Customised lighthouse tour August 2015

August 22, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Lighthousekeeters Customized Irish Lighthouse Tour

In 2013 Kathleen Reid emailed me asking if I would be interested in helping devise a custom tour of Ireland, visiting lighthouses and coastal scenes. I was pleased to help and we set about putting together a tour that would take in 85% of Ireland during the month of August 2015. They called themselves The Lighthousekeeters, and were no strangers to going off looking at lighthouses. They had been to Alaska and many parts of the States, but this was to be their first visit outside America

The tour began in Killarney where I picked them up. Paul Hartnett, brother to Tommy was doing the driving for the day and we soon struck up a bond of friendship with our guests as we sped them out to Knightstown on Valentia Island to stay at the Atlantic Villa B&B for the first of 2 nights. Leaving our luggage there we went over to Cromwell Point lighthouse for a guided tour

Cromwell PointCromwell PointCromwell Point lighthouse, Valentia Island, Kerry

The road descends steeply down to the lighthouse and can test the most skilled driver. The lighthouse is well worth a visit with magnificent scenery all around

The following day we went out to Skellig Michael. It was a choppy sea we crossed, and pretty unpleasant coming back. We needed a tarpaulin to shelter beneath as several waves splashed over us. However our visit to the rock was a great success

Helicopter at SkelligsHelicopter at SkelligsIrish Helicopters Eurocopter 135 being flown by Capt. John Mulkearns for the Commissioners of Irish Lights flying to the pad on Skellig Michael. In the background is the gannet colony of Little Skellig with Ballinskelligs Bay and the coast of the Iveragh Peninsula, Co. Kerry. In the foreground is the ancient monastic settlement on Skellig Michael

The above picture shows part of the monastic settlement with Little Skellig in the background. Also in the picture is the Irish Helicopters Eurocopter 135 which was servicing the lighthouse on Skellig Michael

TalkTalkOne of the resident OPW staff gives a talk on the lives of the monks who inhabited the monastic settlement on Skellig Michael

An OPW (Office of Public Works) employee giving a talk on the monastic settlement

After a good wander on the island looking at the monastic settlement and the puffins

Skellig MichaelPuffins and the lighthouse

The above video show the puffins and also the lighthouse which you don't see unless you ask the skipper of the boat to take you round to the west side of the island, something they don't normally do

We returned to the mainland and spent our second night at the Atlantic Villa. Then the following day we set off for Beara, going there via the Sheepdog Trials at Kells near Glenbeigh which is something I had never seen before

Sheepdog trialsSheepdog trials at Kells Co. Kerry

It was fun to watch the collies round up the sheep, obeying their master

And so to Beara to see the peninsula where I live and meet a lighthouse keeper for a great chat. We went for a tour of the peninsula and down to Dursey Sound. Alas there wasn't time to go across in the cable car as we had a long journey ahead of us, going first to Gougane Barra

Gougane BarraGougane BarraThe chapel on the lake in Gougane Barra, the source of the River Lee which flows through Cork city on the way to the sea

the church on the island, where a wedding was taking place. I hasten to add this was not taken on the day we went there. I didn't get out of the bus as it was lashing it down so much. The poor wedding couple, I felt sorry for them

And then it was down to Crookhaven for two nights.

The following day we went on a boat trip to the Fastnet

Rounding the FastnetRounding the FastnetYacht rounding the Fastnet

Yacht rounding the Fastnet. The skipper of the boat, 'The Blue Thunder' commentated that I had picked the perfect day. It was raining the day before and the following day a hurricane blew in. The day we went as the above picture shows it was almost flat calm and I was rewarded with a sailing boat. So we was very lucky

Fastnet chatFastnet chatMichael O'Driscoll telling us about the Fastnet lighthouse

Michael O'Driscoll talking to my group about the Fastnet. Michael operates out of Schull and is by far the best way to go to the Fastnet, and has helped me get there many times over the years.

Visiting the Fastnet lighthouseVisiting the Fastnet lighthousel-r Dave, Vernon, Vicky, Jackie, Brenda and Kathleen on the Blue Thunder boat piloted by Michael O'Driscoll leaving the Fastnet lighthouse

Returning from the Fastnet, Dave, Vernon, Vicky, Jackie, Brenda and Kathleen

After a visit to the Mizen we returned to our B&B near the village of Crookhaven. That evening we walked into the village for fish and chips and also out to view Crookhaven lighthouse. We met up with a couple of locals who were out for an evening stroll and we thought we would wait to see if the light would come on at the lighthouse. It was a longer wait than any of us expected, but we hung around and finally got what we were looking for

Crookhaven lighthouse all lit up after dark

The following day we drove over to Galley Head lighthouse for a couple of nights. I love this place, and take many people there. The Attendant is Gerald Butler who goes out of his way to be helpful and welcoming giving us lots of information about the lighthouse and also a slide show

Galley HeadGalley HeadGalley Head lighthouse near Clonakilty on the south coast of County Cork

Galley Head lighthouse

Galley Head on the south coast of IrelandThe video show the view from the balcony during the day and the lantern switched on at night

The above is a video I shot showing the view from the balcony and the lantern room first during the day and then after dark. Please note I muted the sound at the start of the video due to excessive wind which made recording sound impossible. I am very pleased with the way the night video turned out showing the reflected light of the lantern like going through a room full of mirrors. I can't wait to go back. I have the place booked for next June for the Southern Irish Lighthouse Tour 2016

After Galley Head we headed east visiting first Roche's Point then over to Youghal and then to the Hook

Hook HeadHook HeadHook Head the oldest working lighthouse

It was quite blowy at the Hook which made for some interesting pictures. We spent the night at the Hook Head B&B where Ann O'Shea gave us a very welcoming stay in her charming B&B.

