A brief window in the weather and a clear day in my diary gave me the perfect opportunity to make for Eagle Island on the Westerly side of County Mayo. One of Ireland's most exposed and battered islands, this rocky out crop is situated only a mile from shore, but bears the brunt of the biggest Atlantic swell and ferocious storms.
Tuesday the 18th August offered up the best forecast for a quick mission out to Eagle Island and the light house at its tip. Its not a long paddle, with a number of different points to launch from. I was hoping the sea state would allow for a landing and my luck was in. On my arrival I went straight for the North Eastern end and the landing steps were near flat calm with only a small swell rolling in and out. Landing on the Island is usually very difficult without swimming and if the only two landing places are not an option you wont be getting on.
After checking out the landing and confirming I could make it without jumping in. I decided to circumnavigate the Island and get a rare view from the exposed western side. Sitting in my kayak looking back towards land, it was difficult to imagine that waves break over the island during storms. There are records of waves causing damage to the top of the west tower which stood a total of 200 ft above the high water mark!. It was damaged so many times that it was eventually abandoned in favour of the East tower.
When I landed on the Island I met two workers from Irish Lights (Noel and Martin).They were surprised to see me and were happy to let me look around and join them for a cup of coffee. We chatted about the storms and life on the Island. Sadly they were just there for a few days to clear out the buildings and lock the place up completely. With the installation of LED lights and developments in technology there is little or no need for any human contact any more. Looking around the buildings there good condition was surprising and it seems a real shame for them to be closed up. I signed the visitor book as I may well be one of the last to do so after 180 years.
After a couple of hours looking around I said goodbye to the lads and made my way down the steep steps to my kayak. Conditions had started to build and the wind was picking up to a force 3+ from the south against me. Getting on was a bit trickier but I managed without getting wet. On the return journey I ventured into some caves along the coast. The wind was continuing to build so I pushed on back to the shelter and my start point at Scotchport Harbour.
Kayak instructor, athlete, business owner and outdoor enthusiast from the west coast of Ireland.
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