Lighthouses

Loop Head Lighthouse

30.0075.00

Loop Head Lighthouse at the head of the Shannon estuary in county Clare in Ireland’s south west.

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

Loop Head (Irish: Ceann Léime, meaning “leap head”), is a headland on the north side of the mouth of the River Shannon, in County Clare in the west of Ireland.

The handsomely weathered Loop Head Lighthouse is located at the tip of the Loop Head Peninsula, which is the furthest point west on the Clare coastline.  The wild and rugged Atlantic coast, with spectacular views down to the Kerry coast and across to the cliffs of Moher provides a breath-taking backdrop to the station.

There has been a lighthouse at Loop Head since 1670.The first lighthouse was one of the six cottage style structures built around the coast by Sir Robert Reading. It took the form of a small cramped dwelling for the keeper and his family with a stone staircase rising to the open roof where in a corner a brazier roared through the night to warn shipping of the dangerous coast. A small part of the remains can still be seen seen near the keeper’s dwellings.

At the rear of the lighthouse is a gigantic Éire sign etched into the headland. This was used to alert passing Allied aircrews that they were flying over neutral Ireland during World War Two.

The area is rich in legends. The story goes that Cuchulainn was on a hunting trip in the midlands when the witch Mál caught his eye. For fear that she might enchant him, Cuchulainn took to his heels and fled west until he reached Loop Head. With a mighty leap he jumped across to the sea stack known as Diarmuid and Grainne’s rock, quickly followed by Mál. Back he leaped and so did she. But Mál had misjudged the distance and landed on an overhanging ledge. The rock gave way and with a mighty roar she plummeted seventy metres to her doom in the churning waves below. Three days later, her head washed ashore, giving rise to the name Hags Head and later her body was discovered near Quilty, and to this day the bay is called Malbay! The scene of the jump became known as Ceann Leime, or Leap Head, and with the passage of time, this became Loop Head.

The present lighthouse, which stands 23 metres high, was built in 1854. The range of the light is 42 kilometres with a character of white flashing light four times in 20 seconds. The station was converted to electricity in 1971, and automated two decades later in 1991.

Location:    52°33.672’North, 09°55.938′ West.

Elevation:   84 m

Character:  Fl (4) W 20s

Range:        43 km

A Note from the Artist

I made my way down from Kilbaha to the carpark at Loop Head on a clear but blustery day. The scenery as you’d expect is spectacular with sheer cliffs and waves crashing below. I took a walk down to the old enormous EIRE sign- a relic of WWII and intended to alert any axis or allied planes that they were now flying over neutral territory- and drew the lighthouse from that vantage point, setting it high on the horizon. You really feel you’re on the edge of the world here, with nothing between yourself and the eastern coast of the US and Canada.

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