The Lighthouse – The Mystery Of The Eilean Mor Lighthouse Keepers
On December 26, 1900, the vessel Hesperus arrived at Eilean Mor in the remote Outer Hebrides with relief lighthouse men and fresh provisions. Staffed by three keepers, the lighthouse had been in operation for a year, but no light had been seen from Eilean Mor for 10 days. Upon arrival, the superintendent, Robert Muirhead, found the lighthouse to be completely deserted, and a subsequent search of the surrounding island failed to show any sign of what happened to the keepers.
The last entry in the lighthouse logbook had been made on December 15 and contained a number of strange and distressing entries that offered clues as to the mental state of the men. One was reported to have been crying, while another had become “very quiet.” When it was revealed that the men’s oilskin coats were missing and the clock in the lighthouse had stopped, inevitable theories surrounding the keepers’ fates were soon put forward. These included a giant wave washing them away, murder and suicide by the men themselves, and more esoteric explanations, as Eilean Mor was believed to have mystical properties. This book explores this mysterious and chilling story in-depth for the first time and reveals a shocking conclusion.
Duffy’s Thoughts On The Lighthouse Keepers of Eilean Mor
I’ve been obsessed with the true story and mysterious disappearance of the three lighthouse keepers of Eilean Mor since I saw the movie The Vanishing starring Gerard Butler a few months ago.
The lighthouse keepers were in three’s as one was ALWAYS meant to remain at the lighthouse at all times. On a night on or around the 15th December, something went horribly wrong for the three men and they disappeared off the face of the earth. Did someone come to the isle uninvited? Did a large wave take all three men during the bad weather recorded at the time? Did one go mad due to the isolation? Why did one man leave and venture out into severe weather in just his shirt sleeves? Was there really a last entry in the log about one of the men crying?
The Lighthouse is an interesting read, but it isn’t as the book jacket and blurb suggests. There isn’t too much to reveal, or new revelations to be found in this book and the shocking conclusion, the main reason I bought the book, is non-existent.
What Keith McCloskey does deliver is a great insight into the set up of lighthouses and the life of a lighthouse keeper in 1900s and well-researched coverage of the incident at the time. The first half of the book covered this in-depth and kept me reading, but then the focus shifted and I began to skip the odd page. Popular opinion about the missing men is that a large wave and the severe weather was to blame for a tragic accident. It does close everything up nicely and for me, it’s a little too convenient, however, I didn’t need to read a whole chapter dedicated to giant waves and how they work. I felt this chapter became nothing more than filler pages.
For a crime that happened in 1900, it’s clear that most evidence is lost to time and assumptions have been created and layered with village gossip and handed down stories. But, there are many historical crimes and stories investigated today which have details and intrigue and suspicion. The Lighthouse’s light faded in the last third of the book, particularly with one of the last chapters explored a supernatural element. McCloskey’s writing even began to lilt towards the end and it felt like he was out of steam and just trying to get the book finished.
I got a lot out of The Lighthouse, but I feel the book jacket and write-up set my expectations way higher than the pages delivered. I thought I would get answers on a story which has really got under my skin, but
The search continues!