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Greencastle

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Overview





Greencastle is a small fishing harbour situated on the north coast of Ireland at the entrance to Lough Foyle. Although a busy commercial fishing harbour it welcomes yachts inside and provides a pontoon for berthing.

Situated at the north end of the Lough Foyle estuary the inner harbour provides complete protection, and although tidal streams are occasionally strong it provides safe access in all reasonable conditions and at all states of the tide. The harbour lies adjacent to the ¾ of a mile wide Port of Londonderry Commercial Shipping Channel, which is supported by a lighthouse with a sectored light.
Please note

Vessels operating in the Lough Foyle area should maintain a listening watch on the primary Foyle VHF Channel 14.




2 comments
Keyfacts for Greencastle
Facilities
Water available via tapWaste disposal bins availableGas availableTop up fuel available in the area via jerry cansShop with basic provisions availableSlipway availableShore power available alongsideShore based toilet facilitiesHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationPost Office in the areaInternet via a wireless access point availableChandlery available in the areaMarine engineering services available in the areaBus service available in the areaTrain or tram service available in the areaRegional or international airport within 25 kilometresTourist Information office available


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationMarina or pontoon berthing facilitiesAnchoring locationBerth alongside a deep water pier or raft up to other vesselsJetty or a structure to assist landingQuick and easy access from open waterNavigation lights to support a night approachSet near a village or with a village in the immediate vicinityHistoric, geographic or culturally significant location; or in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Note: strong tides or currents in the area that require considerationNote: harbour fees may be charged

Protected sectors

Current wind over the protected quadrants
Minimum depth
3 metres (9.84 feet).

Approaches
5 stars: Safe access; all reasonable conditions.
Shelter
5 stars: Complete protection; all-round shelter in all reasonable conditions.



Last modified
July 19th 2018

Summary

A completely protected location with safe access.

Facilities
Water available via tapWaste disposal bins availableGas availableTop up fuel available in the area via jerry cansShop with basic provisions availableSlipway availableShore power available alongsideShore based toilet facilitiesHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationPost Office in the areaInternet via a wireless access point availableChandlery available in the areaMarine engineering services available in the areaBus service available in the areaTrain or tram service available in the areaRegional or international airport within 25 kilometresTourist Information office available


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationMarina or pontoon berthing facilitiesAnchoring locationBerth alongside a deep water pier or raft up to other vesselsJetty or a structure to assist landingQuick and easy access from open waterNavigation lights to support a night approachSet near a village or with a village in the immediate vicinityHistoric, geographic or culturally significant location; or in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Note: strong tides or currents in the area that require considerationNote: harbour fees may be charged



Position and approaches
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Haven position

55° 12.089' N, 006° 59.134' W

This is the position of the east pierhead at the harbour entrance where a light stands Fl. G3s 5M.

What are the initial fixes?

The following waypoints will set up a final approach:

(i) Lough Foyle South Channel Initial Fix

55° 11.760' N, 006° 57.084' W

Midway between the shore and the southern edge of the Tuns Bank in the narrowest part of the South Channel in approximately 10 metres of water.

(ii) Lough Foyle North Channel Initial Fix

55° 14.155' N, 006° 53.700' W

One mile east of Inishowen Head and 400 metres northwest of Red Tuns Light (port hand) Buoy F1. R.3s. It is set on the 222° line of bearing of the Martello tower on Magilligan Point that leads into the North Channel.
Please note

Initial fixes only set up their listed targets. Do not plan to sail directly between initial fixes as a routing sequence.




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.

  • Lough Foyle’s approaches, the run up the lough to the River Foyle and beyond are detailed in the Foyle Port Marina (Derry City) Click to view haven entry.

  • Once within the entrance to Lough Foyle it is safe to head directly for the entrance to Greencastle Harbour.



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. Magilligan Point - 0.5 miles SE
  2. Silver Strand - 0.6 miles ENE
  3. Cornashamma Bay - 0.9 miles ENE
  4. Moville - 1.3 miles WSW
  5. White Bay - 1.6 miles NE
  6. Carrickarory Pier - 1.7 miles WSW
  7. Portnocker - 1.7 miles NE
  8. Portkill - 1.9 miles NE
  9. Kinnagoe Bay - 2.2 miles NNW
  10. Tremone Bay - 3.2 miles NNW
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Magilligan Point - 0.5 miles SE
  2. Silver Strand - 0.6 miles ENE
  3. Cornashamma Bay - 0.9 miles ENE
  4. Moville - 1.3 miles WSW
  5. White Bay - 1.6 miles NE
  6. Carrickarory Pier - 1.7 miles WSW
  7. Portnocker - 1.7 miles NE
  8. Portkill - 1.9 miles NE
  9. Kinnagoe Bay - 2.2 miles NNW
  10. Tremone Bay - 3.2 miles NNW
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?
Greencastle as seen from the southwest
Image: Peter Homer


Greencastle is a busy commercial fishing port located immediately inside the entrance to Lough Foyle. It is also the base for the Foyle pilot boats and the western terminal of the Magilligan car ferry. Given the decline of the fishing industry, the once congested fishing port, is increasingly morphing into a 'typical' Donegal holiday village with a focus upon welcoming visiting leisure vessels.

