“Keeper has not yet received knives and forks”

Recently found by the Commissioners of Irish Lights’ archivist, here is some fascinating correspondence from the 1880s between St John’s Point, Co Donegal’s Keeper – Joseph Hill – and the Principal Keeper of nearby Rotten Island Lighthouse.

1883 letter to St John's Point, Donegal's keeper

Detailing the curious case of the missing knives and forks, these minute papers are dated between December 1886 and January 1887. It appears that Joseph Hill’s requested and much-needed knives and forks were mistakenly delivered to Rotten Island Lighthouse, and not his own station – St John’s Point (referred to as Killybegs here).

With one of the pages dated December 31st 1886 – it appears that the six requested pieces of cutlery may have arrived just on time for New Year’s Eve!

"Received from the Commissioners of Irish Lights, 6 knives and forks"

These historic gems give us captivating insight into the daily necessities and hardships of life at a remote lighthouse station. After we posted these letters on our Twitter account, Audrey Arture – the great grandniece of Keeper Joseph Hill – got in touch! Audrey has kindly shared a link to Joseph’s beautiful postcard collection, brimming with lighthouse stations noted in the addresses.

Find out more about life at the lighthouse and the resolute keepers who kept watch. 


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