marine section on www.heritagemaps.ie  has links to the log books for each station, and a list of those who manned the stations.

Further Links

Discover The Walled Towns of Ireland Workbook for Primary School Children

As the schools are closed and most of us are trying to stay safe at home, Abarta Heritage / Irish Walled Towns Network have created a workbook aimed at primary school children (9 – 13 yr olds) to keep them entertained and as a way to help to promote the fantastic heritage of our walled towns.

The workbook features colouring pages, a building challenge, quizzes and information about some of the features that can be found in our historic towns and  Waterford City.

One of the best places to see our city walls is at the junction on Castle Street/Manor Street, where you can see 3 of the towers as well.

Please do share this widely and we’d love it if you could send back drawings and pictures of the ‘build your own walled town’ construction projects to rryall@waterfordcouncil.ie so we can post them on the Waterford Council website and also on the IWTN social media channels.

Happy drawing ….. and  Mum and Dads  can send in their paintings  too !

Christchurch Cathedral

The Neo-Classical style Christ Church Cathedral was designed by John Roberts, the architect of Georgian Waterford, who is also remembered for his work on the Roman Catholic Cathedral on Barronstrand St. The present Cathedral was begun in 1773 and was completed in 1779 at a total cost of £5,397.

The site is of notable historic interest as it was here in 1170, that Strongbow  married Aoife, daughter of Diarmuid Mac Murrough, King of Leinster. There is a long –standing ecclesiastical presence  on the site dating from as early as 1096.  The Cathedral incorporates fragments of the earlier church including the remains of a Norman clustered pillar.

During the demolition of the earlier  church, the famous Waterford Vestments were discovered. Dating from late medieval times, they are the only complete set of either British or Irish High Mass vestments to survive the Reformation. Part of the set has been restored and is on display at Waterford Museum of Treasures.

The present Cathedral is particularly noteworthy for the quality of the interior, with  wonderful examples of intricate 18th Century Rococo style stucco plaster-work and impressive vaulted ceilings.

Other interesting features include The Macabre Tomb of James Rice, who was Mayor of Waterford eleven times in the 15th Century, the ‘arts and crafts’ 1930s stained glass window attributed to A E Childs from the famous Dublin based Glass Studio of the 1920s and 1930s  An Túr Gloine (The Glass Tower), the Hebrew inscription behind the Altar, the  tomb of a 16th century warrior, the impressive Waterford Crystal chandeliers, the remarkable Elliot Jones Organ – one of the finest in Ireland and the collection of memorial plaques.

Lighthouses of County Waterford

Ballinacourty Lighthouse

County Waterford has 3 lighthouses. Dunmore East lighthouse was built to designs prepared by Alexander Nimmo. The  elegant granite ashlar lighthouse was constructed in 1824, on a polygonal plan, and takes the distinctive form of a fluted Doric column.  The lighthouses at Mine Head (1851) designed by George Halpin Snr and at Ballynacourty (1858) designed by George Halpin Junior, have a more traditional circular design.

The  lighthouses were painted in different colours such as red, white or black, some with contrasting bands, so that sailors could identify them during daylight hours. By night each lighthouse would have a different flash pattern.

Of the 70 lighthouses around Ireland, Mine Head light house has the second highest focal height of 87m. Both Ballinacourty and Mine Head had well constructed keepers’ houses, where the light-keepers and maintenance men would live.

In 1997, the Baily Lighthouse in Dublin became the last manned lighthouse in the country  to become automated.

The Metal Man

The iconic “Metal Man” is one of the five cut stone navigation beacons flanking Tramore Bay. The Cork-born sculptor Thomas Kirk (1781-1845), whose works also included Nelsons Pillar, exhibited a sketch for a “Jack Tar”, at the Hibernian Society of Artists in Dublin in 1815 and a model of the same in London two years later.

A “Jack Tar” was a term originally used to refer to seamen of the Merchant or Royal Navy, particularly during the period of the British Empire. In 1819, a cast of the Metal Man was made by John Clarke, at the request of the Ballast Board.

The figure, twice life size, but slightly out of proportion, is pointing to Hook Head and the entrance to Waterford Harbour. He is dressed in the uniform of British sailors at the time of the sinking of HMS Sea Horse: a gold-buttoned royal blue coat worn over a bright red waistcoat and white trousers.

One of 4 such statues commissioned, another Metal Man stands on a squat podium at the entrance to Sligo Harbour, however the whereabouts of the other two are unknown.

Early twentieth-century photographs capture a long-lost tradition where a chain of unmarried ladies would hop around the base of the tower three times in the hope of finding a husband within a year. Feel free to contact us if this was a successful tactic for you!

Beacons at Brownstown Head

Construction of the pair of navigation beacons at Brownstown Head and the 3 beacons at Newtown Head across the bay, commenced in 1819.

According to the historian R.H. Ryland,  “The beacons were commissioned ‘at the earnest solicitation of the harbour commissioners’ following the “Sea Horse” disaster (1816) to distinguish Tramore Bay from the entrance into Waterford Harbour ‘ and consequently to avoid the dangerous bay where sunken rocks nearly covered by the sea at high water render the approach particularly dangerous.”

The pair of circular-plan beacons are constructed of finely dressed stone, gently tapering to the top and finished with a  limestone “cap”. Originally these navigation aids were white washed to be more visible.

The design of the beacons has, in the past, been credited to Alexander Nimmo but research by the Commissioners of Irish Lights, has identified that it is more likely that beacons were designed by George Halpin,  Inspector of Works and Harbours for the Ballast Board.

  • Photo courtesy of the NIAH

EIRE signs during “The Emergency”

During the Emergency period of World War II,  several ÉIRE signs were constructed with painted stones to alert pilots from either side that they were flying over neutral Ireland.

A great website to show these locations has been created and is available at http://eiremarkings.org/

The Heritage Council have also just launched a new Eire signs map on www.heritagemaps.ie, which features a map of Lookout Posts (LOPs).

Check back tomorrow at 8pm for another built heritage article featuring the “Lookout posts of County Waterford”.