Northern Irish Lighthouse Tour 2015

September 07, 2015  •  1 Comment

The 2015 Northern Irish Lighthouse Tour

August 30th to September 6th

We met up for the tour at Bunratty, collecting people from Shannon Airport and having our first meal at The Creamery in Bunratty village before heading off into the lush wilds of Clare to Fortfield Farmhouse for our first night.

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

We made our way to Doolin on the 31st to board the Happy Hooker for a cruise up through the Aran Islands calling in at Inisheer

Inisheer lighthouseInisheer lighthouseInisheer lighthouse, Aran Islands, Galway

Inisheer lighthouse which we visit on the Southern tour, we passed it by on our way into the harbour to let some passengers off before heading first to Inishmann before reaching our destination Kilronan at Inishmore. Here we were met by John Faherty who took us for a tour of the island in his minibus. First stop was the ancient cliff face fort of Dún Aengus

Dún AengusDún AengusThe cliffs at Dún Aengus on Inishmore, Aran Islands

Dún Aengus, Inishmore

Inishmore lighthouseInishmore lighthouseInishmore Napoleonic signal tower and old lighthouse tower

We also visited the old lighthouse that stands on top of a hill. It was discontinued because it was forever getting obscured by low cloud, being replaced by Straw Island and Inisheer lighthouses. Next to the old tower is the ruin of the Napoleonic signal tower which was built over 200 years ago as a defence against the forces of Napoleon. A signal would be sent to the next one along the coast and so on back to Dublin should a sighting of an invading army be seen

Straw Island lighthouseStraw Island lighthouseStraw Island lighthouse near Inishmore in the Aran Islands

Straw Island lighthouse marks the entrance to Kilronan harbour on Inishmore

From Inishmore we took the high speed ferry Draiocht Na Farraige to Rossaveal

Draiocht Na FarraigeDraiocht Na FarraigeThe high speed ferry Draiocht Na Farraige Aran Island ferry at Rossaveal

Draiocht Na Farraige at Rossaveal

Tommy Hartnett our bus driver was waiting for us at the ferry terminal, and drove us up through Connemara to The Helm in Westport for supper before taking us up to our wonderful B&B Brú Chlann Lir in Blacksod

We spent two nights here and during our time saw three lighthouses, Eagle Island, Blacksod and Broadhaven, and also Downpatrick

BlacksodBlacksodTour members at Blacksod lighthouse, Mayo

Lisa, Greg and myself at Blacksod lighthouse

BlacksodBlacksod2015 Northern Irish Lighthouse Tour members at Blacksod

2015 Northern Irish Lighthouse Tour members at Blacksod lighthouse l-r Kathy, John, John Eagle, Lisa, Greg, Claudia and Oliver

BroadhavenBroadhavenBroadhaven lighthouse, Erris, Co. Mayo

Broadhaven lighthouse, recently painted

Eagle Island lighthouseEagle Island lighthouseThe sad looking Eagle Island lighthouse, Erris, Co. Mayo

Eagle Island looking more like some castle in southern Spain. The tower has been squashed in, and the contents of the interior removed. The policy of Irish Lights is to provide safety at sea. I am seriously thinking of removing this from future Northern lighthouse tours as in my opinion it no longer resembles a lighthouse

DownpatrickDownpatrickDownpatrick Head, Co. Mayo

Downpatrick Head which we all enjoyed visiting, so breathtaking. After spending a couple of hours there we went for tea at the Ceidin Fields where if you have a good sense of imagination you might believe the stones in the bog resemble some ancient buildings. Still it provides employment to several people

DownpatrickDownpatrickKathy Cavalier at Downpatrick

Tour member Kathy Cavalier close to the edge at Downpatrick

That evening we went to Blacksod after dark to see it all lit up. As we arrived an Irish Coast Guard helicopter showed up


Irish Coast GuardIrish Coast GuardIrish Coast Guard helicopter at Blacksod helicopter pad, Mayo

The Irish Coast Guard helicopter took quite awhile to cool down

Oyster IslandOyster IslandOyster Island, Rosses Point, Sligo

September 2nd saw us go north to Sligo and see the lights there, like Oyster Island above and The Metal Man below

The Metal ManThe Metal ManThe Metal Man, Rosses Point, Sligo

The Metal Man always generates lots of interest, standing there all alone pointing into the channel the boats must use to pass safely to Sligo or out into the Atlantic

We then carried up the coast to visit St. John's Point at the entrance to Killybegs Harbour

St. John's PointSt. John's PointSt. John's Point lighthouse, Co. Donegal

St. Johns used to be the place where the helicopter servicing Rathlin O'Birne landed. I flew from here out there. Rathlin O'Birne was once powered by nuclear energy.

