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Portrush Harbour

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Portrush Harbour is situated on the north coast of Ireland approximately ten miles east of the entrance to Lough Foyle, on the west side of the Ramore Head promontory. It is a small harbour enclosed by two piers where it is possible to berth alongside a pontoon or to pick up moorings in the harbour area.

Portrush Harbour is situated on the north coast of Ireland approximately ten miles east of the entrance to Lough Foyle, on the west side of the Ramore Head promontory. It is a small harbour enclosed by two piers where it is possible to berth alongside a pontoon or to pick up moorings in the harbour area.

Tucked into the promontory behind substantial breakwaters the harbour provides good protection and shelter from most elements in all reasonable conditions. However, in strong north or northwesterly conditions shore swell enters the harbour making it uncomfortable. Access is straightforward as all that is required is to pass between the heads of the lighted North and South Piers and there is a minimum of two metres depth in the entrance at LWS. However Portrush Bay is subject to a groundswell that runs across the harbour entrance making it hazardous to attempt in any west or north-westerly winds over force four to five.
Please note

The direction and velocity of the tide should be the central feature of any navigation planning. The harbour is small, very busy and subject to congestion and it would be difficult to leave a boat unattended here for an extended period.

Keyfacts for Portrush Harbour
HM  +44 28 7082 2307     Club  +44 28 7082 3932      info@portrushyachtclub.com      Ch.12

Aerial views of Portrush Harbour - from 2 minutes 30 seconds in

About Portrush Harbour

Portrush derives its name from the Irish Port Rois meaning ‘the landing place on the promontory’ or ‘port of the promontory’.

Portrush’s History of human habitation goes back to ‘Larnian’; the late Irish Mesolithic period. A number of flint tools were found here in the late nineteenth century that have recently been dated to around 4000 BC. Set on the Ramore Head promontory the site would have provided excellent natural defences. To underscore this the name Ramore is derived from the Irish ‘Rath Mhor’ meaning 'big ring fort'.

The current town began as a small fishing settlement that grew around a Norman Castle known as Caisleán an Teenie in the 12th or 13th century. This castle was believed to have been sited at the tip of Ramore Head and it had a church close by. Portrush church’s takings, as detailed in the 1306 records of the papal taxation, were very good and by extension, the settlement must have been wealthy. It is believed the Norman Castle was destroyed in the late 16th century and no trace of it nor the church can be found today. Another castle, ‘Portrush Castle’, was believed to have been built in the town early in the 17th century around the time of the Plantation of Ulster. Again nothing survives of this structure, but in its day after the ‘Wars of the Three Kingdoms’, between 1639 and 1651, Portrush had been well established as a small fishing town.

Major development came in the 19th century following the industrialised post-railway holiday boom. Following the opening of the Ballymena, Ballymoney, Coleraine and Portrush Junction Railway in 1855, thousands came to enjoy new-found leisure time on Portrush's three sandy beaches. These beaches, the West Strand, East Strand and White Rocks, are among the finest beaches in Ireland. During this period Portrush acquired its elegant terraces of Georgian houses that reach out along the mile-long peninsula towards Ramore Head. It is in this stretch of construction that the main part of the old town is situated including the railway station as well as most of the hotels, restaurants and bars. The Royal Portrush Golf Club opened in 1888, Portrush Yacht Club was established in 1894 and Portrush was directly connected to the Giant's Causeway by the ‘Giant's Causeway Tramway’ in 1893. The ‘Giant's Causeway Tramway’ was at that time one of the world's longest electrified railways. By the turn of the twentieth century, Portrush had become one of the major resort towns of Ireland, with a number of large hotels and boarding houses including the prominent Northern Counties Hotel. These were the town's seminal years, the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, and the town declined when foreign travel began after the Second World War.

Today Portrush carries forward its legacy as a bustling seaside town that hosts a considerable number of summer visitors and runs special events throughout the year. It has a variety of eating out options with restaurants, gastro pubs, cafes and hotels, and has all amenities a popular holiday resort demands including the renowned Royal Portrush Golf Club situated on the peninsula. As such the town offers a host of activities for all the family and it is an especially good location for younger family members. The safe harbour also makes it a base from which to visit surrounding attractions. Well worth visiting in the immediate area is Dunluce Castle that is situated on the coast three miles east of Portrush, on the coast road towards Portballintrae, and south of the Storks. The spectacular castle-crowned crag that stands a hundred feet above the sea is thought by many to be the most picturesque and romantic of Irish castles. World renowned attractions such as the Giants Causeway, 10 miles from Portrush, Old Bushmills Distillery, & the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge are also located nearby making the visit very worthwhile.

