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What the papers say

Praise for artist/photographer John Eagle

2 Lighthouse books and a collection of postcards


Irish Lighthouse Tours review by Amanda Driscoll at IrishCentral

In a thrilling 8-day tour of the coastal lighthouses of Ireland, John will take you to rugged and remote scenic locations to view the buildings that have withstood the battering of the Atlantic for more than a hundred years.

The Southern Tour includes travelling across Inisheer Island by pony and trap, by boat to greet the puffins of Skellig Michael and walking over dizzying sea gorge foot bridge at Mizen Head. The Northern Tour will take you through the Connemara hills where John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara filmed ‘The Quiet Man’, to walk in Finn McCool’s footsteps on the Giant’s Causeway and even allow you to stay for 3 nights in Blackhead Lighthouse.

These lighthouse tours are a great way to discover the true Ireland that can often be hidden behind the more promoted places. What better way to get to know Ireland than to dive head first into the rugged beauty of the coastal regions in search of these fort-like buildings, each with a story of its own, that have silently stood the test of time and weather

My Collins Press book 'Ireland's Lighthouses ~ A Photo Essay by John Eagle' was reprinted in May 2013. We got it almost perfect in 2010 but there were a couple of small typos, 1 little error with Howth old tower and since its publication the lights have been changed at Bull and Roancarrig


Blog by Peter Goulding about my book


Ireland's Lighthouses praise for John Eagle
Front cover Back cover of my book showing the praise I received


The County

Featured on the front page of The County March 13th 2012 regarding my tours of Irish lighthouses

Loop roots ~ Peter McDermott Echo Arts & Lifestyle. Irish Echo

One of my great grandmothers was born and raised in West Clare, which she left for Dublin as a young woman. Family information retained who lived in her villageinto the late 20th century said that her maternal grandmother before her was known as the 'woman from the West'

That ancestor didn't come from Arizona, however or some other unlikely far flung place. Rather, she was from Loop Head which is that southwestern tip of Clare, easily identifiable on maps and satellite pictures at the mouth of the Shannon Estuary. They said that she walked barefoot the 15 or so miles eastward shortly before her marriage.

The two obvious features I recall from my own visit to Loop Head were the mounds of rubble that had once been family homes and its lighthouse, which was established on May 1st 1854.

All that makes me favourably disposed towards 'Ireland's Lighthouses A Photo Essay by John Eagle'.

The author photographer tells us that Loop Head tower was built on the site of the original 17th-century cottage type light. It was electrified in 1971 and automated 1991.

Eagle writes. 'Please be advised if taking small children that, while the land surrounding the lighthouse looks great for playing on, the cliffs are unprotected and very dangerous.

'I spent the night there,' he adds, 'to take pictures for the Irish Landmark Trust, a wild location but simply heavenly in the snug keeper's cottage.'

Indeed the keeper's cottage is available to let as a self catering vacation home, he tells us.

'It is remote, a place to get away and have a great escape from the busy life,' Eagle says.

The Loop Head lighthouse itself may not be the prettiest of the 80 or so featured in this splendid volume, but the peninsula was selected as an EDEN in 2010, ie European Destination of Excellence.

'Ireland's Lighthouses A Photo Essay by John Eagle is published in paperback by Collins Press/Dufour Editions (7 x 10 format; 216 pp)

The Extremes of Eire

Kim Fahlen

Published in the Lamp Winter 2011/2012

The quarterly journal of the Association of Lighthouse Keepers

It was extreme! Our Irish lighthouses caper was extremely exciting, extremely fun, extremely well organized, and with an extremely cordial company of fellow lighthousers.

Artist, photographer, and author John Eagle organized, then led a fantastic tour of his adopted and beloved southern Eire. Nine travelers representing England, Germany, and the U.S. gathered in Bunratty on 15 August. (The only two non-members of Association of Lighthouse Keepers were soon, let’s say, formally introduced to it. That’s our Keith Morton!) John graced us with a slide show of his photographs and paintings. Though he specializes in lighthouses, John leaves no doubt as to the intensity of his affection for the landscapes and moods of the counties Kerry and Cork. And of his sheepdog Suzie.

After a day or two of witnessing the colors of Ireland, I rendered a confession to John for what I came to realize had been uncharitable thoughts. Though I certainly had not voiced it outside my mind, during his above-noted photo showing, I wondered at the rather unnatural, exaggerated blue coloration of so many pictures. Ireland may own “forty shades of green”, but near Irish waters, green will be outnumbered by hues in blue!

Our compellingly charming, accommodating, and skillful driver, Tommy Harnett, gave perfect balance to John’s caring, easy-going, and mellow demeanor. Maybe it was just we Americans, but oh, how we laughed that we could understand John or Tommy (sometimes!) when they spoke individually, but when to each other, barely a word could we comprehend! Travel in the mini-bus was congenial as scenes changed outside its windows. 

“If it’s Tuesday, it must be County Clare.” So it was as John uttered, and our first lighthouse to call on was the 1854 Loop Head, a classic Irish beauty with its spirited orange, out-reaching, curved lantern railing and white bracing stanchions. Loop Head was newly opened for public visitation, so this allowed an interior ogle. In spite of the affronting (okay, necessary) wire netting that prevented proper appreciation of the lens rotation equipment, we had access to the outside gallery. From there, looking up into the lantern glazing, we saw azure sky and sea and puffy clouds reflecting in the ever-turning ‘faces’ of the fine old optic.

East along the Clare coast is the enchanting squat stone tower of Kilcredaun. Another George Halpin-engineered lighthouse, it began service in 1824. (George Halpin, Sr. was Engineer to the Port of Dublin Corporation in the early-mid 1800s.) The interior was eye-catching—paintwork was meticulous everywhere. And there is a fairy door that leads from lantern to gallery. Attendant Steven Rowan was kind and generous with his time as he spoke about the light station. But melancholy was sneaking into round corners. The light is dark now, permanently discontinued in March.

The lighthouse at the Shannon estuary stands every bit as self-respecting as when it was built 177 years ago, undaunted by two 400-500-foot Tarbert Power Station chimneys nearby. We passed Tarbert light crossing by ferry, on which two of the most remarkably sorriest-looking black birds were mooching a ride.

It is a contented lighthouse on Little Samphire Island—maybe because of the company it keeps with the beautiful Slieve Mish Mountains along the Dingle Peninsula. We trekked along the water’s edge to get nearer the 1854 light station, and leave it Gerry! He would know that “samphire” is a plant that grows on rocks by the sea. He found some growing there and had us all tasting it, saying that it is used in salads in fancy restaurants. Speaking of restaurants, we dined as a group for most meals along our travels, which made for a lot of fun.

Each one of the three “extreme” lighthouses we experienced could own a pages-long narrative, and certainly, a photographic one. Ineffable panoramas just getting out to Michael Skelling, Bull Rock, and the Fastnet fill a person with wonder! The lighthouse structures themselves tend to lack the appeal of the old ones; their 1960s lantern design is all business. It is the shock of orientation on and within the rock, the placement of tower and dwellings and multifarious stairs leading to them from the sea, the trusted derrick platforms, and the helicopter pads that are extreme!

