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Carlingford Harbour

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Overview





Carlingford Harbour is a tidal harbour located on the southwest shore of Carlingford Lough inlet, which is set into Ireland's northeast coastline. The small pretty harbour dries beyond its pierheads and is only suitable for vessels that can take to the hard. Outside there is a popular anchorage where good depths may be found.

This harbour offers good protection but can be exposed in northwest round to northeast conditions when it would be more comfortable at another location in the lough. The entire inlet is subject to heavy squalls descending from the hills in northwest winds. However, a good measure of protection is afforded to all vessels drying out behind the harbour’s protective piers in all reasonable conditions. The harbour is accessed via Warrenpoint Port’s illuminated deep water shipping channel, which runs the entire length of the lough. Careful navigation is generally required for this location owing to exceptional currents in the lower lough and at the entrance.
Please note

It is essential to proceed to No.18 port marker buoy to round the Carlingford Bank before commencing a final approach. This requires a vessel to pass the harbour to port, in the channel outside the bank, and then to double back to approach the harbour from the north inside the bank. Vessels cutting directly across will most likely wind up on the Carlingford Bank.




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Keyfacts for Carlingford Harbour
Facilities
Water available via tapGas availableTop up fuel available in the area via jerry cansMini-supermarket or supermarket availableSlipway availableLaundry facilities availableHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationCashpoint or bank available in the areaPost Office in the areaDoctor or hospital in the areaPharmacy in the areaMarine engineering services available in the areaElectronics or electronic repair available in the areaBus service available in the areaBicycle hire available in the areaTourist Information office availableShore based family recreation in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationAnchoring locationVisitors moorings available, or possibly by club arrangementJetty or a structure to assist landingNavigation lights to support a night approachSailing Club baseScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinitySet near a village or with a village in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Dangerous to enter when it is Beaufort force 5 or more from NE, ENE, E, ESE, SE and SSE.Restriction: shallow, drying or partially drying pierRestriction: strong to overwhelming tides in the localityNote: fish farming activity in the vicinity of this locationNote: could be two hours or more from the main waterways

Protected sectors

Current wind over the protected quadrants
Minimum depth
2 metres (6.56 feet).

Approaches
2 stars: Careful navigation; good visibility and conditions with dangers that require careful navigation.
Shelter
4 stars: Good; assured night's sleep except from specific quarters.



Last modified
July 18th 2018

Summary* Restrictions apply

A good location with careful navigation required for access.

Facilities
Water available via tapGas availableTop up fuel available in the area via jerry cansMini-supermarket or supermarket availableSlipway availableLaundry facilities availableHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationCashpoint or bank available in the areaPost Office in the areaDoctor or hospital in the areaPharmacy in the areaMarine engineering services available in the areaElectronics or electronic repair available in the areaBus service available in the areaBicycle hire available in the areaTourist Information office availableShore based family recreation in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationAnchoring locationVisitors moorings available, or possibly by club arrangementJetty or a structure to assist landingNavigation lights to support a night approachSailing Club baseScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinitySet near a village or with a village in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Dangerous to enter when it is Beaufort force 5 or more from NE, ENE, E, ESE, SE and SSE.Restriction: shallow, drying or partially drying pierRestriction: strong to overwhelming tides in the localityNote: fish farming activity in the vicinity of this locationNote: could be two hours or more from the main waterways



Position and approaches
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Haven position

54° 2.580' N, 006° 10.930' W

The end of the east pier that is lit; Oc.R.4s 5m 3M

What is the initial fix?

The following Carlingford Lough Entrance Initial Fix will set up a final approach:
54° 0.100' N, 006° 2.052' W
500 metres due south of Hellyhunter, a south cardinal buoy Q(6) +FL1.15s. From here the line of the entrance’s leading light beacons may be picked up.


What are the key points of the approach?

Offshore details are available in eastern Ireland’s Coastal Overview for Strangford Lough to Dublin Bay Route location.

  • Use the directions provided for Warrenpoint Click to view haven for approaches and the run up the lough.

  • Plan the approach to be at slack water, preferably low water. Tides in the entrance attain rates of up to 5 kn making it virtually impossible for a displacement leisure craft to enter or leave against the tide.

  • Carlingford Lough's entrance channel and the dredged channel to Warrenpoint are both narrow channels where sailing vessels of less than 20 metres in length cannot impede ships in transit.

  • From the entrance follow the well buoyed and lit commercial channel up the lough to the No.18 port hand marker.

  • Do not be tempted to cut across directly before the mark as this will bring a vessel upon the Carlingford Bank.

  • Round the mark and approach the Carlingford Harbour from the north.



