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Drogheda & The River Boyne

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Overview





Drogheda, on the east coast of Ireland, is situated four and a half miles upriver from the mouth of the River Boyne that enters the Irish Sea approximately thirty miles north of Dublin. It is a sizeable provincial town and busy port that has a pier set up to receive visiting leisure craft.

Once inside the river entrance, the River Boyne provides complete protection. The channel's maintained depth, numerous commercial channel marks and transits make access straightforward night or day, at all stages of the tide and in moderate onshore and all offshore winds. With onshore winds, the River Boyne entrance can be more challenging. Boats visiting in conditions from southeast round to east should not attempt the entrance in anything above a force five. Slightly worse is anything to the north of east, round to north, as this causes a big confused swell at the entrance that tends to push leisure craft towards the entrance's southern beach. It is advisable not to try entering in anything over force four from these quarters. Once inside the entrance, it immediately flattens out and the commercial channel is highly protected.
Please note

Gyles’ Quay is a good alternative in strong north-easterly conditions or alternatively nearby Port Oriel in south-easterly conditions.




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Keyfacts for Drogheda & The River Boyne
Facilities
Water available via tapMini-supermarket or supermarket availableExtensive shopping available in the areaFuel by arrangement with bulk tanker providerShore based toilet facilitiesHot 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 areaInternet café in the areaDoctor or hospital in the areaPharmacy in the areaBus service available in the areaTrain or tram service available in the areaBicycle hire available in the areaCar hire available in the areaTourist Information office availableShore based family recreation in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationAnchoring locationBerth alongside a deep water pier or raft up to other vesselsQuick and easy access from open waterNavigation lights to support a night approachUrban 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

Considerations
None listed

Protected sectors

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

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.



Last modified
September 21st 2018

Summary

A completely protected location with straightforward access.

Facilities
Water available via tapMini-supermarket or supermarket availableExtensive shopping available in the areaFuel by arrangement with bulk tanker providerShore based toilet facilitiesHot 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 areaInternet café in the areaDoctor or hospital in the areaPharmacy in the areaBus service available in the areaTrain or tram service available in the areaBicycle hire available in the areaCar hire available in the areaTourist Information office availableShore based family recreation in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationAnchoring locationBerth alongside a deep water pier or raft up to other vesselsQuick and easy access from open waterNavigation lights to support a night approachUrban 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

Considerations
None listed



Position and approaches
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Haven position

53° 42.965' N, 006° 20.465' W

At the town quays situated on the north side of the river approximately 600 metres west of Boyne Viaduct.

What is the initial fix?

The following Boyne River Entrance initial fix will set up a final approach:
53° 43.298' N, 006° 12.630' W
One mile out from the entrance in the ports narrow white sector lights 269.5°- 270.5°T. The river entrance is approached from the east, and a bearing of due west 270°T will take a vessel into the Boyne River entrance from here.


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.

  • Do not attempt in strong onshore winds.

  • Approach the marked entrance from due east.

  • Once inside the entrance follow the well marked shipping channel.


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 Drogheda & The River Boyne for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Port Oriel (Clogher Head) - 4 miles NE
  2. Balbriggan Harbour - 5.3 miles SE
  3. Skerries Bay and Harbour - 7.1 miles SE
  4. Loughshinny - 8.6 miles SE
  5. Rogerstown Inlet - 9.1 miles SSE
  6. Rush Harbour - 9.2 miles SE
  7. Gyles’ Quay - 10.2 miles NNE
  8. Malahide - 10.6 miles SSE
  9. The Boat Harbour - 10.7 miles SE
  10. Saltpan Bay - 10.8 miles SE
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Port Oriel (Clogher Head) - 4 miles NE
  2. Balbriggan Harbour - 5.3 miles SE
  3. Skerries Bay and Harbour - 7.1 miles SE
  4. Loughshinny - 8.6 miles SE
  5. Rogerstown Inlet - 9.1 miles SSE
  6. Rush Harbour - 9.2 miles SE
  7. Gyles’ Quay - 10.2 miles NNE
  8. Malahide - 10.6 miles SSE
  9. The Boat Harbour - 10.7 miles SE
  10. Saltpan Bay - 10.8 miles SE
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?
Drogheda Town Quay and Viaduct
Image: Michael Harpur


Drogheda is situated on both sides of the River Boyne about 4½ miles upriver from where it empties into the Irish Sea. The large provincial town is one of the oldest towns in Ireland and is a centre of industry and medical care. The busy commercial port Tom Roe's Terminal is located about a mile downstream from Drogheda’s town quays.

