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Bannow Bay

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Overview





Bannow Bay is located on the southeast coast of Ireland, on the east side of the Hook Peninsula seven miles northeast of Hook Head Lighthouse. The bay offers an anchorage in a secluded rural setting. With detail planning, plus the benefit of local boating knowledge, it could also be possible for a shallow draft vessel to enter an extensive tidal inlet that connects to the head of the bay.

Bannow Bay is located on the southeast coast of Ireland, on the east side of the Hook Peninsula seven miles northeast of Hook Head Lighthouse. The bay offers an anchorage in a secluded rural setting. With detail planning, plus the benefit of local boating knowledge, it could also be possible for a shallow draft vessel to enter an extensive tidal inlet that connects to the head of the bay.

The bay affords a vessel good protection from the west through north to northeast.
Shallow draft vessels can find complete protection inside the tidal inlet but this is not freely addressable. It requires a good weather window, advice, careful deliberation and planning. Access to the outer anchorage is straightforward as, save for an easily avoided well-covered rock, the approach path is clear.
Please note

Bannow Bay, similar to all locations on the east side of the Hook Peninsula, should not be approached in any winds above Force 3 from the northeast, east, and southeast. Be watchful for lobster pot markers that are prolific in this sailing area. The tidal inlet, however, requires highly involved navigation to such an extent that it cannot be recommended to a visiting boatman.




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Keyfacts for Bannow Bay



Last modified
May 29th 2019

Summary

A good location with straightforward access.

Facilities
Shop with basic provisions availableMini-supermarket or supermarket availableHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationPleasant family beach in the areaInternet café in the areaInternet via a wireless access point available


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationRemote or quiet secluded locationAnchoring locationBeach or shoreline landing from a tenderJetty or a structure to assist landingQuick and easy access from open water

Considerations
None listed



Position and approaches
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Haven position

52° 12.158' N, 006° 48.120' W

This is in the northeast corner at the head of the bay

What is the initial fix?

The following Fethard-On-Sea initial fix will set up a final approach:
52° 11.490' N, 006° 48.586' W
This is to the south of the midpoint of Shoal Rock and Innyard Point.


What are the key points of the approach?

Offshore details are available in southeastern Ireland’s coastal overview for Rosslare Harbour to Cork Harbour Route location.


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 Bannow Bay for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Fethard On Sea - 0.6 miles SW
  2. Baginbun Bay - 1.1 miles SSW
  3. Dollar Bay - 2.5 miles W
  4. Templetown Bay - 2.6 miles WSW
  5. Lumsdin's Bay - 2.9 miles SW
  6. Duncannon - 3.2 miles WNW
  7. Creadan Head - 3.5 miles WSW
  8. Slade - 3.5 miles SW
  9. Arthurstown - 3.7 miles WNW
  10. Ballyhack - 4.1 miles WNW
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Fethard On Sea - 0.6 miles SW
  2. Baginbun Bay - 1.1 miles SSW
  3. Dollar Bay - 2.5 miles W
  4. Templetown Bay - 2.6 miles WSW
  5. Lumsdin's Bay - 2.9 miles SW
  6. Duncannon - 3.2 miles WNW
  7. Creadan Head - 3.5 miles WSW
  8. Slade - 3.5 miles SW
  9. Arthurstown - 3.7 miles WNW
  10. Ballyhack - 4.1 miles WNW
To find locations with the specific attributes you need try:

Resources search



What's the story here?
Bannow Church with Baginbun Head in the backdrop
Image: Michael Harpur


Bannow Bay is remote and secluded bay located on the east side of the Hook Peninsula seven miles northeast of Hook Head Lighthouse. Baginibun Head, surmounted by a Martello Tower, forms the western boundary of the bay and Clammers Point the eastern extremity. The areas main settlement is the village of Carrig-on-Bannow situated about a mile away from the isolated bay.

