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Kilrush

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Overview





Kilrush is on the west coast of Ireland, five miles inside the entrance and on the north shore of the River Shannon. The market town stands at the head of a basin that is entered via a dredge and marked approach channel and then through a lock. Inside the basin, there is a marina with ample visitor berths that are a short walk from the busy market town.

Kilrush is on the west coast of Ireland, five miles inside the entrance and on the north shore of the River Shannon. The market town stands at the head of a basin that is entered via a dredge and marked approach channel and then through a lock. Inside the basin, there is a marina with ample visitor berths that are a short walk from the busy market town.

The enclosed basin offers complete protection from all conditions. Safe access is available day or night from an entrance channel that is upriver and in the lee of two islands. The lock gates open on request and can accept vessels at all stages of the tide, when the tidal height is sufficient the lock is free-flow. The outer gate is left open at night to enable late arrivals to berth within the lock until the morning.



2 comments
Keyfacts for Kilrush
Facilities
Water hosepipe available alongsideWaste disposal bins availableDiesel fuel available alongsidePetrol available alongsideGas availableExtensive shopping available in the areaSlipway availableLaundry facilities availableShore power available alongsideShore based toilet facilitiesShowers available in the vicinity or by arrangementHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaCashpoint or bank available in the areaPost Office in the areaInternet café in the areaDoctor or hospital in the areaPharmacy in the areaChandlery available in the areaTrolley or cart available for unloading and loadingHaul-out capabilities via arrangementBoatyard with hard-standing available here; covered or uncoveredMarine engineering services available in the areaRigging services available in the areaElectronics or electronic repair available in the areaSail making or sail repair servicesBus service available in the areaRegional or international airport within 25 kilometresBicycle hire available in the areaCar hire available in the areaTourist Information office availableShore based family recreation in the area


Nature
Marina or pontoon berthing facilitiesUrban nature,  anything from a small town of more 5,000 inhabitants  to a large city

Considerations
Restriction: access via a channel with a lock or enclosed by a lock

Protected sectors

Current wind over the protected quadrants
Minimum depth
2.5 metres (8.2 feet).

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



Last modified
May 13th 2022

Summary* Restrictions apply

A completely protected location with safe access.

Facilities
Water hosepipe available alongsideWaste disposal bins availableDiesel fuel available alongsidePetrol available alongsideGas availableExtensive shopping available in the areaSlipway availableLaundry facilities availableShore power available alongsideShore based toilet facilitiesShowers available in the vicinity or by arrangementHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaCashpoint or bank available in the areaPost Office in the areaInternet café in the areaDoctor or hospital in the areaPharmacy in the areaChandlery available in the areaTrolley or cart available for unloading and loadingHaul-out capabilities via arrangementBoatyard with hard-standing available here; covered or uncoveredMarine engineering services available in the areaRigging services available in the areaElectronics or electronic repair available in the areaSail making or sail repair servicesBus service available in the areaRegional or international airport within 25 kilometresBicycle hire available in the areaCar hire available in the areaTourist Information office availableShore based family recreation in the area


Nature
Marina or pontoon berthing facilitiesUrban nature,  anything from a small town of more 5,000 inhabitants  to a large city

Considerations
Restriction: access via a channel with a lock or enclosed by a lock



Position and approaches
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Haven position

52° 38.028' N, 009° 29.687' W

This is the head of the first pontoon of Kilrush Marina.

What is the initial fix?

The following Kilrush Channel Initial Fix will set up a final approach:
52° 37.570' N, 009° 30.170' W
Close south of the safe water spherical buoy that marks the commencement of the Kilrush Marina channel entrance.


What are the key points of the approach?

Offshore details are available in southwestern Ireland’s Coastal Overview for Mizen Head to Loop Head Route location. The forty-three-mile run-up the River Shannon, from the entrance to Limerick City, are detailed in the River Shannon Overview Route location.

  • Locate the red and white spherical Lt buoy, L Fl 10s that marks the entrance to the buoyed Kilrush marina channel.

  • Enter the buoyed outer channel follow tightly to the transits in-line 355° T, by night leading lights Oc.3s.

  • Turn hard to the east at the head of the length and proceed into the lock that provides access to the marina basin.