After lunch in Killybegs we took shots of Rotten Island lighthouse and then headed over to see to the Slieve League cliffs

Slieve LeagueSlieve LeagueSlieve League, Ireland's highest cliffs on the south coast of Donegal

Slieve League are the highest cliffs in Ireland are currently free to visit. They make a spectacular vista for photographing.

Carrigan HeadCarrigan HeadThe Napoleonic signal tower at Carrigan Head, Slieve League, Donegal

This is Carrigan Head, on which stands a Napoleonic signal tower, part of the chain of towers on headlands along the coast. The head is part of the Slieve League cliffs

We spent the night at the superb B&B The Railway Lodge in Donegal town, and headed into town for some entertainment at the Reel Inn

Reel InnReel InnLive traditional music at the Reel Inn, Donegal

A regular feature at the Reel inn are the musicians making it a must to visit

Above is a short video I shot whilst I was there

Refreshed from our visit to Donegal town we headed north the next day to Fanad, the jewel in the Donegal coast

FanadFanadFanad lighthouse on the north coast of Co. Donegal

Fanad Head all painted up in readiness to open to the public, which we hope won't be much longer

We headed south to Letterkenny after taking pictures of Fanad. There is a ferry across Lough Swilly but the tide was low and we had trouble before getting our bus onto the ferry so we thought we would go south and round the head of the lough, then up to Buncrana and east to Redcastle for our night's stay at Inishowen Lodge. We got to see Inishowen lighthouse while we were there

Inishowen lighthouseInishowen lighthouseInishowen lighthouse to the north of Greencastle, Co. Donegal

Tour member John Kennedy lining up the lighthouse for his next shot

We went to visit this little lighthouse as well, one I had not seen before. It is called Warrenpoint and stands on the edge of the Greencastle Golf Club, the members of which were most helpful in letting us walk out to it to take pictures

Into Northern Ireland the following day for a visit to the Bushmills Distillery, then the Giants Causeway where if you want a cup of coffee you have to pay a cover charge of £9 to gain admittance to the visitor's centre. if you just want to see the Causeway entrance is free which is kinda bizarre. You get charged an entrance fee to get refreshments and buy souvenirs, but to visit the Causeway you just make your way round the centre and walk down the lane. It was very wet when we were there so I didn't go to the rocks myself on this occasion. I was there in August and got to take some pictures. I must go back there when there aren't so many people around

Our bed for the next two nights was at Blackhead lighthouse

Blackhead lighthouseBlackhead lighthouseBlackhead lighthouse, Co. Antrim

Blackhead after dark with the lights of Bangor in the distance

Blackhead lighthouseBlackhead lighthouseBlackhead lighthouse after dark

Blackhead all lit up

September 5th saw us take a drive round Co. Down

Donaghadee lighthouseDonaghadee lighthouseDonaghadee lighthouse on the Co. Down coast

First up was this lovely lighthouse on the pier at Donaghadee

DonaghadeeDonaghadeeThe seaside town of Donaghadee on the Co. Down coast

Donaghadee on the Co. Down coast

We made our way down the coast passing Angus Rock and Ardglass lighthouses crossing over Strangford Lough which derives from a Viking name meaning strong current. The tides here move swiftly and making use of them is a water turbine machine

PortaferryPortaferryTommy Hartnett's bus waiting to go onto the ferry at Portaferry, Co. Down

Our bus waiting to go on the ferry at Portaferry which was a boat building community for many years

St. John's PointSt. John's PointSt. John's Point lighthouse, Co. Down

St. Johns Point was a delight to visit, the sunshine was plentiful and it was warm

Ireland's only black and yellow lighthouse, made famous by Brendan Behan and his painting skills

No visit to the lighthouse is complete without a visit inside the fog signal machine and to hear it run

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

The above video I shot in August, but Henry obliged us with getting it working again. He keeps it in perfect working order

St. John's PointSt. John's PointSt. John's Point lighthouse, Co. Down

St. John's as we left, silhouetted against the bright sun

September 6th we departed Blackhead early o drive south to visit the Baily for a wonderful tour of the lighthouse

The BailyThe BailyThe Baily lighthouse watching over Dublin Bay

This is where the Keepers for the Irish Lights service were trained and it was the last lighthouse to be automated

The BailyThe BailyThe lantern at The Baily

The lantern at The Baily watching over Dublin Bay

Our tour lasted two hours and then we had to part company and go our different ways. A great week


St. John's DownSt. John's Down

Last but not least here is a group photo of the Northern Tour 2015 members

l-r: Lisa, Greg, John K, Henry (Attendant at St. Johns), Kathy, Claudia, Oliver and John Eagle










Deirdre Sheehan(non-registered)
Looks like a great tour John
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