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Ballydowan

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Overview





Ballydowan is a small hamlet, on the eastern shore of Larne Lough, which is situated on the northeast coast of Ireland. Located about a mile and a half within the lough it provides a secluded anchorage adjacent to a local mooring area.

Ballydowan is a small hamlet, on the eastern shore of Larne Lough, which is situated on the northeast coast of Ireland. Located about a mile and a half within the lough it provides a secluded anchorage adjacent to a local mooring area.

The anchorage at Ballydowan affords good protection in the enclosed waterway of Larne Lough, but it is somewhat exposed to a fetch that can develop across the large expanse of water to the northwest. Access is straightforward as Larne Lough may be approached day or night, at any stage of the tide and in all reasonable conditions. Outside of the harbour, navigation aids become scarce but the trek down to the anchorage is via a deep channel with no obstructions, where it is simply a matter of passing a short distnce along the shoreline.



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Keyfacts for Ballydowan
Facilities
Marked or notable walks in the vicinity of this location


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationRemote or quiet secluded locationAnchoring locationBeach or shoreline landing from a tenderQuick and easy access from open waterNavigation lights to support a night approach

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
4 stars: Good; assured night's sleep except from specific quarters.



Last modified
December 15th 2022

Summary

A good location with straightforward access.

Facilities
Marked or notable walks in the vicinity of this location


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationRemote or quiet secluded locationAnchoring locationBeach or shoreline landing from a tenderQuick and easy access from open waterNavigation lights to support a night approach

Considerations
None listed



Position and approaches
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Haven position

54° 49.716' N, 005° 45.818' W

This anchorage is within Larne Lough and off Islandmagee’s western shore. The position is immediately south of the small spit of headland extending south from Ballydowan upon the lough’s eastern shore.

What is the initial fix?

The following Larne Harbour Initial Fix will set up a final approach:
54° 51.580' N, 005° 47.550' W
Half a mile north of the harbour and approximately midway between Larne No. 1 and No. 2 Light buoys. This is set upon the leading lights alignment of 184.3° T that leads through the centre of the entrance channel.


What are the key points of the approach?

Offshore details are available in the northeast Ireland’s Coastal Overview for Malin Head to Strangford Lough Route location.
  • Approach directions to the Lough are available in Larne Harbour Click to view haven.

  • Track down along the deep water channel that follows the western side of Islandmagee’s shoreline to Ballydowan.


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 Ballydowan for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Mill Bay - 0.4 nautical miles SSE
  2. Magheramorne Point - 0.6 nautical miles SSW
  3. Larne Harbour - 0.9 nautical miles NW
  4. Brown’s Bay - 1.6 nautical miles N
  5. Ferris Bay - 1.6 nautical miles NNW
  6. Portmuck - 1.7 nautical miles NE
  7. Whitehead - 5.1 nautical miles SSE
  8. Ballygalley Bay - 5.4 nautical miles NW
  9. Carrickfergus Harbour & Marina - 7.3 nautical miles SSW
  10. Greenisland - 8.7 nautical miles SSW
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Mill Bay - 0.4 miles SSE
  2. Magheramorne Point - 0.6 miles SSW
  3. Larne Harbour - 0.9 miles NW
  4. Brown’s Bay - 1.6 miles N
  5. Ferris Bay - 1.6 miles NNW
  6. Portmuck - 1.7 miles NE
  7. Whitehead - 5.1 miles SSE
  8. Ballygalley Bay - 5.4 miles NW
  9. Carrickfergus Harbour & Marina - 7.3 miles SSW
  10. Greenisland - 8.7 miles SSW
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?
Ballydowan
Image: Michael Harpur


Ballydowan is a small hamlet situated on the western shore of Islandmagee, within Lough Larne, just over a mile and a half to the southeast of Larne Harbour. The rural location is a popular location for moored boats on account of the ruin of an old stone pier. It provides sheltered beach landings and a lane leading up to the main road. Immediately above the pier is the ruin of an old kiln and associated buildings with a scattering of static holiday homes.