Bannow Island and the tidal inlet within
Image: Michael Harpur


The bay provides a useful anchorage off the shores off of Bannow Island, now no longer an island as it is joined to the eastern mainland, in clear sand. An extensive tidal inlet, only navigable at high water can be accessed between the western mainland and Bannow Island. With the benefit of local knowledge, a small shoal vessel can pass in and ascend as far as Clonmines.


How to get in?
Bannow Bay
Image: Michael Harpur


Convergance Point Use the Fethard Click to view haven entry for seaward approaches and a description of the entrance. The Bay is entered between Innyard Point and Clammers Point situated 1½ miles to the northeast on the bay’s eastern side. The navigable width between these two points is reduced to about 1 mile by the foul ground that extends 300 metres off Innyard Point, and the drying Selskar Rock situated 700 metres south by southwest of Clammers Point.


Selskar Rock, the outer rock just showing, as seen from the beach
Image: Michael Harpur


In about the midpoint of the two headlands is the covered Shoal Rock located half a mile east-northeast of Innyard Point. It has 1 metre of cover at LWS (0.3 LAT) and is of most concern at low water. Thus with Shoal and Selskar Rocks mid and to the eastern half of the approach path the best path into the head of Bannow Bay is to use the western side, between Innyard Point and the easily circumvented Shoal Rock, where the Fethard initial fix provides a safe lead-in point.


Baginbun and Fethard as seen opposite Bannow Beach
Image: Michael Harpur


Initial fix location From the initial fix proceed northeast until the small harbour of Fethard, close within Innyard Point, comes on the port beam. Then turn to starboard towards the 21 metres high Bannow Island, now part of the mainland, situated at the head of the bay. The ruins of an old church will be seen close east of the island.


Anchor over sand and land on the beach or at Fethard
Image: Michael Harpur


Haven location Anchor according to draft and conditions in sand. Be watchful of the effect of the in-draught of the tidal inlet as it can be felt for some distance outside. Land on the beach or at Fethard quay.

At high water, it is possible to enter the extensive tidal inlet situated at the head of the bay. This is achieved by crossing the sandbar close west of Bannow Island and following the channels within. However, it is riddled with sandbanks that are subject to constant change. Although local boatmen do operate within Bannow’s tidal inlet the area can be said to be a reserve for very accurate and current local-knowledge, shallow drafts plus a good measure of steely courage. The complexity of the channel structure around the sandbar, its shifting and unpredictable nature, plus the speed of the currents make it an ill-advised endeavour for the visiting boatman.


The uninviting channel close west of Bannow Island that provides access to the tidal inlet
(as seen at low water)

Image: Michael Harpur


A determined skipper would have to personally chart the entrance and keep it current for the duration of the stay. Such an endeavour will mean working with local fishermen, walking the shorelines from either side, plus making extensive small boat trials in very settled conditions. Indeed, at the time of writing, the pattern of the entrance has switched, after many decades, from a wide eastern channel to a narrow shallow western channel. This presents a new learning curve for local boatmen let alone the unfamiliar. Only after some current data has been amassed can a skipper truly evaluate the wisdom of an attempt on the bar and the tidal inlet beyond.


Shoal draft vessels in the tidal inlet
Image: Michael Harpur


Vessels that enter the inlet will, however, find protection from almost any weather condition. It has also to be considered a ‘lock-in’ with southerly gales. The entrance at these times, encumbered with shoals with depths as little as 0.3 metres in the middle, presents a mass of broken water.


Why visit here?
Bannow, in Irish: Banú, derives its name from its ancient Irish name Cuan-an-bhainbh meaning 'the harbour of the sucking pig' or 'bonnive'. This is thought to refer to the original small island set into the fast flowing tides of the tidal inlet behind. The area preserved the latter part of the name that was anglicised to 'Bannow'. At one time it was thought that this shortened name was derived from the Irish word for 'blessed' beannaighte but this is not the case.

