Strumble Head

Strumble Head, near Fishguard Harbour, resembles the quiff on the forehead of the facelike outline of the Pencaer Peninsula, which looks out west over the Irish Sea.

It is a familiar landmark for passengers on the twice-daily crossing of the Stena ferry from Fishguard to Rosslare, and the lighthouse on Ynys Meicel (Michael’s Island) just a few yards off the headland, is an important aid to mariners.

The lighthouse, built by Trinity House at a cost of £40,000 in 1908, when Fishguard became a port of call for trans-Atlantic liners with the arrival of the Paddington - Fishguard railway, was provided with a footbridge for the keepers who had the best of both worlds. They enjoyed both rock and shore status, but now, of course, modern technology has caught up with the lighthouse and it is operated remotely.

A few miles to the east at Penanglas Point is a less peaceful aid to the shipping using the port, a fog-horn whose mournful bellow haunts the seamists which often veil the coast.

Between the headland and Penanglas, walkers on the National Park Coastal Footpath will see a small standing stone which marks the spot where the last invasion of Britain by foreign troops took place in February 1797. Overlooking their landing point at Carreg Wastad, the stone bears a plaque commemorating this unusual event when an undisciplined rabble of French mercenaries, many of them jailbirds released for the occasion, came ashore, pillaging among the isolated farms and cottages on the peninsula. Many of them were so drunk that they were easy prey for the local Militia under Lord Cawdor of Stackpole, to whom they soon surrendered on Goodwick Sands, where another plaque marks the spot. One drunken invader fired a hole in the woodwork of a long case clock at Bristgarn Farm, believing someone was hiding inside, and this memento survives to this day, the same family’s descendants occupying the farm.

Not far from the lighthouse is a once derelict Ministry of Defence shed which in recent years has been converted into a shelter for naturalists, from which a splendid view of the sea can be seen. It is an ideal viewing point for passing migrants, both avian and marine, for birds of all kinds pass over Strumble Head on their north-south migrations, while dolphins and porpoises are regularly seen, and counted there. Among the rocky islets and coves beneath, seals are an attraction. particularly in autumn when their fluffy white pups are being weaned ready for their life at sea.

There is also a Coastguard lookout close by. A few miles off Strumble Head in June 1941 a tragic incident occurred when the ferry vessel St Patrick was bombed by a German aircraft as it crossed to Rosslare. Nineteen of her crew and 12 passengers died in the tragedy, including the Master, Captain Jim Faraday and his 19-years-old son Jack, a Merchant Navy Officer Cadet, who had accompanied his father for experience. 

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