Blackhead Lighthouse, County Clare


Blackhead Lighthouse standing lonely sentinel on the Burren headland along county Clare’s wild atlantic coastline.

A4 (210 x 297mm) : 250g/m² archival art paper

A3 (297 x 420mm) : 250g/m² archival art paper

Artist: Roger O’Reilly

The artist signs each poster.

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A Bit of History

Like a homesick dalek gazing out to sea, County Clare’s Blackhead lighthouse sits perched atop the otherworldly surface of the Burren’s coastline. An Bhoireann meaning “the great rock” or “rocky place” forms the northern part of County Clare. Bounded by Galway Bay above it and the Atlantic Ocean to the west, the region is an otherworldly karst landscape of porous limestone which supports arctic, mediterranean and alpine plants side-by-side, due to the unusual environment. “Not a tree whereon to hang a man; no water in which to drown him; no soil in which to bury him.” was the description of the district by one of Cromwell’s generals, a man who presumably had little interest in orchids or dolmens.

Post World War One, trans-Atlantic liners regularly called at Galway either allowing tourists to visit the city and the Aran Islands or collecting emigrants. The captains of these visiting liners were used to anchoring their vessels off Ballyvaughan, east of Blackhead and impressed on the Galway Harbour Commissioners that a light was vital to aid their mooring under the headland. Negotiations took place over the provision of a light and eventually the Harbour Commissioners agreed to cover some of the capital costs and maintenance of the light if it were installed by Irish Lights. The light came into operation in 1936.

Three years later, the outbreak of Second World War brought trans- Atlantic liner traffic to a halt and in the post war era it never recovered. As they collected no light dues from Blackhead, the operation became a financial burden on the Galway Harbor Commissioners and they sought to divest themselves of it as soon as possible. Irish Lights were reluctant to take it over. The Galway merchants threatened to close it down. Political wheels turned in Dublin and London and eventually in 1955 it was decided that it would come back into the Irish Lights fold. Of all the participants in this escapade, the one who came off happiest was the attendant keeper who found that his wage under his new employer would increase by £30 and that he would no longer have to cycle the nine kilometres a day to light up and extinguish the lantern!

By February 2002, the gas light was change to a solar power.

Location:     53°09.253′ North, 009°15.839′ West.

Elevation:    20 m

Character:   Fl WR 5s

Range:          W: 20 km, R: 15 km

A Note from the Artist

Like a forlorn Dalek gazing out to sea, diminutive Blackhead lighthouse sits on the Burren cliff blinking at passing maritime traffic. I wanted to capture the warm sunlight as it sets on this alien landscape and get a little feeling of how isolated this spot is.



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