51°45.595'N, 008°06.679'W and was somewhat taken aback to find that a T-Junction was my 'destination'. However, a quick call to a nearby house advised me to take the road to the right, skirt the locked gate and follow the cliff path 'for ten minutes' to reach the Head.
Barr Point Fog Signal Station. However, a notice to Cork County Council on the gate looking for planning permission made me re-think, and I eventually figured it out.
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Monday, May 12, 2014
Three cannons were installed and established as a fog signal at the Old Head of Kinsale on 1st February 1893. Two successive reports were fired every ten minutes. A third keeper or fog signal man was appointed to the station who was at first in lodgings until another dwelling was built for him in 1895. A new light and fog signal were established on 17th December 1907. William Spence of
The character of the explosive fog signal was changed to one report every five minutes from 1st June 1934. From 1971 each explosive report of the fig signal fired during the hours of darkness was accompanied by a brilliant flash of light. When all explosive fog signals around the coast were discontinued in 1972, (due to a threat of terrorist attacks) Old Head acquired the siren fog signal from the discontinued Poer Head fog signal station (1970) with a character of three blasts every forty-five seconds. The siren was replaced by an electric horn with the same character in December 1985 and controlled by a videograph fog detector, obviously in anticipation of making the station unwatched.
discontinued in 2011.
usually blocked off to the public by the Golf Course here but once a year the Old Signal Head Tower Restoration Fund hold an open day. The one last year, which I missed, was apparently a huge success. This year I arrived at about 10.30 and there were very few people there. This could have had something to do with the weather which, despite the photographs, was very windy (Force 6, gusting to Force 8) and showery. However, in my opinion, this only augmented the whole lighthouse experience.
here. The inside of the tower, incidentally, has been painted royal blue.
Slow train to Kinsale
or Ogden Nashes his teeth
Living in Ireland, I think perhaps we don’t really appreciate our wonderful scenery.
It is particularly evident when coming back from holidays in hot places like Lanzarote or Egypt that are dry and arid and completely devoid of any greenery.
(Not that I wish to decry the Canarian or Egyptian landscape which is of the most part quite spectacular
And can be ‘the dog’s bollix’ to use a coarse vernacular.)
But, in truth, there is little in nature to beat driving through the Irish countryside with the sun, when it is actually shining, casting shadows from the hedgerows,
Or shining, when there are no hedgerows, on the potato rows or carrot rows or other veg rows.
So, after visiting Galley Head lighthouse, I decided to make for the lighthouse at the Old Head of Kinsale,
Which, along with Hook Head, the Fastnet and Howth Bailey, is, to Irish lighthouse enthusiasts, the equivalent of the Holy Grail.
And so I had the choice of taking the main N71 road back towards Cork or taking the shorter and twistier but more picturesque R600 through Timoleague, when I left Clonakilty,
And, though it might take longer, I chose the latter, without feeling the slightest bit guilty.
And the sun came out and life was good on my trek to the Grail (Holy)
And I drove leisurely but not too slowly.
Until, that is, about a mile after leaving Clonakilty I came up behind a white transit van
Who was backed up behind an old red Fiesta going as slowly as any moving car possibly can
Without actually stopping.
And between second and third gear, there was much changing and chopping.
Now those of you familiar with minor Irish country roads know they are not the straightest
And opportunities to pass are never the greatest.
And just as nature abhors a vacuum, so Irish nature abhors a straight road,
And as we trundled eastwards, car after car came haring up behind me before it too slowed,
Until we were like a slow goods train with differently coloured and shaped carriages
Being towed by this tiny Fiesta which most of the motoring world disparages.
Now I can fully understand how the enchantment of the countryside can make any driver lose himself in his dreams
And there are present streams and future streams but this was going to ex-streams.
If I am ever driving narrow roads and I find myself holding up a car behind me,
I immediately look for a gateway to pull into to let him pass or, if I don’t, my wife will very soon remind me.
