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Lighthouses capture the imagination in a way that few other structures in our built environment do. For those who prefer to keep their feet dry, these sentinels evoke a keen sense of the romance and adventure of life at sea and a reassuringly benevolent presence when illuminated at night. For sailors, they are a welcome first sight of safe harbour, while during daylight hours, they act as markers, beacons and, in the case of yacht races, destinations in themselves.
I grew up near the mouth of the River Boyne on Ireland’s east coast. A few minutes from my door were three unusual estuarine lighthouses perched among the sand dunes. Drogheda North, East and West lights were truncated structures that stood like daleks on stilts, gazing forlornly out to sea and only coming to life as the dusk crept in and we reluctantly set our bikes towards home. They guided shipping past the coastal sand banks and into the safety of the channel and onwards to port. Though I didn’t realise it at the time, they imprinted in me a deep-seated love of lighthouses and all that they represent.
Early in 2017 I started illustrating some of the lighthouses along Ireland’s south coast. This quickly grew into a collection that culminated in an award-winning book “Lighthouses of Ireland” which was published the following year. During this time, I spent a holiday in Cornwall which spurred me to consider painting some of the lighthouses on the Cornish and Devon coasts. Before you knew it, I was pouring over maps of Somerset and South Wales.
The collection now runs to over 350 lighthouses in all. It’s not by any means complete, but bit by bit the missing pieces will be added creating a comprehensive compilation of our best loved sentinels and beacons.
Roger O’Reilly is the artist behind LighthouseEditions.com. He has worked as an illustrator and storyboard artist for advertisements, periodicals, and productions such as the TV series ‘Vikings’ among others. In 2017, he packed in the commercial work to pursue his true calling of sketching and illustrating the landmarks and landscapes of these islands. His bestseller, “Lighthouses of Ireland” which won the 2018 best Irish published book of the year award is now in its seventh print run.
A painting holiday spent among Cornwall’s beaches and coves and walking the cliffs at nearby Lizard Point lighthouse inspired a new project which before you knew it, had expanded to include all of Britain. He hasn’t looked back!
Each poster is a unique composition based on the artist’s own drawings and sketches. In many posters, you will see the motif of the artist’s thumbprint used as texture throughout the print. Inspired by the posters of the 30’s and 40’s but with his own unique style, the collection includes the major lighthouses we’ve all grown familiar with from the BBC Shipping Forecast or tales of derring-do to the more obscure structures that dot our myriad harbours and estuaries.