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Greencastle

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Overview





Greencastle is located on the northern shore, a mile and a half inside the entrance to the Carlingford Lough inlet on Ireland's northeast coast. It offers the first secure anchorage inside Carlingford Lough.

Greencastle is located on the northern shore, a mile and a half inside the entrance to the Carlingford Lough inlet on Ireland's northeast coast. It offers the first secure anchorage inside Carlingford Lough.

The anchorage provides good protection from all winds except for northwesterly or southeasterly conditions. Pilotage up to the anchorage is straightforward via a deep water shipping channel that runs the entire length of the lough although the final approach to Greencastle is not specifically marked and requires careful navigation by daylight. Tides in the anchorage can run up to three and a half knots so newcomers should only approach Greencastle at slack or high water.
Please note

The preferred approach for a newcomer would be near low water when the rocks on the west and south sides of the anchorage may be clearly seen. With very strong currents at the anchorage, a vessel will normally be tide-rode here.




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Keyfacts for Greencastle



Last modified
July 18th 2018

Summary* Restrictions apply

A good location with careful navigation required for access.

Facilities
Marked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationPleasant family beach in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationRemote or quiet secluded locationAnchoring locationBeach or shoreline landing from a tenderScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinityHistoric, geographic or culturally significant location; or 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: strong to overwhelming tides in the localityNote: could be two hours or more from the main waterwaysNote: strong tides or currents in the area that require consideration



Position and approaches
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Haven position

54° 2.280' N, 006° 6.110' W

One hundred metres south of the wooden pontoon in the anchorage area.

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 to the lough and its central channel.

  • 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 inlet to the No. 9 Starboard Hand Buoy.

  • Pass the rear Leading Lt. Beacon tower to starboard. Pass the red perch, that marks the Half Tide Rock, to port.

  • Anchor in the channel where the local boat moorings are located.


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 Greencastle for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Carlingford Harbour - 1.8 miles W
  2. Carlingford Marina - 2 miles WNW
  3. Killowen - 2.4 miles NW
  4. Kilkeel Harbour - 2.6 miles ENE
  5. Rostrevor - 2.9 miles NW
  6. Greer’s Quay - 3.2 miles WNW
  7. Gyles’ Quay - 3.6 miles WSW
  8. Omeath - 3.8 miles WNW
  9. Warrenpoint - 4 miles WNW
  10. Annalong Harbour - 5.2 miles ENE
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Carlingford Harbour - 1.8 miles W
  2. Carlingford Marina - 2 miles WNW
  3. Killowen - 2.4 miles NW
  4. Kilkeel Harbour - 2.6 miles ENE
  5. Rostrevor - 2.9 miles NW
  6. Greer’s Quay - 3.2 miles WNW
  7. Gyles’ Quay - 3.6 miles WSW
  8. Omeath - 3.8 miles WNW
  9. Warrenpoint - 4 miles WNW
  10. Annalong Harbour - 5.2 miles ENE
To find locations with the specific attributes you need try:

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How to get in?

Greencastle is located inside the entrance to Carlingford Lough about a mile and a half in from Cranfield Point and 400 metres southeast of Greencastle Point. The approach is made through a narrow unmarked channel entered just over half a mile to the southeast of Greencastle Point. The anchorage is best attempted at slack water when the reefs and sandbanks around low lying Green Island show themselves and the channel is more readily identified.

Convergance PointUse the directions provided for Warrenpoint Click to view haven for approaches to the lough and its central channel.

Follow the marked channel passing close to the No. 9 Starboard Hand Buoy and prepare to depart the marked channel here. Turn northward, to starboard, and commence an approach on the anchorage to the east of Green Island. The new course should be towards the houses on Greencastle Point, on approximately 340°T, a distance of less than a mile.



This path leads west, passing to starboard of the rear Leading Lt. Beacon tower, that provides the main entrance channel’s 310° T lights-in-line leading lights. Then it passes to the east, to port of a red perch, that marks the ‘Half Tide Rock’ leading into the channel where the moorings are.