The beach landing and ruin of the old stone pier
Image: Michael Harpur


The area offers an anchorage with excellent holding, a quiet and out-of-the-way with good landings by tender.


How to get in?
The run along the Islandmagee shoreline from Larne
Image: Michael Harpur


Convergance Point Use the directions for Larne Harbour Click to view haven for approaches and entry to Lough Larne. After entering the harbour continue south past Ballylumford Power Station and its pier, between the L-shaped 'A' wharf and No.7 buoy, and then along the western shore of Islandmagee.

Here the eastern shore of the inner Lough is covered by a gravelly foreshore that dries up to 200 metres off. Outside of this, there is a 200 metres wide channel that carries 6 metres of water for a ½ mile. Close after the Larne Lough yellow buoy is passed to starboard it falls to 4 metres and then to about 2 metres abreast of Ballydowan.

Larne Lough - Buoy Yellow Fl.Y.5s position: 54° 49.901' N, 005° 46.481' W

Ballydowan is readily recognised by local moorings and the old ruined pier
Image: Michael Harpur


Ballydowan is approximately a 1½ miles from the main harbour and will be readily located by the local boats moored there and the projection of the old ruined pier.

Land on the beach on the south side of the ruin of the old pier
Image: Michael Harpur


Haven location Anchor 100 metres offshore in depths of 2 to 3 metres to the northwest of local boats. There is good holding here and very little tidal flow.
Please note

There is a wreck of a schooner within this anchorage and its masts no longer show at high water. It is marked on Admiralty 1237 and lies 100 metres off the shore approximately 250 metres southeast of the tip of Ballydowan.




Why visit here?
The name Ballydowan could have descended from two possible Gaelic alternatives 'Baile Uí Dhubháin' or 'Baile Uí Dúin'. With the former 'Baile' means 'town' and 'Uí Dhubháin' of the family 'Dhubháin'. The surname is derived from the Gaelic word 'dubh' meaning 'black' with 'Dhubháin' been anglicised to 'Dowan' and often in other places 'Gowan'. Alternatively, it could have also arrived from 'Baile Uí Dúin' meaning 'town of the dun or circular fortress'.


The inshore remains of the old lime kilen quay
Image: Michael Harpur


Although the precise origin of its name has been lost to time not so is its recent history. Physically Ballydowan was the site of a lime kiln and the disused remains of its small stone quay can be seen on the shoreline. The overgrown kilns themselves are adjacent to the lane leading up to the road but are still clearly visible. But this is also the area of an extremally curious event that, in the relatively modern history of 1710 and 1711, led to the last witch trial to take place in Ireland.


The pathway leading up to the lane from the landing beach
Image: Michael Harpur


Eight women were supposed to have bewitched an 18-year-old called Mary Dunbar who came here from Belfast. Their spells apparently made her ill with symptoms that now appear very much like teenage ADHD. The eight women were nevertheless blamed, arrested and whilst being detained they were set upon by a frenzied mob that caused one of the accused to lose an eye. In March 1711 their trial was held at Carrickfergus and presided over by two High Court judges. Crucially, in terms witchcraft statute in 1586, Dunbar claimed to have seen eight women appearing to her in spectral form. It was her direct evidence that led to all the women being convicted of witchcraft.


Ruins of the old kiln associated buildings
Image: Michael Harpur


But it was also a good fortune, as the girl had survived her malady to testify and recovered they would not receive the full weight of the law. As she did not die, two of the older women received a first offence punishment to be put in jail for a year and four times in the pillory on market day. But all eight had to endure the four times in the stocks where the public rained stones and rotten fruit upon them.


Today there is little in the way of drama off of Ballydowan
Image: Michael Harpur


On release, all of the women were ostracized from the community but unfortunately, nobody knows what happened to Mary Dunbar or the eight women afterwards. Sadly the public records office holding many Church of Ireland records was burned down during the Irish Civil War between 1922-1923.


