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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 the sea inlet of 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 the sea inlet of 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. However, 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
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

Protected sectors

Current wind over the protected quadrants
Minimum depth
3 metres (9.84 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
January 9th 2021

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. Giles 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. Giles 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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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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What's the story here?
Tug boat anchored off the pier at Greencastle
Image: Jay Ken Crozier via CC BY 2.0


Greencastle is a rural townland located inside the north side of the entrance to Carlingford Lough about 1½ miles in from Cranfield Point and 400 metres southeast of Greencastle Point. The small hamlet has a wooden pier and a ferry terminal for a car ferry service that crosses Carlingford Lough between Greencastle and Greenore.


Boat alongside the wooden pier
Image: Jay Ken Crozier via CC BY 2.0


It provides the first good anchorage inside Carlingford Lough and it provides good holding in depths of up to 5 metres in the narrow channel between the ledges north of Green Island and Greencastle Point. The approach is made off the main commercial channel entered just over ½ mile to the southeast of Greencastle Point. The short narrow channel is marked by lit perches leading to the ferry terminal.
Please note

The anchorage provides excellent holding and it is well needed as the currents run up to 3.5 knots here.




How to get in?
The channel and its marks as seen from the north
Image: Light Storm Media External link


Convergance Point Use 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.

This path leads past and 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. The deep narrow channel that provides the entrance path into the anchorage lies between Half Tide Rock and the mainland shore. It is well marked by five perches, three port perches and two starboard perches, all lit.

The first, Half Tide Rock is an outlier of Green Island, a small islet ½ 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 of the island and close south of the mooring area. The red perch marking Half Tide Rock can be challenging to identify as it is thin, and only shows 1 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. Once this is identified steer for the perch and when it draws close, turn to starboard and pass Half Tide Rock to port keeping at least 15 metres off. All the other perch markers on either side of the channel will be obvious from this point and it is then a matter of passing them on their correct sides.

The car ferry service sails on the hour crosses Carlingford Lough from Greencastle to Greenore and it is important not to obstruct the channel or its approaches when it is manoeuvring. So it is essential to check that the ferry is not underway before entering the channel, and if so, wait until it has cleared the channel.


Greencastle Pier
Image: bishib70 via CC BY NC


With the last perch is astern steer for the wooden pier and follow the line of the moorings to pass the drying bank that lies between Green Island the moorings, close south of the latter. 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.


Moored Yacht in the protected area between Greencastle and Green Island
Image: Jay Ken Crozier via CC BY 2.0


Haven location The best place to anchor is to the west round to northwest of the moorings. 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 wooden pier is a derelict wooden structure and it is best to land on the beach alongside it. Its head covers at high water Springs.


The pierhead covered at high water
Image: Jay Ken Crozier via CC BY 2.0



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 apart for the dedicated area for vehicles to wait to embark, toilets and waiting area for foot passengers. Kilkeel is the largest and nearest town to Greencastle and is just under 5 miles from the Carlingford Lough Terminal.

Taxi services are available in the area:
Joe’s Taxis Landline+44 (0)28 4176 3793
Premier Cabs Landline+44 (0)28 41764397


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’.








































Greencastle and Greenore ferry service




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.


























Greencastle and Greenore ferry service




An informative Northern Ireland tourist board overview




Aerial footage of Greencastle and surroundings



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