The first of these, the rear light pile tower, is easily identified as it is the rear of the entrance channel marks. This is a green and white framework tower 14 metres in height. It has a day-glow orange triangle day mark apex down and it stands 500 metres northwestward of the front light. When the tower is 200 metres to the west, or abeam to starboard, it is time to look for the perch.

The red perch marking ‘Half Tide Rock’ can be more challenging to identify as it is thin, and only shows a metre at high water springs. Nevertheless, it is easy enough to identify and especially so at low water when its rock will also be visible.

Half Tide Rock is an outlier of Green Island, a small islet half a mile from the Greencastle shore that is always visible and protects the anchorage to the south. It is surrounded by an extensive rocky foreshore that covers at high water. It has several outlying rocks such as Half Tide Rock to the east that also covers, and a drying sandbank to the north close south of the mooring area. Between Half Tide Rock and the mainland shore, there is a deep narrow channel that provides the entrance path into anchorage.

When approaching the perch it is best to keep it in-line with the wooden Greencastle Pier, in the backdrop, for the deepest water. As the perch draws close, turn to starboard and pass Half Tide Rock to port keeping at least 15 metres off.

With the perch astern steer for the root of the wooden pier and follow the line of the moorings showing the path of the channel into the mooring area. The anchoring area will be readily apparent by local boats, and most likely the lough’s pilot boat and tugs that are usually stationed here.



Best approaches from the upper lough are via the North Channel entered between Starboard hand buoys 19 and 21. Round a ridge of sand that uncovers at low water and commences to the north of the Stalka Rock. The ridge continues down for half a mile south by east to the Earl Rock, which has covered rocks off its southern end. Within or between this ridge and the great eastern bank, is the North Channel that is about 200 to 400 metres wide and has from 6 to 7 metres of water. It flows down entirely unobstructed into the Greencastle anchorage. In the last length use a transit off the head of the pier, on the two-story green-roofed house close behind, to keep off the shore.

Haven location The best place to anchor is to the west round to northwest of the moorings. Where at slack water it is easy to place the vessel in relation to the rocks on the south side of the anchorage.

Holding is excellent in gravel and sand but make certain the hook is well in as the currents run up to 3.5 knots here. The pier is a derelict wooden structure and it is best to land on the beach alongside it.



There is a small concrete pier around the northern face of Greencastle Point. This dries out entirely at low water along with its approach path. A single starboard perch and two port perches mark the entrance channel to this pier.


Why visit here?
Greencastle derives its name from its signature Norman fortress known by the same name. Recorded as Viride Castrum ‘green castle’ in early Latin documents it is not known why it was so called. Many believe it is an allusion to the verdant appearance of the surrounding countryside. Whatever the case, the castle remains the primary feature of the location and made it a very important place in Norman and medieval times.



When they came to Northern Ireland the Normans only occupied the area of what are now the eastern portions of the modern counties of Antrim and Down. In times of war, the land route from the south through the ‘Gap of the North’ was easily disrupted by the Irish from Mourne which made the lough a hugely significance stretch of water. By constructing Greencastle, and the corresponding Carlingford Castle, the Normans controlled the lough’s narrow entrance and effectively guarded the sea entrance to Ulster. Securing this coastline also performed a key part of a chain of Anglo-Norman fortresses along the eastern coast of Ireland. Greencastle being linked by ferry to Carlingford connected the chain to the centre of Anglo-Norman authority in Dublin. The coastal location of the fort here also provided for vast food resources in the medieval period.

The original fort would have been Anglo-Norman motte-and-bailey with the stone Green Castle itself arriving nearby in the mid 13th-century. This was built by Hugh de Lacy almost certainly during the 1230s and it had a turbulent history from the outset. Owing to the lack of an heir it was transferred to the Crown in 1243. It was taken by the Irish, led by Brian O’ Neill and Hugh O’ Connor in 1260 where the medieval annals record Arx viridis in Ultonia prosternitor ‘the green fortress in Ulster thrown to the ground’.