Diarmait Mac Murchada
Image: Public Domain
Bannow Bay is an Irish historical touchstone for it was on these beaches that the Normans made their first descent upon Ireland. The story begins in 1167 when Diarmait Mac Murchada was deposed as King of Leinster and fled to England and exiled from Ireland by the High King of Ireland, Ruaidrí Ua Conchobair. Diarmait was determined to regain his kingdom and its pursuit lead him to Aquitaine, in France, where the Anglo-Norman King of England Henry II resided. French-speaking, Henry II was more concerned with the control of his French territories than those of the British Isles at the time. He had nevertheless been harbouring plans for an invasion of Ireland since 1155 and had obtained the approval of the English Pope Adrian IV. Although he did not provide Diarmait with direct military aid he readily provided him with his authorisation to return to Britain to seek allies among his Norman lords.


Norman soldiers from the time
Image: Public Domain
Diarmait found little interest in the Norman lords bases in England but in Wales, he found an attentive listener in Richard FitzGilbert de Clare, Earl of Pembroke. Better known as Strongbow had fallen on hard times and Diarmait's promises of 'land and money, horses and armour, gold and silver' was very much of interest to him. He was also piqued and restless because Henry II had not confirmed his title of Earl of Pembroke and had given to others some lands to which Strongbow thought he was entitled. Having fallen out of favour at Henry's court, he saw this as an opportunity to restore his standing and add to his wealth in the conquest of Ireland.

Perpetually in battle with the native Welsh Strongbow was an experienced military campaigner. Strongbow’s price was succession to kingship of Leinster upon Diarmait's death and that it would be assured by marriage to Diarmait's daughter Aoife upon conquest. Diarmait agreed and Strongbow brought in his half-brothers Robert Fitz-Stephen, a Norman-Welsh adventurer, and FitzStephen's half-brother Maurice FitzGerald and many other Cambro-Norman warlords with the promise of grants of lands. Fitz-Stephan was accompanied by his half-nephew, Robert de Barry. Diarmuid also managed to secure the services of a group of Flemish mercenaries led by Richard Fitzgodebert de Roche, and they accompanied him when he returned to Ireland.


The Norman conquest of Ireland began upon Bannow Beach
Image: Michael Harpur


In this piecemeal fashion and largely a family affair, on about May 1st 1169, the Norman conquest of Ireland began. Robert Fitz-Stephen brought up the single-masted longships on the beach at the foot of Bannow Island and landed a force of 30 knights, 60 men at arms and 300 bowmen. On the following day, two further ships arrived under the command of Maurice de Prendergast, landing ten knights and 60 bowmen. Although small in number, it was militarily formidable and the numbers of the invasion force were soon bolstered by 500 soldiers commanded by Diarmait MacMurrough. The combined force then set out to take the semi-independent Norse-Gaelic seaport of Wexford.


Normans in battle
Image: Public Domain
The first resistance was experienced whilst crossing the River Muck at Duncormick, Irish for Dún Cormaic, the 'fort of Cormack' situated five miles westward. The army fought its way across the river and continued northeastwards towards Wexford. Wexford had got news of the approaching army and prepared to fight the invaders. They burnt their outbuildings, so that the attackers would have no cover, and withdrew behind the walls. The town repulsed the first attack and a siege commenced. Fitz-Stephen then burned all the ships in the town's harbour and attacked again to no avail the following day. The town’s Norsemen acknowledged the superiority of the armoured knights and the longbow, both new to Ireland, and sent envoys to Diarmait. Although the attackers did not breach the town's walls, they were persuaded to surrender and renew their allegiance to Diarmait by two bishops who were in the town at the time. So, after almost two days siege Wexford was taken. The besieging army and its commanders garrisoned at Ferns, Diarmait's headquarters. Fitz-Stephen was granted ownership of Wexford and a large area of land corresponding to the modern baronies of Forth and Bargy. This would become the first Norman colony in Ireland.


