About the Heritage project
Read about the Commissioners of Irish Lights Heritage project and work.

The Heritage archive of Irish Lights is a source not just of maritime history, but also for the wider social, political, military, engineering, architectural, scientific and administrative history of Ireland in the 19th & 20th centuries. Just as importantly, it is a source for personal and family history. Irish Lights employed countless generations around the coast of Ireland for over 2 centuries.
The earliest records in the Archive date back to 1810 when the Lighthouses (Ireland) Act extended the powers of The Corporation for Preserving and Improving the Port of Dublin to cover all powers, duties and functions relating to lighthouses around the coast of Ireland.
The record types held in the Archive include journals, registers, minute papers, correspondence, engineering plans and drawings, as well as photographs, audio-visual material, and publications.
A major project began in 2019 to preserve and catalogue the Archive. While this project is underway the Archive will be closed to researchers. When the collections are catalogued they will be made available. The Archive contains over one thousand volumes and two thousand boxes of administrative records. The Archive project is prioritising records of greatest historical significance.

When the records were created in the 19th and 20th centuries they were not divided according to each lighthouse but in common with other 19th century registry systems, the records were filed chronologically regardless of subject. It is only when the project is finished, that comprehensive searches of the Archive will be possible.In addition to routine preservation and cataloguing, a number specialised conservation and digitisation projects are currently ongoing.
Please keep an eye on the website for updates and see our regular Stories from the Archive series where interesting and unusual stories from the Archive and Heritage Collections are highlighted

For specific queries please contact: info@irishlights.ie

Restoring Documents

How it works


Preservation is a crucial part of the work of an archivist.This involves routing cleaning of documents, repairing any minor tears,removing corrosive objects such as staples and paperclips and re-housingmaterial in acid free boxes and folders.



The tools used for cleaning include smoke sponges(originally made to remove soot from fire damaged walls); and an assorted variety of brushes.
One of the most instantly gratifying parts of my job is removing a century’s worth of dust and grime with a few strokes of my smoke sponge.


Checkout the results

I have an included an example of a file from 1934 from the Department of Industry and Commerce on New Valuation Legislation for the Saorstat. The 3 images show the process before, during and after cleaning.
As the file becomes cleaner the smoke sponge becomes grimier. You can see just how much dirt and grime one file contains. While the file will never be pristine as the dust has caused permanent staining, all surface dirt has been removed and the file is ready for researchers to handle.
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