Blacksod Lighthouse number is, IE0008, WAI F61, Loc IO44XC Blacksod Lighthouse 20th August 2023
The International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend (ILLW) on the West Coast of Ireland always seems to turn out to be a big challenge for Amateur Radio Clubs and radio amateurs to activate their chosen Lighthouses for this special occasion every year.
This year, especially along the rugged coastline of our Atlantic west coast it turned out terrible! With storm “Betty” hammering the coastline with strong gales and torrential rain from the Atlantic Ocean, resulting in Amateur Radio Clubs stations and individuals cancelling or having to change plans on how and when they could activate their chosen lighthouse for this annual event which is held on the third full weekend of August each year.
The Mayo Radio Experimenters lads are spoiled for choice of any of four Lighthouses on the Erris Peninsula, but settle to activate the Blacksod Lighthouse on the southern end of the Mullet Peninsula, Erris, County Mayo, at the entrance to Blacksod Bay. Instead of a full weekend we choose Sunday only, which turned out to be a beautiful sunny day, very windy but no rain, we had a very enjoyable day in the end.
Jimmy (EI2GCB), Phil (EI9KP) and “mé féin” EI9JA shortly after arrival began a Reiki of the area before setting up the station/shack in the car park close to the lighthouse, this year on advice of a local person who advised there will be a lot of tours booked in on Sunday, especially for guided tours of the lighthouse. Sure enough he got that right! The tea and coffee, ticket/information pod were busy all day long with people coming and going.
We erected two antennas shortly after we arrived on site, a multiband vertical & a doublet were connected to our Icom Ic-7300’s. Again same as last year we operated the radios from a bank of batteries that were charged by solar panels before bringing them along.
Band conditions were good in the morning but changed about mid-day to marginal on most bands. Temperature remained around 18degC most of the day, bringing many visitors to the area.
We didn’t have as many contacts in the log this year compared to past years. Apart from the poor conditions, we were having to juggle time between operating and entertaining/educating visitors/tourists (who had come for guided tours of the maritime history of the lighthouse which is now offered and organised by the local community) about why and what we radio amateur and members of the Mayo Radio Experimenters Network are doing at the lighthouse, we advised them we are using the opportunity to promote public awareness of the importance of lighthouses and lightships past and present and their need for preservation and restoration, also we needed to promote our hobby “amateur radio” by demonstrating and communicating using different modes on the radio, contacting other amateur radio stations but particularly those operating from other lighthouse sites and ships around the world, we also wished to foster International goodwill.
Offers of a chance to use/operate equipment to some members of the visiting public were shyly denied/refused, even though they were very interested in the simple setup of our station and the mystery of the speed radio signals travel to and from other stations all around the world.
The day flew! By the time we had taken down the antennas, dismantled the shack, rolled up the coaxes and as the motto goes “leave no trace” it was 21.30 local time before I parked up at my home.
Once again Blacksod Lighthouse took part in the ILLW August weekend 2023, even though band conditions were down on other years, we enjoyed the day, having the “craic” and drinking tae Hi Hi
We would like to thank everybody who persevered and worked us on this occasion; we are delighted you made it into our log.
Padraic EI9JA 73