"" Writer's Wanderings: Dingle to Loophead

Monday, October 24, 2011

Dingle to Loophead

Only in Ireland can you find lyrical names for towns like Dingle and Doolin. Sadly we said goodbye to Dingle. I could have lingered there. If we ever return to Ireland, it will be top on my list. We drove along the coast to Tralee and then headed north to Tarbert where we boarded a ferry to cross the Shannon Estuary to Killimer. Of course we stopped along the way for pictures. You don't accumulate over 1400 pictures without stopping here and there.

We traveled out the Loophead Peninsula to the Loophead Lighthouse. Why? I can't remember. It was a long trip out there and the closer we got the more the weather deteriorated. But there it was--a beautiful white lighthouse sitting on the rugged coast of West Clare. We were warmly welcomed by the two men who were manning the lighthouse--actually they were there primarily for the tourists, I think.

While the group ahead of us explored the lighthouse, we sat in a small cozy room and watched a video of all the things to see in the area which was very informative and came in handy later. When our turn came, one of our hosts announced that we would be delayed. A heavy rainshower had moved in and the winds had picked up. Even if we didn't blow off the top of the lighthouse, we wouldn't be able to see much. He gave us the option of waiting it out.

After two weeks of seeing Ireland's weather changes, we decided to wait. We knew the weather changed faster than it did in Cleveland (a local joke) and it had been a long drive for nothing if we didn't get to the top. Sure enough in about ten minutes, he announced that it had cleared enough for us to safely make it to the top.

Our guide to the lighthouse gave us the pertinent information before we began our climb. The first lighthouse on Loophead was built back in 1670 and was basically a platform on the roof of the keeper's house where a coal burning brazier or chauffer (a metal container for hot coals) was positioned. In 1802 it was replaced by a more conventional lighthouse with a lantern. Along the way to present day, a fog horn was installed (but discontinued in 1972) and electricity added. Today the lighthouse is completely automatic and actually monitored from Dublin. With modern GPS direction today, lighthouses are really becoming decorative.

We climbed the curving stairway to the top. Just before he opened the door, the guide told us to hold onto our glasses or anything else not attached permanently to us. The wind was ferocious. This was not an Irish tall story. It was. And the rain was still coming down although it had slowed some. Our view was a bit foggy. This is what we would have seen if it had been a clear weather day.

Wet but refreshed, we got in the car and drove back to the main road to our next stop--The Cliffs of Moher.

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