From Portmagee on the 17th we sailed to the great sea-crag of Skelling Michael. Before disembarking at Blind Man’s Cove, our boat skipper circled the island so we could view the lighthouse. It peeked at us behind rock until we came to face it full on, high on its 53-meter (174 feet) perch; the 1960s-era structures were built on the site of the former 1826 North Station. As we rounded the island, we also caught the extant 1826 North Station tower, standing at altitude nearly twice that of its mate.

Skellig Michael is awe-inspiring! This multi-pinnacled nugget of red sandstone and purple and green slate plunges 90 fathoms (540 feet) to sea bottom and reaches a height of 230 meters (755 feet). The variety and abundance of bird-life and sea-life are renowned, so too, the relics of a 6th century monastic Irish Christian settlement 182 meters (597 feet) above the sea. Congratulations to our brave-hearted (foolhardy), steel-witted (out of their mind) climbers who got to the top, or at least, to the clochans (monks’ huts): Kirsten Hempelmann and Claus-Peter Troch, Nancy Olson, John Eagle, and Gerry Douglas-Sherwood. Impressive!

The vertiginous, open, uneven stairs cut into the stone with all that sea and sky surrounding, and with dizzying height and depth, is no joke. If only the monks had installed handrails, Laura Chewning, Bette Keeping, Keith Morton and I would have gone for it, though Judy Weeks would not have left her perch just up from the boat dock.

In late afternoon we stopped at the Valentia Slate Quarry that operated on and off for nearly 100 years, beginning in 1816; Valentia Slate was famous worldwide and even roofed the Paris Opera House. (Ooooo, Phantom of the Opera.) There were piles of handsome gray slate and great slabs that we wanted to carry home. Tommy stopped his bus for us to snap some pictures of Point Cromwell and the light station on Valentia Island. Then we had an unplanned visit inside the Skellig Experience Visitor Centre, where there is a treasure of Skellig Michael lighthouse history that includes keeper family photograph albums, graphics depicting lighthouse construction, Irish Lighthouse Service china, and much more.

Our group absolutely fell in love with the Ring of Beara—the spectacle of mountain, sea, and colorful villages was beguiling. The “back to school flowers” were everywhere; that’s what John called the bright orange Montbretia that blooms in late August. John had arranged an evening meeting with former CIL PK Richard O’Driskoll at his home overlooking Coulagh Bay in Eyeries. PK O’Driskoll spoke of many things. His career with CIL had spanned 48 years and eight months and he was “the last man on the rock”, meaning he was the last keeper at the Fastnet. He said the greatest problem there was the landing and that at the Fastnet, it was “all horse-work with all the rigging and 105 steps.” How many of us have ever given thought to the fact that keepers had to undergo “inversion training” for helicopter travel?

As for the lighthouse at Michael Skellig, PK O’Driscoll confessed that there were “times when there would come static on the back of your neck.” “It’s unusual on the Skellig,” and he observed that the island had a “liquid peace” where you “could rub fulmars on the head.” Tuskar Lighthouse was the station he liked the least: “Dirty weather. Dirty landing.” About the Bull Rock Lighthouse, PK O’Driskoll declared, “I used to give three years working on it. Souls on their way to hell pass through here.”

So, the next morning, ten other souls swaddled into life preservers and straddled seats aboard a high-speed rib to get out to that Bull Rock. We passed the bright white Ardnakinna Lighthouse on Bere Island that marks the western entrance into Castletownbere in Bantry Bay. Built as a beacon in 1850, this tower was not converted to a lighthouse until 1965.

We were allied in extreme excitement as the great Bull Rock got bigger and bigger as the rib closed in on it! Just how does a helicopter pilot have the nerve to land at these offshore stations? What a thrill that our boatman was willing to take us through the rock’s tunnel! Ha! As we cruised through, the boatman beamed, “I’ve never done this before!” It was the stone dwellings of the light station that were most impressive—their almost prison-like construction, now in ruin and consigned to oblivion, made them spooky as if all the windows were gaping mouths crying out.

It was perfectly extreme to come upon the frightfully low-to-the-water Calf Rock, a “relative” in legend, of the Bull. The remaining rusted base of the 1864 cast-iron lighthouse tower looks huge up close! The rest of the tower was swept away by hurricane-lashed seas in 1881. I wish I had an idea of the time it took for men to cut stone away to make stairs on all these rock stations. Surprisingly, outbuildings and dwellings on the Calf are of red brick and hump-backed (though stone may be underneath); the whole scene has a curious, intense appeal.

Sky was wonderful as we passed Copper Point and then Roancarrig Lighthouse in Bantry Bay, which made the tower’s black band striking with the white. The station on its long, narrow island was Halpin-designed and first lighted in 1847. Across from it, Hungry Hill along the Beara Peninsula was bathed in moody blues.

Galley Head! It’s a beautiful station with its biform lens and turquoise blue on handrails, weight-tube, lens pedestal, etc. And no wire netting was there to scold us to keep away! The tower is immaculate and there is no way you will find a cuter lighthouse attendant! Gerald Butler belongs to a family recognized for its long and exceptional service with CIL; even his mother preceded him in tending the station. He couldn’t have been more friendly and willing to talk with us.

We read about it, see many pictures of it, daydream about it, and think we know it well, but the thrill of coming face-to-face with the Fastnet lighthouse is the ultimate extreme! Sailing around it, witnessing the massive fabric of the rock, and of the transition of tower into it, had us spellbound! The barricaded windows and doors of the 1897 barracks looked like a patchwork quilt, especially because the hinges look like stitches, but it’s a sorry and abandoned ‘quilt’. Actually observing the limitations keepers lived with, and the danger even in good weather, was jolting. Here we were really watching the Fastnet’s mighty optic rotate, the one in all the books with the little man standing beside it. The entire sight surely gave us “food and thought for future years” (Wordsworth), though even now, it’s hard to believe we were really out there.

So often we were lucky with the light and sky that gained us advantage for the bazillions of photographs we snapped. This was too true as we looked across Roaringwater Bay to Crookhaven Lighthouse. Earlier in the afternoon (the 20th) we had visited the Mizen in soft sunshine. We crossed the new footbridge—the gorge below is spectacular! The structures that formerly belonged to the fog signal station of 1909 and, ultimately, the 1959 lighthouse now offer displays related to life at the point. A film about earlier times at the Fastnet runs in one room, in others, are CIL-related documents and antique radio equipment.

Something extreme, by way of disappointment, is within the visitor areas at Mizen Head—it is the particular way in which lighthouse lens panels are displayed. Undoubtedly with good intent, but simply hung against walls that allow no light and air behind them is injury to the senses. But there is much clever, meaningful Fastnet-related activity at Mizen Head, all of which is a ‘must-see’.

Our last night together was back in Bunratty, near the castle. John Eagle, our new BFF, had organized a fantastic, memorable tour and departing was the least fun of it all. There is so much more that might be noted, so many funny incidents, new friendships, places we stayed, villages we passed, and times that we will happily recall, but I’m out of adjectives. Believe that our caper to the Eire lighthouses was… extreme.


A personally photographed collection of postcards
John Eagle
who lives in South West of Ireland

Ireland's Lighthouses A Photo Essay by John Eagle

Review by Kathleen Finnegan The Lighthouse Digest

The first time he saw Roche’s Point Lighthouse marking Cork Harbor, John Eagle knew he was smitten: ‘Coming from an inland town, there was so much excitement in the sea,’ he explains, ‘and lighthouses encapsulated all that.’