Simply put, it is only polite and civil
And to argue otherwise would be utter drivel.
(And, on this subject, God bless Irish tractor drivers who are always thoughtful and courteous
Even if those big wheels spray muck in heavy rain that simply serve to dirty us.)
But matey in the Fiesta trundled blithely on at twenty kilometers an hour
And by the time I reached Kinsale I was heartily sick of the greenery and the sun shining on the bower
And my mind was full of impure thoughts and my lips spake words coarse and graphic
Just like when I am back in Dublin stuck in rush hour traffic.
Sunday, May 11, 2014
Buoy near Blackrock Castle
The report of the Port of Dublin Lighthouse Inspectors to the Board of Trade in 1864 is a fascinating snapshot the state of the Lighthouse service in that year. It details the lights found, their condition, their characteristics and their usefulness.
Blackrock Castle with Tivoli Quay behind (looking eastwards from Dunkettle)
It is a long journey from entering Cork harbour at Roches Point to the City quay, with many banks and shallows and in general the inspectors were highly complimentary of the lights provided by the Cork Harbour authorities.
Starboard marker buoy at Dunkettle
Apart from the Spit Bank Screwpile lighthouse at Cobh, the report lists five other lighthouses, as well as numerous perches and buoys. The lighthouses are at Lough Mahon, Dunkettle, Blackrock Castle, King's Quay and Tivoli.
Port marker buoy at Dunkettle
The Lough Mahon Light appears to have been at the eastern end of Lough Mahon where the approach to the city turns northwards. It was an octagon shaped light, built on piles and exhibiting a red light. It guarded a notorious shoal called the Meelough (or Meelagh) Spit, which is today a good fishing location.
Marker buoy roughly where the old Lough Mahon lighthouse used to stand
The Dunkettle light, also octagonal and built on piles, showed a green light and appears to have been located where the city approach turns eastward, near where the Jack Lynch Tunnel's northern shore disappears under the sea. Both the Lough Mahon light and the Dunkettle light, said the inspectors, were under the charge of men who were quite old and probably not up to the job.
Looking citywards from near Blackrock Castle
A white light was exhibited from a window in Blackrock Castle, while Kings Quay and Tivoli lights were 'ordinary gas lamps showing red' The distances from one to the other are:
Spit Bank to Lough Mahon - 5 miles 6 1/2 cables
Lough Mahon to Dunkettle - 1 mile 3 cables
Dunkettle to Blackrock - 3 1/3 cables
Blackrock to Kings Quay - 5 1/2 cables
Kings Quay to Tivoli - 6 cables
Looking westwards from the old Kings Quay
Apart from Spit Bank, the only lighthouse still standing is Blackrock Castle (now an observatory). Lough Mahon and Dunkettle pile lights have been replaced by buoys whereas Kings Quay and Tivoli have both been redeveloped.
Saturday, May 10, 2014
observatory. In fact, very few people are aware that it was once a lighthouse at all. The Castle's own site says "The original tower was built by the citizens of
'Following the 1601 Battle of Kinsale against the Spanish, Lord-Deputy Mountjoy replaced the fort with a castle in 1604 but this was as much to protect himself from the citizens of
The people of
were slow to acknowledge James the First as their King. It was during this time
that Hawlbowline was fortified and James Fort was built in Kinsale. As well as
being strong enough to mount artillery for the protection of Cork
the main tower of the castle had an outside diameter of 10.5 metres and a wall
thickness of 2.2 metres – unusually thick for an Irish castle.This would have
enabled the tower to withstand a naval assault from the Spanish or any other
would-be invaders while allowing those in the tower to return cannon fire with
relative safety. Cork Harbour
'In 1608 James the First returned control of the castle to
Peat fires were lit atop the tower to help guide ships in and out of the port
at night. From now on the Castle would meet the needs of the City Corporation
and have less to do with the defence of Cork City ." Cork