Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Lightship Gannet

This is the Lightship Gannet, photo not by me. It was built in 1954 in Dartmouth and until the end of 2009 it stood off South Rock lighthouse in the Irish Sea off the county Down coast (bet the writing on the side gave it away!).
It has since been purchased by So long and thanks for all the fish, which, I suspect is not his real name. The lightship is now situated in the Medway where it is being converted.
Mr SLATFATF originally intended to buy a barge and convert it but decided that it would be much less work to buy a lightship. If you want to see what "much less work" looks like, there is a blog dedicated to its conversion. I wonder if there was a "much much less work" option?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Ballycurrin Lighthouse

Probably one of my favourite lighthouses, it is claimed that this is the only inland lighthouse of its type in Europe, though I don't know what 'of its type' means. It is situated on Lough Corrib, Ireland's second largest lake and was apparently built by Sir Henry Lynch, who needed a marker to get his provisions off the Galway to Cong ferry. The roof is apparently made from a mill wheel though it was raining when I visited and I felt I didn't want to risk scrambling over the wet stones to get onto it.
To find it (and I can't quite figure out the geography even though my sense of direction has always been pretty good) travel from Galway to Headford on the N84. At the green petrol station cum supermarket on the left hand side in the centre of the town, turn left on the road marked R334 to Cong.
This is where I get confused. Lough Corrib should naturally be on your left hand side. However, about three miles along the road, there is a small brown sign marked Ballycurrin Lighthouse pointing to the right. This is the only sign you will see. Take it and kind of follow the road as best you can. How this road ends on the lake, I have no idea!
On a bend you will see what looks like a private road marked for Ballycurrin House. Take it, its not far. When the grass grows thick in the middle of the road, you're there.

Mutton Island, Galway

Built in 1817, this light served Galway harbour for 160 years until replaced by Leverets and left to rot. There have thankfully been recent efforts to restore it to its former glory, (it appears to be freshly painted) though it now shares the ile de mouton with a sewage treatment plant.

To reach it, you need to go to Claddagh. Heading west out of the city centre from Spanish Arch take the turn to the left on the far side of the river. When you hit Grattan Road, you should see the light. There is onroad pay and display parking. The causeway is actually much longer than you think and stay on the Galway city side of it if you want to avoid a drenching!

Galway Harbour (Leverets)

Probably the newest lighthouse in Ireland, this only went up in 1977 to replace Mutton Island. It sits in the middle of Galway Bay guiding boats into the harbour. This photo was taken from the causeway leading out to Mutton Island (killing two lighthouses with the one Fresnel lens) which looks as though it maybe the nearest vantage point.

The Tower of Lloyd

Isn't this a spectacular lighthouse? This giant Doric column was built in 1791 by skilled masons out of limestone. There's only one problem - its over 25 miles from the sea!

It is actually a faux lighthouse, built for the First Earl of Bective on top of a hill to the northwest of Kells so he could watch the hunt and horse racing on the plains of Meath. It is probable Queen Maedbh camped here on her way to capture the Tain of Cooley.

To find it, you need to get to the centre of Kells, to the big junction at the top of the hill. Take the N52 towards Mullingar but almost immediately turn right onto the road signposted for Oldcastle. Pass the round Celtic tower and carry on until you're out of town. Then watch out for the Peoples Park in 300 yards sign and take it when it comes up, though you'll have seen the tower a long way off.

Dundalk Light

Like a big spider sitting in the middle of Dundalk bay, this is one of only three screwpile lighthouses in Ireland, the others being at Spit Bank and at Moville. It was built by Alexander Mitchell in 1855.
This one is by far the furthest from the shore, hence the hazy picture. In fact, according to the road map, it looked as though it should be visible from Blackrock, near Dundalk but though I parked up on the front, I couldn't see it at all. It was only after driving around and onto the Cooley peninsular that it came into view. Actually, I probably stopped a bit early (where the road skirts the sea and is joined by the R174.) I think I should have carried on up to Giles Quay - it might have been a bit nearer.

Aleria (Drogheda) Lighthouse

Three years ago, I made a trip up to Drogheda to see the four lights at the mouth of the Boyne. Three of them are south side of the estuary and the other, Aleria, is on the north side. I managed to get the south side ones polished off but found the one on the north side too difficult to locate. See here.

Recently though I revisited the problem and viewed the lighthouse on Google Earth. Hmm! I thought. Looks like you'd get a much better view from the south side of the estuary. So I drove to the village of Mornington in co. Meath and just where the road bends at a right angle, I took the small road that leads down past the Range Rear and Range Front lights and parked in the little car park beyond. Fifty yards further on and there's a perfect view of Aleria, sitting at the end of her breakwater.

Built in 1936.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Lightship Albatross

Okay no picture but you get a birdseye view here

I received an email from Rob who helps to run a fascinating website primarily concerned with the ships built in the Leith shipyard of Henry Robb
Rob was enquiring about the Lightship Albatross, launched in 1924 and believed to be the oldest Henry Robb ship still in existence. It was moored in Dublin - could I get a picture or two?

I had tried to find it before. After finding the mast and light in Arklow I had attempted to track it down. It had been in Dun Laoghaire where it was used by the Sea Scouts. It was later transferred to the entrance of Grand Canal Dock on the River Liffey but since 2000, it had been moored in Pigeon House Harbour.
Now, Pigeon House Harbour, I presumed, was somewhere along Pigeon House Road, which runs along the south side of the Liffey, all docks area, from the East Link Bridge, almost to Poolbeg Lighthouse. So I asked and asked and asked but nowhere that I stopped on Pigeon House Road knew where the harbour was.
However, since then, I've discovered Google maps and looking at it, there could be only one possible location for the harbour. So this morning, I drove down to it. The entrance to it appeared to lie through the Poolbeg Power Station, so I drove in through the gates (the barrier was up) and parked in the car park. Then I walked to a wall where grave danger apparently awaited if I went any further. Then over a fence and into the harbour, where the disused warehouse to my right was littered with Danger - Keep Away signs.
But no boat.
There was a rather bockety looking fishing vessel on the opposite side of the harbour, with three men working on it. So I walked down and asked them if they knew where the Lightship Albatross was. "London," I was told. "Sailed on Sunday."
As we were talking, another man came along and he told me it had been towed to London to be refurbished into a pub / restaurant. Couldn't remember the place but it was somewhere on the Thames (really?) And he had the exact spot at home and he'd put it up on the Where is She Now website.
So ten years in the one spot and three days before I visit, she sails away! But at least she's gone to a good home.
Getting back home, I can't find this Where is She Now website...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Cleggan Point, co. Galway

Very distant view of the light at Cleggan Point. I had secretly hoped we might have had the time to take the ferry to Inishbofin (where we'd pass much closer to this light and also get to see the Inishbofin Light too) but a combination of a strong wind and an incredulous expression on my wife's face soon put that one to bed.
This was taken somewhere to the west of Cleggan (there is no road to the headland itself) Don't ask me where. The roads are merely joined up pot-holes and completely unsignposted. I was keeping an eye out for it and got lucky in about a hundred yard stretch above the village.
Basically, its another white concrete box lighthouse, what my wife would call "not a proper" lighthouse.

Mystery Lighthouse, Clifden, co Galway

Approaching the western end of the Sky Road out of Clifden, I happened to glance down across the bay and on the far side, noticed this white structure at the end of the headland opposite.
Is it a lighthouse? Could it be some kind of marker that doesn't have a light, like the Metal Man in Tramore, co Waterford? It certainly looks as though it ought to be a lighthouse and one of the Bed and Breakfasts on the Sky Road is called Lighthouse View (there are no other lighthouses in view)
But I can find absolutely nothing about it anywhere!!

Clifden Light

No, of course this isn't a lighthouse but an interesting enough light and I can't find it on Trabas. Situated at the approach to Clifden in, erm, Clifden Bay, this was taken from the Sky Road just outside of Clifden Town.

Inishnee Light, co. Galway

Not much of a photograph but then again, it wasn't much of a lighthouse either. Probably might have done better if I'd have chanced one of the tiny lanes down to the coast just before hitting Roundstone village after continuing on the R341 after Slyne Head. As it was, this was taken from the craft park near the top (south) of the village, looking southwards at midday, hence the silhouette effect.
The light is on the southern end of the island of Inishnee. There is a bridge and road on the island but according to the maps, the road peters out long before the southern promontory. It was built in 1961.

