Sunday, September 23, 2018
Lightkeepers on the radio
This blog is mainly about lighthouses, their physical structure, history and location. The role of the lightkeeper, whereas it has been a secondary area of interest, has been neglected by me, probably for the extremely selfish reason that my family, as far back as I can remember, consisted primarily of agricultural labourers (or 'ag labs' as they are commonly known in genealogical circles) with a few fishermen thrown in for good measure.
Recent correspondence with a lovely lady named Heather Walker has focussed my attention on the role of the lightkeeper. She is descended from an Irish lightkeeping dynasty - the Redmonds - that scanned Irish waters in the nineteenth century. Trying to help to unravel the various branches of the family has been akin to a murder mystery puzzle and great fun.
I sometimes wish for the solitary life of the keeper but this may well be pure romanticism on my part. The Sheeps Head peninsula in West Cork is heaven on earth when seen on a sunny summer's day but you would want to live there during a wet and cold February to see if you would live there permanently. The same applies to lightkeeping. All very well to imagine yourself setting the light at regular hours and writing poetry or putting ships in bottles, but the reality of the roaring of the weather when you're trying to sleep or maybe being stationed with someone you didn't really like for years on end maybe another kettle of paraffin oil.
Anyway, I recently caught the end of RTE's short series of radio podcasts on lightkeepers and their stories on Sunday nights. Anyone with an interest can catch up with them on https://www.rte.ie/radio/search/?q=lighthouse