Don’t believe the funny story about the navy and the lighthouse

25 October 2021
What was claimed

A British navy captain tried to order an Irish lighthouse to move out of the way.

Our verdict

This is not true. It is a version of a famous old myth.

A story of a confrontation between a British aircraft carrier and an Irish lighthouse is being shared on Facebook along with the claim that it is “the transcript of the actual radio conversation between the British and the Irish, off the coast of Kerry, Oct 98.”

In fact, this story is an urban myth with a long history, reaching back well before 1998.

This version of the story begins with an “Irish” speaker saying to a British naval captain: “Please divert your course 15 degrees to the South, to avoid a collision.”

The captain refuses to do so, asking the Irish speaker to change course instead. The disagreement escalates until the Irish speaker says: “We are a lighthouse. Your call.”

The same story has been told about a Canadian lighthouse and the US Navy in the past, and there used to be a page on the US Navy website specifically debunking it.

The US fact checker Snopes has written at length about the history of this story, and reports examples of a similar story being told in the 1930s.

The Irish Mirror reported that the story was being widely shared on TikTok earlier this year.

This article is part of our work fact checking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here. For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as false because this is not a true story. It is a famous urban myth.

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