Saturday, November 19, 2016

Lighthouse Posters

Roger Reilly has spent the last year or so illustrating the lighthouses around the coast of Ireland. The body of work that he has produced is quite amazing and the results of his work can be found here and here. When I think that my blog involves finding the lighthouses and then taking a few quick amateur snaps, the months of effort that must have gone into the design and production of these posters is truly amazing
I give examples here of three of his posters, all of which are available for purchase. Roger has done over sixty sea and harbour lights around the coast and they are available as a poster of 16 or singly. If your ancestor was a lighthouse keeper, or if you hail from a particular coastal part of Ireland, or if you simply like the vivid colour of the posters, they'd be a great purchase, particularly at this time of the year. I should point out that Roger's work is not limited to lighthouses but encompasses many cultural areas of Irish life.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Irish Postage Stamps

Don't know if anyone has seen the latest set of postage stamps from an Post, the Irish Postal Service. The set illustrates the many facets of the work of the Commissioner of Irish Lights. The stamps show (from top left working clockwise) CIL working on a buoy; a helicopter at Fanad Head lighthouse; the CIL HQ in Dun Laoghaire; and the CIL service vessel Granuaille steaming past a lighthouse. I've actually been trying to figure out which lighthouse it is. Rotten Island? Dingle? Looks west of Ireland anyway.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Kilcredaune Head

I actually bagged Kilcredaune Head Lighthouse before the two at Corlis Point (previous two posts) but because lighthouse-spotting has probably come to an end for the winter, I preferred to leave this more aesthetically pleasing lighthouse up on my home page, rather than a concrete hut or skeletal tower.

To find the lighthouse, it would depend if you are coming from Kilkee or Loop Head. From Kilkee, take the road for Carrigaholt. Go through this village and keep going out the other side. After about one mile, the road bends around to the right, while a smaller road goes straight on. You need to go straight on. 
From Loop Head, when you get to Kilbaha, leave the R487 and branch left onto the L2002 to Carrigaholt. About a mile from the latter, the road bends around to the left, but you need to take the smaller road to the right.
Okay, we're both on the same road. The road gets smaller and grassier. Eventually you come to a closed red gate. I suppose you could open up the gate and drive up but I parked up and walked it. its about 300 yards to the lighthouse.

There was a Corsa parked outside so I assumed there was somebody in the keeper's cottage but though I rang and knocked, I got no reply. Your view of the tower is somewhat obscured by outhouses but if you wander around the cottage it will bring you out to the front, where a good photograph can be had. Its a bit squat but a nice looking lighthouse nonetheless. The outhouses are in poor nick. The front door of the cottage looks well worn but apart from that, everything looks okay. The light was deactivated on 3rd March 2011. 

The lighthouse here was established in 1827 and is 13 meters high. It became unwatched in 1929 and fully automatic in 1991. It had a white light flashing one second in six. The white tower is 43 feet high (about 14 meters) 

Sat nav - 52° 34.8´ N 9° 42.6´ W

Presumably this is some kind of radar?

Monday, October 31, 2016

Corlis Point Rear Leading Light

This is the rear leading light of the Corlis Point range. For the front leading light, please see here. For the CIL page, see here

My research was obviously a bit faulty. The sat nav reference was obviously a bit out because a half a mile from Querrin pier, it told me I was at my destination. Basically you need to drive through Querrin to the pier. At the coast turn left and its right there. I was out there and had no WIFI, so I didn't know that at the time. Besides, you'd be too close to get a good photo, I reckon. These photos were taken from the beach near the front leading light (see here, which also gives the history and reason for the lights. The rear light has the same characteristics as the front light, except there are six lights instead of four. The night light looks to be the same as the front light (visible in the top photo to the right of the six lights) And obviously, the rear light was first exhibited the same day as the front light!

The tower is a lattice structure 25 meters high and 27 meters above the high water mark.

Corlis Point Front Leading Light

Lighthouse enthusiasts who like their lighthouses to be the classically tapered variety will doubtless be disappointed with the front leading light of the Corlis Point range on the north bank of the Shannon estuary. Dedicated lighthouse lovers only need apply because it is also one of the most difficult to access. 

You will probably be driving from Kilkee, so from there head south to Querrin and Querrin Quay. This is where the rear leading light is, a large skeletal structure. From here, take the coast road, with its large area of wetland to its left. The road comes inland slightly. Shortly after a small cemetery, you reach a T-Junction, where you turn left, back towards the coast. Shortly after this, the tarmac stops and you're better off parking up and continuing on foot. The 'road' is very wet and muddy but after 200 meters, you reach the shore. (Incidentally, if you arrive during a spring tide, the path may be inaccessible!) 

At the shore, turn to the right, scale some shingle onto a small beach. At the other end of the beach, traverse some rock, then more shingle, then another small beach, then some more shingle. By now, you should see the roof of the concrete hut you're aiming for. A wet and slippy path alongside and below the field to the right leads you up to it.

