St. John’s Point Lighthouse
St. John’s Point Lighthouse in Donegal, Ireland is an inimitable lodging experience that will likely provide some enduring memories.
We drove down a long stretch of single track road flanked by ocean on both sides. The obligatory yield of other vehicles was required—while occasionally finding ourselves driving in reverse in order to procure a pull out for on-coming traffic. Once, unbeknownst to us, we nearly met the bumper of a tow truck backing down the upward slope of a windy hill. Even the blaring sounds of a honking horn did not stop the massive truck transporting a burned-out vehicle. With the speed and agility of a master road tripper, I hastily backed down the hill at a rate barely faster than that of the oblivious driver in front.
With nerves shot, we eventually came to the end of the road, a point known as St. John’s along the Wild Atlantic Way in Donegal, Ireland. The road ended with a heavy stainless steel pad-locked gate preventing further progress. One of us got out of the car to unlock and move the gate to the side, allowing us to drive up a gradual hill where we were met by the dominating St. John’s Point Lighthouse, a newly opened Irish Landmark Trust property where guests can be keepers for the night. In our case, two nights.
The lighthouse property is surrounded by stone walls, one high enough to have likely protected crops, while the other was probably to pen livestock. The only view from the lighthouse keepers courtyard is that of the towering lighthouse itself. It isn’t until you stand on one of the lookout points, or even go beyond the first wall surrounding the property that you truly see the astonishingly rugged coastline that optimizes the namesake “Wild Atlantic Way.”
Winds were gusting and hurling at what felt like a Cat 1 hurricane. Whitecaps were washing over massive boulders, and waves crashed ashore causing walls of whitewash to obscure the view. It was a scene one likely envisions when staying at a lighthouse. The isolated, romantic and unfettered environment of St. John’s Point Lighthouse was something straight out of a Hollywood movie.
With groceries in tow, we got our luggage and food sorted before placing peat in the fireplace to take the chill out of the air. Darkness was not far off, so with cameras in hand, we began to capture some of the stunning views before us.
The evening was met by a home-cooked meal, wine and a movie downloaded to a laptop (no internet and limited cell service in this area). The howling sounds outside continued to remind us that the wicked winds had not let up. Being in the confines of an immensely sound structure provided a cozy reassuring feeling.
The next day we met up with a local guide who showed us around the area. The highlight of the tour was seeing some of the highest sea cliffs in all of Ireland. At nearly 2000′, Slieve League (aka Sliabh Liag in Irish) is an impressive display of landscape, and yet another example of how this rugged coastline was aptly named (Wild Atlantic Way).
We arrived back to St. John’s Point Lighthouse that afternoon to much calmer weather. The evening was pretty much spent exactly like the first. Wine, candlelit dinner, warm fire and another movie watched while snuggled up on the couch.
If you’ve ever stayed in a lighthouse, or visited the St. John’s Point Lighthouse, please leave a comment below and share your experience.
St. John’s Point Lighthouse Information:
Address: GPS: 54.569346 , -8.460361
Phone: +353 (0)1 670 4733
Rates: $475 for minimum 2 night stay
Accommodations: 2 bedrooms (sleeps 4), 1 bath with separate shower and a large bear claw tub, living/sitting area with small fireplace and supplied peat fuel, full kitchen with dining table.
Notes: The bed in the main bedroom is only a double, very small for two people. The pillows and comforter are cheap/poor quality. For the price, this needs to be improved using goose down or other higher-end materials. The second bedroom has two twin beds. The water heater is not quite large enough to fill the tub. No T.V., but there is a radio and some games. Each room does have a radiator for heat.