Not what you need?
Click the 'Next' and 'Previous' buttons to progress through neighbouring havens in a coastal 'clockwise' or 'anti-clockwise' sequence. Below are the ten nearest havens to Carlingford Harbour for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Carlingford Marina - 0.4 miles NNW
  2. Killowen - 1.2 miles N
  3. Greer’s Quay - 1.6 miles NW
  4. Rostrevor - 1.7 miles NNW
  5. Greencastle - 1.8 miles E
  6. Omeath - 2.3 miles NW
  7. Gyles’ Quay - 2.5 miles SSW
  8. Warrenpoint - 2.5 miles NW
  9. Kilkeel Harbour - 4.3 miles E
  10. Dundalk - 4.7 miles WSW
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Carlingford Marina - 0.4 miles NNW
  2. Killowen - 1.2 miles N
  3. Greer’s Quay - 1.6 miles NW
  4. Rostrevor - 1.7 miles NNW
  5. Greencastle - 1.8 miles E
  6. Omeath - 2.3 miles NW
  7. Gyles’ Quay - 2.5 miles SSW
  8. Warrenpoint - 2.5 miles NW
  9. Kilkeel Harbour - 4.3 miles E
  10. Dundalk - 4.7 miles WSW
To find locations with the specific attributes you need try:

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Chart
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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How to get in?


Carlingford Harbour is a small pretty tidal harbour fronting the town of Carlingford that has the ruins of an old castle at its north end. It is situated on the southwest side of the Lough about five miles from Haulbowline Light House, marking the entrance, and two miles to the northwest of Greenore Point.



Use the directions provided for Warrenpoint Click to view haven for approaches and the run up the lough.

Continue up the lough to the No.18 Port Hand Channel Buoy Fl R (4) 8s. Visibly this carries a vessel past Carlingford Harbour situated on the southern shore that will be seen about two miles west by northwest of Greenore Point. It is readily recognisable by the town, its piers on which the ruins of King John’s Castle sit are at the foot of the Cooley Mountains. But it is nonetheless essential to continue as far as buoy No.18 and approach the harbour from the north to avoid the Carlingford Bank.



This bank lies in front of the town, between it and the channel, and terminates before the buoy. The bank's outer edge dries and is steep-to. Between it and the shore, there are extensive shallows reducing from 1.7 to 1.6 in the area to the east of the marina until it dries at low water spring outside the harbour’s pier heads.
Please note

Do not cut in before the No.18 marker.



Once round the northwest end of the Carlingford Bank, taking the No.18 buoy to port, steer a course of about 170°T for a mile to the east pierhead at the harbour entrance.




Haven location The anchorage area is situated between the town and the marina, approximately 500 metres beyond the pierheads to the north-northwest of Carlingford. The area will make itself readily known by some private moorings situated there. Good mud holding is to be found here with depths of 2 to 3 metres clear of the established small craft moorings and shellfish beds. At neaps, a draft of 1.7 metres can be had 300 metres north of the east pier or 1.4 metres 200 metres north.

Carlingford Sailing Club provide visitors' moorings by arrangement; VHF Ch 16 or P: +353 42 937 3238 M: +353 87 980 7774. Shallow draft yachts can make use of moorings to the north of the harbour and deeper drafted vessels may find moorings to the north of the marina.

The harbour is enclosed by a quay on the west and a pier to the east. The pierheads on the extremities of each are lit with the northwest quay Fl G 3s 3M, and the east pier Oc R 4s 3M. The north facing entrance lies between the pierheads and is 180 metres wide. The entire harbour area within dries to 1.5 to 2 metres.

Depths alongside the quay can be as much as 2.7 metres at HW. The silted harbour exposes soft black mud at the bottom of the tide at low water. It is unsuitable for keel vessels to dry out on, but vessels that can take to the hard will find it very good. The east wall is reportedly the best option for those choosing to dry out.


Why visit here?
Carlingford, derives its names from Old Norse Kerlingfjǫrðr, meaning 'Fjord of Carlinn'. In Irish Cairlinn a shortened form of Cathair Linn literally translated as "city of the Pool".

Although commonly attributed to the Vikings, the true founders of Carlingford town were the Normans. It was not until 1184 that John de Courcy’s army made its way to Carlingford when he then claimed this part of Louth for himself. However, de Courcy did not hold these lands for more than two decades as powerful men make powerful enemies. De Courcy backed King Richard in his power struggle with John and when John succeeded Richard he dismissed de Courcy from office. The insecure new king also proved to be mean and vindictive. He sent Hugh de Lacy to capture de Courcy in 1204. Hugh de Lacy, younger son of Hugh de Lacy ‘Lord of Meath’, eventually captured de Courcy by a cowardly targeted ambush when de Courcy was in a church. In May 1205, King John made Hugh the ‘Earl of Ulster’, and assigned him the territories that Henry II had granted de Courcy "as John de Courcy held it on the day when Hugh defeated him".


De Lacy and his Norman command recognised the Lough's strategic significance as the vital stretch of water to the ‘Gap of the North’ and inland Ulster. They were determined to secure it by constructing two castles at its mouth on the southern and northern shores, at Carlingford and at Greencastle to guard the narrow entry channel to the Lough and the ferry crossing between the two. A further measure was the construction of a fort at the present day site of Narrow Water Castle. Carlingford Castle, by which the Normans controlled access from the sea on the southern side of the Lough, provided the impetus for the town that slowly grew around it. King John spent the summer of 1210 in the castle whereupon it became known as King John's castle.


