Meet John Eagle
Consistently taking the pictures that count
I am an Artist and Photographer based in South West Ireland out of choice. The wildness keeps me going, the storms, and the sheer beauty of the changing colours on the mountains. When I paint it flows freely from me, from a life time of memories of being here. I have always used the best camera equipment I could afford to achieve the results I get
I have lived or known the Beara Peninsula for a large part of my life
My first introduction was in the early Sixties when I came over with my mother to a friend of the family Dan O'Brien who was the local bank manager in Castletownbere. In those days it was the Munster Leinster Bank and it stood high up on a rock opposite where the Beara Bay is now. All trace of this has vanished. A rock breaker removed not just the bank but also the rock beneath it to level it all out for shops and apartments. I well remember the old bank, and the Old Bank Restaurant that followed. That first visit we stayed at the bungalow in Dunboy. I have vivid recollections of a lobster being boiled alive in the kitchen, but much else escapes me! I spent some time in and around Puxley Mansion, where there were stables. I was aged 7 at the time.
This picture shows Puxley Mansion. The bungalow I first stayed in is just out of shot in the upper right. When myself and my brothers were young we would go looking for cannon balls. Dunboy Castle, which is nearby, was pounded and laid seige to in the 15 century
My mother loved the Beara Peninsula so much she asked Dan if there were any houses available and he went to great lengths to search out houses for sale. At that young age I soon tired of going to look at houses, and as luck would have it the very house I didn't go to view was the one my mother purchased, and it was in a super location near the village of Eyeries where my brother now lives
I came over here on holidays from school throughout the 60s, and when I began work I often came here on my own or with my mother. The place is in my blood, well almost. I would go mackerel fishing with the family from Ballycrovane, first in a big wooden boat Dan Murphy the harbour master lovingly cared for with coats of tar and paint. He used to smoke a pipe which had a metal cap on the funnel, and he kept it under his hat and as a young boy I was amazed that his whole head didn't catch fire. It was going out fishing with him that instilled my love for painting fishing boat scenes. I am just so glad I had the upbringing that I had. I got driven to all the places I am familiar with now, but more than that I got to see a part of Ireland that does not exist much these days. You rarely see men rowing boats out to sea to go fishing, and gathering the hay using pitchforks to build big haystacks is also a thing of the past. I know a few farmers today who store fresh hay, that is not insilage bales, but the big haycocks with the opened sack covers on top weighted down by string and stones is a thing of the past.
Here's a pic taken back in the 60s of me in the old wooden boat Dan Murphy looked after so lovingly for us
It means a lot to me to walk in Beara, climb the hills and go deep into the valleys. I still find things I didn't know existed. In the Summer of 2014 I found a ruined house high up in the Clogher Valley, and was told how people in the old days would use the valley as a means of getting from Castletownbere to Ardgroom and Lauragh. These days we all drive round the coast, avoiding the mountains, but to the people who lived before cars it wouldn't have made any sense to go round the mountains.
When I paint I paint from my memories of life here in the 60s, it flows freely through me. When I take photographs I want people to absorb the feeling I have for the Beara Peninsula. I really enjoy taking people off into the hills and showing them what interests me
My mother is buried here. She saw the site before she passed away. She lived and worked in Oxford, as a book editor at the Oxford University Press, but it was her wish to be buried here in Beara, where her heart was. I am so glad she is not in some municipal graveyard like the one in North Oxford where her parents are, although they do have JRR Tolkein for company there.
I have been taking pictures since early childhood, starting off with a Kodak 127 camera that had two aperature settings, a small and a large hole. 12 pictures on each roll, you needed to be sure not to waste a shot and it was fun to wait the week for the prints to come back and see how I had done
I went to school not far from Silverstone racetrack and was often visiting there watch World Series (above) and Formula 1. I have quite a collection of pictures of famous drivers, a very young looking Bernie Ecclestone amongst them. I was taking pictures for fun and never thought of doing anything with them. It took me 15 years to build up my collection of lighthouse photographs, numerous helicopter flights and boat trips. I think many photographers would take out a big bank loan and hire the helicopter to photograph them all in a couple of days. While that might get the job done it wouldn't involve meeting so many interesting people. My way was more fun, because I got to meet lots of interesting people and saw how difficult it was. Now I have a greater understanding how the lighthouses work and the people who work them
I was the first to make a postcard of every major lighthouse on the Irish coast, using helicopters and high speed boats. In 1999 with the help of Peter Williams I produced my first lighthouse book
'An Eagle's View of Irish Lighthouses'
The book was the first all colour book to be produced on Irish lighthouses, and while it only covered 50 of them the book has sold and sold. Only a handful of copies are now available
The Collins Press produced my second book 'Ireland's Lighthouses ~ A Photo Essay by John Eagle' in 2010, covering all the lighthouses on the Irish coastline. I am very proud of this book and the way Collins put it together, as it gave me the opportunity to show off new aerial photographs. It sold so well that in May 2013 it was reprinted and has consistently sold since. My mother edited books for the Oxford University Press and so I hope she thinks well of me for my contribution.
I now run my own online bookshop called The Beara Bookshop
I now conduct tours of the lighthouses showing people my love for these sentinels and how to find them. However due to my extensive work schedule I can only undertake 2 tours a year. These tours cover the West and South coasts
My main camera is the Canon EOS 5D mk4 30mpi with
EOS 5D mk3 as back up
I now find myself in demand for taking pictures of buildings, and have been to America and the Far East a few times in the past five years. While this takes me away from my home a lot I also enjoy travelling and meeting new people
When I am not doing tours and travelling I am conducting
tours of Beara as well as the lighthouses of Ireland here as this re-unites me with the wild of South West Ireland so dear to my heart
Should wish me to take photographs for you I will be happy to assist you