John Eagle's passion for lighthouses and their history is evident in the pages of his latest book. Through his spectacular photography and brief histories, it is plain to see where that passion comes from.

Eagle's new soft cover book is 210 pages and features 81 lighthouses. The book is broken down by county with a listing of each lighthouse with one or more incredible photographs of each along with brief history, characteristic details and even directions on how to get there.

A fun book to browse through and read; and the perfect companion book to take with you on your next trip to Ireland, even if that trip is only though the pages of John Eagle's latest book.

The book is available from Lighthouse Books

'Perseverance pays off' David Bedlow, Commissioners of Irish Lights
'The postcard collection is worth every penny' Lorna Siggins, Irish Times
'Eagle's photography is so precise you can almost hear the pounding surf' Jennifer Henderson, Postcard Collector magazine
'Eagle eye for picture perfect way to make an impression' Alannah Hopkin, Examiner (Cork)
'A HARSH beam of light that flooded into John Eagle's bedroom in the
middle of the night eleven years ago changed his life forever.' Brenda O'Neill, The Irish People


Ireland's Lighthouses - A Photo Essay by John Eagle

Written by Christine

John Eagle laughing

Photo of John Eagle by Paul Kelly of Studio 3 Photography

He’s been a rapper, a writer, a forklift driver – photographer, artist and ‘extreme lighthouser’ John Eagle talks to Christine O’Sullivan about flying, painting and the secret of his creativity...

On his eighth birthday, John Eagle was given a simple Kodak film camera as a present from his brother. He smiles at the recollection of using up the entire film taking pictures of the Cutty Sark clipper ship in London. A sensitive child, often distracted in class but inclined towards art and nature, he maintained a casual interest in photography throughout his teens. It was not until he was 23 and steadily employed, however, that he was able to advance his interest. With the prospect of a regular income he blew his first week’s wages on a beginner’s Canon camera. “I remember the thrill of going out to buy it. I wore it out, just blasting off photos.”

Since moving from Oxford, England to the Beara Peninsula in Co Cork 19 years ago, Eagle has been deeply inspired by the shores and mountains of his adopted home. He is a seeker of the remote, finding solace in places where the power of nature is tangible. It is something of this thrill in the elements that underlies his love of lighthouses, about which he’s just produced his second book: Ireland’s Lighthouses – A Photo Essay. “It’s the loneliness of lighthouses that appeals to me, they are always in exposed places where there are few people.”

He started taking photographs of Ireland’s lighthouses in 1993, turning them into a series of postcards and in 1997 An Post featured one of his photographs on a postage stamp. He published his first book, An Eagle’s View of Irish Lighthouses in 1999 which features photographs and technical details of 50 lighthouses around the Irish coast.

Beeves Rock

Almost immediately after this book was published he started re-taking shots with improved camera equipment and set about the task of photographing all of Ireland’s lighthouses. His latest book is the culmination of over ten years’ work. Some of the photos were taken on land but the majority are stunning aerial shots that he took as a passenger on board the Commissioners of Irish Lights helicopters.

At 6’6” and taking a size 14 shoe, Eagle is a man of imposing stature, and it is tempting to speculate whether his fascination with these towering guardians of the coast is in any way linked to his own height. He refuses to be drawn on this theory, however, and neatly deflects the question with an anecdote from his travels: “one time the pilot Mick Conneely picked me up to fly me around the Aran Islands in the new Bolkow helicopter. He said to me ‘this is the new extended version, even you can fit in!’” Eagle finds lighthouses ideal subjects to photograph, adding, in characteristically ironic style, “they stand out and don’t move around too much.”


By 2004 he had all his images ‘in the can’, and the book’s long gestation represents his dedicated repeat trips to take enhanced shots. The new book features eighty lighthouses, but, according to Eagle, the total number spanning all 2700 miles of Irish coastline varies depending on who you talk to. “I have a wall chart and come to a different figure every time I count them. I was speaking with a lighthouse attendant recently who reckons there are about 95, but I suppose that includes all the minor lights and those in ruins.”

Whether travelling by helicopter, boat, or on foot, the project has taken Eagle all around the Irish coast. When visiting lighthouses such as Loop Head in Co. Clare, he enjoyed staying in the keeper’s cottages, some of which have been sensitively restored by the Irish Landmark Trust ( and are available as holiday rentals.

Oil painting of Inishtearaght

Photography represents only one half of Eagle’s oeuvre, however, as he is also an established oil painter known for his powerful landscapes, seascapes and illumined forest scenes. Often depicting dark, mist draped mountains and stormy Atlantic seas, his paintings are slanted interpretations of real-life scenes mined from memory. On a deeper level, he says, his paintings are highly metaphorical and express an emotional response to the “turmoil” of the world. Often a small house embedded in a valley represents himself, sheltered by the mountains.

Eagle works fast, typically completing a canvas in 30 minutes. “I have to put the energy into a painting to make it work. I never think about what I’m going to do, I just paint. The paintings are very personal to me.” He has exhibited widely in Ireland and his work is currently on show at The Gallery, Lauragh, Co Kerry and at

Through the mediums of painting and photography he juxtaposes the ‘fact’ of the camera with the ‘fiction’ of the brush. “They are two extremes,” he admits. “Photography is precise whereas painting isn’t. I don’t try to be precise when I paint. I’m not interested in trying to make an exact scene. People ask me where a painting is of and I tell them I haven’t the faintest idea.”

Escapist tendencies have always threaded through his work, and in earlier incarnations took the form of writing fantasy fiction. “When I lived in Oxford I used to cycle home in my lunch break, which took fifteen minutes, have something to eat and then rush upstairs to my typewriter before cycling back to work, all within the hour.” However, when John relocated to Beara, he realised that writing was not to be his vocation: “when I moved I found I couldn’t write because I no longer needed the fantasy break. I had been trying to escape.

Growing up in Oxford as the youngest of three boys, it is perhaps not surprising that John, 56, has strayed into the world of book publishing, as his late mother Dorothy Eagle co-wrote and edited literary guides and The Oxford Illustrated Dictionary. Having left boarding school at sixteen, he worked variously painting narrowboats, repairing racing catamarans and as a hospital porter. It was whilst working as a forklift truck driver in an Oxford car parts factory, however, that he started travelling and he soon came to view the job merely as a means of financing his trips. Between 1977 and 1984, camera in hand, he made multiple visits to Hawaii, Canada and San Francisco. After twenty-six years at the factory he decided to take voluntary redundancy and in 1991 exchanged the suburban streets of Oxford for the rugged mountains of Beara.

Eagle’s links to the area stretch back to the early sixties, when his mother bought a holiday home near the village of Eyeries. The family enjoyed idyllic summer holidays all through the next three decades, and he felt so drawn to the dramatic landscape and quiet way of life that in 1991 he decided to move to Beara for good. “I like the slower pace of life, being away from the hustle and bustle. I don’t get bothered too much.”

While kept busy chronicling local news and social events with his photography, he also finds time to host an annual tour of Cork and Kerry lighthouses. On last year’s tour the participants dubbed the experience ‘extreme lighthousing’ after being severely tossed about in a boat bound for Kerry’s Skellig Michael lighthouse, and the name stuck. The crew were American lighthouse fanatics, of which, according to Eagle, there are many. “There are lighthouse societies all over the world and several magazines devoted to the subject. The guys that took part in my tour were using specialised satellite navigation devices to track the boat’s location in relation to landmarks and lighthouses - they were serious.”

