Friday, February 11, 2022

An early drone's view of Poolbeg lighthouse 1812


This post may be terribly confusing to younger people, so I'll approach this difficult subject in baby steps.
There was a time in history before drones were invented. Its a long time ago now but few and far between were your lovely aerial views of lighthouses, islands, villages etc that you see today on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram (none of which were around either)
Prior to this, aerial views were normally obtained from either aeroplanes or helicopters or simply by climbing up to some higher ground like a mountain, which naturally limited your choice of view.
Even before aeroplanes and helicopters, but not before mountains, man looked up to the skies and dreamed of soaring in the blue firmament like pterodactyls. Then somebody had the bright idea of filling up a big bag with hot air, attaching a basket to the bottom of it and the science of aviation was begun.
It is generally acknowledged that the first balloon ascent was made in Paris in 1783 by Pilatre de Rosier, who sounds suspiciously like an Aldi wine. Less than one year later, Britain's first aeronautist was a pastry cook from Oxford called James Sadler. After practising with inflatable vol-au-vents for several months, he approached the local university with his plan to soar like a bird and, with the help of public subscriptions, made the first 30 minute flight.
After about a half dozen successful and longer flights, it was a case of 'been there, done that, bought the t-shirt' and, through his connections with the university, concentrated on engineering, inventing a number of things like a steam engine for pumping out docks and a non-recoil rifle. He got an engineering post with the Admiralty but, when they dispensed with his services in the early 1800s, he fell on hard times and went back to ballooning to pay the bills, appearing at venues around England.
In 1812, he decided to attempt the first crossing of the Irish Sea by balloon. He set off from Belvedere House in Drumcondra and was soon past Poolbeg, from where the above picture was taken. (I say 'picture' but there were no Iphones in 1812, not even cameras, so this picture, which was obviously done with the help of some long invisible selfie-stick, was done with brushes and woad)
Sadler got to Anglesea like a breeze but then managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by deciding he wanted to land in Liverpool, as he didn't really trust the Welsh. Turning north, to catch the westerly air currents, he ditched in the sea and was picked up by the crew of a doubtless bemused, and hopefully Welsh, trawler. He died, largely forgotten, in Oxford aged 75.
The first successful crossing of the Irish Sea was made by Sadler's son, Windham - an apt name - in 1817. Sadly Windham was doomed to die in a balloon accident several years later when his basket hit a chimney in Blackburn Lancashire and he was catapulted to the ground head first sixty feet below.
But of course, all that takes second place to the rare aeronautical drone shot of the Poolbeg lighthouse in 1812. This was the first lighthouse on the site, having been built as early as 1767 and was destined to be replaced in 1820 by the current incumbent.
The picture below, by one Jonathan Fisher, who was more at home on the water than in the air, gives another aspect of the old lighthouse. Both pictures would have been printed on something called 'paper.' 

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