Go Inter-modal, Young Man…
For almost as long as I can remember, I’ve really had an interest in one mode of transportation being carried by another. For example, cars and boats being moved by rail or by semi-truck…ships hauling containers that are placed onto a train at port, and later onto a truck….car ferries…cargo airplanes lifting cars and other vehicles.
I’m not entirely sure why. As a child, growing up with a car dealer father, it was a thrill to see the semi pull in with a delivery of new vehicles for the lot. My uncle and grandfather worked on the railroad, and I was exposed to inter-modal activities in the rail yard. And I vaguely recall seeing some car ferries on occasion when we were on vacation.
So I get a kick out of the little flat-top ferries that sometimes serve to carry vehicles back and forth across a river. When our travels take us near such a river ferry, well, I have to use it! And so it was that we took the car ferry to journey from Waterford to visit Hook Lighthouse. Plus, the little ferry service between Passage East, County Waterford, to Ballyhack, County Wexford, happens to also be very convenient for such a drive.
This Little Light of Mine…
Who doesn’t like lighthouses? In my formative years, the nearest one to my hometown was Marblehead Lighthouse on Lake Erie. A nice lighthouse, though not especially scenic or large. Over the years I’ve managed to accrue a much longer list of visited lighthouses, and certainly make an effort to see any that are nearby when travelling.
Hook Lighthouse is a must-see for any lighthouse lover. A the tip of the Hook Peninsula, the present structure is some 800 years old and is the oldest intact operational lighthouse in the world. Some manner of light beacon – even just a glorified bonfire – was located here perhaps as far back as the fifth century. Monks were first operators of the light, and it’s said that the Vikings left the monks alone as they appreciated having the navigational aid.
A guided tour is required to go inside the lighthouse, and the lady who led our group was quite knowledgeable and full of energy. You’ll be taken all the way up through to the top and then outside for a few minutes for breathtaking views. It was rather overcast when we visited, but it was beautiful nonetheless. Standing at the top with the waves crashing far below and the cool wind blowing in from the Atlantic, it wasn’t hard to imagine all the people who had passed through the lighthouse before…and the countless ships, from wooden sailboats to modern freighters, that safely rounded Hook Head thanks to this.
The grounds of the lighthouse have a nice big grassy area with picnic tables, framed by some large nautical artifacts such as buoys and anchors. The former lighthouse keepers’ houses are now a gift shop and cafe. The cafe had some very tasty food, mostly handmade and made-to-order, at reasonable prices.