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Irish Lighthouse Tours Feedback

A page of comments made by people who have been on John Eagle's Irish lighthouse tours

tour group John Eagle tour group tour group
2012 Southern Lighthouse TourGroup John Eagle with the tour bus 2011 Northern Lighthouse Tour Group 2013 Southern Lighthouse Tour Group

Feedback from people who have been on Irish lighthouse tours with John Eagle

A very big thank you to you and Tommy again for the fantastic vacation you
gave us. Good luck with your northern tours and I hope everyone enjoys them
just as much as we did. We really can't express how much your time,
knowledge, and friendly personality's meant to us. My biggest hope for this
trip was to get a feel of Ireland and you both gave it to me and so much
more. You have a beautiful country and you both gave us a wonderful glimpse
into your countries past and present. Thank you again and know if you, Tommy
or his family come this way you are always welcome with us. Take care
....Carol Davis (USA) 2015 tour member

Fantastic Lighthouse Tour of Southern Ireland on Tripadvisor

We had fun, got great pictures, saw lots of great lighthouses, and lots of great scenery. We were well fed & had nice places to stay -- all positives. The lighthouses are a wonderful resource & you should continue to show them off to the world.

Ian & Susan Turnbull on the Northern Lighthouse Tour 2013

 

Thank you so much for making our trip and tour to Ireland so wonderful. We appreciate all that you did to ensure we had such a great time. Seeing over 20 lighthouses either up close or by boat was amazing. Fastnet was incredible and one of the highlights of the tour. I also really enjoyed walking to the top of Skellig Michael with you. The views were breathtaking. So many great memories I can't list them all. I also wanted to thank you for all of your help with my photography. I know I am a better photographer after spending the 8 days with you and all the help and insight you gave me. Both Lisa and I look forward to seeing you again sometime on the Northern tour.

Again Thank you for all you did to make this such a great tour!

Greg Steffenson Southern Irish Lighthouse Tour 2013

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On Sunday May 5, 2013 my husband and I began a lighthouse tour with photographer John Eagle, along the Irish East Coast. Accompanying us was Judy Weeks from Ireland , Keith Morton from England, and Hendrik Schilpzand from the Netherlands. They were a well-informed bunch of people who greatly added to the joy of the trip.

I had been looking forward to visiting Ireland all my life as my grandfather, George Halpin of Sydney NSW, had told me many stories of his family who were lighthouse builders.  He was born a few days after his family arrived as settlers in Australia and he never visited his homeland. Such was the pride and memories of Ireland, handed down to him from his father, also called George, that he stirred my imagination and I felt that some day I should make the journey for him and for my own pleasure.

George Halpin Senior, (1776-1854) and George Halpin Junior, (1804-1869) were active from 1800 – 1855 as port and lighthouse builders. George Senior was responsible for the design, construction, and maintenance of all civil and mechanical works within Dublin Port, from Sutton on the north side of Dublin Bay to Bullock Harbour on the south. This included the management and containment of the River Liffey from Island Bridge and the lower reaches of the rivers Tolka and Dodder. He also oversaw the building of many lighthouses, as well as the modernisation and re-equipping of the previously existing lighthouses. This was in addition to supervising the construction of new docks, bridges and other projects for the expanding Dublin port. He designed and built a new lighthouse every 15 months on average.  Most of the construction was by direct labour and these lighthouses included Baily (1813) at the entrance to Dublin Bay, The Tuskar Rock (1813) guarding the approach to Rosslare Harbour, as well as the Inishtrahull (1813) Wicklow (1816), Skellig Michael (1854) Tory Island (1832) and Fastnet (1854). He effectively rebuilt the Poolbeg lighthouse (1819-20).
Under his direction the Ballast Board established an effective management structure for the design construction, and maintenance of the Lighthouse Service: initiated a vital program of inspection, and regularized the employment of construction and quarry personnel, lighthouse keepers, tenders, tender crews, and stores personnel. Gradually during the early nineteenth century a proper marine aids to navigation infrastructure was put in place.
George Halpin junior was a qualified civil engineer employed by the Board as Assistant inspector of Works and Assistant Inspector of Lighthouses from June 1830. As such he shared a good section of his father’s workload. Two months after his father died in 1854, George Halpin junior was promoted to the posts of Inspector of Works and Superintendent Lighthouses. I made my trip to Ireland to research the achievements of these two men and John Eagle went out of his  way to assist me.