Drogheda receives visiting boats at 'Fiddle Case Pier' a new dedicated 40-meter pier for yachts and small leisure craft near the heart of the town. The pier can accommodate about 3 medium sized vessels in depths that range from about 1.5 to 2.0 metres CD. Once safely alongside, the bottom is soft mud, so deeper draft vessels can come alongside on the rise and subsequent groundings at LWS will pass unnoticed so long as there is no plan to leave before the water returns.

The entrance and channel to the town has a maintained depth of 2.2 metres CD to the Tom Roe's Point terminal and thereafter at 1.3 metres CD to the town of Drogheda. Best time to enter is on the latter part of the inbound stream, HW Dublin -0300 or HW Dover +0220.

Vessels are advised to make the harbour office aware of the planned entry and seek clearance before an approach is made. Keep VHF Channel 11 open throughout. The Harbour Master may be contacted on P:+353 41 983 8385 M:+353 86 2547827. The Harbour Master's office is a modern red brick building situated on the north side of the town quays about 700 metres above Boyne Viaduct. Alternatively contact Drogheda Port Company: P: +353 419838378 (Mon – Fri 0900-1630hrs) E: maritimehouse@droghedaport.ie. VHF Channel 11 when vessels are expected (3hrs before HW to 1hr after HW).


Southern Approach Local hazards for vessels approaching from the south include the half-tide Cardy Rock patch marked by a port hand beacon. They are situated 800 metres off Breymore Point and a mile north by northeast of Balbriggan lighthouse. Keeping Balbriggan lighthouse to the southwest, or westward of this, clears Cardy Rocks. By night these rocks are covered by the green sector of Balbriggan Light.

With the exception of the southern approach, which has some easily avoided offshore dangers, all other Boyne River approaches are free from out-lying dangers.

On final approaches, it is not advisable to cut into the River Boyne entrance from the south. There is a large rock about 200 metres east of Lyons Light that is only visible on low spring tides.


Initial fix location Vessels approaching from the initial fix may come in bearing 270° T, or due west, into the river’s entrance channel that will be highly visible in normal conditions. The coast in the backdrop is of moderate elevation backed by low hills about 4 miles inland.

On closer approaches, the River Boyne Port Approach Direction Light may be seen situated on the south shore. At night the entrance has a narrow white sector light with a total beam width of 1° between 269.5°- 270.5°T. The entrance red and green sectors are likewise narrow and only 7°.

There is an unlit shipping alignment tower called the Maiden Tower situated 1,000 metres inside the entrance on the southwest side. Maiden Tower is a tall square stone castellated tower with a stone building close north and the Lady’s Finger, a small obelisk, close west. Two factory chimneys on the north side of the river, further inshore close to Drogheda, will also be visible.

Maiden Tower – unlighted position: 53° 43.352'N 006° 15.087'W

Identify and track in along the leading-light alignment marks that takes a vessel in over the sandbar.

The dredged channel commences 700 metres east of the seaward ends of the breakwaters and has a maintained minimum depth of 2.2 metres CD.

The river entrance is located between North and South Bull training walls that are 50 metres apart and protrude seaward from drying sandbanks backed by sandhills. On the seaward end of the North Bull wall there is a 20 metre high black stone Aleria beacon QG 18m 3M.

Drogheda North Bull Aleria Light – QG 18m 3M position: 53° 43.350' N, 006° 14.332' W

On the seaward end of the South Bull is the corresponding Lyons red metal tower Fl (3) R5s beacon.

Drogheda South Bull Lyons Light - Fl (3) R5s position: 53° 43.225' N, 006° 14.258' W

Continue on track into the channel between the Aleria and Lyons beacons. Once between the pier heads steering towards the Maiden Tower. From there on in, the River Boyne channel is marked with frequent pairs of timber lateral light-beacons. These stand outside the dredged channel on each side of the river so all that is required is to steer a centre line between these paired navigational marks all the way up to Drogheda.

Inside the entrance, it is all sand and mud flats that dry at low water, and there are no rocks so there is nothing hard to hit. However, Drogheda is a busy commercial port with 1,400 annual vessel movements. There is plenty of room to meet passing vessels but leisure craft should take care not to impede commercial traffic in the narrow entrance or channel as these are highly restricted waterways for large ships.

The town quay is situated on the north side of the river and to the west of the Boyne Viaduct that carries a railway line over the river. Hence those intending upon berthing at the Fiddle Case Pier must pass under the Boyne Viaduct. From the bridge understructure to top of quay concrete there is an airdraft of 26 metres HAT. Additional clearance for the height of tide below the quay can be accessed by an airdraft gauge positioned at the viaduct.

Haven location The first opportunity to quickly come alongside and tie up is at the old Fishmeal at Crooke Point. This is named after a fish meal processing factory that was located there in past times.

