Purpose built as a lighthouse, it has served sailors and shipping for 800 years, apart from a short closure during the 17th century. It is thought to be one of the oldest operational lighthouses in the world. When the Tower of Hook became fully automated in 1996 and no longer needed resident keepers, it was decided to celebrate its uniqueness by opening it to the public.
Hook Head wild and elemental, tranquil and serene, in its serenity hides the treachery which awaits unsuspecting mariners, little wonder that William Marshal earl of Pembrokeshire undertook the building of the lighthouse in the early 13th century as a navigational aid to guide his ships into Waterford Harbour. The tower has close affinities to Marshal castles at Ferns, at Kilkenny and at Pembroke in Wales. It appears to have been modelled on freestanding, cylindrical stone keeps known as "Juliets" which were popular in Wales and France during the early 13th century.
The tower was constructed of local limestone and the original building survives almost intact at just under 36.6m high. It consists of two tiers linked by a mural stairway of 115 steps. The first tier, 13m in diameter, has three vaulted ceilings each with an original fireplace. The upper tier, 6.3m in diameter, originally supported the coal beacon, which in modern times was replaced by a lantern.
By "Hooke or by Crooke" you can discover the wonders of the medieval tower of hook.
Hear the legend of Dubhán the sixth century Welsh monk who is reputed to have established the first light on Hook Head such was his dismay at discovering the bodies of shipwrecked sailors on the rocks.
Climb the 115 steps to the walkway at parapet level to feast your senses on the magnificent landscape of Hook peninsula. On your climb to the top your guide will bring you through a series of chambers, introducing you to the fascinating story of Hook Lighthouse, an entrancing audio show retells the story of the monks, the earliest keepers of the light.