A new 100-metre long seasonal pontoon and breakwater have been installed at Greencastle that offers an excellent staging point whilst berthing arrangements are attended to. It is situated about 300 metres to the south of the main harbour on the Derry side. Local boats tend to berth on the southern side which affords better protection from the swell.

Berthing advice for the pontoon and main harbour can be had by contacting Frank McDermott on M: + 353 86 816 6151. The preference is to use the pontoon since the harbour is a busy commercial port. Cost (as of 2014) 14 euro per night. However, the pontoon (2 fingers) is an uncomfortable at best and possibly damaging facility at worst. Unless conditions are very settled, it is best to consider it a temporary location whilst arrangements can be made to come into the harbour or anchor off.




Convergance Point Entered between Magilligan Point and the Inishowen shore, Lough Foyle’s approaches, the run up the lough to the River Foyle and beyond are detailed in the Foyle Port Marina (Derry City) Click to view haven entry.

Once inside Lough Foyle, it is simply a matter of heading directly for Greencastle on the northwest shore opposite to Macgilligan Point. The harbours immediate shoreline is free from outlying dangers, deep and steep too for half a mile either side of the entrance.



In the past, a conspicuous white tower on the quay could be seen on approach, as well as the clearly visible grey tower of the nearby church. At night a sectored light leads into the harbour and there are lights on the pierheads Fl. G3s 5M to starboard Fl. R3s 5M to port. Keep a watchful eye for fishing vessels entering and exiting on approach and the ferry plying its way between Greencastle and Magilligan Point.




Haven location The pontoon is exposed to winds from north-northeast round through east to the south. It also experiences chop from the tide that runs fast just outside the breakwater. It should be avoided for anything other than short (a couple of hours) visits. Be particularly careful if berthing alongside near the start or during the flood or with any wind above F3 from south to east to northeast.

A berth on the pontoon cannot be guaranteed and it would not be wise to leave a vessel unattended here. It should only be used as an overnight berth in very settled conditions. Reportedly in June 2014, a boat had a cleat pulled out at 0300 hours due to sudden swell.
Please note

Permission has been granted for a 200k marina that will significantly transform the area. So expect the pontoon and breakwater to be upgraded and to offer more protection in the near future.





If permission is given to enter the harbour, once inside you should berth alongside other leisure craft, or a fishing boat, or tie up to the pier as directed. Smaller yachts typically berth, or raft up as the case may be, in the east corner of the harbour. Depths of up to 5 metres will be found inside the entrance dropping to 2 metres further inside the harbour.

All vessels who come inside the harbour should be prepared to move if necessary. Do not come alongside the pilot boat or berth in such a fashion that will obstruct the ferry.

While it is possible to anchor outside the harbour, clear of the ferry and fishing boat traffic, it is not appealing. Those who elect to do so should buoy the anchor as the bottom is foul with old moorings and dig the anchor well in as there is little protection from the tide here. Land either at Queen's Port or the west pier at the southwest entrance point, or come alongside in the harbour. Since the introduction of the pontoon, anchoring should no longer be necessary.


Why visit here?
Greencastle, or in Irish An Caisleán Nua ‘the new castle’, derives its English name from its adjacent Norman 'Northburgh Castle'. Constructed from green freestone the castle was also known as the Green Castle which gave the area its name.

The castle was constructed in 1305 by Richard de Burgh 2nd Earl of Ulster, also known as the Red Earl of Ulster and Richard de Burgo. He was one of the most powerful Irish nobles of the late 13th and early 14th centuries and he constructed the castle to secure an Anglo-Norman power base in the northwest. The castle was a highly significant structure owing to its scale, intricate towers and gatehouse. It was sited to guard the entrance to Lough Foyle and control the local O’Neill, O'Doherty and O’Donnell clans. At the time de Burgh controlled most of Ireland, however, Inishowen and Tyrconnell, from the Irish Tír Chonaill meaning ‘Land of Conall’ describing independent northwest Ireland, escaped his grasp. The clans remained free and independent here, largely due to the aid they received from the old Norse kingdom of Argyle and the Hebrides.