Fishmeal Quay - East corner 2 F R (vert) position: 53° 43.837'N, 006° 15.619'W

This is a small pier on the port side of the river ¾ of a mile upriver from the entrance. At least 3.00 metres of water will be found here either alongside the quay or rafted up to a fishing boat. Apart from the pier, there is nothing in the immediate vicinity ashore here. Additionally, as it is occasionally used by the Irish army, the quay is a secured area that requires an authorised fisherman to open the gates.

Likewise, vessels may freely drop anchor anywhere out of the channel and downriver at ‘Tom Roe's Terminal’. The channel is maintained to a depth of 2.2 metres up to the commercial shipping terminal, and good holding will be had out of the way just off the channel, with the assistance of a detailed chart such as Admiralty Chart 1431. The harbour office is nearby and it may be worthwhile requesting permission to lie outside the tug where 2.5 to 3 metres will be found at LWS.
Please note

There is a submarine pipeline, and a natural gas pipe that crosses the channel west of Tom Roe’s Point, and no anchoring should take place in this area. It is marked by a sign on poles on the north and south river banks.






From ‘Tom Roe's Point’ up to town quays, the depths are 1.3 metres CD at the lowest point so a vessel carrying any draft will need to work the tides. Two hours flood from there should be more than sufficient for most vessels to proceed upriver for the last mile to the town quay.


Yacht alongside Fiddle Case Pier
Image: Brian Lennon


The dedicated yacht mooring the Fiddle Case Pier will be found on the north side of the river, 400 metres upstream of the Boyne Viaduct and just past the towns commercial shipping quays. The 40 metres pier comprises an open pile metal structure with vertical timber fenders at 3-metre centres and ample sturdy access ladders. Fender boards, if available would be well deployed. Berth, on the flood tide, port side to, there is ample swing room to turn around.

There are further town quays upriver but these are not suitable for berthing as there is a wreck in this area. Above this, there is a pedestrian bridge and then a road bridge that marks the effective limit for sailing craft.




Why visit here?
Drogheda, in Irish Droichead Átha meaning "Fordbridge", is located in an area that is steeped in human history. The area abounds in archaeological monuments that date from the Neolithic period onwards. Most notable amongst them is the large Passage Tombs, or burial mound, of Newgrange that was a constructed around 3200 BC.

The town’s original settlement is thought to date back to 911 AD when it is believed to have been a coastal stronghold founded by the Danes. The earliest monument in the town is the Norman motte-and-bailey castle, now the site of the Martello tower Millmount Fort, that overlooks the town from a bluff on the south bank of the Boyne. This is thought to have been erected by the Norman Lord of Meath, Hugh de Lacy sometime before 1186. In time as the town developed, it was once entirely walled in, and parts of the wall are still visible including the lovely medieval St. Laurence's Gate. The earliest known town charter was granted to Drogheda-in-Meath by Walter de Lacy in 1194. The town went on to have highs and lows. In 1394 the Irish princes of Leinster and Ulster submitted to King Richard II in Drogheda. The town went on to be an important walled town in the English Pale during the medieval period. It frequently hosted meetings of the Irish Parliament that had moved there in 1494 and an acts known as the Poynings' Law would seal the faith of the nation for 300 years.



On the 1st of December 1494 the recently-arrived Lord Deputy of Ireland Sir Edward Poynings, as appointed by King Henry VII of England, called together an assembly of the parliament in Drogheda. He enacted Poynings' Law or Poynings' Act of 1495, formally known as the ‘Statute of Drogheda’ that declared that the Parliament of Ireland was thereafter to be placed under the authority of the Parliament of England.

By the end of the 15th-century English authority in Ireland had all but disappeared. Coming in the aftermath of the divisive Wars of the Roses, Poynings' intention was to make Ireland once again obedient to the English monarchy. Poynings' Law limited the power of the Irish Parliament and gave the English Parliament and monarch veto power over its legislation. This marked the beginning of direct Tudor rule in Ireland, although Henry VII was still forced to rely on Old English nobles such as the Earl of Kildare as his deputies in Ireland through the intervening years. Beginning with the 1536 Protestant Reformation, King Henry VIII went even further. Church legislation from the English Reformation Parliament was extended to Ireland, and in 1541 Henry upgraded it from a lordship to a full kingdom. The Irish parliament “most willingly and joyously” consented to a Bill conferring on him the title King of Ireland. The act would survive, with modifications, until 1782.