He managed to take us to 29 lighthouses in the course of six days. He squeezed one extra in on the last day at the remarkable site of Kinsale. He was generous with his time and he sought to help us to fulfil our wish list. Before we left the party a few of us took in the Titanic exhibition in Cobh.

There were other benefits that flowed from this tour. We visited the Commissioners of Irish Lights Headquarters and wondered at the very “green in design”, modern building. Engineer Eoghan Lehane, Operations and Property Manager showed us around the building and gave us some vision of the future for Irish Lights now that they are no longer manned. He talked about the search for solutions to the problems associated with the continued management of lighthouses and other properties.

We went to the Baily Museum and were looked after by the Consultant Curator to the Commissioners of Irish Lights, Frank Pelly. His knowledge of the work of the Halpin’s was encyclopaedic. I was grateful to him for his professional presentation and we were all very impressed by the articles he has collected for the museum. At no other time has the need been so great to preserve the artifacts and records as major changes are taking place due to technological developments. It is time to preserve the history as I suspect there will be many tourists like myself who will want to know more and will be inquiring about their ancestors. The education of the next generation on the history of Ireland is also an important consideration.

We met Gerald Butler over dinner for a slide show and talk in the old Imperial Hotel, Youghal. I purchased his wonderful book “The Lighthouse Keeper – A Memoir” and I greatly enjoyed his presentation, particularly as I learnt about his mother who was also a lighthouse keeper. I began to realise that this job ran in families and this was a good idea as the children grew up accustomed to isolation and they learnt the skills from their parents.  These men and women were a brave and hardy lot.

We visited the National Maritime Museum of Ireland in the Mariner’s Church in Dún Laoghaire. Whilst the building is fantastic it is not big enough to display the collection. The Baily Optic is on display and was saved from the Baily lighthouse in Howth, North Dublin. I saw the display that they have set up about the Great Eastern and the laying of telecommunication cables. Its commander was Capt., Robert Halpin, a nephew of George Halpin Senior, and an ancestor of mine. Recently his sword was used by the Prime Minister to cut the ribbon when the new museum was opened, I was moved to see his naval uniform and sea chest.  Robert Halpin built Tinakilly House, Wicklow.  After the lighthouse tour my husband and I stayed in this house that is now a hotel and we visited the many points of interest in the town that were part of the Robert Halpin self guided trail. 

On the lighthouse tour of the museum I met Richard Mc Cormick by chance.  He runs the National Maritime Museum of Ireland with the help of volunteers. His dedication to the preservation of historical records has led him to find Masters students to assist in cataloguing the vast collection of material. I would like to see more money allocated to this important maritime museum as the history of Ireland is largely the story of the sea, with most threats coming from outside the country from successive invasions. The sea still sustains many families and contributes wealth and jobs. The courage of the seafaring Irish people is certainly on display at the museum.  I learnt that the Duke of Wellington was Irish.

Another highlight of the tour was a night trip on a fishing boat to Tuskar Rock. The beautiful white tower was worth the pilgrimage. It was built in 1815 by George Halpin.

At the Rosslare Maritime Heritage Museum, Rosslare, Co. Wexford we were able to appreciate the good work of volunteers seeking to preserve records of heroic rescues and other related material. This interesting small museum intrigued me as the crafts, such as making miniature ships in bottles, demonstrated some of the traditional craft activities that were undertaken by many dedicated lovers of the sea in their spare time. Meeting people who actually manned rescues or who worked on lighthouses was a  delightful feature of the tour that I had not expected.

I am enthusiastic to see more of Ireland as three weeks was not enough. I guess I will not be content until I see all the Irish lighthouses. I have learnt that this quest is addictive. My overall impression was that the Irish people are welcoming and kind to tourists and I felt safe and happy throughout the tour.