After about three weeks of inactivity, Diarmuid and Fitz-Stephen's forces attacked territories on Leinster's western border. By then the High King of Ireland Ruaidrí Ua Conchobair had mobilised and marched against them. Events played into Ua Conchobair's hands and faced by the prospect of being overwhelmed de Prendergast and Diarmuid allowed the Church to mediate and find a settlement via negotiations at Ferns. The terms agreed were that if Ua Conchobair was recognised as High King and the Normans were sent back to Britain, Diarmait was allowed to remain King of Leinster and granted freedom of action in south Leinster. Ua Conchobair was content with the agreement and unaware of the strength of the Norman threat he left with his army and relative peace followed. But Diarmait not only allowed the Normans to remain in Leinster he immediately wrote to Strongbow to send
reinforcements. The responding second wave of Norman landings would begin at Baginbun in the following year. The invasion of Ireland would then begin in earnest and Ruaidrí Ua Conchobair would be the last High King of Ireland.


The parish church of St Mary's overlooking the landing beach
Image: Michael Harpur


So it began, almost exactly a century after the Battle of Hastings, where William the Conqueror routed Harold’s forces and commenced the systemic colonisation of England. It was now Ireland’s turn and in Ireland, the Normans would create a Medieval Blueprint for aggressive colonialism that would bury itself deep into the Irish psyche. What is perhaps most entirely overlooked in this story was the first contact in Duncormick. It would have been little more than a brief skirmish for the advancing military machine the likes of which Ireland would never have experienced. [It] "deserves greater respect in history than it has got" noted the 1971 ‘’Capuchin Annual’’. [For this was] "the first battle of the Norman invasion, the first attempt to stop the foreigners, the first bloody encounter in a struggle which was to endure for eight hundred years".


St Mary's Church
Image: Michael Harpur


The shores of Bannow Bay that the Milford Haven invasion boats arrived upon and first made camp was slightly different to what is experienced today. Bannow Island was then an easily defendable island separated from the mainland by a narrow eastern channel that has since silted up. The Normans went on to found a town on the island which grew to become a thriving seaport and market town. This all came to a halt late in the 14th-century when the then harbour silted up. The town nevertheless continued and was sending two representatives to the Irish Parliament until the Act of Union in 1801. After this time, it gradually disappeared.


St Mary's Church interior
Image: Michael Harpur


Only the ruins of the nave and chancel of the late 12th-century Norman Romanesque parish church of St Mary remain today of the once thriving town on Bannow Island. The fortified church was probably founded by monks from Canterbury and was under the Cistercians at Tintern Abbey from 1245 until it's suppression in 1538. Legend claims that the shifting sands of the estuary covered the remains of the town. The rough undulating ground to the front of the church is believed by some to be the result of this burial. The exact location of the town, however, is a matter of debate, folklore, and the many legends that have grown around Bannow’s buried city.


St Mary's Church at dusk
Image: Michael Harpur


From a boating point of view, this is a useful anchorage and particularly so for a family boat with its wonderful beach. But for those with any sense of history, this is a chance to anchor in a place that was a watershed in the history of Ireland. To experience it very little changed from when the Normans came ashore almost a millennia ago.


What facilities are available?
There are no facilities either outside or within the tidal inlet of Bannow Bay. Inside the tidal estuary, there are indications of ‘St Paul’s Quay’ but this is only a collection of Rocks albeit with a sealed access road down to the high water shoreline. Boats that lie there have moorings and take a dingy to the shore where road access is available at points inside the bay. Alternatively, it is possible to find an area where a vessel may dry out near the shoreline. Landing at Fethard provides reasonable facilities.


Any security concerns?
There are few boats or people travelling in this bay surrounded by provincial farmland to cause trouble to a moored boat.


With thanks to:
Declan Hearne, Long term fisherman and retired area Coastguard leader. Photography with thanks to 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.















































About Bannow Bay

Bannow, in Irish: Banú, derives its name from its ancient Irish name Cuan-an-bhainbh meaning 'the harbour of the sucking pig' or 'bonnive'. This is thought to refer to the original small island set into the fast flowing tides of the tidal inlet behind. The area preserved the latter part of the name that was anglicised to 'Bannow'. At one time it was thought that this shortened name was derived from the Irish word for 'blessed' beannaighte but this is not the case.

