Have you ever heard the expression ” by Hook or by Crook ” ?
Well, today we are going to find out one version of where the phrase comes from, so come along with me to visit Hook Head Lighthouse in County Wexford.
The Hook as it’s known is about a 30 minute drive from the JFK homestead where we visited last week, and it’s worth the journey !!
We drive south passing Irelands most haunted house, Loftus Hall before we reach the tip of the peninsula stretching out into the ocean , this is Hook Head. Let’s park and have a look around. Dodging the showers, the first thing we can see are the black coloured rocks. Apart from being a shipping hazard these hold an amazing array of fossils and are a fossil hunters paradise.
But the interesting thing that we see is the imposing lighthouse. It is one of the oldest lighthouses in the world and the second oldest operating lighthouse in the world, after the Tower of Hercules in Spain. The current structure has stood for 849 years !!
The existing tower dates from the 12th century, though tradition states that Dubháin, a missionary to the Wexford area, established a beacon as early as the 5th century. The headland is known in Irish as Rinn Dubháin, St. Dubhán’s Head. However, the similar-sounding Irish word ‘duán’ means a fish hook, hence the English name.
The first custodians to the light were a small group of monks whose small monastery was situated on the peninsula. The monks who lived at this monastery would have lit warning fires and beacons all through the years to warn sailors of the dangerous rocks on the peninsula. It was the monks who lived at this monastery in the 13th century that became the first light-keepers. They are also thought to have helped in the construction of the tower.
Hook Lighthouse is one of the most fascinating examples of medieval architecture in Ireland. The tower stands four stories high with walls up to 4m thick. The tower itself consists of three rib-vaulted chambers . Some 200 years ago the lighthouse keeper’s houses were built and these contain lots of interesting information about the lighthouse.
It’s still a functioning lighthouse, although its operated automatically nowadays and was opened to the public in 2001. Let’s take a stroll around and see it from every angle . I think you will agree that it has an important role for the safety of seafarers over the centuries, and it’s an amazing landmark .
Now , I promised I would share with you the ” By Hook or by Crook ” phrase meaning “by any means necessary”, suggesting that any means possible should be taken to accomplish a goal. The origin of the phrase is obscure, but the account I prefer is that it comes from Hook Head where we are are standing , and the village on the other side of the estuary Crooke, in County Waterford . The phrase came from a vow by Oliver Cromwell in 1641 to take Waterford by Hook (on the Wexford side of Waterford Estuary) or by Crook (a village on the Waterford side).
So, I hope that you have enjoyed learning something new today and enjoyed coming with me to visit the Hook .
All the best till next time, Stephen