The original purpose of the act had been to curb the independence of Ireland’s Anglo-Norman chief governors. However, the Irish Parliament resented its restrictive effect. Poynings' Law was a major rallying point for groups seeking self-government for Ireland, particularly the Confederate Catholics in the 1640s that besieged Drogheda twice. The first siege occurred during the Irish Rebellion of 1641 when Phelim O'Neill and the insurgents failed to take the town. The second more infamous siege was by Oliver Cromwell.



Drogheda was the first garrison he attacked during his 1649 invasion of Ireland. At that time Sir Arthur Aston had 3,100 English Royalist Regiment and Irish Confederate Army, roughly half English and half Irish, defending Drogheda. These were no match for Cromwell's 12,000 strong army and heavy siege guns. When Aston refused to surrender the town, Cromwell's intention was to make such an example of Drogheda that it would bring Irish Catholic resistance to an end. Cromwell, a man who preferred assault over siege, blasted two holes in the wall on the 10th of September and ordered his men into the breach. The first assault was rebuffed and it was only after a second assault, led by Cromwell himself on foot, that the parliamentarians overran the town. In the heat of that action, Cromwell ordered ‘any that were in arms [be] put to the sword’. In the chaotic aftermath, this leads to ‘The fall of Drogheda’ that has lived on in infamy.

The subsequent massacre totalled 3,500 with an estimated 700 clergy and civilians amongst that number. The vast majority of the killing was carried out in cold blood the next day. In Cromwell’s own account after the siege of Drogheda, "When they submitted, their officers were knocked on the head, and every tenth man of the soldiers killed and the rest shipped to Barbados. " It is recorded that only an estimated 200 troops survived to be deported to Barbados. By the standards of the day, Cromwell’s orders were not exceptionally barbarous. A fortified town that refused surrender and was then taken by assault was not entitled to any quarter. Yet this massacre became infamous in Ireland and, alongside Cromwell's subsequent ‘Sack of Wexford’, remains so today. Cromwell's intention that the terrible example of Drogheda would bring Irish Catholic resistance to a speedy end would not be the case.


Soon another pivotal battle was to be fought nearby. This was ‘the Battle of the Boyne’ that occurred just 6 kilometres west of the town, on the banks of the River Boyne, at Oldbridge in 1690. The battle was fought between two rival claimants of the English, Scottish and Irish thrones; the Catholic King James and the Protestant King William, who had deposed James in 1688. The battle took place on 1 July 1690 in the "old style" Julian calendar. This was equivalent to 11 July in the "new style" Gregorian calendar, although today its commemoration is held on 12 July, on which the decisive Battle of Aughrim was fought a year later. On the day William's forces defeated James's army of mostly raw recruits. It provided the turning point in James's unsuccessful attempt to regain the crown and ultimately helped ensure the continuation of Protestant ascendancy in Ireland. The symbolic importance of this battle has made it one of the best-known battles in the history of the British Isles and a key part of the folklore of the Orange Order. Its commemoration today is principally by the Protestant Orange Institution.


Today Drogheda is a busy port town and one of the main secondary locations for people to commute to work in Dublin. Being of historical significance it is a rewarding location for the cruising boatman to visit.


From a boating perspective, Drogheda is a completely protected berth in the centre of a major provincial town. It enables a visiting boatman to weather any condition in a highly convenient location of great historical interest.


What facilities are available?
Water is available alongside at the Fiddle Case Pier but no power. Galley waste collection/disposal is available on request Saturday & Sunday 8am — 10am. Fiddle Case Pier is very close to the town centre, about 200 metres, with Scotch Hall shopping centre just across the river having the nearest public toilets.

Drogheda has a population of 31,000 and is the third largest town in Ireland. Although there may be no services specifically targeted at yachting, it has all the amenities, pubs and restaurants that you would expect to service a population of that size. The town quay is in the middle of it all. Moreover, the newly opened riverside plaza shopping centre, that includes a supermarket, hotel, cinema, and a wide range of shops is a short stroll across the bridge from the quay. Water is available at the quay and diesel can be arranged by road tanker.

Drogheda also offers very good connections to Dublin city 56 km to the south, and is on the Belfast–Dublin main line of the Irish rail network. It is also 3 km from the M1, or E1 Euro Route 1, main Dublin to Belfast motorway. Dublin International Airport is 32 km to the south.


Any security concerns?
The pier construction is just outside the actual gates of Drogheda Port so it is not part of the restricted area of the port and open to the public.


With thanks to:
Charles Floody, Drogheda Harbour Pilot for more than three decades. Photography with thanks to Trounce, Eric Jones, Irish Typepad, Kieran Campbell and Michael Harpur.


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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 river Boyne and the surrounding valley.




A cargo ship entering the river Boyne




A cruise ship going up the channel




A walk around the town and ideas of various things to do in the local area



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