Skerries Lighthouse from the bay
Photo : Tim Snow

Skerries Lighthouse

The Skerries lighthouse is situated approximately 4 miles north east from the port of Holyhead on a small group of rocky islands which are sparsly vegetated, which cover a total area of about 42 acres. The Welsh name for these islands, Ynysoedd y Moelrhoniaid, means “the Islands of Bald-headed Grey Seals”.

It is thought that the Skerries Lighthouse was first lit sometime shortly after 1716 on the highest point on the largest island. A patent was applied for and obtained in 1824.

William Trench was the builder of the first Skerries Lighthouse, and died in 1725, unfortunately when he passed he was in debt. He tragically also lost his son off the rocks at the Skerries.

The ownership of the lighthouse passed to his son in law, Sutton Morgan who successfully managed to increase the charges from shipping but also managed to confirm the patent on the light to pass to Morgan’s heir’s forever.

In 1759 the Skerries Lighthouse was rebuilt by Morgan’s heirs at a cost of around £3,000 the rebuilt lighthouse now a slightly tapering tower made from Limestone which quite possibly came from Anglesey, it was 6.65 meters in diameter and about 8.5 meters high. It was lit by a coal brazier on top of the tower.

In 1778 the Skerrie’s Lighthouse was inherited by Morgan Jones, he raised the top tower by 6.7 meters and built an iron balcony with railing enclosing the oil burning lantern.

Skerries lighthouse from the bay

In 1836 Trinity house took over the operations of the Skerries Lighthouse under an enabling act of 1836, the owners put up a fight in order to try and protect their investment from a low takeover price.

It was restored by James Walker, who decreased its diameter and created a solid parapet a feature that he would use again 2 years later on Trwyn Du lighthouse at Penmon. A new cast iron lantern 4.25 meters in diameter was installed.

In 1987 the light was automated and is now controlled from Holyhead.

Skerries - Important Tern Colony

The Skerrie’s is an extremely important bird colony, which is managed by The RSPB. The Skerrie’s islands is currently the home to the largest breeding colony of Arctic Terns in Wales. In 2005, 2035 pairs were recorded along with approximately 101 pairs of common Tern and the occasional Roseate Tern.

Access is generally restricted to Reserve staff and Trinity House lighthouse maintenance staff. Visiting yachts and kayaks are asked to enter the harbour west of the lighthouse and cooperate with the wardens to avoid disturbance to nesting birds from May through August.

The Skerrie’s is also a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and an Special Protection Area (SPA) due to the nature and wildlife that resides here.

Shipwrecks of the Skerries

HMY Mary the royal Yacht of King Charles 11 sank in 1675. She was built by Dutch East India Company and she has been partially excavated and the recovered artefacts are in the Liverpool Maritime Museum. The area surrounding the wreck is protected with a 100 meter no dive radius.