Our Fifteen Minutes of Fame on Conception Hill

A modest dose of history with wine and empanada

Posting about our departure from Valparaiso, Chile (see Valparaiso Departure III “The Sunset”) brings us to the time spent wandering this World Heritage Site, added to the UNESCO list in 2003.  Within the amphitheater of hills is Cerro Conception (Conception Hill), historically settled by English and German immigrants.  The façade of the Hotel Brighton, a building from the 19th century heyday of Valparaiso when it was a stopping point for shipping through the Straits of Magellan, reveals why so many of the buildings are alike: all are constructed from materials dropped off from sailing ships.

Hotel BrightonThe theme of the Hotel Brighton evokes thoughts of immigrants remembering their origins, emigres claiming a spot of real estate to mold a sense of place for themselves.  This goes both ways, Valparaiso, Indiana was formerly Porterville of Porter County.  The motive force behind the renaming were the memories of the retired Captain David Porter, the sole survivor of an attack on his ship USS Essex by the British frigates Phoebe and Cherub in the War of 1812, within sight of Valparaiso. Fifty eight (58) United States Marines lost their lives in that sea battle.  To point out the obvious, Captain Porter is the namesake of Porter County.  

Pam corrects me when I say we “stopped for lunch” at the Hotel Brighton, pointing out we “only” had a glass of red wine and an empanada.  Both were tasty, even more so with this marvelous view looking north into the other hills of the city.  The yellow umbrella is on the hotel restaurant terrace.  

Hotel Brighton

I missed capturing the signature wrought iron gate forming the word “Brighton” among decorative scrolls.  Built on the edge of Conception Hill it overlooks the coastal plain almost all of which is man-made.

Hotel Brighton

During our refreshment, this young lady (see photograph below) introduced herself as a reporter for El Mercurio.  Accompanied by a photographer, she interviewed us and we had our photograph taken, I returned the favor with the following photograph saying the story might appear in the next edition.  Standing next to her, with a puzzled look, is our waitress who was from the States.

Hotel Brighton

El Mercurio de Valparaiso is the oldest continuously published Spanish language newspaper in the world.  In my research for these photographs I discovered the newpaper officers were a short walk from the landing of the Ascensor Conception.

Valparaiso Departure III “The Sunset”

The Sun’s Progress

Two minutes after capturing the last light on Concon Point, see “Valparaiso Departure II”, turning the camera 180 degrees, to the south, looking along the Chilean coast, to capture birds on the wing headed toward shore at day’s end.
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Remembering other times,

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waiting for darkness

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with a sky map, studying it to make sense of the stars.

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How far?  How large?

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Light from our star, eight minutes old,

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grazed the earth’s rim the breath of a moth wing ago.

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Connect the dots, stories of heroes, monsters.

Our star, as we know it now

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Singular, alone,

Progress, an illusion to be understood

No less mysterious for that

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Look back to the sheltering headland of Valparaiso, glowing.

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Dunseverick Castle Ruin, roadside info

Pride of History on display

On Causeway Road there is a turnoff an information placard for Dunseverick Castle near a cottage. This is the left side of the placard with the historical context. The right side is natural history of the area.

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Reference: Wikipedia “Dunseverick Castle.”

Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Dunseverick Castle Ruin, closer

Recollections of Saint Patrick

Slight pangs of regret recalled in my first Dunseverick Castle post are recalled this morning on remembering the long Slige Midluachra (aka “High King’s Road”) of which Dunseverick Castle was the terminus, beginning from the Hill of Tara. Walk the High King’s Road, “why not?.”

Here we can see the two partial wall, remains of a gate house, destroyed in the 17th century. I can imagine making the climb up the foot path, examine the earthworks from before the Viking invasions, middle of the first millennium A.D. Recall a visit by Saint Patrick, trodding the path from his Easter fire on the Hill of Slane.

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Reference: Wikipedia “Dunseverick Castle.”

Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Dunseverick Castle Ruin

End of the Road

Checking Google Maps (GM) just now am sorry to see the Breezemount House B&B is closed, even the website is disabled. GM was how I planned our Ireland tour itinerary through late Fall and Winter of 2014, marking locations as “saved.” Keeping up a GM subscription is worthwhile, making it easy to recall the specifics of our lodgings. Pete, the Breezemont proprietor, a gruff Scottsman, gave good advice. Revisiting Dunseverick Castle Ruin our crunch at the end of that June 2014 day brings to mind the jist his words, to the effect his visitors do not plan enough time (for the area).

Dunseverick, on a romantic peninsula location overlooking the Irish sea and distant Scottish coast views, is worth at least a full morning to park at the Causeway Road turnoff, adjacent to a modern cottage, hike the alluring trial to the site to trod historic turf. I remember with a sense of regret setting up the tripod for several distant views, made larger by a variable “zoom” lens.

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Torr Head Stories VI

Down and Down

Weather masonry at the height of Torr Head was there to serve the custom house and as support for a spotting station where ships transiting the Strait of Moyle (Irish Sruth na Maoile), the 12 miles of water to the Mull of Kintyre.

Lloyd’s of London, vitally interested in the appearance of ships’ progress crossing the oceans, had notice of passage via semaphore (and, later, Marconi’s “wireless”). Destination ports were copied in.

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Cushendun Published

Photography accepted this week by Getty

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Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Torr Head Stories V

The Way South –

Scottish influences touched the landscape covered by yesterday’s post, today we continue on this subject with these south facing views from Torr Head. The far ridge of Torrcor marks Loughan Bay.

A townland on the other side of Torrcor hill (and townland) has an eponymous ruin, Altagore Cashel. Mores the pity we did not visit this site, a thick drystone enclosing wall from the 5th century (you can see photographs from another site at this link). Cashel is from the Irish Caiseal, a circular, defensive fort (“ring fort”).

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Books such as “Antrim and Argyll: Some Aspects of the Connections” tell of connections over the millennia, clan associations between the islands and ring forts such as Altagore Cashel.

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Torr Head Stories IV

Salmon Run

Late spring and summer, weekdays, a net is stretched across the bay to catch salmon nosing up the coast, searching for their home spawning stream, here called Altmore Burn. “Burn” is a Scottish term for a fresh water source, evidence of the influence 12 miles across the north channel.

The small harbor seen here from Torr Head is for the salmon fishery. Small boats will seek shelter here from the wind and tides strong enough to roar in passing the Head, like a fast flowing river.

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Torr Head Stories III

Neolithic Passage Tomb

Taking in a flower meadow, foreground, coaster sheep pastures, the photograph, below, looks north from Torr Head. The high hill, midground, is Greenanmore, notable for a the largest passage tomb of the Antrim Glens. Locally known as “Barrach’s Tomb,” for the Red Branch knight of the 1st Century AD fort on Torr Head, tree ring research of the mid-20th Century dates these tombs in the neolithic The hilltop passage tomb was an ancient relic when the mortar of Barrach’s Torr Head fort was drying.

When I enlarge the original photograph, visible on the ridge is a decommissioned Cold War listening post, the tomb is near that. The distant land across the North Channel water is Rathlin Island.

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Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills