The Toohig homestead is about a mile from a beautiful lighthouse out on a point called Galley Head, outside of Clonakilty. When we visited in 2007, John’s cousins took us out there, and John and my dad dangled off the stone wall to get pics of the rocks below (where they would certainly die if they fell). On this trip, my dad arranged our whole itinerary around when we could stay in the old light keeper’s apartments at the lighthouse. My parents had shown HG a YouTube video of the drive from ‘town’ (which is a very loose term) to the Galley Head lighthouse where we were staying, complete with squeals when they fell into potholes or ran into an oncoming car on the one-laned road. HG had a ball re-enacting the video as we drove down the exciting road to the lighthouse.
We were greeted by Ger and his partner, Marie. Ger’s dad was the light keeper at Galley Head for years, and Ger grew up living there with his 14 siblings. There was one, two bedroom apartment for the main light keeper and another twin unit for the assistant, so that’s 15 kids in a two bedroom house- with no bunk beds, just 4-5 kids to a bed. Needless to say, Ger said there was no problem with staying warm! His career was spent in the lighthouse business as well, and he had such interesting stories to tell. He knew our Twohig cousins- what an odd feeling to have someone in common with our Irish relatives! No one in the States has even heard our surname! Ger and Marie’s hospitality and warmth, not to mention the fun and historical stories Ger shared, made this place even more magical. Got to love the sparkle in an Irishman’s eye!
We explored and squealed and jumped up and down a little bit as we checked out the lighthouse quarters (beautiful and renovated, but still true to the time period) and the surrounding landscape. Of course, John jumped on the wall with his camera immediately. We finally pulled ourselves away and drove into town to have pizza at Richy’s.
While we were eating, we were trying to get our bearings and find the site of the old Twohig’s butcher shop. We asked the server, and sure enough, he remembered the shop- so cool! After texts with Jeanne, we found the address. After John and GD paid for dinner, Spiffer, HG, and I walked toward the grocery store to get some staples, and we happened to walk RIGHT PAST 14 Ashe Street where the family butcher shop used to be. AMAZING. We soon headed back to the lighthouse, and John and GD headed outside for the sunset shots.
On Tuesday, May 26th, Ger came out in the morning and took us on a tour of the lighthouse since we ‘were connected.’ He explained how each lighthouse has a specific light pattern (Galley Head has five 20-second pulses) and color pattern (Galley Head is white with a black stripe and an orange balcony) to be identified from the sea. We were able to get up into the light and see the bulbs and gears and also walk out onto the balcony. What a lifetime experience! Also, on the ground, HG had found a bunch of snails in the grass that morning and made a home for them in a bowl. In the time we toured the lighthouse, one of them had escaped from the bowl on the picnic table and made it to freedom in the grass below!
After our tour, we headed to the Twohig homestead to meet John’s cousin, Mary. She showed us around the multiple buildings on the site (the first of which was 300 years old; the ‘new’ one was 100 years old), she served us tea, with which HG gladly helped, and then we headed to lunch at Celtic Ross Hotel. Afterward, she showed us her church, St. Matthew’s, where her husband, Matt, was buried. We dropped her off and then headed to Red Strand Beach to give HG the beach time she’d been asking for for DAYS. The water was FRIGID, but that didn’t stop her from frolicking for an hour and getting her entire outfit and hair soaking wet. Afterward, we had to strip her down and put her in one of John’s tshirts to get back to the lighthouse. It was worth it all though to watch the JOY on her face and she splashed and jumped in the waves.
After HG had a bath, we ran into town for dinner and ate in the pub at O’Donovan’s Hotel in Clonakilty. Again, after dinner, John headed to the cliffs for sunset shots. After a while, I started sending him texts to let me know that he was still alive!!!
We found the old Twohig butcher shop on Ashe Street.Sunset from the lighthouseBreakfast with a viewExploring on Tuesday morningUp we go!Ger sharing the lighthouse’s history with usChecking out the lightView from the top of the light keeper’s houseHG is holding one of the light bulbsOne of the slugs trying to make a run for itShowing me more snails in the grass“See Daddy and GD, stay off the wall!”
Helping serve tea at Mary’s house, the Twohig homesteadView from the living roomThe Twohig homesteadThe original building on the homestead that Mary thinks is 300 years oldSt. Matthew’s ChurchRed Strand Beach 2007
Church of the Immaculate Inception in ClonakiltyOn the road to Galley Head after dinner, we kept having to stop to take picturesJohn and I walking back up to the house after locking the gateWhile John was on the cliffs getting the above beautiful pics of the sunset, I captured these ‘artistic’ ones from the landing in the apartment. A beautiful view from every room!Finally passed out!