Ever since Ballycotton Island Tours began operating, it was only a matter of time before ECCG got around to going with them and that trip came about on Tuesday evening last, 16/6/15. Our plans of photographing the island and Ballycotton village bathed in a brilliant sunset were dashed when a sea fog set in and enveloped the top of the island. Undeterred, we set off from the pier in the capable hands of our skipper, Diarmuid Walsh, a crewman of the local lifeboat, and guide, Derry Keogh.
All suitably attired with life jackets and fully briefed in water and boat safety, we left the shelter of the harbour and headed out across the sound in the tour boat 'Yassy' to the island, which we were surprised to hear, is nearly a mile offshore. After the fifteen minute crossing, Diarmuid brought our boat gently alongside the island pier where we disembarked and began the steep climb to the lighthouse.
Derry provided a commentary on the history of the island as we climbed to the top which gave us a great appreciation of the hardship of life on the island for the lighthouse keepers who worked and lived there.
On reaching the top, we entered the lighthouse and climbed the steps to the balcony, the scene of two marriage proposals since the tours began! The only connections on our minds however were those between the island and the mainland which we couldn't see with the fog. We could only ponder then on the magnificent views we were missing but, never ones to be beaten, we explored the area and concentrated on shooting the buildings and wildlife which all provided an abundance of variety.
Having spent some time at the top, we eventually made our way back down to the pier and went on a short boat trip around the East of the Island and encountered the island's small goat herd perched precariously on narrow rocks many meters above the water.
As dusk settled in the bay, the light in the lighthouse came on and shone its familiar signal through the fog. Diarmuid took his cue and headed for home landing us safely back at the pier.
While disappointed with the poor weather, we were delighted to have done the trip and had seen enough to know that a return trip in better weather is something we will definitely do in the near future.
Ballycotton Lighthouse Tours operate tours daily to the island, weather permitting, and all details can be found at their website, www.ballycottonislandlighthousetours.com.