Monday, 6 May 2019

Lighthouse Island: V

Lighthouse Island with Mew Island in the Background


Most of us got out of bed early on Sunday morning, certainly before eight o'clock.

The kitchen in the cottage is the hub, in a sense.

I had brought twenty sausages, with potato farls and soda farls.

Rosie & Nick supplied more bangers, with fresh farm eggs and bacon.

We used the three gas cookers and fried the lot.

The grub was placed in the centre of the table and we all tucked in.

Timothy Belmont was, as ever, amongst the leaders in the race to the food-trough.

Thus the troops were nourished and prepared to stride down to the Heligoland trap for a final push.

We managed to complete about 80% of the trap.

The bird observers might need to finish it off themselves; there's now a good basis for completion.

Thereafter we assembled out tools, placed them in the wheelbarrows, and left for the observatory at the top of the island.

I went for a stroll afterwards with Ron.

The remains of the "new" lighthouse (above), in the courtyard at the back of the observatory, are used as storage for fire-wood.

The original lighthouse was more of a square-shaped tower affair and some of it still exists beside the new lighthouse.

The top half of the lighthouse has been shorn off, so the open roof affords a panoramic view of the island and beyond.

Mew Lighthouse

Mew Island, adjacent to Lighthouse Island, has the main lighthouse.

It is named after the common gull or sea mew, Larus canus, which nested there in great abundance during bygone years.

Mew Island

It was not until 1969 that electricity powered the lamp on Mew Island.

The light was converted to automatic operation, and the last keeper left the island in 1996.


AT ABOUT FOUR O'CLOCK, we all packed and tidied up, locked up and took our belongings down to the jetty, where MV Mermaid was waiting to convey us back to Donaghadee harbour.

It was a wonderful experience, though I think forty-eight hours was sufficient for self!

Incidentally, a few of us were bitten by what are thought to have been bracken mites: We have several hives to prove it!

First published in September, 2012.


Anonymous said...

The bites may have been from bracken mites which are found on the island. I don't wish to pry,but if the bites are around your middle the mites could well be the culprits!

Anonymous said...

Neotrombicula autumnalis, the bracken mite, harvest mite or chigger. The larvae attach to various areas on the body particularly the waste, ankles, under arm and other unmentionable parts. Found on bracken everywhere across the country in the autumn. Incredibly itchy. Info on them here:

Glad you enjoyed your stay on the island.

Anonymous said...

Quite a number of years ago I used to drink in Donaghadee pubs with one of the last ( assistant ? ) lighthouse keepers of the Copeland light before they became automated , judging by the amount of beer he could consume in a bar session in Grace Neills or the Moat, the story goes he treated his alcohol free time at the lighthouse as a type of withdrawal but he always managed to make up for it when he was back on dry land after his ( dry ) spell of duty. One of the great stories which is still recounted about this particular chap is one cold night during a party at his house the coal was all used up so the merry chap got out the axe and proceeded to chop up his own back door for firewood to keep the guests warm , needless to say there were some pretty wenches at the party which he wasn't going to risk their leaving if the house became too cold so it was worth sacrificing a back door.