A light was sought for the rock by the Drogheda Harbour Commissioners in 1837, and they stated that the shipping which frequented Drogheda would cheerfully pay a toll towards a light on Rockabill. The authority, which controlled the building of lighthouses at that time was called the Trinity Board, and in 1838 they refused to build a lighthouse on Rockabill. However fifteen years later, in 1853, the Board changed its mind and granted permission.
Plans were prepared for the lighthouse, and in 1855 the work began. The builders were two brothers from Limerick, William and James Burgess. The chief materials used were granite from the Mourne Mountains in Co. Down and limestone from the local quarry in Milverton. The tower was built 83 feet high and the total cost of all the buildings, and apparatus, was £13,248 15s. 3d. The building was completed and the light was first operated on 1st. July 1860.
The lighthouse was relieved by a local boat from Skerries, or by one of the vessels owned by the Trinity Board, until 1970. From then it was relieved by helicopter.
There were a total of six lightkeepers doing duty on the rock. Three were stationed on the rock doing four weeks duty at a time, while the other three had four weeks liberty. The keepers and their families lived in houses specially built for them in Harbour Road. These houses were sold in 1975, and sadly the lighthouse became fully automatic, and was demanned in March 1989.
Published here: November 2002