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Shining a light on our spectacular coastline


A beacon shines from the world's oldest operating lighthouse under turbulent skies as seafoam lashes the rocky outcrop of the Hook Peninsula in one of a dozen prize-winning photographs capturing the beauty of Ireland's coastline.

This dramatic picture of the iconic Hook lighthouse during a storm won photographer Paul Flynn a second prize in the coastal heritage category of An Taisce's 2012 Clean Coasts Photography Awards last night.

His was among 41 colour and black-and-white photographs of the coast, as well as its heritage, people and wildlife, that were shortlisted for this year's 'Love Your Coast' competition.

The winning photograph -- of a Kittiwake with its head above the waves at LoopHead in west Clare --was taken by Conor Ryan.

A dramatic close-up of a puffin coming in for landing on the Saltee Islands, also off the coast of Co Wexford, won Ronan McLaughlin a third prize.

Their photos were among more than 3,000 submitted, celebrating what is regarded as one of the most spectacular and diverse coastlines in the world, according to An Taisce president Prof John Sweeney, who presented the awards in Dublin last night, along with €4,000 in prize money.

The photos captured "the essence of the coast and have elevated our appreciation of it to an art form", he said.

"The coast is a critically important environmental asset. Its dynamic nature and ability to respond to pressures both natural and human is excellently exhibited in these (photos)."

The photos will go on display as part of an exhibition that will tour the country over the coming months.

However, all 41 short-listed entries -- as well as the dozen prize-winning photographs -- can be viewed online at www.cleancoasts.org.

Meanwhile, the 800-year-old Hook lighthouse will open its doors to new facilities today following a €150,000 refurbishment.

The revamped facility includes a restored cobbled yard using the original cobblestones, a raised viewing gantry and a new staging area as well as restorations to the the circa-1860s lighthouse keeper houses at the site.

Irish Independent