Saturday, December 29, 2018

Straw Island, Inis Mor

Travelling over to Inis Mor on the ferry from Rossaveal, the next light you come across - apart from a very brief glimpse of Eeragh beyond the northern point of the island - is the lighthouse on Straw Island. As my wife would say, this is a real lighthouse and is remotely operated from CIL HQ in Dun Laoghaire.

Built in 1878, the lighthouse here sits on a very low-lying rock of land on the approach to Kilronan, the largest settlement and landing berth of Inis Mor, the largest of the Aran Islands. So low-lying is this island, that it is believed that the light is in danger of being washed away. In 2014, it was extensively damaged by a storm.

The Aran Islands consist chiefly of three islands running in a string from northwest to southeast across the mouth of Galway Bay. Inis Mor is the largest, then Inis Maan and then, closest to the Clare coast, Inis Oirr. In 1818, a light was erected on the highest point of Inis Mor and this was deemed sufficient to safeguard marine activity in the vicinity.

However, as with several other lighthouses around the country - Wicklow Head and Cape Clear, for example - it was soon evident that the light was built at too high an elevation and was frequently shrouded in mist and cloud. Therefore, they decided to build one light at the top of the chain of islands (Eeragh) and one at the bottom (Inis Oirr) and this was done in 1857, when the original light was dicontinued.

However, the islanders soon came to realise that neither Eeragh nor Inis Oirr was in fact visible from Killeany Bay, the natural harbour that protects Kilronan, the main port on the islands. So they petitioned for  a harbour light. And, with their usual speed and efficiency (in the nineteenth century), a light was eventually established on Straw Island in 1878.

It appears from the map that it should be possible to view the lighthouse at close range from land by taking the coast road past the airport and then striking out to the left when this road turns right. However, it does not seem to get you any nearer than the ferry, which passes very close, though of course, a steadier hand than mine would have got better pictures!

Photographs 1-5 on this page are taking on the approach to Inis Mor.
Photographs 6-7 are taken leaving Inis Mor.
Photographs 8-10 are taken from the old lighthouse in the centre of Inis Mor.

53°07.065' North 09°37.840' West

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