Diarmait Mac Murchada
Image: Public Domain
Bannow Bay is an Irish historical touchstone for it was on these beaches that the Normans made their first descent upon Ireland. The story begins in 1167 when Diarmait Mac Murchada was deposed as King of Leinster and fled to England and exiled from Ireland by the High King of Ireland, Ruaidrí Ua Conchobair. Diarmait was determined to regain his kingdom and its pursuit lead him to Aquitaine, in France, where the Anglo-Norman King of England Henry II resided. French-speaking, Henry II was more concerned with the control of his French territories than those of the British Isles at the time. He had nevertheless been harbouring plans for an invasion of Ireland since 1155 and had obtained the approval of the English Pope Adrian IV. Although he did not provide Diarmait with direct military aid he readily provided him with his authorisation to return to Britain to seek allies among his Norman lords.


Norman soldiers from the time
Image: Public Domain
Diarmait found little interest in the Norman lords bases in England but in Wales, he found an attentive listener in Richard FitzGilbert de Clare, Earl of Pembroke. Better known as Strongbow had fallen on hard times and Diarmait's promises of 'land and money, horses and armour, gold and silver' was very much of interest to him. He was also piqued and restless because Henry II had not confirmed his title of Earl of Pembroke and had given to others some lands to which Strongbow thought he was entitled. Having fallen out of favour at Henry's court, he saw this as an opportunity to restore his standing and add to his wealth in the conquest of Ireland.

Perpetually in battle with the native Welsh Strongbow was an experienced military campaigner. Strongbow’s price was succession to kingship of Leinster upon Diarmait's death and that it would be assured by marriage to Diarmait's daughter Aoife upon conquest. Diarmait agreed and Strongbow brought in his half-brothers Robert Fitz-Stephen, a Norman-Welsh adventurer, and FitzStephen's half-brother Maurice FitzGerald and many other Cambro-Norman warlords with the promise of grants of lands. Fitz-Stephan was accompanied by his half-nephew, Robert de Barry. Diarmuid also managed to secure the services of a group of Flemish mercenaries led by Richard Fitzgodebert de Roche, and they accompanied him when he returned to Ireland.


The Norman conquest of Ireland began upon Bannow Beach
Image: Michael Harpur


In this piecemeal fashion and largely a family affair, on about May 1st 1169, the Norman conquest of Ireland began. Robert Fitz-Stephen brought up the single-masted longships on the beach at the foot of Bannow Island and landed a force of 30 knights, 60 men at arms and 300 bowmen. On the following day, two further ships arrived under the command of Maurice de Prendergast, landing ten knights and 60 bowmen. Although small in number, it was militarily formidable and the numbers of the invasion force were soon bolstered by 500 soldiers commanded by Diarmait MacMurrough. The combined force then set out to take the semi-independent Norse-Gaelic seaport of Wexford.


Normans in battle
Image: Public Domain
The first resistance was experienced whilst crossing the River Muck at Duncormick, Irish for Dún Cormaic, the 'fort of Cormack' situated five miles westward. The army fought its way across the river and continued northeastwards towards Wexford. Wexford had got news of the approaching army and prepared to fight the invaders. They burnt their outbuildings, so that the attackers would have no cover, and withdrew behind the walls. The town repulsed the first attack and a siege commenced. Fitz-Stephen then burned all the ships in the town's harbour and attacked again to no avail the following day. The town’s Norsemen acknowledged the superiority of the armoured knights and the longbow, both new to Ireland, and sent envoys to Diarmait. Although the attackers did not breach the town's walls, they were persuaded to surrender and renew their allegiance to Diarmait by two bishops who were in the town at the time. So, after almost two days siege Wexford was taken. The besieging army and its commanders garrisoned at Ferns, Diarmait's headquarters. Fitz-Stephen was granted ownership of Wexford and a large area of land corresponding to the modern baronies of Forth and Bargy. This would become the first Norman colony in Ireland.


