Thursday, April 2, 2009

Loop Head

latitude 52º 33' 39.3"N
longitude 9º 55' 54.1" W

It was not long after we left Kilcredaun Point that that Eddie and I journeyed on towards Loophead. We headed back towards Carrigaholt and took the road that pointed east

Loophead is about 10 miles west of Carrigaholt.You have to head east before you can go west again. The Lighthouse is located in a remote area on the west coast of County Clare. You have to admire the sense of humor of the Irish, while driving these country roads. At one occasion we came across a sign near Kilbana, saying this was the last pub before New York, which is truly not the case. Ireland has many points further west than the Loophead area with other pubs.

Our drive was filled with peace and tranquility as we looked out at the beautiful landscape. The further we went, the more isolated we where, and yet it's the isolation and the green fields that bring the inner peace. We travelled through some quaint villages, one being Kilbana, it was a postcard village with Harbor, small village with shops and pubs and a boat on the pier, I wish we had the time to stop and take some pictures. It was getting on in the day, and I wanted to be at the lighthouse while I had some light to shoot.

Not too far from Loophead we stopped to take a picture of an ancient Church and its graveyard, there we met two young ladies from Kenya. They where very pleasant and chatty, as we spoke the usual Irish mist fell upon us. I asked if they were on their way to Loophead lighthouse and they said yes, they also spoke of their stay in Ireland and how they were working and studying in Ireland.

The world has changed in the years I left, the land once very homophobic. Now it has an ever growing foreign population. You would never have seen 2 colored ladies travelling alone in the countryside, nor would you have seen 2 ladies of any color or race travelling alone, they would always have a male escort, That was then, and this is now. A couple of shots, back in the car and off on our way. As fast as the rain had fallen, it dried up again, it was those dark clouds from Kilcredaun that followed us.

Again following the signs we took a turn that led us to some cliffs. We stopped and looked about but no sign of Loophead. I spied two hikers making their way along a narrow path, again two foreign women, The view was awesome, a fresh breeze blew against my face as I looked out to see. I realize I need to slow down and take my time with my photographs. I shoot for my enjoyment and hopefully capture something for others to enjoy.

Eddie and I got back in the car, turned back and corrected our journey; I don't believe that a GPS would helped us here. The images are tagged with location data and view on Picasa, with a map. Finally, after long drive down these track roads, Loophead Lighthouse came into view. We drove to a parking lot near the Lighthouse, it was deserted, only a handful of people straggling about. We could not get to the lighthouse itself as it was behind locked gates and enclosed by a barrier of a white washed wall. I am not sure if visitors are allowed during the earlier part of the day, But you can get rental accommodation in the keepers house.


The Loop Head Peninsula is situated on the West Coast of Clare. It is surrounded by the waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the Shannon River. It is a place of outstanding natural beauty, unspoilt by the modern world. With wide-screen views to Kerry Head, Dingle and north to the Cliffs of Moher, Loop Head lighthouse has been an 84m-high local landmark since 1854.

A stone cottage style of lighthouse was first built on the Loophead Peninsula in 1672. It housed the keeper and his family, in 2 rooms and a stone stairway led to the roof where the keeper had to tend a coal burning brazier. This fire burned two cart loads of turf and a cart load of furze each day. By the end of 17th Century, Loop Head lighthouse fell into disuse.

1717, Business men petitioned the Irish parliament for a light to be re-established in Loop head, 1720 the light was once again functional. The daughter of a local landlord Mary Wesby was the first light keeper, her contract was for 3 years. Lloyds of London, the main shipping agents would inform her of the time when a ship would reach the Loophead bearings. Knowing this Mary would schedule when to light the fire on the roof of the building. The fire was indicator to ships where land was. At the same time you had rogue fires being lit to lure the ships to rocks, where they would be plundered.

1802, the cottage was replaced by a tower with 4 rooms and a lantern. 1811 the light keeper had an adjoining cottage. 1854, a new tower was erected and in 1888 the present tower was built. Lamps were lit on top of the tower. Eventually tilly lamps (vaporized oil) were used. 1957, everything was converted to electricity . 1991, the lighthouse went automatic. The last keeper was Brendan from Kilbana

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