When not flying in helicopters, he finds time for more sedate pursuits such as making scale models of aircraft and sailing ships. Back in 2000 he even overcame his self-professed shyness to flaunt his rapping skills at a local concert, performing with Beara artist and musician Tim Goulding. The resulting track, O’Mané, found permanency on Goulding’s ‘Midnight Fry’ CD (

Whether through the lens, brush or even microphone, it can’t be denied that Eagle embodies his motto: “if you want to be creative do it your way and don’t pay heed to people who tell you it is wrong.”

Ireland’s Lighthouses – A Photo Essay by John Eagle
The Collins Press €19.99 (

Photo of John Eagle by Paul Kelly of Studio 3 Photography.

All other photos by John Eagle.

'Perseverance pays off' Ireland's Lighthouses A Photo Essay by John Eagle reviewed by David Bedlow, Commissioner's of Irish Lights (retired)

I well remember John Eagle's first telephone call to Irish Lights, nearly twenty years ago, to put forward his proposition to photograph Irish lighthouses and to publish the images as postcards. I consulted the Inspector, we thought about it, and permission was given. Over the following decade, and longer, John gradually photographed and made postcards depicting all of the lighthouses of Ireland. The postcards have become widely known, particularly among lighthouse cogmoscenti.

Now the photographs have been collected together, with some additional ones, and published in an attractively produced book. John's accompanying text includes details of the lighthouses, their location, a little bit of history, his experience of taking the photos, and the equipment used. The details refer to the present structures but in a small number of cases the dates are not quite correct. for example, Charles Fort light was exhibited from a window of the Fort from 1804, the present structure was built on the Fort in 1929. John has these dates reversed in the Lighthouse Details table though corrected in the text. (The first lighthouse at this site, known as Barry Oges Castle, was established c1704 and discontinued some time later.) Scattery Island tower was built in 1872 not 1993, the original originally proposed moveable light was never completed. Donaghadee Lighthouse was converted to electric, unwatched automatic, in 1934 not 1981 and has the distinction of being the first electrically operated lighthouse in Ireland. The term 'de-manned' can cause confusion since it is not necessarily synonymous with 'unwatched' or 'automatic'.

However, this is primarily a book of photographs. But these are not convential, glossy picture-postcard photographs. Many were taken under difficult circumstances, sometimes through the window of the Irish Lights helicopter in poor weather. Often there was little time to compose the shot: John had to take his chance when he could. These pictures need to be looked at carefully to be fully appreciated. Many are remarkably and subtly beautiful. Flowering shrubs and a cloudy sky at Youghal, rock formations at Skelligs, a bird's eye view of the island of Inishtearaght, the white painted cut stone of Scattery island tower, the walls and small fields of Inisheer, waves breaking on the stone beach of Inishgort, a tranquil sea at Mew island. this photo essay is a testament to John Eagle's perseverance. Give yourself time to appreciate it.

Ireland’s Lighthouses:
A Photo Essay by John Eagle
For Seamark members who like to keep up to date with their
collection of Lighthouse books, there can be no better addition than
the latest edition from John Eagle. We are all familiar, I am sure,
with the superb collection of Irish Lighthouse postcards that John
has produced, there can be few to match it.
Ireland’s Lighthouses, A Photo Essay by John Eagle will
take a lot of beating. This new edition is a complete essay of the
lighthouses around the Irish shores in superb colour photographs
of breath taking brilliance. The text is brief and to the point and I
enjoyed reading the many short comments he has made both about
how he was able to take a particular photograph and how he got to the
lighthouse in the first place! I know you will enjoy every one of the 160
pages in this book.

Seamark vol 22 2010

Evening Echo

The Evening Echo July 23 2010


The cover of the Weekend supplement of the Irish Examiner July 17 th 2010, showing the Tuskar Rock. Inside were several more pictures of lighthouses by John Eagle to go with an article by Conall Ó Fátharta on 200 years of Irish Lights and a review of 'Ireland's Lighthouses - A Photo Essay by John Eagle'

Every picture tells a story

LIGHTHOUSES are one of those things that hold a certain fascination for people. It is a fascination John Eagle was determined to capture by photographing all of Ireland's often spectacular lighthouses dotted around the coast. A project over ten years in the making, the photographer has published pictures and informationon all of Ireland's lighthouses in his new book Ireland's Lighthouses: A Photo Essay (Collins Press €19.99)

Ligthouses have always been a passion for the English born photographer who now lives on the Beara Peninsula in West Cork. The first time he saw Roche's Point marking Cork Harbour, John was hooked. 'Coming from an inland town, there was so much excitement in the sea and lighthouses encapsulated all that,' he admits.

Lighthouses have played an importnat role in Ireland's extensive and dramatic coastline since the 5th century. As Stuart Ruttle, chief executive of The Commissioners of Irish Lights, explained in the foreward to the book. Ireland's rugged coastline necessitated the building of lighthouses in inaccessible places. 'Marking extreme headlands, islets and rock outcrops, lighthouses by necessity were built in those inaccessible locations which challenged design engineers, defied logistics and inflicted hardship on the skilled construction workers who built them all those years ago,' he wrote.

John made several trips by boat and helicopter to capture the images of these wind-swept, wave-lashed buildings. Bringing together striking photographs of Irish lighthouses, with informative text on their details, locations and how to find them, Ireland's Lighthouses is sure to delight all those fascinated by these isolated guardians of the coast.

Conall Ó Fátharta, Irish Examiner July 17th 2010

John Eagle is the publisher of two books on lighthouses, a postcard set and several oil paintings on them.
He became interested in lighthouses when sailing from Wales over to Ireland on the ferry boats, which passed by Roche's Point, the Tuskar and others. In 1991 he moved over to live permanently in Ireland, buying a traditional Irish farmhouse in West Cork. Taking pictures of lighthouses became prolific when he was given permission to fly with Irish Helicopters on their trips to the lighthouses carrying Attendants and engineers going out to service them.
From these helicopter flights he took pictures using Canon cameras to great effect, and made postcards. These he numbered, and gave details of each lighthouse on the backs of the cards; usually 4 to 5 lines of text. He would make half a dozen, sell them to collectors and make enough money to make another half dozen. This hand to mouth existence lasted from 1994 to 1999 when with the help of Peter Williams he produced his first book 'An Eagle's View of Irish Lighthouses' which was launched in the Maritime Museum in Dún Laoghaire by the then RTE TV and radio presenter Tom MacSweeney (who has since retired). This, as he admits, opened the doors to a lot of attention and got him noticed, and more important provided him with the financial resources to continue his desire to make a postcard of every lighthouse on the Irish coastline. This he achieved in 2004, adding two more for good measure a year later. The complete set numbers 99 and he adds in a free personally signed one to make up the hundred.
In 2008 John took part in a lighthouse painting exhibition in Dungarvan, exhibiting several oils he had painted of lighthouses.
It was while making postcards of the remaining lighthouses that he took new pictures of ones he had already covered, using much better camera equipment like the 21.1 mega pixel Canon EOS 5D mk2. A new book became a passion
and he approached Con Collins of the Collins Press in Cork in March 2009. Con liked the idea and offered John a contract. The new book 'Ireland's Lighthouses A Photo Essay by John Eagle' was published in May 2010 by The Collins Press.
John Eagle continues to live in West Cork where he conducts lighthouse tours for people visiting the country and also workshops on photography. He also built and looks after his lighthouse dedicated website at
John Eagle (Ireland)
Word Lighthouse Society Member