Th hut is about 4 meters high and stands 9 meters above the high water mark. It is home to four large high intensity lights (third picture on this page) which shine for five seconds out of ten. At night, they are replaced by a less intensive single light with the same characteristics.

The two lights, this one and the skeletal structure at Querrin pier, help to guide vessels through the entrance to the Shannon estuary. There are rocks and sandbars at the estuary's mouth and large vessels were going to be needed to bring coal to the Moneypoint Power Station. The first idea to get these ships in was to dredge the sand, which would have cost billions. Plan B was to involve the Commissioners of Irish Lights, who, after thorough groundwork, came up with the plan of two lights which, when lined up, would guide vessels through deep water. Nowadays, coal ships of up to 175,000 tonnes dwt regularly use the channel to access Moneypoint. The record, so far, is 189,000 tonnes. The CIL page has further information.

Though I may complain about the accessibility of this light, fact is, when it was being constructed, the ground around was so wet that supplies had to be landed by helicopter. The two lights first exhibited on 20th September 1998. There does appear to be a track leading to the hut (see above)but I have no idea how to find it and it's probably private property anyway. (Checking Google Earth View, it looks like this path originates just after you turn left at the T-Junction I mentioned above)

Inis Oirr

So, the 10am trip sailing from Doolin in county Clare to Inis Oirr, the smallest and nearest of the three Aran Islands. The sailing only takes about 30 minutes. The island is about 3 kilometers long and two kilometers wide. The ferry docks at the north point of the island, next to the white Caribbean beach, and the lighthouse is at the southern end. I decided to walk it, rather than taking the 45 minute guided tour of the island by horse and trap or van and trailer. I was glad I did because firstly, it was such a beautiful day and secondly, I'm not terribly sure that any of the tours go down to the lighthouse. I saw none when I was there anyway.

The island, though small, is a maze of small roads, and its important to choose the right one if your time is limited. Leaving the pier, take the road around the white beach and keep going until you reach the airport. Take a right up the hill. About 300 meters up the hill, there is a turn off to the right. This is the road you need to take. It brings you directly to the lighthouse.

Unfortunately, not being armed with a map, I went straight on up the road less travelled. A beautiful walk among the incredible stone-walled fields, take a well-marked path to the right after about 2 kilometers and the lighthouse comes into view, Sadly the track then leads onto a big expanse of shingle, which you have to negotiate for about 400 meters (don't wear high heels!) until you see ared gate. Head for this. It joins on to the road you should have taken at the top of the hill!

The gate is of course locked and the compound is not open to the public. Someone though has very thoughtfully built stepping stones into the wall next to the gate so you can look over the wall. Unfortunately, while doing this, I accidentally fell over the wall onto a pallet placed strategically on a small scaffold and then down onto another pallet  leaning up against the wall. Oh, well, I thought, picking myself up off the ground and dusting myself off. I'm here now, so I  might as well take a few photographs.

Inis Oirr (angl. Inisheer) light was first exhibited on the 1st December 1857. The first light on the Aran Islands was built on Inis Mor but, like many others around the coast, was found to become fogbound due to its high latitude. It was decided to replace it with a light at the north end of the chain of islands (Eeragh) and one at the south (Inis Oirr) The light showed a red sector over the dangerous Finnis Rock which is now marked by a Super Buoy.

The tower is 34 meters high and the light is the same distance above high water mark. The light characteristic is W (partially vis beyond 7M) 225°-231° (6°), W231°-245° (14°), R245°-269° (24°), W269°-115°. Which I hope makes more sense to you than it does to me.

The compound also contains two keepers' cottages. A couple of broken windows excepted, they both look in pretty good nick to me. The light became unwatched in 1978.

Finnis Buoy, Inis Oirr

Travelling to Inis Oirr, the smallest of the Aran Islands, from Doolin in County Clare, I got an unexpected bonus when passing the Finnis Buoy, 0.8 nautical miles from the island. Not easy getting a good shot when trampolining up and down on a boat but you get the picture, so to speak. Incidentally I have labelled this post as county Galway, as Inis Oirr is county Galway but in fact it lies in the sea between Clare and Galway, so it could easily be Clare.

The Finnis Rock buoy is a First Class Cardinal Marker (as opposed to a fourth-rate one, presumably) It sends regular tweets (@FinnisBuoy) as to Wind Speed, Wave Height and Periods and Water Temperature. Not sure when she is there since, but probably about the turn of the millennium.

The Finnis Rock was the piece of marine topography that did for the MV Plassy (see below) now lying in rusting bliss on the coast of Inis Oirr. And, as Tedheads around the world will know, the Plassy features in the opening credits of Father Ted, as the camera sweeps across a supposed Craggy Island.