From 1280 to 1326 it was the preferred residence of one of the most powerful Irish nobles, Richard Óg de Burgh, 2nd Earl of Ulster and 3rd Baron of Connaught, often called "The Red Earl" of Ulster. Richard’s daughters were raised in Greencastle, including Elizabeth, who was to become the second wife of King Robert the Bruce of Scotland. However, this did not stop ‘The Red Earl’ leading his forces from Ireland to support England's King Edward I in his Scottish campaigns. When the forces of Edward Bruce, brother of Robert Bruce, invaded Ulster in 1315, the Earl led a force against him but was beaten at Connor in Antrim, and Edward Bruce sacked Greencastle in 1316. After an unsuccessful siege in 1333-34, the Gaelic Irish captured and destroyed the Green Castle in 1343. In 1375 and again in 1381 the castle was damaged by the Irish.

By Tudor times the castle had survived three centuries of attack, counterattack, occupation and by the time of the downfall of the Earls of Kildare in 1534, it was in what was described as a "wretched condition". In the 15th century, the royal garrison was reduced in number but the castle had a further level added to the tower with mural passages, wall walks, and the ground floor sub-divided into three barrel-vaulted chambers to make it more defensible. In 1505 it was granted to the Earls of Kildare who made further alterations including the enlargement of the upper windows. In 1549 it was granted as part of the lordships of Newry and Mourne to Sir Nicholas Bagnall, Knight Marshall of Ireland. During their tenure in 1597, the castle was listed as one of the few garrisons retained for Elizabeth I in Ulster. The Bagnalls were resident in the castle until 1635. After 400 years, Greencastle finally ceased functioning as a fortification when in 1652 the castle was bombarded by parliamentary forces during the decade of wars in Ireland that followed the 1641 Rebellion. By the time the Earls of Kilmorey became principal landowners in Mourne, Greencastle was uninhabitable.

The castle was very much the hub from which the local landscape evolved during the medieval period. During this time the village was the thriving centre of a major Gaelic fair. Held on 12th January and 12th August the Fair Green was called Clonaenach More the ‘Great Fair Meadow’. After the end of the Nine Year’s War, the fair was revived under a patent granted by James I in 1613. The fair dwindled in the nineteenth century as Greencastle was continuously outstripped as a place of importance by the steady growth of the town of Kilkeel. Despite some optimism that railway facilities would be extended to Greencastle in the 1880s, it was never constructed, leading to the end of the fair shortly afterwards. The closure of the paddle steamer service to Greenore ensured that Greencastle retained an essentially rural, hamlet character into the 20th and 21st-century.

Today the castle with its small quay and fishing village, situated further west along the shore, is very quiet. It adds much to its appeal offering stunning views of the lough. At the entrance to the lough, it includes the famous 41-metre high Haulbowline Lighthouse, erected in 1823, and the Block House Island where the ruins are still visible of its Elizabethan fort built in 1602. The towering Mourne Mountains that bound the area to the north are simply beautiful.



The dismantled and dilapidated fortress, with its air of sombre antiquity, carries the meditative mind to memories of the past. The castle came into State Care in the 1960s and for some generations in the possession of the McElroy family. Their farm and domestic buildings occupy much of the area around the western side of the castle. Close to the castle is the late medieval church associated with the fortification and its Anglo-Norman motte-and-bailey that was Greencastle’s precursor. The site of the medieval village of Greencastle that must presumably lie in the environs of the castle has not yet been found. Within the hamlet are the former Lighthouse Keepers’ dwellings built over 150 years ago and which are now listed, a boat-house and walls dating to a similar period and the old wooden pier which dates back to the 1880s are also listed.

From a purely boating perspective, Greencastle is the first anchorage of the beautiful sailing area that is Carlingford Lough. The commercial harbour of Greenore, that lies opposite, cannot accommodate leisure craft. Hence it is an important berth for those entering or exiting the lough. The ancient castle is the main feature of this remote out of the way location. Apart from the castle and an old church, there is now little else. Surrounding it there is an occasional fisherman’s house and a holiday home, but it can hardly even be called a scattered hamlet.


