By, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)
The rocky ledge runs far into the sea,
And on its outer point, some miles away,
The Lighthouse lifts its massive masonry,
A pillar of fire by night, of cloud by day.
Even at this distance I can see the tides,
Upheaving, break unheard along its base,
A speechless wrath, that rises and subsides
In the white lip and tremor of the face.
And as the evening darkens, lo! how bright,
Through the deep purple of the twilight air,
Beams forth the sudden radiance of its light
With strange, unearthly splendor in the glare!
Not one alone; from each projecting cape
And perilous reef along the ocean’s verge,
Starts into life a dim, gigantic shape,
Holding its lantern o’er the restless surge.
Like the great giant Christopher it stands
Upon the brink of the tempestuous wave,
Wading far out among the rocks and sands,
The night-o’ertaken mariner to save.
And the great ships sail outward and return,
Bending and bowing o’er the billowy swells,
And ever joyful, as they see it burn,
They wave their silent welcomes and farewells.
They come forth from the darkness, and their sails
Gleam for a moment only in the blaze,
And eager faces, as the light unveils,
Gaze at the tower, and vanish while they gaze.
I can remember the first time I came across the Slate quarries near Windgap, County Kilkenny, there are about four or five of these sites in the area all of the now disused and flooded, How long they have existed varies but all of them go back to the Victorian period.
The quarry in these images is located near Ahenny, Co.Kilkenny and the reason I find it more interesting than the others is that it still has remains of some cottages that the workers would have lived in during the period that the quarry was in operation.
I don’t know how deep the lake is, I have been swimming in it many times and it feels deep very deep, the miners would have had to blast most of the slate out and the sides of the lake go strait down below the water. If you swim underneath the water and down the sides a little you still cannot see the bottom of the quarry, many would feel a little unhappy swimming here.
There are some ten cottages in this row, its just around the corner from the lake, which when the quarry was in operation would have been a very dangerous location, with blasting and all the machinery in very close proximity to the cottages it cannot have been great living condition. This as-well the fact that the location is miles away from any village, the conditions for the worker must have been very poor.
The Quarries Today
Today these quarries have become a wildlife and natural reserve, slate lies everywhere but this has provided a haven for plant life and wildlife, Herons hunt in the rive below the quarry and the lake is full of fish. The area covers about 2 square miles.
I will come back to these quarries over the next weeks as they are wonderful places to post about and I love being around these quarries very much.