Watch: 'This is the biggest storm I’ve seen' - Lighthouse worker's video goes viral

Paul Barron said: "We were supposed to be coming home on Tuesday but then everything was called off due to Storm Barra."
Watch: 'This is the biggest storm I’ve seen' - Lighthouse worker's video goes viral

(Left to right) Malcolm Gilles, Ronnie O’Driscoll, Dave Purdy and Paul Barron at the Fastnet Lighthouse today. “We still have a few steaks and rashers to keep us going.”

Paul Barron enjoyed a somewhat different view of Storm Barra.

Mr Barron, an electronic engineer with Irish Lights, is currently out on the Fastnet Lighthouse 6.5km south-west of Cape Clear along with work colleagues Ronnie O'Driscoll, Dave Purdy and Malcolm Gillies.

“We came out last Friday for maintenance work,” he explained this afternoon, “and we were supposed to be coming home on Tuesday but then everything was called off due to Storm Barra. Hopefully, the chopper will be back out to us on Thursday.” 

So what is it like to be on a lighthouse, 54 metres above the sea, in the midst of a weather bomb? As scary as you can imagine.

“We are looking out at about 9 metre swells with winds gusting up to 90 knots with an average speed of 70-80 knots,” the Cahir native explained. That equates to about 110 miles an hour.

Mr Barron struggled to sleep last night such was the roar from the Atlantic as it slammed into the tallest and widest rock lighthouse tower in Ireland and Great Britain.

“It is extremely noisy during the squalls, so much so it is hard to talk. During the height of the storm, the entire tower seems to shudder a small bit. But it is incredibly strong as the granite stones that were used were all keyed together like a giant jigsaw. And I’m sure it has survived bigger storms and events than this! But when I filmed the video of the storm all that stood between me and elements was those little panes of glass.” 

Mr Barron said despite the Fastnet being lashed by 90knot winds and waves up to nine metres high, he and his colleagues feel safe and secure.

“We have great faith and confidence in the structure. It was built just over 100-years ago and it has survived everything that’s been thrown at it over all that time,” he said.

“You’d be cautious alright working in the lantern room in conditions like this because there’s just an inch of glass between you and outside, and we’ll leave some of the outside maintenance work until the next time.

“We brought extra food because you’re always prepared to have to spend extra days on a lighthouse and we have enough to keep us going until Thursday. And we have TV and Netflix to keep us entertained.” The four, who arrived on the rock last Friday to carry out a raft of maintenance, were due to leave by helicopter Tuesday morning but the storm delayed their departure, which has now been scheduled for Thursday.

Mr Barron and Mr Gilles are then heading to the Skelligs lighthouse to carry out more maintenance work.

Mr Barron’s video which he filmed around lunchtime when Fastnet was in the eye of the storm has erupted on social media and he has been fielding calls from Sky News and multiple media outlets. 

His recording was posted on Facebook by Niamh Ní Dhrisceoil from Cape Clear Ferries. She wrote: "Wow! What incredible footage taken from inside of the lantern of the Fastnet Rock Lighthouse this morning during Storm Barra. Míle buíochas le Paul Barron, Ronnie O'Driscoll, Dave Purdy and Malcolm Gillies who are currently working out on the lighthouse when the storm hit. 

"It certainly gives greater appreciation and admiration not only for how solid the design and construction of the tower is, but also for the mental agility of the former Lighthouse keepers who stayed out on the rock for many weeks at a time and faced many a storm, and without phones or broadband I hasten to add! Wonderfully unique too, to see the lighthouse from a different perspective! Wind speed reached 74 kts (Force 12) with gusts up to 87 kts (Hurricane)."

Barron continued: “This is the biggest storm that I’ve seen. We wouldn’t normally be out here in these conditions. But it will be a story to tell. Thankfully we are all safe and well - we always bring extra supplies for these trips as fog can often delay our return to the mainland. 

“We still have a few steaks and rashers to keep us going.”

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