Local artist's exhibition casting light on our lighthouse history

March 24th, 2019 7:15 AM

By Southern Star Team

Lifescape based on the Late Mrs Pauline Butler Lighthouse Attendant at The Galley head Lighthouse.

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A collection of 25 artworks capturing the unique world of Irish lighthouses will go on show at the West Cork Arts Centre this month.  

Geraldine O’Sullivan’s exhibition Light Keepers runs in the Skibbereen space until April 10th.

Her paintings describe the physical structures of Ireland’s lighthouses and the dramatic settings in which they are placed, while also capturing the echo of the lives lived by the lighthouse keepers and their families.  In these “lifescapes” Geraldine uses stories, old family photographs and memorabilia given to her by Keeper’s families. It is these stories that influence her choice of locations to paint.

She said: ‘I live under the sweep of the Galley Head lighthouse beam and my curiosity as to what it must have been like to live and rear a family in these remote structures led to this exhibition.  ‘A journey that brought me around the coast of Ireland to some of the most desolate and beautiful headlands and offshore lighthouse stations.

‘Today, there are no longer any fulltime lighthouse keepers in Ireland. Families no longer live in keepers cottages; their histories are confined to archives, anecdote and a diminishing number of first hand narratives.

‘Alongside this change is the modernisation of the lighthouses themselves. In July 2018, the existing light at the Fastnet was replaced with a LED light, placed on the roof of the old lantern.  Nevertheless, the sweeping beams of light will still be visible at night from the balcony of the Galley Head, as has been the case for the past 125 years.  Time is bringing change to lighthouses and the keepers, and their families, will soon be gone, confined to the world of memory.’

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