Saturday, October 30, 2021
Monday, October 18, 2021
Loop Head today (By Charles W Glynn, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1909644)
'In far Loop Head did somebody a stately small lighthouse erect ...'
Sunday, October 10, 2021
The South Rock lighthouse three miles off the coast of county Down is, as we all know, the oldest wave-washed lighthouse in the world, still standing and is therefore criminally overlooked by our maritime historians, possibly because it is difficult to get up close to. The only surviving Thomas Rogers lighthouse, I'd better do a decent post about it soon, but for now, this post is about the keepers.
Built in 1797, the first keepers and their families lived in the tower itself. It was a single family operation, no relief keepers, and a boat came once a week from Newcastle pier, the nearest place on the shore. The pier had been constructed specifically to aid the construction of the lighthouse and lay in the townland of Newcastle, on the southern shore of Millin Bay. (This should not be confused with the town of Newcastle further down the county Down coast, though I confuse the two frequently)
It is said that the first keeper was a man named McCullough and there is a possibly apocryphal tale of him bringing his twelve year old son to the fair in Portaferry. It was the son's first time off the rock and he was naturally dumbfounded by the sights and sounds around him. Eventually, the father told the boy that he'd buy him one thing that he wanted. Earlier, the father had referred to some girls as goats. "Sure I'd like you to buy me one of them goats," the son replied.
After 23 years of being a one keeper, live-in station, the South Rock was turned into a three-keeper operation in 1820 with three keepers' cottages constructed by the Newcastle pier to accommodate them. The photos above and below are from the north side of Millin Bay and my thanks to Nick from Holywood for going to the bother of taking them for me. The rutted lane down to the coast is now in a pretty bad state and is frequently waterlogged. The cottages, when built, were single storey dwellings though they are now two-storey.
One of the first men to avail of these cottages was a keeper called Walter Adamson. Like Michael Wishart, he hailed from Fife in Scotland and may have been another Stevenson recommendee. He must have been the Principal Keeper for his annual pay in 1821 (when he was 51 years old) was £66 15s. By 1844, he had retired on a pension of roughly half that amount. He died in 1856 and his wife Jane in 1864, both being buried at nearby Slanes graveyard.
Tuesday, October 5, 2021
Friday, October 1, 2021
Yet another lost lighthouse, short-lived and precious little known about it. Any further information would be gratefully received. A photo would be nice, but I don't hold out much hope!
It looks as though the other neighbour, James Murphy was present at death. He may have taken over the running of the lighthouse after John's demise.
If James did take over, he didn't have long to express his lightkeeping skills as the current red lighthouse shone forth on the new Rosslare pier on July 15th 1906. I doubt the house on the cliff top was pulled down. Maybe the railway used it for something else. Anybody know?