The view out through the entrance at dusk from Ballydowan
Image: © Harry Fraser


Today there is little in the way of such drama in this quiet out-of-the-way hamlet on the rural Islandmagee peninsula. From a boating perspective, situated on the sparsely populated western shore of Islandmagee, this anchorage is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of Larne. Anchored off behind the gentle gradients on Islandmagee’s western shore, on the sheltered waters of Larne Lough, it makes for the perfect hideaway.


What facilities are available?
There are no facilities at Ballydowan and little or nothing ashore apart from an old disused lime kiln. There is a village a mile inland towards the east coast which has a small shop and café.


Any security concerns?
Never a problem known to have occurred in Ballydowan.


With thanks to:
Terry Crawford, local boatman of many decades.



About Ballydowan

The name Ballydowan could have descended from two possible Gaelic alternatives 'Baile Uí Dhubháin' or 'Baile Uí Dúin'. With the former 'Baile' means 'town' and 'Uí Dhubháin' of the family 'Dhubháin'. The surname is derived from the Gaelic word 'dubh' meaning 'black' with 'Dhubháin' been anglicised to 'Dowan' and often in other places 'Gowan'. Alternatively, it could have also arrived from 'Baile Uí Dúin' meaning 'town of the dun or circular fortress'.


The inshore remains of the old lime kilen quay
Image: Michael Harpur


Although the precise origin of its name has been lost to time not so is its recent history. Physically Ballydowan was the site of a lime kiln and the disused remains of its small stone quay can be seen on the shoreline. The overgrown kilns themselves are adjacent to the lane leading up to the road but are still clearly visible. But this is also the area of an extremally curious event that, in the relatively modern history of 1710 and 1711, led to the last witch trial to take place in Ireland.


The pathway leading up to the lane from the landing beach
Image: Michael Harpur


Eight women were supposed to have bewitched an 18-year-old called Mary Dunbar who came here from Belfast. Their spells apparently made her ill with symptoms that now appear very much like teenage ADHD. The eight women were nevertheless blamed, arrested and whilst being detained they were set upon by a frenzied mob that caused one of the accused to lose an eye. In March 1711 their trial was held at Carrickfergus and presided over by two High Court judges. Crucially, in terms witchcraft statute in 1586, Dunbar claimed to have seen eight women appearing to her in spectral form. It was her direct evidence that led to all the women being convicted of witchcraft.


Ruins of the old kiln associated buildings
Image: Michael Harpur


But it was also a good fortune, as the girl had survived her malady to testify and recovered they would not receive the full weight of the law. As she did not die, two of the older women received a first offence punishment to be put in jail for a year and four times in the pillory on market day. But all eight had to endure the four times in the stocks where the public rained stones and rotten fruit upon them.


Today there is little in the way of drama off of Ballydowan
Image: Michael Harpur


On release, all of the women were ostracized from the community but unfortunately, nobody knows what happened to Mary Dunbar or the eight women afterwards. Sadly the public records office holding many Church of Ireland records was burned down during the Irish Civil War between 1922-1923.


The view out through the entrance at dusk from Ballydowan
Image: © Harry Fraser


Today there is little in the way of such drama in this quiet out-of-the-way hamlet on the rural Islandmagee peninsula. From a boating perspective, situated on the sparsely populated western shore of Islandmagee, this anchorage is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of Larne. Anchored off behind the gentle gradients on Islandmagee’s western shore, on the sheltered waters of Larne Lough, it makes for the perfect hideaway.

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:
Larne Harbour - 0.6 miles NW
Ferris Bay - 1 miles NNW
Brown’s Bay - 1 miles N
Portmuck - 1.1 miles NE
Whitehead - 3.2 miles SSE
Coastal anti-clockwise:
Mill Bay - 0.2 miles SSE
Magheramorne Point - 0.4 miles SSW
Ballygalley Bay - 3.4 miles NW
Glenarm - 6.6 miles NW
Carnlough - 7.8 miles NW

Navigational pictures


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

























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