Slyne Head East and West, co. Galway

Two for the price of one I suppose, though I'd have liked to get a little nearer! The one on the left, no longer in use, is Slyne Head East and the black one is, surprisingly, Slyne Head West. They were originally twin lights built in 1837 but the east light was abandoned in 1898. The west light was painted black in 1907.
To get there, drive to Ballyconneely on the R341 and then turn westwards, signposted for the Connemara Smokehouse and other places. Watch out for a hand painted signpost for the Connemara Golf Club on your right hand side (don't drive to Berowne Bay - spectacular views but no lights) Before you reach the Golf Course you go over a small hillock, from where I got the pictures above. Maddeningly, as you get nearer to the lights, they disappear behind Slyne Head itself (the lights are on Illaunamid, an islet further out) until the road ends up in a caravan park and a road saying No Trespassing.

Rossaveel Light, co Galway

Okay, a trip down to Connemara gave me the opportunity to bag a few lighthouses, but with my wife accompanying me, I could not perhaps devote enough time to tracking down some of the more distant ones. A couple of the photos are quite disappointing but the prospect of another journey down to rectify this softens the blow somewhat.
This is the Cashla Bay Light, located at Latitude 53°15.834' North Longitude 009°33.982' West according to the CIL. The lighthouse directory does not list it as a lighthouse, though most road atlases do.
To find it, come into Rossaveel and continue down around the harbour, past the Aran Islands ferry parking, until a wrought iron gate marks the end of the road. There is a pedestrian gate through to the other side but as the light points out to sea, it is difficult to get around to the other side of it. Probably the best view would be from the ferry.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Foghorns fall silent

From the Irish Times January 12th.
THE LAST remaining foghorns around the 7,800km coastline have been switched off “officially” by the Commissioners of Irish Lights and several harbour boards.
However, should a blanket of cloud descend over Fastnet rock it may be that passing craft will still hear a ghostly warning sound from the fog signals for some time yet.
Fastnet is one of three lighthouses which will require a physical visit before the fog signal can be “disabled” – the others being at Old Head, Kinsale in Co Cork and Dundalk in Co Louth.
The Commissioners of Irish Lights confirmed yesterday that some of the signals may still be working beyond the “P45” date of January 11th, but most just required a “touch of a computer mouse” at headquarters in Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin, to be silenced. The commissioner has been disabling fog signals at various lighthouses for the past 20 years and said it issued a marine notice about the remaining horns at nine lighthouses last September.
The Irish lighthouse authority, which depends on light dues from shipping, said that rapid advances in marine technology have rendered fog signals obsolete and they are not an “aid to navigation”.
Dún Laoghaire harbour board, which is responsible for the lighthouse there, decided to follow suit.
Irish Marine Federation chairman David O’Brien, who is editor of Afloat magazine, said that he believed there was still a case for using the signals.
“There are roughly 27,000 pleasure craft around our coast, according to a recent marine federation study. Fog can come in quickly and catch people unaware. Of course commercial shipping has back-up navigation systems but it is not always the case that lone windsurfers, pleasure craft or fishermen will have the same.”
Eddie English, owner of marine firm Sail Cork, said there was “no dialogue” about the decision, and he was aware of many small boats, some of them fishing craft, which would not be equipped with electronic aids.
“I delivered a boat from Crookhaven to Cork in thick fog in the days before chart plotters and GPS, and it was very comforting to hear the signal at Old Head of Kinsale and Roche’s Point, at the mouth of Cork harbour,” Mr English told The Irish Times.
He said he believed the Commissioners of Irish Lights had “compromised safety”, adding: “There is a compelling case for keeping these signals, at least in the ports or harbours where there are a number of small craft, along with recreational users such as windsurfers and kayakers.”

Though the old romantic me mourns the demise of the foghorns, I was in the village of Roche's Point at the entrance of Cork Harbour one time and I had no idea how the inhabitants lived with that racket!