After about three weeks of inactivity, Diarmuid and Fitz-Stephen's forces attacked territories on Leinster's western border. By then the High King of Ireland Ruaidrí Ua Conchobair had mobilised and marched against them. Events played into Ua Conchobair's hands and faced by the prospect of being overwhelmed de Prendergast and Diarmuid allowed the Church to mediate and find a settlement via negotiations at Ferns. The terms agreed were that if Ua Conchobair was recognised as High King and the Normans were sent back to Britain, Diarmait was allowed to remain King of Leinster and granted freedom of action in south Leinster. Ua Conchobair was content with the agreement and unaware of the strength of the Norman threat he left with his army and relative peace followed. But Diarmait not only allowed the Normans to remain in Leinster he immediately wrote to Strongbow to send
reinforcements. The responding second wave of Norman landings would begin at Baginbun in the following year. The invasion of Ireland would then begin in earnest and Ruaidrí Ua Conchobair would be the last High King of Ireland.


The parish church of St Mary's overlooking the landing beach
Image: Michael Harpur


So it began, almost exactly a century after the Battle of Hastings, where William the Conqueror routed Harold’s forces and commenced the systemic colonisation of England. It was now Ireland’s turn and in Ireland, the Normans would create a Medieval Blueprint for aggressive colonialism that would bury itself deep into the Irish psyche. What is perhaps most entirely overlooked in this story was the first contact in Duncormick. It would have been little more than a brief skirmish for the advancing military machine the likes of which Ireland would never have experienced. [It] "deserves greater respect in history than it has got" noted the 1971 ‘’Capuchin Annual’’. [For this was] "the first battle of the Norman invasion, the first attempt to stop the foreigners, the first bloody encounter in a struggle which was to endure for eight hundred years".


St Mary's Church
Image: Michael Harpur


The shores of Bannow Bay that the Milford Haven invasion boats arrived upon and first made camp was slightly different to what is experienced today. Bannow Island was then an easily defendable island separated from the mainland by a narrow eastern channel that has since silted up. The Normans went on to found a town on the island which grew to become a thriving seaport and market town. This all came to a halt late in the 14th-century when the then harbour silted up. The town nevertheless continued and was sending two representatives to the Irish Parliament until the Act of Union in 1801. After this time, it gradually disappeared.


St Mary's Church interior
Image: Michael Harpur


Only the ruins of the nave and chancel of the late 12th-century Norman Romanesque parish church of St Mary remain today of the once thriving town on Bannow Island. The fortified church was probably founded by monks from Canterbury and was under the Cistercians at Tintern Abbey from 1245 until it's suppression in 1538. Legend claims that the shifting sands of the estuary covered the remains of the town. The rough undulating ground to the front of the church is believed by some to be the result of this burial. The exact location of the town, however, is a matter of debate, folklore, and the many legends that have grown around Bannow’s buried city.


St Mary's Church at dusk
Image: Michael Harpur


From a boating point of view, this is a useful anchorage and particularly so for a family boat with its wonderful beach. But for those with any sense of history, this is a chance to anchor in a place that was a watershed in the history of Ireland. To experience it very little changed from when the Normans came ashore almost a millennia ago.

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:
Fethard On Sea - 0.6 miles SW
Baginbun Bay - 1.1 miles SSW
Slade - 3.5 miles SW
Lumsdin's Bay - 2.9 miles SW
Templetown Bay - 2.6 miles WSW
Coastal anti-clockwise:
Georgina’s Bay - 5.4 miles SE
Gilert Bay - 5.4 miles SE
Great Saltee (landing beach) - 5.3 miles SE
Kilmore Quay - 5.1 miles ESE
Little Saltee (west side) - 5.4 miles ESE

Navigational pictures


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





































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