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Dundalk

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Overview





Dundalk Harbour is situated on the northeast coast of Ireland, four miles up the Castletown River that flows through drying sandbanks and training walls into Dundalk Bay. The industrial quays are not set up for pleasure craft and are less than prepossessing. However leisure vessels are welcome to berth alongside and or take to the ground on soft mud.

Dundalk and the Castletown River provide a vessel with complete protection from all conditions. Copious commercial channel markings and lights make access straightforward in moderate and all offshore winds. With onshore winds the Castletown River entrance is more challenging. Unfamiliar boats visiting in conditions from southeast round to east to north-northeast should not attempt the entrance in anything above a force four. The southeast is the worst condition for the entrance where dangerous seas build up on the extensive bar.
Please note

Vessels considering Dundalk require a reliable and capable engine to work the channel.




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Keyfacts for Dundalk
HM  +353 42 34096      Ch.16, 14, 12
Approaches
4 stars: Straightforward; when unaffected by weather from difficult quadrants or tidal consideration, no overly complex dangers.
Shelter
5 stars: Complete protection; all-round shelter in all reasonable conditions.


Considerations
Restriction: shallow, drying or partially drying pier


Nature
Urban nature,  anything from a small town of more 5,000 inhabitants  to a large cityHistoric, geographic or culturally significant location; or in the immediate vicinity
Facilities
Water available via tapDiesel fuel available alongsideTop up fuel available in the area via jerry cansMini-supermarket or supermarket availableExtensive shopping available in the areaLaundry facilities availableShore based toilet facilitiesHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaCashpoint or bank available in the areaPost Office in the areaInternet café in the areaDoctor or hospital in the areaBus service available in the areaTrain or tram service available in the areaCar hire available in the areaTourist Information office available

Last modified
May 30th 2017; suggest a correction?

Protected sectors

Current wind over the protected quadrants
Now Force

Summary* Restrictions apply

A completely protected location with straightforward access.

LWS draught

1 metres (3.28 feet).

Today's tide estimates

HW 00:01 (5.2m) LW 06:19 (0.3m)
HW 12:31 (5m) LW 18:46 (0.6m)
We are now on Springs

Swell today




Approaches
4 stars: Straightforward; when unaffected by weather from difficult quadrants or tidal consideration, no overly complex dangers.
Shelter
5 stars: Complete protection; all-round shelter in all reasonable conditions.


Considerations
Restriction: shallow, drying or partially drying pier


Nature
Urban nature,  anything from a small town of more 5,000 inhabitants  to a large cityHistoric, geographic or culturally significant location; or in the immediate vicinity
Facilities
Water available via tapDiesel fuel available alongsideTop up fuel available in the area via jerry cansMini-supermarket or supermarket availableExtensive shopping available in the areaLaundry facilities availableShore based toilet facilitiesHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaCashpoint or bank available in the areaPost Office in the areaInternet café in the areaDoctor or hospital in the areaBus service available in the areaTrain or tram service available in the areaCar hire available in the areaTourist Information office available

Last modified
May 30th 2017; suggest a correction?

Position and approaches
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Haven position

54° 0.545' N, 006° 23.378' W

At the northwest end of Dundalk’s ‘Quay’ that is situated on the south side of the Castletown River alongside the town, to the southeast of Dundalk Bridge.

What is the initial fix?

The following Dundalk Harbour Initial Fix will set up a final approach:
53° 57.693' N, 006° 16.753' W
This is located one mile from the Dundalk Pile Light Fl 15s 10m 21M. It is set on the leading lights alignment that marks the close approach to the channel; Oc G 5s visible 325.5° - 328.5° T. A course of 326° T leads into the river entrance from here.


What are the key points of the approach?

Offshore details are available in the southbound Route location or northbound Route location sequenced ‘Strangford Lough to Dublin Bay’ coastal description; eastern approaches may use either description.

  • Confirm that the requisite draft is available for the entry length of the transit.

  • Locate the Dundalk Pile Lighthouse.

  • Follow the marks maintaining a central path all the way.



Not what you need?
Try our Advanced Havens Search tool to find locations with the specific attributes you need, or click the 'Next', coastal clockwise, or 'Previous', coastal anti-clockwise, buttons to progress through neighbouring havens. Below are the ten nearest havens to Dundalk for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line distance
  1. Gyles’ Quay - 3.4 miles ESE
  2. Greer’s Quay - 4.2 miles NE
  3. Omeath - 4.3 miles NE
  4. Warrenpoint - 4.4 miles NE
  5. Carlingford Marina - 4.6 miles ENE
  6. Carlingford Harbour - 4.7 miles ENE
  7. Killowen - 5 miles ENE
  8. Rostrevor - 5.1 miles NE
  9. Newry - 6 miles N
  10. Greencastle - 6.4 miles E
Ten nearest havens by straight line distance
  1. Gyles’ Quay - 3.4 miles ESE
  2. Greer’s Quay - 4.2 miles NE
  3. Omeath - 4.3 miles NE
  4. Warrenpoint - 4.4 miles NE
  5. Carlingford Marina - 4.6 miles ENE
  6. Carlingford Harbour - 4.7 miles ENE
  7. Killowen - 5 miles ENE
  8. Rostrevor - 5.1 miles NE
  9. Newry - 6 miles N
  10. Greencastle - 6.4 miles E
Alternatively the above can be ordered by compass direction or coastal sequence


