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Blood Moon over Hook Lighthouse

With a few months to my 70th birthday, the full lunar eclipse was predicted to occur on the 17th September 2015. As there is a fair chance I won't be around for the next in 18 years time! I really wanted to experience this wonderful event.

The Hook Peninsula in Co Wexford, Ireland is a fertile promontory with a rugged coastline stretching out into the Irish Sea. On the farthest point is the Hook Lighthouse. The existing tower of the lighthouse dates from the twelfth century, though tradition states that Dubhán, a missionary to the Wexford area, established some sort of beacon as early as the fifth century. The 36m tower with walls up to 4m thick was built by Strongbow's son-in-law William Marshall, Earl of Pembroke, who succeeded Strongbow to also become Lord of Leinster.

Hook Lighthouse is one of the most fascinating examples of medieval architecture in Ireland. The first map that shows the lighthouse serving its function is dated 1240. It is now the oldest operating lighthouse in the world. Further information is available from the Commissioner of Irish Lights web site.

I choose the Hook Peninsula  to view and experience this amazing event. With the history attached to the Peninsula and the mysteries of the lighthouse I wonder who else may have sat on these cliffs to view this spectacle over the centuries. Was it a good or bad omen? Lucky or unlucky? Superstitions and beliefs? These are my thoughts that will inspire my image. Moon myths and legends aside, it’s hard not to be awed by celestial shows like the blood moon. 

My friend, Tom Harpur and I arrived at the hook around midnight, 27th September, and set up our position on the west side of the peninsula on the rocky cliffs a bit north of the Lighthouse. The moon at this stage was bright. So bright we could see clearly where we were walking. Working our way out to the cliff edge, we crossed a freshly cut corn field. The sea was at low tide and so calm, as though waiting for the event to happen. Sky was clear, no wind…I felt this was going to be a beautiful night.

As the moon travelled its arc towards the western horizon, the shadow of the earth thrown against the moon by the alignment of the sun on the opposite side of earth, gradually covered it in its entirety around 3.30am. During this process, the ambient light fell sharply. The darker it became so the stars became visible creating a sparkle to the sky scene. The atmosphere was somewhat eerie, the gentle sounds of the water lapping against the rocks and the powerful light from the lighthouse flooding across the rocks below at 3 second intervals, highlighting the detail of the cliffs and the coastline. In the silence of the night the odd seabird calling out startling us briefly. Gradually, the shadow over the moon began to lift and the brightness slowly illuminated our perch on the cliff top once again. Stunning. We sat on the cliff until 5.30am or so before heading back home.. another box ticked on my bucket list. What an amazing experience.

I wished to create an image that would conjure up the atmosphere and my experience. This is the end result. I hope you like and enjoy it. 

About Author

John Ironside FRGS
Photographer, Travel Writer, Author

Having spent many years as a professional photographer, I have been privileged to be witness to so many wonderful happenings, meeting so many amazing people all over the world and enjoying their cultures, hospitality and experiences.

Through my travel business, I traveled extensively into Africa, South America, Caribbean and Europe bringing clients into these regions so they could experience the cultures and traditions of the communities, understand better the environment, the value of conservation and the caring of nature through adventure and environmental travel.

Through my photography and travel writing I convey these experiences to others so that they too can enjoy and understand the moments that travel brings with it.

Please feel free to pass on my blog to others that may gain from them.
Thank you.

Comments (3)

  1. John Ironside Photographer: Sep 30, 2015 at 08:04 PM -

    This image has caught peoples imagination all over the world.
    In 48 hours on Facebook, 815,391 views, 10,809 likes.


  2. Mary Stafford: Oct 04, 2015 at 07:34 PM -

    Amazing photo of amazing super moon. Are you selling copies?


    1. John Ironside Photographer: Oct 05, 2015 at 06:23 PM -

      Hi Mary, yes the image is for sale and may be purchased directly from the link below or ring me on 086 8554890



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