The Skerries, where it is possible to anchor, are an important habitat for a large population of breeding seabirds of which several bird species are unique. Interestingly the islands claim a footnote in geological history. Formed from cooled volcanic lava, geological evidence from this outcrop was pivotal in proving the theory that basalt is formed from cooled volcanic lava.

From a sailing perspective, Portrush is a very useful harbour. It is easily accessed and sitting adjacent to the main sailing fairways of the north coast it takes little time to drop in. Likewise, it is a perfect staging location to set up 25 miles westward run around Malin Head, or 20 miles eastward around Fair Head. Provisioning and transport links are all excellent from here. But there would be no reason to leave hastily as it is a great berth from which to enjoy the area. A short stroll from its secure picturesque harbour, are restaurants, wine bars, cosy pubs, and beyond its beautiful sandy beach with panoramic views over the ocean to the Causeway Coast, Scotland and the Donegal hills. Add to this a wide range of activities for younger folk and the aforementioned attractions of the wider area with good transport links and there’s something for everyone aboard at Portrush.

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:
Portballintrae - 2.4 miles E
Ballintoy Harbour - 6.3 miles ENE
Ballycastle - 8.9 miles E
Church Bay - 10.3 miles ENE
Murlough Bay - 11.6 miles E
Coastal anti-clockwise:
The Lower River Bann - 2.4 miles SW
Seatons Marina - 2.1 miles SSW
Coleraine - 2.4 miles S
Magilligan Point - 6.6 miles W
Foyle Port Marina (Derry City) - 15.9 miles WSW

Navigational pictures

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

Aerial views of Portrush Harbour - from 2 minutes 30 seconds in

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Add your review or comment:

Robin Anderson wrote this review on Jan 23rd 2012:

Sadly, Portrush Harbour has been disgracefully neglected by the Local Authority with no investment in the Harbour for many, many years. The needs of boat owners and visiting yachtsmen are totally ignored. The Harbour Masters have been excellent but are totally unsupported in their work. There have been serious security problems in recent years from young yobs stoning visiting yachtsmen , boarding and damaging visiting craft. Moored boats have been cast adrift by louts who visit the harbour after getting tanked up in the local hostelries. The Council appear content to give over the harbour to drunks and yobs and have no regard to boat owners. Motorists who are too lazy to walk from the nearby huge public car parks are allowed to park all over the harbour access area. A great shame - so moor with chain and keep a close watch on your boat here as rest assured that the Local Council has no interest in supporting the harbour as a place for boats!

Average Rating: Unrated

Jim Williamson wrote this review on Jun 16th 2012:

Fortunately, our visit was good though the above comments may well be justified. Toilet and showers were adequate if not fancy. Angus Barry the harbourmaster was very friendly and helpful. The pubs were certainly busy on the Friday night of our visit but there were no incidents and no noise after about 10.30pm. The Viking laundrette 68 Causeway Street 028 7082 2060 did an excellent serevice wash.

Average Rating: Unrated

Robin Anderson wrote this review on Dec 5th 2013:

Pleased to report some welcome improvements to the Port in summer of 2013 with more control over access to the quay and improved facilities - well done the Harbour staff - hope the Council can be persuaded to invest further.

Average Rating: Unrated

Robin Anderson wrote this review on May 26th 2016:

Delighted to report a complete turn around at Portrush. The harbour is now once again a great place for boats and boaters. Security has been much improved, a barrier keeps cars off the harbour area unless attending to boats, new pontoon with water taps down on the pontoon and shore power soon to be hooked up, excellent re-furbished toilet block with key code access for boat crews, total re-furbishment of Portrush yacht club, fire fighting and lifesaving kit on the pontoon - all in a complete transformation and a great credit to those who have put all the investment of time effort and money in. Portush is now properly on the chart again for visiting yachts and boats.

Average Rating: *****

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