New Year :: New Project

It’s 2021 and I can’t think of anybody who isn’t likely to be glad to see the arse-end of 2020. I was going to do a big review and recap of the stuff I’ve been doing but not blogging about. But I’m not now. It would be tedious to write and more tedious to read. Over the next while, if I can get back into the blogging habit, I’ll slip a few things in as I go along.

So, last Wednesday, I went for a drive. I needed to give the car a bit of a long run. It’s a diesel and has a thing called a particulate filter that gets gummed up if it doesn’t get a decent bit of heat every so often. I got in the car and headed off down the M50, not knowing where I was going to go. I thought Limerick. Maybe Adare. Maybe even Killarney. But when I passed Naas, I decided to turn left and head down the M9. I knew it would be quiet and I wanted to run the car at 2500 rpm for about 20 minutes without having to adjust my speed.

To cut a potentially tedious story very short, I decided I’d go to Dunmore East. I remembered thatched roofs and a harbour from the one time I’d been there before and I fancied a bit of sea. It took no time to get there and, thankfully, I was able to find parking close to the cleanest and best kept public toilet in Ireland.

As I wandered on the beach, watching people playing boules, I looked east and saw a black and white lighthouse in the distance that I recognised from photos but couldn’t remember the name of. A quick Google told me it was Hook lighthouse on the Hook peninsula.

My mind whirred and I decided to visit it. Google maps said 30k and I had nothing else planned. But first I thought I’d have a look at the lighthouse on Dunmore East pier. So I did that.

Let me just say, at this point, that last Wednesday was a beautiful winter day. The sky was blue, the sun was shining, and the countryside was bathed in that clear, bright winter light that makes things look a bit magical. Let me say also that I don’t often set off in my car not knowing where I’m going to end up. But I found the process incredibly liberating.

So, on my way to Hook peninsula, I was texting a friend who referred to a book on Irish lighthouses by, as he put it ‘Roger somebody’. Google helped: Roger O’Reilly. And an idea crept into my head. That I might visit every lighthouse in Ireland as a long-term project-type thing. I mean, I like lighthouses. I have several paintings and etchings of them on my walls. I have a book on them. I’ve tried to draw them …

… hang on. What? Scroll back a bit. Well, how about this? That the project would not only involve visiting them but also sketching/drawing/painting them. Now we’re talking!

Hook lighthouse is actually pretty spectacular.

The compound and visitor’s centre were closed, as expected but, close up, the structure of the lighthouse (the oldest/second-oldest [depending on different sources] working lighthouse in the world) is very impressive. I walked around the perimeter, took photos, breathed in clean sea air, stared at the mackerel sky …

… and tried to help a poor young man whose car wouldn’t start.

The sense of space, both physical and mental from being in such a place, and from having arrived there by accident, and having had such an interesting journey, including an unexpected ferry across an estuary at Passage East, was extraordinary and life-affirming.

But now, having started out early, I was tired and I still needed to get back home, so I headed off towards the M11. The weather was still good and the road was quiet and so the drive was maybe not quite as lovely as the M9 earlier, but interesting and pleasant nevertheless.

And so the project has begun, continued yesterday (New Year’s Day) with a cycle to Dun Laoghaire and a visit to at least the outside of the lighthouses on both the East Pier and the West Pier.

Lighthouse, West Pier, Dun Laoghaire

See you soon!

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