What facilities are available?
There are no shops or facilities of any kind in Greencastle.


Any security concerns?
Never an issue known to have occurred at Greencastle.


With thanks to:
Thomas Cunningham - Harbour Master for ‘Carlingford and Irish Lights Commission’. Photography with thanks to Anderson Ivor, Eric Jones, Wilson Adams, Henry Clark, Albert Bridge and James Edgar.


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







































An informative Northern Ireland tourist board overview




Aerial footage of Greencastle and surroundings


About Greencastle

Greencastle derives its name from its signature Norman fortress known by the same name. Recorded as Viride Castrum ‘green castle’ in early Latin documents it is not known why it was so called. Many believe it is an allusion to the verdant appearance of the surrounding countryside. Whatever the case, the castle remains the primary feature of the location and made it a very important place in Norman and medieval times.



When they came to Northern Ireland the Normans only occupied the area of what are now the eastern portions of the modern counties of Antrim and Down. In times of war, the land route from the south through the ‘Gap of the North’ was easily disrupted by the Irish from Mourne which made the lough a hugely significance stretch of water. By constructing Greencastle, and the corresponding Carlingford Castle, the Normans controlled the lough’s narrow entrance and effectively guarded the sea entrance to Ulster. Securing this coastline also performed a key part of a chain of Anglo-Norman fortresses along the eastern coast of Ireland. Greencastle being linked by ferry to Carlingford connected the chain to the centre of Anglo-Norman authority in Dublin. The coastal location of the fort here also provided for vast food resources in the medieval period.

The original fort would have been Anglo-Norman motte-and-bailey with the stone Green Castle itself arriving nearby in the mid 13th-century. This was built by Hugh de Lacy almost certainly during the 1230s and it had a turbulent history from the outset. Owing to the lack of an heir it was transferred to the Crown in 1243. It was taken by the Irish, led by Brian O’ Neill and Hugh O’ Connor in 1260 where the medieval annals record Arx viridis in Ultonia prosternitor ‘the green fortress in Ulster thrown to the ground’.

From 1280 to 1326 it was the preferred residence of one of the most powerful Irish nobles, Richard Óg de Burgh, 2nd Earl of Ulster and 3rd Baron of Connaught, often called "The Red Earl" of Ulster. Richard’s daughters were raised in Greencastle, including Elizabeth, who was to become the second wife of King Robert the Bruce of Scotland. However, this did not stop ‘The Red Earl’ leading his forces from Ireland to support England's King Edward I in his Scottish campaigns. When the forces of Edward Bruce, brother of Robert Bruce, invaded Ulster in 1315, the Earl led a force against him but was beaten at Connor in Antrim, and Edward Bruce sacked Greencastle in 1316. After an unsuccessful siege in 1333-34, the Gaelic Irish captured and destroyed the Green Castle in 1343. In 1375 and again in 1381 the castle was damaged by the Irish.

By Tudor times the castle had survived three centuries of attack, counterattack, occupation and by the time of the downfall of the Earls of Kildare in 1534, it was in what was described as a "wretched condition". In the 15th century, the royal garrison was reduced in number but the castle had a further level added to the tower with mural passages, wall walks, and the ground floor sub-divided into three barrel-vaulted chambers to make it more defensible. In 1505 it was granted to the Earls of Kildare who made further alterations including the enlargement of the upper windows. In 1549 it was granted as part of the lordships of Newry and Mourne to Sir Nicholas Bagnall, Knight Marshall of Ireland. During their tenure in 1597, the castle was listed as one of the few garrisons retained for Elizabeth I in Ulster. The Bagnalls were resident in the castle until 1635. After 400 years, Greencastle finally ceased functioning as a fortification when in 1652 the castle was bombarded by parliamentary forces during the decade of wars in Ireland that followed the 1641 Rebellion. By the time the Earls of Kilmorey became principal landowners in Mourne, Greencastle was uninhabitable.

