Monday, October 20, 2014

Dunmore Harbour Coastwatch tower

As the Lighthouse Directory points out, Marinas has included this Coast Watch tower overlooking Dunmore East harbour on the list of their lighthouses. It isn't actually a lighthouse though. (This view is a poor shot from the landward side - Marinas' photos, as always, are much better)
There is a similar coast watch tower adjoining Hook Head lighthouse on the far side of the river.(sixth photo down)

Dunmore East

One of my favourite spots on the coast is Dunmore East, lovely thatched cottages, a lovely cliff top park, nice beach with picnic area and on a sunny day it has views to die for. We were here back in 2008, when I got close-up and personal with the lighthouses, so contented myself this time with views looking down at the harbour.

One of my favourite Irish lighthouses (I do tend to say that about a lot of them!) this one has a rather unique design - in Ireland anyway. It was built in 1825 by the great Alexander Nimmo, a Scottish engineer who built numerous harbours and bridges, though, as far as we are certain, this is his only lighthouse. There is a school of thought that he says he was also responsible for building the beacons at Tramore Bay too, (here) but there is some dispute over this.

I am told the lighthouse resembles a fluted Doric column. I'll go along with that.

Note the new pierhead light and also Hook Head across the estuary in the background

Killea Village

The little hamlet of Killea lies about a mile inland from Dunmore East, on high ground overlooking the coast. An ancient topographical dictionary of the area, dated 1837, says the village contained "Round Tower (stump of) supposed to have been an ancient lighthouse"

Well, I looked but couldn't see the ruins of a round tower, either in the current church grounds, or in the graveyard, with the ruined square tower opposite it. And I can find no further clues to its existence.

River Barrow and River Suir lights

A selection of lights along the Rivers Barrow and Suir, between Ballyhack and Waterford. Once upon a time, Waterford was the destination of the mail boat from England and the Barrow and Suir weren't the easiest rivers to navigate,

This one is actually described as 'the little lighthouse' in a route of a walk of the area. In Cheekpoint, go down the road next to the store. At the bottom turn left and follow the road around. It degenerates into a path and thence to the river's edge. The lighthouse is about 50m southwards

Don't know if this is a beacon or a daymark. Looks like its on the westerly entrance to Kings Channel, which branches from the Suir to form Little Island, on which sits a swanky hotel and golf course. This view from the little car ferry that visits the island from Ballynakill.

These are all around Cheekpoint where the Barrow and Suir merge.

Took me ages to find this one. Visible from the 13th green at Faithlegg, looking just a little upriver. Actually on Faithlegg grounds. Looks nothing like the photo on Trabas.

Located on the most easterly point of Little Island, again taken from the 13th green at Faithlegg.

Ballyhack, co Wexford, where the car ferry crosses from Passage East in Waterford

Cheekpoint again

Duncannon Rear Light

We passed by Duncannon Rear Light on the road from Duncannon to Ballyhack and took these photos. Not much different from when were last there in 2008, when we took our photos from the exact same spot. This is the original 1817 Roches Point Light, deemed too small for that location, and transported to Duncannon in 1838.
A paper dated from the 1860s indicates that there was actually a third fixed light at Duncannon at that time, located on top of Black Hill. I can't even find Black Hill on any maps!

Duncannon Fort

The last time we were in Duncannon, we approached it from the north, paid our entrance fee into the fort and got some good close-up photos of the light. This was back in 2008. We had thought that the fort represented about all there was to see. So we were very surprised approaching Duncannon from the south to find a pretty little village and a glorious sandy beach which we walked and were able to get a new perspective on the light.

Apparently a light has shone from this point since the eighteenth century, helping ships up the treacherous waters of the River Barrow. The river is full of banks and shoals and bars and, by lining up the fort light with the Rear Light, about a mile further north, the right approach up the river can be made.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The First Light

Here's an interesting question (or perhaps it isn't) Where was Ireland's first lighthouse? 

Well, according to tradition, St. Dubhan, a Welsh monk, and contemporary of the much more famous Patrick, came to this lonely peninsula and established a monastery here in 452ad (about tea-time, as Monty Python would say) Here he established a lighted beacon for ships to warn them of the treacherous coastline hereabouts, a beacon that was tended for 700 years until the Tower was built in the early 13th Century.

But where was it, this beacon? It was probably a chauffer on top of a mound of stones. Adjoining Hook Lighthouse itself is an old wall and a small plaque on a wall saying 'Site of Monks' Chapel' To my eyes the wall in the top picture looks younger than 5th century but I'm no expert. If they had the chauffer right on the point, then it would probably have been around the site of the present tower.

Of course, they could have had it about a mile further north, where the ruins of the original monastery still stand, surrounded by a small graveyard. To be honest, I wouldn't build a monastery and then have to maintain a beacon a mile away but hey, those ancient monks were quare fellers altogether.

Anyhow, to cut to the chase, Ireland's first lighthouse lay between the ruins of the monastery and the tip of Hook Point. Can't narrow it down further than that, unless anybody else has further information.