World Lighthouse Society 2nd quarter 2010

Eagle's passion for his subject and his photography is clear to see and this volume takes the reader on an encapsulating journey around Ireland's coast. In addition to the excellent photography each image also carries an informative guide on the lighthouse location, history, structure and most importantly how to get there. Ten and a half years in the making, journeying by helicopter and by sea, John Eagle has compiled a stunning collection of photographs in this fascinating book which will appeal to lighthouse enthusiasts, those with an interest in the Irish coast, and anyone with a general interest in photography. Sea Breezes June 2010


Lighthouse locations are usually spectacular and they have their own special character as engineering feats, mostly of 19th century or earlier vintage. It took photographer Eagle ten years and some perilous journeys by sea and air from his home in the Beara Peninsula to capture these shots of eighty lighthouses. Each has a description, access notes, with map references and how to get there, facts, figures and history. This is exceptionally well planned and designed, and should satisfy the most demanding connoisseur, hill walker and arm chair traveler. Books Ireland Summer 2010


a stunning new paperback photo essay, entitled Ireland’s Lighthouses, which has just been published by maritime photographer, John Eagle, for Collins Press. Lorna Siggins, The Irish Times May 2010

Beara based photographer's new book on Irish lighthouses by Jackie Keogh, Southern Star May 8th 2010

Galley Head John Eagle with Suzie
Galley Head, one of the stunning photos from the book 'Ireland's lighthouses a Photo Essay by John Eagle' John Eagle holding a copy of his new book, with his dog Suzie, picture by Christine Pelican

The first time he saw Roche’s Point Lighthouse marking Cork Harbour, John Eagle knew he was smitten: ‘Coming from an inland town, there was so much excitement in the sea,’ he explains, ‘and lighthouses encapsulated all that.’

Lighthouses have played an important role on Ireland’s extensive and dramatic coastline since the fifth century, lighting the way for many a cargo and passenger ship ensuring those who made their living on the sea made it home safely.

As Stuart Ruttle, Chief Executive, Commissioners of Irish Lights, says in his foreword to John's new book "Ireland's Lighthouses, A Photo Essay by John Eagle": 'Marking extreme headlands, islets and rock outcrops, lighthouses by necessity were built in those inaccessible locations which challenged design engineers, defied logistics and inflicted hardship on the skilled construction workers who built them all those years ago.'

During a project that spanned two decades, John Eagle made several daring boat and helicopter trips to capture unique images of these wind-swept, wave-lashed buildings. "Ireland's Lighthouses" brings together these striking photographs with informative text on their details, locations and how to find them.

John was born and raised in Oxford, where he studied photography, but in 1990 he came to live on the Beara Peninsula in West Cork. It was a place he found while on holidays with his brothers and mother, Dorothy Eagle, who famously co-wrote The Oxford Literary Guide to Great Britain and Ireland with Hilary Carnell, and also edited Harvey's Companion to English Literature and the Oxford Illustrated Dictionary.

Anyone who has ever visited his website – – could not but be impressed by the majesty of his photographic studies of Ireland's lighthouses, but there are other strings to John's bow...

His paintings – mostly landscapes done in oils on canvas – are equally beautiful but less stark than the dramatic photographs of Ireland's lighthouses and seascapes. His artwork can also be viewed on line or at the more intimate setting of 'The Gallery' in Lauragh.

John Eagle is well known too through his work as a freelance photographer and his photographs are regularly featured in 'The Southern Star' as well as 'The Irish Examiner'.

He has fans too in 'The Irish Times' having received many glowing reports by that august newspaper's marine correspondent, Lorna Siggins, who reviewed his previous book "An Eagle's View of Irish Lighthouses".

When his first book was launched at the National Maritime Museum in 1999, people marveled at how well he photographed these immobile pieces of architecture that are placed in some of the most inaccessible locations along our 2,700 mile coastline.

Thanks to Capt. Mick Conneely and Capt. Mick Hennessy of Irish Helicopters, John was able to go where many photographers had not gone before – barring those employed by the Commissioners of Irish Lights.

Having moved to West Cork to enjoy the good life, John had the good fortune to receive support from Barney Whelan of Salmara, the former ESB fish farming division, in 1994 to publish his images as postcards.

The postcard collection of some 100 lighthouses is an extraordinary collection and to this day it continues to sell all over the world. The collection is available to view and to buy on his website or from the Mizen Vision Centre.

John's work has appeared in international publications and his stunning image of Baily lighthouse in Howth was reproduced over a two-page spread in "Lighthouses Around the World: A Pictorial History".

Speaking to 'The Southern Star', John acknowledged that he has had to rely on a lot of help, but he said: 'I have met some wonderful people, including light keepers during their last days before automation.'

He said he is especially appreciative of the help he has received from Capt. Mick Conneely and Capt. Mick Hennessy, who have spent years servicing lighthouses for the Commissioners of Irish Lights, and local boat owners who have helped out when the best shot to be taken was one taken at sea level.

Like his mother before him, John through his work shows a commitment to perfection


A Touch of Nostalgia

John Eagle says he doesn't put 'modern things' in his oil paintings, "no cars, no concrete structures and the roads are usually unsurfaced." His perspective is driven by memories of growing up in West Cork in the 1960s. "Through my paintings I want you to absorb my love for the slow time that Ireland is famous for, when people stopped to chat," he declares on his website
Sea and Landscapes such as Ballycrovane feature in Eagle's exhibition at The Old Market Arts Centre in Dungarvan from Tuesday. The show Elements is inspired by conditions in which people have to work. It runs until August 27th.

EAGLE'S-EYE VIEW: photographer completes his collection of Irish lighthouses
by Lorna Siggins, Marine Correspondent of The Irish Times August 2nd 2004


A West Cork based photographer has achieved his ambition of capturing all of Ireland's lighthouses on film. Shots taken by John Eagle of the Maidens lighthouse off the Antrim coast last week marked the conclusion of a project lasting over a decade. Weather and budgetary factors determined the length of time to capture all the lights and beacons around the 2,700 mile coastline, mostly from the air.