How to get in?
Please use our integrated Navionics chart to appraise the haven and its approaches. Navionics charts feature in premier plotters from B&G, Raymarine, Magellan and are also available on tablets. Open the chart in a larger viewing area by clicking the expand to 'new tab' or the 'full screen' option.

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Dundalk is the county town of Louth and a small fishing and commercial port. The town lies four miles within the estuary of the Castletown River that is entered via the northwest corner of Dundalk Bay. The town and port are situated on the south side of the river, lying within 1500 metres southeast of Dundalk Bridge that marks the river’s navigational limit for sailing craft.

The extensive Dundalk Bay is situated between Dunany Point and Cooley Point. The south and west sides of the bay are flat and relatively featureless but the north side is made up of an imposing ridge of mountains collectively referred to as Carlingford Mountains. From Gyles’ Quay extensive sand-banks sweep round the bight of the bay to beyond Anagassan on the south shore, uncovering at low water for a distance of up to two miles from the high-water line.

The narrow channel of the Castletown River leads through these sands to the harbour of Dundalk. This small commercial port lies four miles upriver from the estuary. Dundalk Pile Light, a 10 metre high white house on green piles, is situated at its mouth.

Dundalk Pile Lighthouse - Fl WR 15s 10m 21M position: 53° 58.560’N, 006° 17.714’W

The pile light provides two lights. The top light white sector 284° to 313° shows the safe approach into Dundalk Bay avoiding the Dunany Shoals on the south side, and the dangers extending from Cooley Point, Imogene and Castle Rock to the north, that are further marked by the following buoys:

Dunany Light buoy - (port hand) Fl R 3s position: 53° 53.530’N, 006° 09.502’W

Imogene Light buoy - (port hand) Fl (2) R 10s position: 53° 57.415’N, 006° 07.042’W

The low water depth of the entrance channel is approximately 1.5 metres and the best entry is at half flood when the training walls remain uncovered and visible. Expect the channel to have a depth of 2.5 metres at high water minus four hours, and 3.3 metres at high water minus three hours.

It is advisable to make the harbour office aware of any planned entry and seek clearance so as not to impede any commercial ship movements. Keep Channel 12 open throughout the approach.


Initial fix location The Dundalk Harbour Initial Fix is located one mile from the Dundalk Pile Light. It is situated in the close approach leading light that is situated beneath the Dundalk Bay light and marks the channel itself. This light is Oc G 5s visible 325.5°- 328.5° T that offers an approach through a narrow band of 3°. A course of 326° T will take a vessel in along this alignment into the river entrance from the initial fix where Dundalk No.1 Marker Fl.G.3s should be visible.

The channel from the lighthouse towards Dundalk is well marked and lit all the way. Its general direction from the lighthouse is northwest for two miles, then it turns westward for about three-quarters of a mile further to Soldiers Point. Beacons on the west or south side of the channel are even numbers and have a square topmark light QR. The east and north side markers are odd numbers with a diamond topmark, light QG. Give the beacons and perches a sufficient berth and use a chart to the detail of Admiralty Chart 1431 ‘Drogheda and Dundalk’ Scale 20,000:1 for this intricate work.



The outer portion of the sandbanks are confined for much of its length by training walls that cover at high water.




From Soldiers Point to the town, the south side of the river is embanked with an extensive section in front of the town quay. The 50 – 60 metres wide channel runs close along the embankment to the quays and is highly protected. The harbour lies on the south bank of the river alongside the town of Dundalk. Large grain and fuel silos on the eastern end quay will be seen on final approaches.



Haven location The quay is used by cargo ships and fishing boats. The best location to berth is at the west end of the quay where about 15 cockle-dredging boats berth. Come alongside the wooden quay where a metre can be found. Vessels may lie alongside here in a metre, or partly waterborne in soft mud depending on draft. Those who can take to the hard may dry out.




What's the story here?
Dundalk's name is derived from the Irish Dún Dealgan meaning either ‘Dalgan's fort’ or 'the fort of thorns'. Though the town dates back to A.D. 600 history runs much deeper in its surrounds which are steeped in national antiquity.