The following day was not great weather wise, but we made the best of it as we headed north to the Rock of Cashel

Rock of CashelRock of Cashel

Inside the Rock of Cashel which is being dried out, a long process as it cannot be done too quickly in case the stones are damaged

We then headed up to Glendalough which was a total washout. My friends got soaked as they went photographing, such a pity but they didn't mind. They told me rain was a novelty to them in Southern California.

We spent two nights at Coolakay B&B at Enniskerry, where we did such things as visit Powerscourt waterfall

PowerscourtPowerscourtPowerscourt waterfall

Powerscourt Waterfall one of the highest in Ireland

We then headed up to Dún Laoghaire to visit the Maritime Museum before going to The Baily for a tour of the lighthouse

The BailyThe BailyThe Baily lighthouse watching over Dublin Bay

The Baily

Baily lanternBaily lanternThe lantern room at the Baily lighthouse, picture by John Eagle

Beneath the lantern at the Baily which watches over shipping coming and going from Dublin Port

We then headed north to the Hill of Tara, which we had a job finding as it was getting dark

Hill of TaraHill of Tara

Hill of Tara

before going to our B&B at Rostrevor in Northern Ireland. We arrived very late. I think our host was a bit worried that we might not arrive at all. When we pulled up outside her door at almost midnight Tommy our bus driver called out to her 'Good morning' which at once put a smile on her face.

The following day we climbed the steep hill behind the B&B and also watched a meeting of pipe bands in the local park before going on our way up through the gorgeous countryside of County Down, visiting St. Johns on the way and going in to see the fog signal machine

Fog signalFog signalFog signal machine at St. Johns lighthouse Down

It is kept in perfect working order even though the fog sirens in Ireland have ceased to operate. Henry looks after this in a loving fashion and it was a joy to see it working. I helped by cranking up the motor then Henry got the machine going

St. Johns fog siren machineA beautifully kept machine for generating the fog signal at St. Johns Point lighthouse in County Down, one of several kept in perfect working order even though the fog signals are no longer used in Ireland

I shot several clips for the above video and then put them together. I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed filming it

Three nights we spent at Blackhead lighthouse perched on a cliff looking out across the Irish Sea to Scotland. While we were there we made a few jaunts, one of them to the Giant's Causeway, and another into Belfast to Glenabbey

GlenabbeyGlenabbeyGlenabbey Church, Belfast

Glenabbey was a new experience for me, an airy modern church with a totally different way of celebrating mass to what I am used to. There was a rock band on the altar with the words to the songs pasted on the wall above them

We met some people at the service who suggested a nice place in Carrickfergus for lunch, then a friend of theirs called Paul gave us a spirited talk and walk round the castle and town

Paul came with us on a tour of Antrim, and one of the highlights was seeing the waterfalls in Glenariff

Ess-na-Crubb makes a lot of noise

Ess-na-Laragh is totally awesome involving a walk up a ravine to see this gurgling churning force of water

Leaving Blackhead we returned to the South going to Buncrana in Donegal to see where John Newton came ashore after being shipwrecked. He wrote 'Amazing Grace', once a slave trader he changed his ways and became involved in the abolition of slave trading

Crossing over on the ferry from Buncranna we made out way to Fanad lighthouse

Fanad Head lighthouseFanad Head lighthouseThe Kathy Reid tour group on the helicopter pad at Fanad Head lighthouse, Co. Donegal

Dave, Vernon, Vicky, Kathleen, Brenda and Jackie at Fanad which is looking really nice after a lick of paint. We hope it is opening shortly so we can all go and stay there

Our bed for the night was at the Sandhouse near Donegal.

The following day we went off to see the Slieve League which are the highest cliffs in Ireland

Slieve LeagueSlieve LeagueSlieve League Ireland's highest cliffs, Co. Donegal

The Slieve League, in Donegal are free to visit and amazing to look at

We headed south to Rosses Point after looking at the cliffs and spent the night at the Yeats Country Hotel. On the way there we stopped off at Carney near Sligo because Jackie's maiden name is Carney. There was traditional Irish music to be heard in Austies at Rosses Point

AustiesAustiesMusic session in Austies, Rosses Point, Sligo

Traditional Irish music being played at Austies

Leaving Sligo in the morning we drove down through Mayo into Connemara for our night's stay at Abbeyglen Castle Hotel

Abbeyglen CastleAbbeyglen CastleAbbeyglen Castle Hotel, Clifden, Connemara

Abbeyglen Castle at night

AbbeyglenAbbeyglenSupper at Abbeyglen was a gorgeous affair, a meal we shall all remember for a long time to come. The manager of the hotel Brian Hughes took the picture. l-r Jackie, Vernon, John Eagle, Kathleen, Dave, Tommy, Vicky and Brenda

Supper at Abbeyglen Castle Hotel in Clifden

Abbeyglen CastleAbbeyglen CastleAbbeyglen Castle Hotel, Clifden, Connemara

During the day. Lovely weather greeted us the following day, we were obviously doing something right. At home in Beara it was lashing it down

DonkeysDonkeysDonkeys in Connemara near Clifden

A drive along the Sky Road followed, we went the wrong way and had to back track and were rewarded with these lovely donkeys

Then we went south to Roundstone where the weather was totally different, sunny one minute and frantic showers the next, still that meant rainbows and I got a super one in Roundstone harbour

RoundstoneRoundstoneRainbow at Roundstone, Co. Galway

Rainbow in Roundstone

After Roundstone we went to visit the Quiet Man bridge

Quiet Man BridgeQuiet Man BridgeTommy Hartnett's bus going over the bridge made famous by John Wayne

The Quiet Man bridge in the wilds of Connemara, made famous by John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara. Here is our bus driven by Tommy Hartnett going over it

We followed the coast to Galway for our night in the Galway Bay Hotel, right next door to a fairground. I treated Vernon to a spin in the big ferris wheel and did a video with the Iphone which I uploaded to Youtube and then deleted by accident. So we just have the memory of riding high above the twinkling lights of Galway

In the morning we made our way to the Burren, where we went for a tour inside Ailwee Caves

Ailwee CavesAilwee CavesInside Ailwee Caves in the Burren of Co. Clare

Inside Ailwee Caves

Our bed for the next three nights was at Loop Head lighthouse

Loop HeadLoop HeadLoop Head lighthouse in Co. Clare

Loop Head lighthouse late afternoon

Loop HeadLoop HeadLoop Head lighthouse in Co. Clare

and all lit up as the remains of the sunset fade away

During our stay at Loop Head we went to Doolin for a boat trip on the Happy Hooker

Happy HookerHappy HookerOne of the Doolin Ferries that sails to the Aran Islands, seen here arriving at Inisheer pier

The Happy Hooker docking at the pier at Inis Oirr

During our time on the island we went for a pony and trap ride

PlasseyPlasseyThe wreck of the Plassey, made famous by Father Ted where it can be seen on the intro to the tv comedy

The Plassey which features in the intro to the tv comedy Father Ted on Inis Oirr

Pony and trapPony and trapOur pony and trap on Inisheer (inis Oirr) the southern most Aran Island with the lighthouse behind

Visiting the lighthouse at Inis Oirr (Inisheer) is Sam the horse with Eanna at the reins. Standing at the back is Tommy, in the cart Dave, Vicky, Jackie, Brenda, Vernon and Kathleen

Leaving Clare we crossed over the Shannon, passing Tarbert lighthouse on the way, then headed south to Tralee to sample some of the atmosphere connected with the Rose of Tralee. I think we were all surprised to find so few people in the town. I sat listening to music being pumped out by some female DJ and there was hardly anyone around. It was finals night and the place was like a ghost town

We headed out to Fenit to keep an appointment to visit Little Samphire Island for one of the best lighthouse tours in Ireland

Little SamphireLittle SamphireLittle Samphire Island lighthouse in Tralee Bay

Little Samphire Island lighthouse

My third visit to the lighthouse this year, my first was in January to accompany a Wild Atlantic Way official, then with the Southern Irish Lighthouse tour in June. The tour ranks high in my list, up there with the tours of the Baily and Galley Head because we get to see the lantern room and are shown round by someone who knows what he is talking about rather than by a young lad doing something for his school holidays

Our bed for the last two nights of the tour were at Heatons B&B in Dingle

While in Dingle we went for the popular boat trip to see Fungie

FungieFungieFungie the dolphin in Dingle harbour

Fungie the dolphin. He has patrolled the harbour's mouth to Dingle for 33 years

Also while we were in Dingle we went to St. James Church for a folk music concert. This is the place where such famous music legends as Steve Earle and Amy Winehouse have performed

This video was shot with my Iphone and is not of the same quality as those shot with my Canon 5D mk3 but hopefully you will enjoy it

l-r Eoin Duignan, Damien Mullane and Donogh Hennessey

Folk concertFolk concert

It was a great way to end a really great tour.

Kathy and I had lunch with Vicky today and Vicky mentioned how when people return from vacations they are glad to be back.  But with us there was some sadness that is was over.  I forwarded your email with the blog address to the others.  Hope it all turns out well for you.  Our friends ask us how was our vacation.  One of the things I tell them is none of us has a negative thing to say about our time in Ireland. Dave Reid

If you have been inspired by this and would like to come on a private customised tour with us then please visit my website

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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