The Irish Times Saturday Magazine
February 2004


A personally photographed collection of postcards
byA personally photographed collection of postcards
John Eagle
who lives in South West of Ireland
'The postcard collection is worth every penny' Lorna Siggins, Irish Times
'Eagle's photography is so precise you can almost hear the pounding surf' Jennifer Henderson, Postcard Collector magazine
'Eagle eye for picture perfect way to make an impression' Alannah Hopkin, Examiner (Cork)
'A HARSH beam of light that flooded into John Eagle's bedroom in the
middle of the night eleven years ago changed his life forever.' Brenda O'Neill, The Irish People
EAGLE'S-EYE VIEW: photographer completes his collection of Irish lighthouses
by Lorna Siggins, Marine Correspondent of The Irish Times August 2nd 2004

Blackhead Antrim

Blackhead, Co. Antrim

(this picture and the one of the Fastnet below appeared with the article in the Irish Times magazine)


John Eagle
who lives in South West of Ireland
'The postcard collection is worth every penny' Lorna Siggins, Irish Times
'Eagle's photography is so precise you can almost hear the pounding surf' Jennifer Henderson, Postcard Collector magazine
'Eagle eye for picture perfect way to make an impression' Alannah Hopkin, Examiner (Cork)
'A HARSH beam of light that flooded into John Eagle's bedroom in the
middle of the night eleven years ago changed his life forever.' Brenda O'Neill, The Irish People
EAGLE'S-EYE VIEW: photographer completes his collection of Irish lighthouses
by Lorna Siggins, Marine Correspondent of The Irish Times August 2nd 2004


A West Cork based photographer has achieved his ambition of capturing all of Ireland's lighthouses on film. Shots taken by John Eagle of the Maidens lighthouse off the Antrim coast last week marked the conclusion of a project lasting over a decade. Weather and budgetary factors determined the length of time to capture all the lights and beacons around the 2,700 mile coastline, mostly from the air.


The following was in the Irish Times Saturday Magazine Feb 2004


Blackhead, Co. Antrim

(this picture and the one of the Fastnet below appeared with the article in the Irish Times magazine)


Last of the Lights
John Eagle set out to photograph everyone of Ireland's lighthouses,
and - 10 years on - has just six left to capture,

writes Lorna Siggins Irish Times Marine Correspondent.

Irish Times colour magazine Sat 7th Feb 2004

John Eagle would not call it an obsession it is more of a love affair. Fishguard Pier in Wales captured his heart, and the first time he saw Roche's Point marking Cork harbour, he knew that he was smitten. "The magic of the sweeping light," is how he describes it. "Coming from an inland town, there was so much excitement in the sea," he says, and lighthouses encapsulated all that...

Fastnet lighthouse celebrating 100 years 1904 to 2004
available as a special limited edition print click here
It is ten years since the photographer and artist embarked on a mission to capture this coastline's principle "navigational aids" - as the Commissioners of Irish Lights describes the chain around this 2,700 mile coastline. Based in West Cork, Eagle is now within months of reaching his target, though much depends on fickle weather. "I have just six to do, all of them on the north-east or north coast," he confirms.
Among his collection of 90 recorded to date, and reproduced as postcards, are some smaller lights, whichare owned by local authorities, in particularly spectacular locations. But then they are all spectacular from a distance of several hundred feet, be it the Mizen, the dramatic Fastnet rock off the south-west, the Metal Man in Sligo bay, or Slyne Head, north of Galway.
Eagle's images on postcards and on prints sell all over the World. He has written one book, and his rolemodels are French maritime photographers Philip Plisson and Jean Guichard. His workhas appeared in international publications, with his stunning image of Baily lighthouse in Howth reproduced over two pages in Lighthouses Around the World: A Pictorial History.
Unlike his European colleagues, Eagle works on a minimal budget. "I often think that if I had been born rich, I would never have hadhalf the fun," Eagle says. "I would have just hired myself a helicopter and done the whole lot in a few weeks, weather permitting. Whereas this way, I had to rely on a lot of help, and I have met some wonderful people, including lightkeepers during their last days before automation."
Eagle has two partners in the project - pilots with Irish Helicopters - Capt. Mick Conneely and Capt. Mick Hennessy, who have spent years servicing lighthouses for the Commissioners of Irish Lights. Local boat owners have also helped out where shots were best taken at sea level. Gerry Donnelly of Shannon Estuary Ports helped him shoot Beeves Rock; the late Dr. Tom McCarrick, owner of a catamaran, Image, in Sligo, transported him to Blackrock lighthouse, and John Johnston, sea angling charter skipper on Achill, whose "skill steadied the boat" while Eagle focused on the elusive Achillbeg.
A commitment to perfection, and detail, is in his blood - his mother, Dorothy Eagle, was an editor for versions of The Oxford Illustrated Dictionary, The Oxford Companion to English Literature, The Oxford Literary Guide to Britain and Ireland.
Eagle was born and reared in Oxford, and studied photography. World series motorcars travelling at speeds of 200 miles per hour were his early subjects, but he "gave it all up" in the 1980s after a trip to Hawaii. "I put the camera down and didn't touch it for six years, and went to work as a forklift driver in a factory in Unipart in North Oxford. It gave me the money to travel, but I hated the work and I began writing during that time as a form of escapism."
His brother, Martin, was involved in a road accident, and circumstances led to his mother buying a house in Eyeries in West Cork. "I came over to stay with her, and liked it so much that I decided to live here in 1991, after I took redundancy from the factory. But then I found I was too happy to write novels, and so I began taking photosand writing articles for Sean Dunne at The West Cork News."
Eagle was forced to make a choice between photography and journalism, and chose the former. "I was on the dole, though, and someone suggested doing postcards." He soon discovered the was "no money in it", but by this stage, he had thought of doing lighthouses. A meeting in Causkey's Pub in Eyeries with Barney Whelan, then working with the ESB fish-farming subsidiary, Salmara, led to some sponsorship and the first lighthouse images.
"I produced 12 cards, each with the Salmara logo on it," Eagle said. He drew a blank when he tried to persuade shops in Bantry, Kinsale and Skibbereen to take them on, but found instant success in Baltimore and Crookhaven with his Fastnet image. "If it hadn't been for Barney Whelan, the project would never have taken off - literally."
Eagle has relied on two cameras, a Mamiya 7 and a Canon EOS 3, for his work. Precise about quality in reproduction, he has found at times that his costs exceed his income. However, the Commissioners of Irish Lights have proved to be very supportive, as has Sue Hill of Heron's Cove Guesthouse and Restaurant in Goleen, the initiator of the Mizen Head visitors' centre. The Irish Landmark Trust, which has acquired unused lighthouse buildings, also commissioned work from him. And the Internet gave him an international audience for his postcard collections.
Flying in helicopters has been part of the thrill, he admits. "I love it. I remember travelling from Fastnet to Bull Rock in one hit and thinking this is the life. then I remember my first flight with Mick Hennessy over Tuskar, and he told me I could open the door. 'What?' I roared, because I never opened the door with Mick Conneely. 'But you can't take pictures through those windows,' Hennessy said. We were only about 100 feet up, the waves were crashing over the rocks below, and I was never so scared in all my life!"
The only two titles in his Irish Lighthouse postcard series that sold consistently, he says, are the Fastnet, which has just marked its centenary, and the Mizen. He also too a picture of his dog, Quisha, on the hills of the Beara peninsula and it sold 11,000 copies.
Eagle also paints in oils, and finds it gives him freedom that photography does not. "I do seascapes and landscapes, and no lighthouses at all."
Three lighthouses on Rathlin Island off the north-east coast; Inishtrahull off Donegal; the Mew and Maidens off Blackhead, north Antrim; and Hawbouline on Carlingford Lough, Co. Louth, still elude him. "David Bedlow of Irish Lights has indicated that there is a possibility of flying in March, and I may be able to capture a few of them on that run, but you can never tell with the weather."
It is a salutary reminder of the hazardous nature of lighthouse relief and the fact that the helicopter pilots do one of the most hazardous flying jobs in Europe. "We flew out to Rathlin O'Birne, off Donegal, two years ago and it had been a lovely day before, and a lovely day after. But we ended up in thick mist and I think we may have been lucky to get back..."
John Eagle's Lighthouse collection of prints and postcards is available directly from:
John Eagle Photography, Eyeries, Beara, Co. Cork
or at:

What's in the Mail
The first of many written by Jennifer Henderson
Jennifer Henderson writing for Postcard Collector magazine October 1995
Dramatic Irish lighthouse postcards are available for $18.00 USD (airmail postage paid) from photographer John Eagle. This 25-card series features such lighthouses as Loop Head, Calf Rock, Fastnet, and the Baily. Shown here is an aerial of the Bull Rock light in County Cork; Eagle's photography is so precise that you can almost hear the pounding surf. He offers other cards, too, such as Mare's Tail (the highest waterfall in Ireland), Dursey Island, the North Engine copper mines, and his Beara Stones series. To order the lighthouse cards or request his sales sheet write: John Eagle Photography, Derryvore, Eyeries, Beara, Co. Cork, Ireland
(Note: since the above article was written the number of cards in the series has increased to 86 and the postcard list is available on this site at: Irish Lighthouse Cards ) I wish to express my gratitude to Jennifer Henderson for her continued support in writing me up almost every year in Postcard Collector since the above article was published. The card of the Bull Rock that was featured in her piece was of no:8.

Eagle's eye view of
Irish lighthouses
by Lorna Siggins of The Irish Times November 1999

John Eagle used to photograph world series motorcars, travelling at an average speed of 200 miles an hour. When he switched, he did so in style - focusing his lens on immobile pieces of architecture along Ireland's 2,700mile coastline.
Tarbert on the Shannon estuary, Beeves rock near Foynes, and Eeragh, near Kilronan on the Aran islands, are some of the 50 structures captured by him with the help of two helicopter pilots over the last few years.
"That's the beauty of lighthouses. They don't move, and you can come back again and again and again," John said last week, when he spoke at a function in the National Maritime Museum to mark publication of his illustrated record.
The 50-odd were selected by him from a chain of 87, and many of them were built in the most inaccessible locations.
Thanks to Capt. Mick Conneely and Capt. Mick Hennessy of Irish Helicopters, he was able to go where many photographers had not gone before - barring those employed by the Commissioners of Irish Lights. Some can be reached by foot and he includes these details in his guide.
John's journey dates back to 1994, when he received support from Barney Whelan of Salmara, the former ESB fish farming division, to publish his images as postcards. The postcard collection of some 77 lights, extending from Rockabill to Slyne Head, most from Blacksod in Co Mayo to Fanad in Co Donegal, is worth every penny at £27 a set which includes postage.
Speaking at the launch, RTÉ's marine correspondent, Tom MacSweeney, expressed regret that the interest and dedication shown by John Eagle had not been reciprocated in terms of a continuing commitment to a human presence on our lighthouses. An Eagle's View of Irish Lighthouses, is published by Peter Williams Associates, the Welsh based company which produces the bi-monthly for lighthouse devotees, Leading Lights.
Copies at £11.95 paperback in bookshops, or direct from John Eagle Photography at £13 to include postage. 2 copies for £25. He will sign the books if asked.
John Eagle Photography, Eyeries, Beara, Co. Cork, Ireland.
(027) 74275

Picture Postcard Monthly

An Eagle Eye (July, 1998)
by Alannah Hopkin
Eagle eye for picture perfect way to make an impression
John Eagle used to make cars in Oxford but Alannah Hopkin found him flying high with a business that stretches from West Cork around the world
When John Eagle left his job in a car factory in Oxford in 1992 and sold
his house to move to a remote farmhouse near Eyeries on the Beara peninsula, he bought a modest PC 486 because he thought he was going to write. The writing never took off, but the computer - in particular the Internet - is now central to Eagle's postcard business.
Having made the big move from city to country, Eagle started looking
around for work. He has been taking photographs for about thirty years, and he began by selling pictures to the West Cork News when the late Sean Dunne was its editor: 'It's thanks to Sean that I got off the ground at all as a photographer. He encouraged me to take pictures into him, and that's how I started.'
It was a start, but not a real living. There were no local postcards
available, so Eagle did a series of standing stones, but they did not
sell well. He continues: 'I was out on a FAS scheme for Beara Tourism, and I kept watching the helicopter taking off and landing. I really fancied going up in a helicopter, and so I wondered if people would be interested if I took pictures of lighthouses from the sky.'
So how do you hitch a ride on a helicopter? Eagle quite simply wrote to
the Commissioners for Irish Lights, who were subcontracting Irish
Helicopters, and asked for permission to go out whenever there was an empty seat. Irish Lights sent back a letter, and a waiver form to sign saying that Eagle was travelling at his own risk: 'I went over to the helipad and showed it to the pilot and he said, okay, I'm going down to the Fastnet tomorrow, do you want to come? I did a picture of the Fastnet on that first flight, that went out as a post card, but it wasn't until the next flight that I took one that turned into a blinding success. Now I go whenever there is a spare seat, and I really have to say thank you to Captain Mick Conneely, the pilot.
He's been wonderful to me.'
By now John Eagle has photographed many but not all of the light houses around our coast from the air: 'I've done all the ones on the south coast Hook, Youghal, Ballycotton, Galley Head, Fastnet, Mizen, Crookhaven, Sheep's Head, Skellig Michael and Inishtearaght on the Blasket Islands which is my favourite. I've flown from Mayo and from Donegal. The only bit I haven't done is the coast of Northern Ireland because I'm a bit nervous of going up there.'
John Eagle got involved in the Internet because it offered an economic
way of marketing his postcards: 'In the postcard business you are up against three giants - Real Ireland, John Hinde and Insight. As a small-time operator living out in the sticks, 90 miles from Cork, the Internet is a boon.
As well as supplying craft shops and newsagents, Eagle sells world-wide to collectors. He advertises in specialist magazines like Picture Postcard Monthly, selling cards by the set, 62 cards for £20, for example, rather than individually.
His two web sites were set up voluntarily for him by lighthouse
enthusiasts: 'A guy over in Tennessee by the name of Bill Britten asked
me if he could scan some of my pictures on to his web site, and then he put up a web site for my pictures. He did half of them, and another light house enthusiast in Michigan, Linda Andersen, did the rest. So I got two web sites free of charge, and a load of publicity world-wide. Once people have seen the web-sites they e-mail me for more information. Then if they want to order a set, they have to use normal post. It's not massive, but it makes a difference, especially in the winter.'
John Eagle now has regular e-mail contact with collectors in Australia,
New Zealand, Japan, South Africa and all over the US: 'They tell me about their kids and their animals, and what's going on over there. I don't surf the net an awful lot, I just don't seem to find much on it, but I do enjoy getting e-mails regularly form all parts of the world.
'The other thing that has kept me going was a brilliant idea that came
from Sue Hill who runs Heron's Cove Restaurant in Goleen, and is involved in the Mizen Vision. Last year I thought I was going to go under, I just could not make a profit. She said you can't stop now, and she went ahead and sponsored 1000 cards in return for an ad for Heron's Cove on the back. Now all my cards are sponsored, and at last I'm starting to pay off a loan that I got from my brother nearly three years ago.'
To see John Eagle's work go to:
Lighthouse Getaway

Brenda O'Neill's article on me in The Irish People January 26th 2003

A HARSH beam of light that flooded into John Eagle's bedroom in the
middle of the night eleven years ago changed his life forever. It wasn't a UFO or even a burglar. It was the beam from Co Cork's Bull Rock lighthouse eight miles away reaching into him.