Neolithic people came to the area around 3500 BC and left behind one of their most lasting landmarks on the north side of Dundalk in a place called Ballymascanlon. This is the Proleek Dolmen that stands, not unlike a giant mushroom on three stalks. The colossal 5000 year old structure has a capstone, 'the giants load', that weighs more than 40 tons. It remains a mystery how Stone Age people hauled this enormous rock on top of its three uprights. Close to the Proleek Dolmen is a large grave made of rocks. Legend has it that this is the tomb of a Scottish giant who came to Ireland to challenge the hero Fionn Mac Cumhail ,and lost.

Most of Dundalk’s mythological tales and legends stem from the fili who were the poets of Celtic society. The most famous of these tales are those of the ‘Red Branch Knights’, the ‘Táin Bó Cúailnge, "the driving-off of cows of Cooley", commonly known as ‘The Cattle Raid of Cooley’, and national mythical warrior Cú Chulainn who, reputedly, came from Dundalk. They first settled in north Louth around 500 BC and were lead by Conaill Carnagh, the legendary chief of the ‘Red Branch Knights’. Immersed in this Celtic mythology the town's crest reads "Mé do rug Cú Chulainn Cróga" that translates to ‘I gave birth to brave Cú Chulainn’.

The towns’ development benefited from being close to an easy Castletown River bridging point. It was the ideal location for the Normans to construct walls and other fortifications, such as the Castletown motte-and-bailey. In time the town gradually grew alongside these features as an un-walled village or ‘Sráid Bhaile’; literally ‘street townland’. It became an urban centre at the end of the 1189 when it was granted a charter by the conquering Norman knight Bertram de Verdon.



Dundalk developed to be a significant market town throughout the middle ages. Surviving the warfare of the 16th and 17th centuries it emerged into a modern era in the 1740's and 50's by means of a re-development plan advanced by James Hamilton. Then the town landlord, Hamilton constructed the streets that lead into the town centre. Many of his ideas were modelled on European cities and sadly, necessitated the demolition of the old walls and castles. The result, combined with the town’s churches and cathedrals, is the modern town experienced today. In the 19th century, the town grew in importance and many industries were set up in the local area. This has left a legacy of many impressive buildings that line Dundalk’s streets and fold around the corners of its gentle streetscapes. This development was helped considerably by the opening of railways, and the expansion of the docks area or 'Quay'.

Today Dundalk is the county town and administrative centre that has evolved into a hub for technology, electronics and engineering. The area’s rich historical tapestry can be explored in Dundalk’s County Museum one of the finest local authority museums nationally. It is located in an elegantly restored 18th century warehouse in Jocelyn Street. The strength of the museum is in its collections. Exhibits range from the ‘Mell’ flake, the earliest Irish artefact ever discovered which is a piece of flint made by human hands and transported via an ice sheet, to Oliver Cromwell’s shaving mirror, to the riding jacket worn by William of Orange at the Battle of the Boyne and so on. It is the perfect port of call for a location imbued with history.

From a sailing perspective Dundalk offers a completely secure berth for all conditions, although without doubt the ‘Quay’ area is industrial and less than attractive. Indeed Dundalk Sailing Club departed Dundalk for the shores of Carlingford Lough in 1999 and changed its name to the ‘Dundalk & Carlingford Sailing Club’ for more aesthetically pleasant surroundings and freedom from tidal restrictions. Nevertheless it is still a very good berth that is complimented by the outstanding beauty of the Cooley Peninsula that provides a stunning backdrop to an area of deep national historical interest. Likewise the estuary is a less than attractive expanse but these salt marshes here are home to a bird sanctuary where some very unusual species may be seen. Add to this the facilities of the extensive County Louth town immediately to hand and this location could become a much more interesting proposition for the coastal explorer than many would think at first glance.


What facilities are available?
Dundalk town has a population of 35,000 and is the second largest town in Ireland. Furthermore within a 40 km radius the catchment area grows to 482,000. It has all the amenities, pubs and restaurants that you would expect to service a population of that size and almost all yachting services a vessel would require except for sail repairs, are catered for. Of particular convenience is a large discount supermarket a few minutes stroll from the quay with the pub just alongside. Water and diesel are also available at the quay.

Dundalk also offers very good connections to Dublin city 86 km to the south, being on the Belfast–Dublin main line of the Irish rail network. It is also at the approximate midpoint of the M1, or E1 Euro Route 1, the motorway between Dublin and Belfast. Dublin international airport is 72 km to the south or 40 minutes away.

Other useful transport contacts in this area:
Dundalk Train Station + 353 42 933 5521
Dundalk Bus Station + 353 42 9334075


Any security concerns?
The quay is an unsecured area in a major provincial town where normal vessel security should be attended to.


With thanks to:
Charles Floody, Drogheda Harbour Pilot for more than three decades. Photography with thanks to Gordon Dunn, Albert Bridge, Jai, Kieran Campbell, David Murphy and Peter Clark.


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Please zoom out to see the 'initial fix' for this location.
The above plots are not precise and indicative only.




















The following video presents a low quality image of Dundalk lighthouse.




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