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AE01 | Time on Our Hands - Lighthouse Keepers' Hobbies

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AE01 | Time on Our Hands - Lighthouse Keepers' Hobbies

“Time on our Hands”. Resin and cast hands & arms, with alumina finish.
Between the twists and turns of the weather the lighthouse keepers’ hours were long. It was a life of solitude, away from their family or village. They had many hours to fill and to contemplate. Some have spoken of a constant wonder at the natural beauty and changing light, which they saw, as the days passed from dawn to sunset – ever changing with the seasons. No wonder that some of them were moved to paint, what they observed outside. Others turned the driftwood, string or flotsam, that was washed their way on the tides, into something creative - giving it a new life.

“Time on our Hands” illustrates just five of the numerous lighthouse keepers’ pastimes. Some of the “hobbies” had a practical bent, like cooking, bread making and general baking. For food it wasn’t always easy to get fresh supplies, so gardening was practical as well as time filling. But gardening was quite difficult. The thin, coastal soil and harsh, salty winds made growing impossible for all but the most tough, quick growing plants. As illustrated the thin soil could be improved by the addition of seaweed. But root crops were still impossible. A small garden was however managed for some years at the Mizen Head Signal Station. Model boats called Cirques were made as perfect mini versions of the flat bottomed vessels, that transported livestock up the west coast of Ireland. Also popular was the tradition of creating intricate ships in bottles. The bottles having been emptied first… Lighthouse keepers used, what was readily available, so bottles were decorated with shells, or models were constructed out of spent matches. Despite their tough, manual hands many were able to work with great skill in intricate detail. Fishing was also popular. Coastlines around lighthouses are naturally wild, but at quieter times they could throw a line from a rock or venture out to catch something for supper.

Kinetic Seagulls”. Wood. The life size, flying sea birds, depict the Common gull and the Herring gull. The largest bird is the great Black backed gull, flying home to its nest on the cliffs with a mackerel. The distinctive, red dot on the underside of the beak is to guide the chicks to peck, and thereby make their parent release the food.



Donated/Contributed by: 

Sheena Woods and Kurt Lyndorff The Ewe Experience

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Mizen Head Signal Station
Mizen Tourism Co-operative Society Ltd.
Harbour Road
West Cork
Tel: +353 28 35000 or + 353 28 35115 (Summer Only)
E: info@mizenhead.ie

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