Friday, April 20, 2018

The Blue Light, county Dublin

I have started rounding up all the research I did on my wife's Behan and Kane ancestry with a view to bringing out a small book for the family. One of her antecedents, a lady with the infuriatingly common name of Catherine Byrne, hailed from a place called Barnacullia, which is situated, as per the Dublin tradition of giving directions by pubs, in between Lamb Doyles and Johnny Fox's.

To get there, probably by the M50, its a bit of a rigmarole. Come off the motorway and at the end of the slip take the first exit at the roundabout down the R133  towards Marlay Park. You're kind of doubling back on yourself here. After about 2kms, you take a left at a set of lights, signposted for Stepaside and Glencullen on the R822. Shortly after, at another set of lights, you need to turn left on the R113. Follow this road back over the M50 until you come to Lamb Doyle's pub, after about 1.6 kms. Take a right and keep going up. The road is narrow and you may need to stop occasionally to allow oncoming traffic to pass. The Blue Light is on your right hand side, with car parks both to left and the right.

The pub itself dates from the late nineteenth century. Doesn't serve food but gas a cracking pint and a great atmosphere. Totally overlooked by its more famous neighbours at the top and bottom of the hill, its a great spot for a quiet pint and the views over Dublin Bay are stunning. But where's the lighthouse?
Well, apparently, in the mid-nineteenth century, smuggling into Dublin harbour was rife, so there was a healthy Customs force in operation to stop the scallywags from landing their booty. Problem was, like many of today's Gardai, they all clocked off in the evening time. From the vantage point up on Three Rock Mountain, the occupant of the pub - though I think it was a private house back then - would watch to see the Customs men returning to harbour and, when safely gone, would pull down the blue blind and shine a light through it to advise Johnny Smuggler and his pals that the coast was clear. literally speaking. Hence the Blue Light.
Is this a lighthouse? Well, its a light to warn maritime folk of danger.....

Rossaveal, co. Galway

Its now April 2017 and a long winter nearly done. Its time I was sharpening up this blog in preparation for a new lighthouse-bagging season which, hopefully, will be more productive than last year. First up is a visit to Rossaveal in county Galway, which was made at the end of October last year but, because the maritime aids are less aesthetically pleasing than the beacons of the previous post, I didn't want to leave them up as my home page over the winter.

This is Rossaveal. Not much in Rossaveal except for a pub where I got my dinner and a harbour. These are the front and rear markers to guide vessels into Rossaveal harbour situated above the approach road to the harbour. The harbour of course is the main point of departure for ferries to the Aran Islands and Inis Mor in particular. I was debating whether to do Inis Mor and potentially bag three 'official' lighthouses but the sailings didn't quite work out. Plus it was as foggy as hell.

This is the sea based beacon at the approach of the harbour itself.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Bealadangan Gap beacons

On a misty, murky day in late October, I took advantage of a trip to the Baffle Poetry Festival in Loughrea to take in some navigational lights around the Rossaveal / Lettermore areas of county Galway. I was actually heading for Lettermullan at the time when I crossed the first of several bridges that cross the archipelago.

The bridge connects the mainland with the first island of Annaghvaan and I was gobsmacked to find, both to the north and south of the bridge, a number of stone beacons, seemingly scattered at random in the water. They reminded me a bit of the stone beacons along the River Boyne entrance although with several differences. The Boyne beacons are neater and have rounded tops while the beacons in the (Beala) dangan Gap are very weathered and resemble giant sandcastles.

The photo above shows the remains of an old causeway that pre-dated the first bridge which was built in 1836. The channel between the island and the mainland was / is only navigable around high tide and the correct route is shown by the beacons. The causeway was partially dynamited on construction of the first bridge and the beacons were erected around the same time.

For more information on these wonderful beacons, please see Roger Derham's fascinating Windsong blog

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Bealtra beacons and lights

Well, its been an incredibly slim-pickings year for this blog, not having had the opportunity of visiting any of the coastal communities around Ireland. A late September hiking trip to the Iveragh peninsular (Ring of Kerry) offered up these pitiful few photos. We were hiking around Derrynane, ascended a cliff at the west end of the townland and below us caught a glimpse of Bealtra Bay.

There appear to be two markers, red and green at the outer entrance of the bay and then a third stone pillar nearer to the quay, probably to line up the correct approach to land. The bottom picture gives a decent view of the relationship between the three.

As things happened, it was a dull and drizzly day, that resulted in dull and drizzly photographs.

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?