Wicklow Head


PROJECT: Wicklow Head Lighthouse - Restoration & adaptation to Holiday Accommodation
LOCATION: Wicklow Town, Co. Wicklow
CLIENT: Irish Landmark Trust

The project consists of the restoration of the Lighthouse, (c.1790) for holiday use. Floor area is approximately 105 sq. metres. The Lighthouse is approximately 30.1 metres high and its ground floor, internal diameter, is 4.3 metres with 2 metre thick walls. The structure is of rubble walls with dressed granite quoins, strings, cornice, blocking course, window and door ope surrounds, etc.  The building is a shell, there being no internal staircase or floors.  Window opes are blocked up and exist to the north, south, east and west, on six levels; round headed on the first four floors, oval on the fifth and circular on the sixth.  The entrance faces north.  The lighthouse has a 19th brick dome.

The philosophy behind the Irish Landmark Trust and the approach taken in the restoration of the Wicklow Head Lighthouse acknowledges the intrinsic value of our architectural heritage, including its historic and social aspects, but, above all, the particular quality of fabric, form and scale which imbues its aesthetic worth.  It seeks to retain these qualities and weave new uses into existing buildings without diluting their essence.  It is not a rigid doctrine which aims to preserve all in aspic, nor is it one which bows to the kitsch or the pastiche.  It embraces the demands to incorporate modern facilities sympathetically and took them on board as a challenge in proving the economic viability and future sustainability of retaining and reviving existing buildings. The restoration of Wicklow Head Lighthouse was one of Maura Shaffrey’s last projects.  

The philosophy behind the brief and that of the client, the Irish Landmark Trust, echoed one which Maura had promoted and practised throughout her career and long before it had become popular or accepted in this country. In line with the ideology outlined above, the floors were reinstated in timber and a ‘spiral’ staircase follows the line of the internal walls, which were lime plastered and white washed;  new timber windows were fitted to all opes and a new entrance door fitted in place of an existing gate, all adopting design detail and material authentic to the late eighteenth century.  Beyond that, additional requirements were addressed in a contemporary manner, fulfilling demands for comfort and convenience while remaining in character with the Lighthouse.