RTÉ shines unwanted spotlight on night sky

RESIDENTS living in the shadows of RTÉ TV masts have been thrust into an unwanted spotlight since faults in aviation warning lights caused them to default to a blinding 220,000 lumen setting 24 hours a day.

The RTÉ company which manages its transmission network has identified faults in warning lights on two new masts which are lighting up night skies.

The faults have caused the white aviation warning lights on masts in Sligo and Cork to default to a blinding 220,000 lumen setting 24 hours a day.

Brendan Gavin, from Rathmore, who lives close to RTÉ Transmission Network Ltd’s new 220-metre mast on Mullaganish on the Cork and Kerry border, said it can be seen at nighttime up to six miles away.

“The white light from this thing at night-time is very intense and it is a danger to traffic on the N22,” he said.

He also claimed some people living closer to the mast haven’t been able to sleep at night, such is its brightness.

The same type of fault also caused a mystery across five counties in the north-west at the weekend.

People were puzzled by the mountain-top lights that they hadn’t seen before and which flashed across parts of counties Sligo, Leitrim, Donegal, Fermanagh and Mayo.

Internet bloggers soon realised the lights were flashing from Truskmore, north Co Sligo. One blogger said they were so bright he couldn’t sleep. Another asked: “Seriously? Don’t you have curtains?”

But RTÉ solved the mystery yesterday.

A spokesman said the aircraft warning lights on its masts at Truskmore and Mullaganish developed a switching fault.

All large masts have flashing aircraft warning lights installed to the standards required by the Irish Aviation Authority.

“The vast majority of lights have day-time and night-time settings. The day-time setting is often around 100 times brighter than the night-time settings for the obvious reason that it’s harder to see during daylight,” the spokesman said.

“Occasionally, the switching equipment fails and for safety reasons the fail-safe position is the brighter setting.

“When the brighter, day-time setting is operating in the dark it can light up the whole surrounding area and would be very obvious for some distance in all directions.”

The spokesman said the company has been in contact with the lights’ manufacturers and they hope to resolve the issue quickly.

The new, 175-metre mast at Truskmore, which can accommodate digital signals, has just been completed replacing the 135-metre one erected in 1960 in preparation for the introduction of RTÉ Television in 1961.

The mast at Mullaganish replaces a 170-metre mast, which remains on site.

The mast is designed to facilitate better coverage and deliver an improved service to viewers and listeners.

The masts are used to broadcast RTÉ1, RTÉ2, TV3 and TG4 television stations, RTÉ Radio 1, 2FM, Raidio na Gaeltachta, Lyric FM, and Today FM, as well as services for local and regional radio stations.


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