Edward Bruce captured the castle in 1316 on behalf of the Scots but soon lost it again to the de Burghs. In 1328 the Earl’s grandson William Donn de Burgh, 3rd Earl of Ulster, arranged for his distant cousin Walter Liath de Burgh, of Connacht, to be imprisoned here and he proceeded to starve him to death by February 1332. William’s sister was also found dead beneath the battlements, either by accident or not, after trying to bring food to Walter. Walter’s family had their vengeance in 1333 when they murdered William. In doing so the remaining de Burgh family scattered and it ended the family’s power in Ireland.

The castle, in turn, became a stronghold of the local O'Doherty family. Over the centuries the sandstone castle suffered considerable damage by cannon fire as result of conflicts with the Scots and within the family itself. Eventually it was left in ruins after its last small garrison departed at the beginning of the 17th century. Very little remains today of the original building apart from parts of the curtain wall and the remains of a small Norman church.



The Martello Tower standing alongside the ruins was built at the start of the 19th century. It stands opposite the Macgilligan Point tower to defend the entrance of Lough Foyle against a Napoleonic invasion. Likewise, the first substantial pier was built at Greencastle in 1813 and has been added to several times since.

Today, as well as being a tie-up for trawlers, it is the home to an excellent maritime museum located in the old coast guard station at Greencastle harbour. The museum displays a wide variety of marine history from the emigration story to local fishing boats and methods. Displays contain extensive collections of artefacts, memorabilia of all things maritime and include fully rigged boats and Currachs. It also features planetarium laser technology that runs four educational and entertaining shows a day. The port is also home to the National Fisheries College (NFC), that has recently been extended, and the Lough Foyle pilot office.

Nowadays, following the decline of the fishing industry and located alongside the surrounding scenic rugged Inishowen Peninsula, Greencastle today has come to resemble more closely a 'typical' Donegal holiday village. Positioned immediately inside the entrance of Lough Foyle, with good shore facilities that come with interesting entertainments alongside, Greencastle has become a much-used steppingstone for the Irish coastal cruiser.


What facilities are available?
Water is available at a tap on the pier in the harbour, there is power available ashore and a nearby garage provides petrol and diesel. Marine repair work, based around the fishing fleet’s steel or woodwork, is available at a yard alongside the harbour.

The Magilligan-Greencastle ferry that reportedly saves 78 km (or 49 miles) of driving, operates from here. The harbour is located about 20 miles from Derry, a regional city hosting an urban population of 90,000, and which has to offer a wide variety of excellent restaurants, bars, shopping, and other facilities. Transport connections are very good as Derry serves as a major transport hub for nearby counties Donegal and Tyrone as well as Derry City itself. Buses and trains are available for destinations throughout Ireland.

City of Derry airport is the main regional airport with year round scheduled flights to UK, Republic of Ireland and Europe offered by Aer Arann and Ryanair. Further flight options are available via Belfast International Airport, the main regional airport, and George Best Belfast City Airport, which are accessible by bus and train.


Any security concerns?
There is no security alongside, so all normal security provisions should be attended to on an open quay.


With thanks to:
Bill McCann, Londonderry Harbour Master, Terry Crawford, local boatman of many decades. Photography with thanks to Patrick Mackie, Jim Williamson, Kenneth Allen, Brian Deeney of Donegal Cottage Holidays, Oliver Dixon, Peter Homer, Radoslaaw Botev and Sharon Anderson.


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Please zoom out to see the 'initial fixes' for this location.
The above plots are not precise and indicative only.










































Aerial overview of Greencastle and its capabilities




Aerial overview of Greencastle and the entrance.




A photo montage of Greencastle.



A photograph is worth a thousand words. We are always looking for bright sunny photographs that show this haven and its identifiable features at its best. If you have some images that we could use please upload them here. All we need to know is how you would like to be credited for your work and a brief description of the image if it is not readily apparent. If you would like us to add a hyperlink from the image that goes back to your site please include the desired link and we will be delighted to that for you.


Add your review or comment:


Charlie Kavanagh wrote this review on Jul 19th 2017:

On a visit to Greencasle in July 2017, and having spent 2 nights (either side of a 1 night visit to Derry) moored there, I can confirm that the pontoon (2 fingers) is indeed an uncomfortable and possibly damaging facility and should be avoided for anything other than short (couple of hours) visits. Somehow, it has been awarded an EU Blue Flag and in my opinion, it is a disaster of rather than a model marina. Be particularly careful if berthing alongside near the start or during the flood or with any wind above F3 from S to E to NE.

Average Rating: *


Michael Harpur wrote this review on May 22nd 2018:

Thank you Charlie,
It has been a long time since we first met in Wicklow with this crazy idea of creating what is now eOceanic. Hopefully, I will catch up with you soon again. I have added your comments into the body text.

Average Rating: Unrated

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