And now this extraordinary Englishman will fulfill a dream and a lifetime's
passion when he completes his collection of photographs of Irish lighthouses in a new book.

The 49-year-old photographer was even quoted in the (Irish)Government's
Millenium Book summing up his fascination alongside some of his

There is something magical about the lone lantern lighting up the
furthest reaches; just when you thought you had reached the last
place on earth and there is a beam of light.

He was also responsible for the postage stamp of Tarbert lighthouse that was released by An Post.

John dismisses any thoughts of danger and high risk while indulging in his craft as many of Ireland's lighthouses are located in some of the most
hostile and inaccessible locations.

His image of the Fastnet Lighthouse, known as the teardrop of Ireland, is compelling. It sticks up out of the Atlantic like a finger and marks Ireland's most southerly point. It was the last piece of the country emigrants saw as they sailed for a new life in America.

It was taking photographs of racing cars that first drew John to
photography but that soon changed.

He said: I took up photography in the early 70s as a hobby, and kept it
as such until I moved over here. I sold a small number of pictures of
racing cars and things, but only as a bit on the side.
The thing about lighthouses is that they stand still, instead of
racing cars doing 200 miles an hour. Seriously though, everything
around them moves, and the colour in the sea is always changing,
so they make for a great subject if you get the weather and light

Against a dark mysterious sky a lighthouse can look terrific,
whereas many things would look mundane. I am not really sure
why I like or liked motor racing, I suppose it was fun to watch,
there was risk involved.

When you are out in rough weather, with waves exploding on rocks
and a light flashing, there is a mighty roar going on and you feel
nature doing its thing, and there's this man made thing doing its
best to warn the sailors.

Born in Oxford, John first came to Ireland with his family at an early age for a holiday but his mother loved the country so much she bought a house near Eyeries where John's brother now lives.

We sailed from Fishguard to Cork, I used to love seeing Roche's Point
lighthouse at the mouth of Cork Harbour for it meant I was nearly home,
the fog horn always boomed as we sailed by, making such a lovely sound, it would make you jump if you weren't prepared for it. I hated England, mainly for the boarding schools I went to.

I think it is fair to say that had I been a wealthy man this venture of
mine would never have happened. My love of lighthouses is deep rooted, the magic of the sweeping light. Coming from an inland town there was so much excitement in the sea, and lighthouses meant sea!

Beara is now John's home where he lives with his two collies Quisha and Shara and a cat called Whiskey (because she's black and white).

His second book is due for publication later this year and for the first
time his collection of lighthouse photographs and his series of lighthouse postcards will be complete.

John is making the trip up north for the first time to take shots of the
six northern lighthouses by helicopter and is indebted to pilots Captains
Mick Hennessy and Mick Conneely for bringing him to these far-flung and hostile locations.

The most powerful shots are when the sea is rough and the waves are
crashing against the lighthouse, typically in winter. It is also the time when there is more risk.
His next series of postcards and photographs could be Irish castles but he hasn't quite decided.

I think when I have done them all then I fear anti-climax. I have
thought of doing other things, maybe castles, as that is another
passion of mine. The trouble is finding space to store these
postcards while waiting for people to order them.

I think I will concentrate more on making prints for people, but I
shall keep doing shots of lighthouses because you can't just stop and switch off from them. I find them fascinating, the way they are built and all.

The skill of the workers that put them together, you only need to look
at the Bull Rock and then you start to wonder how on earth did they put the lighthouse up there. Look at the Fastnet, Rockabill, whichever one you like, they are all very well designed and have stood the test of time.

The Fastnet lighthouse will be 100 years old in June 2004 and John has
produced a special poster to mark the event.

Just look at the structure and wonder, it is being pounded nearly every
day of the year, right now in January the waves are going over the top of it, and yet it remains in one piece flashing its beam to warn seafarers of the dangerous rocks.

And think of the men who have tended the light, putting up with
such storms, its a wonderful story.

John Eagle can be contacted at

Irish Lighthouse Postcards by Ellamena Gregori
The postcards, which are made in Ireland, each have researched histories on the backs. Eagle has assured accuracy of the historical information collecting information from The Commissioners of Irish Lighthouses and retired light keepers. He has repeatedly refused offers from larger postcard producers to sell his product to them. Eagle insures that print runs are small thereby limiting print edition as well as keeping personal inspection on chroma quality. John Eagle Photography remains a family business, with the postcards produced in the manner John Eagle wants. He says. 'So often a big company will only produce the best selling postcards, its a bit like when the government sell off the national bus company, the bidders want the money making routes and leave the not so used ones alone to crumble. I have produced postcards of the lesser known lighthouses, because I want my series to give a good comprehensive coverage. Take no: 66 for instance, 'Wheat Rock Buoy', I think it is a really nice picture but it would never sell to the main body of postcard buyers. If I was to sell out to a major company that would be one of the first postcards to disappear and yet it is one of the most important. No:42 is another, the South Rock Lightship (lightfloat to some) it is a great picture, and it sells nicely to collectors but the not to the general public. When people study my collection of lighthouse postcards I want them to see and learn, not just look at the famous ones they have already heard of like the Fastnet and Skellig Michael.'
The postcard collection takes up 6 shelves in his store, with (lucky) 13 piles of cards on each shelf. 'There's a couple more shelves below them to take the rest.' he adds.
I suggested he had alot of postcards in stock, would he ever sell them all? 'I suppose I won't, but if I did I'd only have to buy in more stock. Holding them here will go on and on, whoever inherits it from me, who knows. Part of the trouble is when I sell out of one title I have to buy in a minimum of 1000 more. Often I want to bring out a totally new postcard and I have to buy in more of a current one instead, which is frustrating. There isn't much money to play with, maybe it'll be my turn to win some soon. The sensible thing would be to throw in the towel, but then I would only miss making them. If I didn't enjoy making postcards I would stop doing it.'
Many of the postcards have been photographed from helicopters, using high quality film and camera equipment. Of late he has been using a medium format camera. 'Its a Mamiya 7, the slides I shoot can be made into huge high quality prints.'
John Eagle takes a pride in his postcards and it shows.
Ellamena Gregori, lighthouse correspondant, email: Ellamena Gregori

The postcard collection numbers 99 individual postcards and costs €75 which includes shipping all over the World. Credit card orders are accepted. (Visa and Mastercard) Please fax your details to:
00 353 27 70455
On your fax please include the expiry date of your card, your address and your order.
Or email me your phone number.
Eagle has also produced a book on how to reach Ireland's lighthouses
'An Eagle's View of Irish Lighthouses' $24 (include shipping costs)
is produced by Peter Williams Associates of Wales who publishes Leading Lights, the lighthouse enthusiasts magazine. email for your copy. One of Eagle's aerial shots of the Fastnet is on the front of the March 2001 issue

Why not ask John to personally sign a copy of his book to you
He also produces fine prints for framing, only to order and to a very high standard.
You can also reach him by phoning 00 353 27 74275


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Eyeries, Beara, Co. Cork. Ireland

tel: 027 74275

cell: 087 9693745