Throughout the Middle Ages Carlingford became a trading centre as well as a defensive English stronghold on the Cooley Peninsula. The nearby Taaffe's Castle, which stood in the old harbour area of the town is an example its trading past. Fortified townhouses were a popular form of residence amongst the wealthy merchant classes of medieval Ireland. Situated on the old harbour front the building was most likely the residence and trading depot of an important member of this merchant class. Business was conducted on the bottom floor, and the upper floors contained the living quarters. The building derives its name from the Taaffe family who became Earls of Carlingford in 1661. The family acquired extensive properties in and around Carlingford during the 17th-century restoration land settlement. Nicholas Taaffe fell at the battle of the Boyne in 1690 and his family subsequently emigrated to Austria.


Carlingford town and castle continued to remain in English hands during the post-mediaeval period, although Hugh O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone, tried to take the castle in a surprise attack in 1596. The castle changed hands several times over the following centuries. Some of the castle’s damage is thought to be the result of a shelling by the Cromwellian commander Colonel Venables. He landed to the south of the town in 1649 and his arrival coincided with the arrival of a man-of-war. Although the castle’s garrison fired some salutary shots it chose not to take on Venables forces. News of the Drogheda massacre was common currency by then and they surrendered under articles and marched away to Newry. The castle was later to be fired upon by retreating Jacobite forces in 1689 and functioned as a hospital during the period leading up to the Battle of the Boyne. Throughout all this Carlingford prospered mainly from war-related trade into southeast Ulster.


It was the construction of the Newry Ship Canal, 1731 through to 1741, that was to mark the end of the town’s prosperity. The canal was built to link the Tyrone coalfields, via Lough Neagh and the River Bann, to the Irish Sea at Carlingford Lough. The hope is that a good transport route from the Tyrone coalfields to Dublin could result in the city becoming self-sufficient in coal. The city relied upon imports from mainland Britain that were often intermittent. Up until the completion of the canal passengers and cargo had to be transhipped at Carlingford Harbour for the trip up the lough and onward to Newry. Once the canal was built ships were able to by-pass the port and Carlingford went into decline. The coming of the ‘Dundalk Newry & Greenore Railway’ in 1876 transformed the town into a popular tourist resort that it remains to this day.


Carlingford is one of the Heritage towns of Ireland and one of the nation’s best preserved medieval towns. Much of this heritage and atmosphere remains palpable today in the town; the narrow streets, lanes and squares enticing visitors to discover the various shops and craft outlets in this walled town. Specific highlights include; ‘The Mint’ wherein 1467 Carlingford was granted a charter to mint its own coinage. The ‘Tholsel’ that is a two storey building where town laws were passed and where it is possible to see the cramped prison cell where criminals were held before their execution, and The Holy Trinity Centre situated within a restored medieval church that provides a connection into the towns rich layers of local history. But these are only a few locations amongst many that are there to be explored. Central to all of this is, of course, the town’s founding stone King John’s Castle. It dominates the medieval town, rising above the Lough it offers magnificent views to the north, south and east.




In addition to the medieval history, there are plenty of festivals and events happening in the village during the summer months. The town also provides a tranquil, intimate base from which to enjoy the Cooley Peninsula. The view from Slieve Foye, 3.2km from Carlingford, is simply breathtaking.




From a strictly boating perspective, Carlingford is a very good berth to visit this wonderful heritage town. The town can also cater for almost any provisioning needed and is an ideal stepping stone to explore the other anchoring locations in the Lough itself.


What facilities are available?
Carlingford town, although hardly bigger than a village, has a surprising array of excellent facilities such as hotels, restaurants, pubs, a post office, a reasonably good supermarket, newsagent, launderette, water, fuel, gas and a host of tourist attractions. A launching slip is available at high tide on the east pier.

Dundalk Sailing Club telephone +353 42 937 3238 is active during the season at weekends providing limited meals, showers and a bar. Carlingford is just over an hours’ drive from Belfast and Dublin.

Useful transport contacts in this area:
Dundalk Train Station + 353 42 933 5521
Dundalk Bus Station + 353 42 9334075
Newry Bus Station + 44 28 30623531
Newry Train Station + 44 28 30269271


Any security concerns?
Never an issue known to have happened off Carlingford.


With thanks to:
Thomas Cunningham - Harbour Master for ‘Carlingford and Irish Lights Commission‘. Photography with thanks to Eric Jones, Albert Bridge, Colm Rice, Garry Harper, Norman McMullan, Tamsin Slater, Oliver Dixon, Sitomon.


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













































Northern Ireland tourist board overview




Aerial views of the harbour area - from the 6 minutes point




Photo montage of various points around Carlingford Lough



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