Artist, Pamela Griffith and Professor Ross Griffith’s trip to see the lighthouses of the  East Coast of Ireland. 2013

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We recently had the opportunity to be a part of the John Eagle Extreme LH Tour. We are lighthouse enthusiasts that have seen well over 275 LH's around the world and have taken many trips to seem them. This tour certainly ranks amongst the best we have ever done. Thank you John for a great tour. Many of the lights could only be seen from a boat, which was a fun part of the tour. The journey out to see the Fastnet LH was the best ever and I got some of the best LH pictures I have ever taken, look for them in Lighthouse Digest Magazine! Also, we loved the two night stay in the actual keepers quarters at Galley Head LH. Skellig Michael LH was fantastic, Tommy the tour driver was a riot, great B & B's, unbelievable Full Irish Breakfasts, nice pub stops, and on and on! We would certainly do it again.

Randy and Barb Hemstad, Minnesota, USA
Southern Lighthouse Tour 2012

Went on a fantastic tour of Southern Ireland's lighthouses by minibus 2012 with host John Eagle & knowledgeable driver Tommy Hartnett. Enjoyed boat trips to the Aran islands & Skellig Michael - two more islands ticked off, rounded Fastnet Rock- the 'last teardrop' one evening, met ex keeper Gerald Butler, stayed in Galleyhead lighthouse. Experienced a memorable boat trip in a RIB through Bull Rock tunnel. If you want adventure & fun John & Tommy will provide it.......Richard Evans (Association of Lighthouse Keepers) Southern Irish Lighthouse Tour 2012

Fabulous trip John! "Extreme Lighthousing" does not say enough. You got us into places we would not have seen and best of all we got to meet several people associated with the lighthouses that we would not have met without you. I will especially remember our talk with Mr. O'Driscoll , the last keeper of Fastnet, and his wife Maura. Your boat trips are the only way to understand just how impressive the offshore lights - and the people who lived there - really are. I was expecting to be impressed with Fastnet, and I was, but Calf Rock amazed me. The island is so small, just covered with steps cut into the stone, and people lived through the tower being broken in half. And then during our visit to Bull Rock, we got to take the boat through the tunnel. I will be bragging on that feat for years. The B & Bs you took us to were so nice. I especially remember Josephine's place and walking just outside to see Eagle Island and Blackrock Mayo. I had fun making breakfast in the keeper's kitchen at Blackhead Antrim, but it wasn't as good as Jospehine's. My trip isn't over - there is so much more to learn about the places we saw. I want to learn more about the monks on Skelligs Micheal and I need to find the books Mr. O'Driscoll told me about. I hope to see you again in a few years John. Can't wait!


Laura Chewning Lighthouse Tour 2011

John, I need to thank you for all the work and planning that went into our trip. I have dreamed of seeing Ireland for many years. Our trip was unbelievable! Your choice of Tommy for our driver was inspired. He was so helpful. Listening to the Irish accent was a treat everywhere we went. We saw so much in our time in Eire. It is so hard to choose a favorite! The new friends must be first. Fastnet, Skelligs, The Hook, are each special in their own way, but staying at Blackhead must be on a list of its own.

Getting up to travel around The Fastnet at dawn is spectacular! The early sun shinning off the tower and lens took my breath away. Watching the waves break against the rocks on such a peaceful day makes the power of storms that break over the tower almost unimaginable.
Skelligs took my breath away in more than one way. Your encouragement to keep climbing ( I made it to the beehives) and advice to help an amateur photographer made that event special.

Seeing the lens flash out the bedroom window at Blackhead was wonderful. The buildings are so well cared for. Self catering with new friends is another highlight of the trip.

Your land, the vistas and flowers and the people we met along the way added layer upon layer of memories to our collection. 

Thank you again, Nancy Ohlson 2011 tour

 

'John, thank you for all your hard work and perseverance to make our trip a success. You have overcome the many obstacles put in your way by the weather to make our trip an outstanding success. We really appreciate all you have done. This has been a memorable trip

' Phil and Mary Borkowski Lighthouse Tour 2009

Thanks so much. You did a brilliant job organising it all looking forward to the next one...

Judy Weeks (Association of Lighthouse Keepers)

 

 

 

 

 

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