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Monach Lighthouse

Located on the small island of Shillay, the most westerly of the Monach (or Heisker) Isles, the disused Monach lighthouse lies 10 miles (16 km) west of the island of Baleshare, between North Uist and Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides. Situated in the centre of the island, the lighthouse comprises a red-brick tower rising to 41m (133 feet) which was built in 1864 by engineers David (1815-86) and Thomas Stevenson (1818-87) at a cost of £14,673. Tragedy struck in 1936 when two lightkeepers were drowned while returning from the neighbouring island of Ceann Iar having collected supplies.

The light was suspended in 1942 due to World War II, but in 1948 it was determined that the light was no longer of significant value to navigation and it was decommissioned.

Following the establishment of the new Deep Water Route for large oil tankers to the west of the Outer Hebrides, three new beacons were established to mark its track. Thus a 5.5m (18-foot) metal tower was built on the southeast coast of Shillay in 1997, 250m (270 yards) from the old lighthouse, with a automatic light which had a range of 10 miles (16 km). This new beacon was itself decommissioned in 2008 after a decision to re-establish the light in the original lighthouse. This came about because of the wish to provide a rotating light with an extended range of 18 miles (29 km), which required an increase in the height of the light. The best solution was judged to make use of the original Stevenson lighthouse tower, which was still in excellent condition and soon refurbished for the role. This new system is also automatic and continuously monitored by the Northern Lighthouse Board in Edinburgh.

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