Red Lighthouse Morning

Some mornings are red lighthouse mornings. You wake to unexpected sunshine and the thought of the lighthouse tugs at you, like seaweed wrapped around an ankle.

Best to accede gracefully on mornings such as these, for no work will be done, no focus maintained, until you walk to the lighthouse, place your palm against its stout red walls.

So go ahead. Make your way to the car park at the start of the Great South Wall. But take a moment before you step onto its granite flags. (The lighthouse will wait. It’s been waiting a long time.)


This morning, you will be the only person walking to the lighthouse. The sea will murmur its accompaniment; the heron swoop to say hello.

Behind you, the port will be busy. Its blue cranes will load and unload, but you will be too focused on the red lighthouse to notice. Your eyes will sweep across the sea, settle for a moment on the grey spires of Dun Laoghaire, before returning, inevitably, gratefully, to the red lighthouse.

And when, at last, you reach the lighthouse, you will run your hand along its weathered base, marvel at its cool solidity.

You will stand with your back to the lighthouse, surrounded on three sides by water. In front of you, the open sea stretches, silver and shining. To your right, Sandymount and Blackrock are visible. To your left, Bull Island, Howth.

You are now enclosed by the Bay, held at the still point of its centre.

Behind you, the city crouches. The people you love most in the world are contained within it, working, studying. You are tethered to them by a two hundred year-old wall, eight metres wide and three kilometres long.

It is the strongest and most fragile thing you know.



bloglighhouse12p     bloglighhouse6    bloglighthouse13


bloglighhouse61 The red lighthouse, more properly known as the Poolbeg Lighthouse, stands at the end of the Great South Wall, once the longest sea wall in the world. The wall was completed in 1761 and took thirty years to build. It was designed to prevent Dublin’s shipping channels from filling up with sand, but the problem of silting continued until a companion wall, the North Bull Wall, was completed in 1825.

The lighthouse in its current form dates from 1820.

Not all mornings are red lighthouse mornings. Some mornings you wake tired and dispirited. You remember that to get to the lighthouse, you have to drive through the city’s industrial underbelly, past the sewage works and the tailings pond, the abandoned buildings and the concrete yards.

The lighthouse will wait, offering renewal or redemption, a chance to watch a man cast his line into the sea beneath.


About Aileen Hunt

I write nonfiction: essays, memoir, and prose poetry, as well as shorter, more humorous pieces. I embarrass my family regularly. I’m interested in how we respond to place, how it affects our sense of identity and wellbeing. I try to pay attention to my surroundings, to look at them carefully and respectfully. I want to feel at home wherever I live. I’m a Dubliner, through and through, but I have a soft spot for the West of Ireland. Who doesn’t?
This entry was posted in January 2013 and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Red Lighthouse Morning

  1. Marie Hayward says:

    Beautiful sentiments and fantastic photos. Marie

  2. Lovely, Aileen! More, please! One a month? And fantastic images too.

  3. Niamh Rabbitt says:

    Love it! Takes me back to that summer morning you and I went for a walk to the lighthouse. A great memory. Looking forward to the next one.

  4. Wonderful piece. Like nearly every other Dubliner, this is a walk, and a place, dear to my heart, great summary of the history, fine, poetic descriptive writing and gorgeous pictures too. Thank you. I really like the way you’ve focused it, and decided to concentrate on the quieter corners of the capital. Looking forward to the next post already.

    • Hi Arran, thanks for the kind words about Hush. I’m just starting out, so a little encouragement goes a long way! Have been reading — and enjoying — your tour of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Last there a few Christmases ago for a performance of the Messiah. Wonderful night, wonderful place. Looking forward to visiting again, this time with a printout of your blog!

      • Hi Aileen. You’re very welcome. We all need a bit of encouragement, and it’s much deserved. The blog is great, keep up the good work. Delighted you enjoyed the St Patrick’s posts, I may post another one or two more to complete the series and bring it up to the almost the 20th century, so, you know, watch that space…. Thanks again – Arran.

  5. Pingback: Red Lighthouse Morning | Aileen Hunt

  6. Sandi says:

    Lovely pictures and thoughts: we have no lighthouses where I live, but I am all too familiar with the feeling of waking up and wanting to drive 45 minutes to Craggy Gardens or Craggy Pinnacle.

    • Aileen Hunt says:

      Such lovely placeames! I’ll have to google them to enjoy their beauty virtually:) I once lived in Cincinnati. 14 hour drive to the sea! I didn’t realise how much I missed it until I came home to Ireland. Now I live a five minute drive from the beach. I wouldn’t change it for the world!

  7. I like this in future tense. You have a wonderful way of personalizing your writing in ways the reader can identify with. As a journalist I had to omit “I” and “me” in my feature articles usually. Blogging for yourself you get to make your own rules. Kay

    • Aileen Hunt says:

      Hi Kay, thanks for the kind comment.Writing ‘rules’ are interesting, aren’t they? When I started the Hush blog, I had very clear rules in mind: short pieces and one post per month for exactly one year. When the first one or two posts emerged in the third person, I decided to write the rest the same way. More (self-imposed) rules! I suppose the security of writing that way took some of the fear out of blogging for me, but now that I’ve a little more experience/confidence I’m enjoying relaxing the rules and experimenting on the new blog. Very liberating! Do you feel your writing has benefited from your past experience of journalism? I imagine some of the skills you developed then are still useful now, or maybe I’m just romanticizing journalism!:)

      • In journalism I learned to write more quickly, revise and edit more quickly, and meet my deadlines, even if my pieces could use more word working, in my criteria. I also had to be sure I cited my sources as the article flowed, and to lose my “self” in most of the pieces, to omit my opinion, just reveal the story in an appealing way for my readers. So in general, I learned to be fast and let it go after I met the deadline for publishing. I also learned that I get paid far more for my photographs than my paragraphs and photos are even faster to submit. And a photo along with the story is what really hooks the reader, more than our first few lines, in our current culture.

      • Aileen Hunt says:

        I struggled for years with letting things go! There’s always a temptation to tinker with pieces — the reality of what I produce is so far from the standard I envisage when I begin a piece. Oh well. Perfectionism is overrated:) Interesting that a photo is worth more than the written piece that accompanies it. I love photographs but if I had to choose, I’d choose the written word every time.

  8. restlessjo says:

    I wondered where it was 🙂 The Adobe Voice is an interesting feature.
    Many thanks for the follow. 🙂

    • Aileen Hunt says:

      HI Jo, the red lighthouse is in Dublin — at least this one is. I’m sure there are lots more dotted around the world! (Maybe you’ve even come across some on your travels?) Adobe Voice is very easy to use, and I think the sound quality is good. The downside is you can’t upload videos directly to youtube or embed them directly in wordpress (at least not yet). But it’s fun to play around with — you probably have a ton of photos from your travels that you could use! Thanks for stopping by Jo. Hope the weather has picked up for you in Portugal!

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