Light Hearted

Light Hearted ep 142 – Gerald Butler, Irish lighthouse keeper part 1 of 3

Gerald Butler, a third-generation lighthouse keeper on both sides of his family, joined the Commissioners of Irish Lights in 1969. He spent most of his light-keeping career as an assistant keeper on Bull Rock, Fastnet Rock, the Old Head of Kinsale, and Mizen Head lighthouses. During his 21 years of service he also served on 17 other lighthouses.

Gerald Butler inside Galley Head Lighthouse, where he is an attendant keeper.

Gerald was born in 1950 in southwestern Ireland. He was an identical twin and one of 15 siblings. When he was two years old, Gerald’s family moved to the Galley Head Lighthouse, where his mother’s father was the principal keeper and his father was an assistant keeper. Later, his mother was for a time the only female lighthouse keeper in Ireland.

Gerald was co-author, with Patricia Ahern, of the book The Lightkeeper: A Memoir, which was published in 2012. John Gore Grimes of the Commissioners of Irish Lights called the book “extraordinary… a fascinating history of a lightkeeper and his family… a wonderful record of a unique piece of social history.”

This is part one of a three-part interview. Part two will be posted on October 26, and part three will be posted on October 28. In part one we hear about Gerald’s childhood experiences at the lighthouses and about his training as a keeper, and also about the lighthouses where he began his career.

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