Southern Irish Extreme Lighthouse Tour
In the final week of June each year I run the Southern Irish Extreme Lighthouse Tour, starting with Inisheer and making its way along the Clare, Kerry, Cork, Waterford and Wexford coastline. It was christened 'extreme' by one of the participants of the very first tour back in 2009, for the lengths I will take to make sure you all have a really great time getting to lighthouses. Each year I tweak it just a little bit to make it as good as possible. In 2014 I added a trip to Little Samphire Island which proved to be a wonderful experience, and in 2015 we are hoping to visit Ballycotton island and lighthouse.
The idea of the tour is to take people up close and personal with as many lighthouses as possible and get into them wherever possible. Loop Head, Little Samphire Island, Hook Head
Guided tours of lighthouses are becoming more and more popular. The Hook, shown here, was one of the first to open to the public. The oldest working lighthouse in existence once looked after by monks in the 15th century. Loop Head opened up a couple of years ago, we go up the tower of that also and get given a guided tour. Then there are the boat trips, like the one to the Fastnet
seen here at dawn after a storm. The story there was we should have gone the previous evening but the weather was too bad so we went at dawn the following day when it had calmed down a bit. The Fastnet is a good way out to sea and it can get quite choppy, and if you can cope with that good pictures can be got. In 2014 it was flat calm for all the trips except the Fastnet. We went to Inisheer in the Aran Islands first, followed by the Skelligs and Bull Rock on water that was like a mirror, then the day after the Bull we went to the Fastnet and there was a good swell which caught many out. If you suffer from sea sickness, or you are not used to being on the water, then please take sea sickness pills.
Skellig Michael is one of the favourite places we go to, see here from an aerial photograph I took in 2011 showing the Little Skellig in the background. Skellig Michael hit the headlines recently when the Star Wars film crew went there to do a scene for the next instalment of the long running sci fi franchise. Monks used to live here, in beehive dwellings on the eastern side of the island and you can see them on a guided tour. There are several steps up to the dwellings, and if you look closely you will find many other steps on pathways. There used to be two lighthouses on Skellig Michael, one higher up which was discontinued when Inishtearaght came into being. A replacement was built much lower down and now this too has been replacement by a new ultra sophisticated led light which stands on the balcony. These new lights are replacing the old traditional revolving lanterns we all know and love. Sadly they are being replaced, but the point of the Irish Lights service is safety at sea at the best cost. One of the most costly parts of the service is the helicopter
and it burns up a lot of fuel. Here we see the Eurocopter 135 lifting off from Ardnakinna lighthouse on Bere, which we will see from the boat as we head out to the Bull Rock during our visit to Beara. The new lights can run for many years without being tended to.
As well as viewing most of the lighthouses along the south coast of Ireland, Inisheer, Loop Head, Kilcredaune, Tarbert, Little Samphire Island, Skellig Michael, Ardnakinna, Bull Rock, Roancarrig, Sheeps head (at a distance) Copper Point, Fastnet, Galley Head, Hook Head, Ballycotton, Roche's Point, Youghal, Dunmore East, Duncannon North, we also get to stay at one. Yes folks we spend two nights at the wonderful Galley Head lighthouse. We stay in the Keeper's Cottage, where the light floods into the bedrooms.
here is an opportunity to work on your night photography skills. You can sometimes be lucky with the clouds here, as my picture shows and in the lantern room if we are allowed up there is a real treat
So please think about joining me on my yearly tour along the south coast of Ireland, it is a lot of fun and we get to talk with many people who have spent their lives working in and around lighthouses
If you would like to find out more about my annual tour then please check out Southern Irish Extreme Lighthouse Tour