The castle was very much the hub from which the local landscape evolved during the medieval period. During this time the village was the thriving centre of a major Gaelic fair. Held on 12th January and 12th August the Fair Green was called Clonaenach More the ‘Great Fair Meadow’. After the end of the Nine Year’s War, the fair was revived under a patent granted by James I in 1613. The fair dwindled in the nineteenth century as Greencastle was continuously outstripped as a place of importance by the steady growth of the town of Kilkeel. Despite some optimism that railway facilities would be extended to Greencastle in the 1880s, it was never constructed, leading to the end of the fair shortly afterwards. The closure of the paddle steamer service to Greenore ensured that Greencastle retained an essentially rural, hamlet character into the 20th and 21st-century.

Today the castle with its small quay and fishing village, situated further west along the shore, is very quiet. It adds much to its appeal offering stunning views of the lough. At the entrance to the lough, it includes the famous 41-metre high Haulbowline Lighthouse, erected in 1823, and the Block House Island where the ruins are still visible of its Elizabethan fort built in 1602. The towering Mourne Mountains that bound the area to the north are simply beautiful.



The dismantled and dilapidated fortress, with its air of sombre antiquity, carries the meditative mind to memories of the past. The castle came into State Care in the 1960s and for some generations in the possession of the McElroy family. Their farm and domestic buildings occupy much of the area around the western side of the castle. Close to the castle is the late medieval church associated with the fortification and its Anglo-Norman motte-and-bailey that was Greencastle’s precursor. The site of the medieval village of Greencastle that must presumably lie in the environs of the castle has not yet been found. Within the hamlet are the former Lighthouse Keepers’ dwellings built over 150 years ago and which are now listed, a boat-house and walls dating to a similar period and the old wooden pier which dates back to the 1880s are also listed.

From a purely boating perspective, Greencastle is the first anchorage of the beautiful sailing area that is Carlingford Lough. The commercial harbour of Greenore, that lies opposite, cannot accommodate leisure craft. Hence it is an important berth for those entering or exiting the lough. The ancient castle is the main feature of this remote out of the way location. Apart from the castle and an old church, there is now little else. Surrounding it there is an occasional fisherman’s house and a holiday home, but it can hardly even be called a scattered hamlet.

Other options in this area


Click the 'Next' and 'Previous' buttons to progress through neighbouring havens in a coastal 'clockwise' or 'anti-clockwise' sequence. Alternatively here are the ten nearest havens available in picture view:
Coastal clockwise:
Killowen - 2.4 miles NW
Rostrevor - 2.9 miles NW
Warrenpoint - 4 miles WNW
Newry - 7.1 miles NW
Omeath - 3.8 miles WNW
Coastal anti-clockwise:
Kilkeel Harbour - 2.6 miles ENE
Annalong Harbour - 5.2 miles ENE
Newcastle Harbour - 7.6 miles NE
Dundrum Harbour - 9.9 miles NE
Killough Harbour - 12.9 miles NE

Navigational pictures


These additional images feature in the 'How to get in' section of our detailed view for Greencastle.






















An informative Northern Ireland tourist board overview




Aerial footage of Greencastle and surroundings



A photograph is worth a thousand words. We are always looking for bright sunny photographs that show this haven and its identifiable features at its best. If you have some images that we could use please upload them here. All we need to know is how you would like to be credited for your work and a brief description of the image if it is not readily apparent. If you would like us to add a hyperlink from the image that goes back to your site please include the desired link and we will be delighted to that for you.


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Please note eOceanic makes no guarantee of the validity of this information, we have not visited this haven and do not have first-hand experience to qualify the data. Although the contributors are vetted by peer review as practised authorities, they are in no way, whatsoever, responsible for the accuracy of their contributions. It is essential that you thoroughly check the accuracy and suitability for your vessel of any waypoints offered in any context plus the precision of your GPS. Any data provided on this page is entirely used at your own risk and you must read our legal page if you view data on this site. Free to use sea charts courtesy of Navionics.