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 Kilrush for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Hog Island - 0.6 nautical miles S
  2. Kilkee - 6.4 nautical miles WNW
  3. Doonbeg - 6.6 nautical miles NNW
  4. Carrigaholt Bay - 7.7 nautical miles WSW
  5. Seafield (Quilty) - 10.6 nautical miles N
  6. Mutton Island - 10.6 nautical miles N
  7. Kilbaha Bay - 13.9 nautical miles WSW
  8. Foynes Harbour - 14 nautical miles E
  9. Ross Bay - 14.2 nautical miles WSW
  10. Askeaton - 18.5 nautical miles E
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Hog Island - 0.6 miles S
  2. Kilkee - 6.4 miles WNW
  3. Doonbeg - 6.6 miles NNW
  4. Carrigaholt Bay - 7.7 miles WSW
  5. Seafield (Quilty) - 10.6 miles N
  6. Mutton Island - 10.6 miles N
  7. Kilbaha Bay - 13.9 miles WSW
  8. Foynes Harbour - 14 miles E
  9. Ross Bay - 14.2 miles WSW
  10. Askeaton - 18.5 miles E
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?
Kilrush Marina
Image: Michael Harpur


The town of Kilrush and its harbour stand at the head of a small lock and basin overlooking the Shannon Estuary from the north shore and the hills of Kerry to the south. It is situated less than 10 miles inside the entrance to the River Shannon and 1½ miles northeast of Scattery Island. Kilrush is a small atmospheric market town, of about 2600, and the harbour consists of a marina plus a number of small quays that dry.

Kilrush Marina and its basin
Image: Michael Harpur


Kilrush Marina lies inside the basin and at end of the main street of Kilrush.
The lock can accept vessels at all stages of the tide and is available on a 24-hour on-call basis. The least depth in the approach channels is 2.7 metres LAT the lock is capable of taking vessels up to 32 metres LOA, 8.5 metres wide that carry a draft up to 3 metres. The marina has depths of no less than 2.7 metres LAT.


Kilrush Marina Office
Image: Michael Harpur


Kilrush Marina is open every day from 08.00 to 18.00, and during the season (June to August) until 21.30. Special arrangements can be made to allow later access. After midnight the lower lock gate is left open so night arrivals can berth in the lock and enter the basin in the morning. Visitors should advise the marina of their arrival time so they may open the lock and make berthing arrangements. Daily overnight rates [2022] are €3 (Min €16) per metre, weekly €15.


Kilrush Marina is a modern well-appointed marina
Image: Michael Harpur


Vessels intending on visiting should contact the marina well in advance on Landline+353 65 905 2072, E-mailinfo@kilrushmarina.ie or email the marina manager Simon McGibney directly on E-mailsimon.mcgibney@kilrushmarina.ie. The marina maintains a listening watch on VHF Ch. 80 [Kilrush Marina] and may also be reached by a 'contact form' on their site Websitekilrushmarina.ie.


How to get in?
Kilrush Marina with the offshore Hog and Scattery Islands seen in the backdrop
Image: Michael Harpur


Convergance Point The run-up the River Shannon is detailed in the River Shannon Overview Route location. From seaward, via the Kilrush Channel, Scattery Island, ¾ of a mile long, and about a ½ mile wide, with an elevation of 16 metres above the sea, lies directly ahead of a vessel running past Beal Bar, and is remarkable for its ecclesiastical ruins.


Scattery Island
Image: Tourism Ireland


Conspicuous among these is one of the finest pillar or Round towers in Ireland, rising to a height of 26 metres high above the ground, and retaining its vertical position and half its conical cap, it forms a reliable sea mark. On the south extreme of the island, called Rincanna Point, there is the small white tower of Scattery Island Lighthouse.


The remains of the monastic settlement on Scattery Island
Image: Towel401 via CC ASA 4.0


Scattery Island’s western shore is composed of low cliffs based on a stony foreshore that surrounds the island and runs off into extensive flats. The principal dangers are the mudflats that run off nearly 400 metres to the northwest end of the island and, on the mainland side, Baurnahard Spit to the northwest of Scattery Island and the Carrigillaun rock on the edge of the drying mudflat to the northeast. Keeping in 5 metres or more clears these dangers. Cappagh pier will be seen at the head of the passage with the fairway buoy close westward of the pierhead.


Vessel passing between Scattery and Hog Island
Image: Michael Harpur


Hog Island lies about midway between Scattery Island and the mainland to the northeast again encircled by shoals. There is also a passage, with a least depth of 2.1 metres LAT, between Scattery and Hog Island. But it is narrowed and complicated by the dangerous Carrig Donaun, a rocky bank part of which dries at low water springs, lying near the middle of the fairway.


The passage between the mainland and Hog Island
Image: Michael Harpur


Down-river approaches between Hog Island and the mainland should tend towards the port side in the narrow passage east of Hog Island to avoid the unmarked Wolf Rock. Dangerous at low water Wolf Rock has 1 metre of cover LAT and is situated 200 metres off the mainland side of the channel.


Approaching the alignment of the eastern point of Hog Island with Scattery light tower
Image: Burke Corbett


When Scattery light tower, on the south end of Scattery Island, aligns with the eastern point of Hog Island, Wolf Rock is abeam on the opposite mainland side. The passage on the western side has a navigable width of about 200 metres with a least charted depth of 5.2 metres in the fairway.
Please note

Tidal streams attain a spring rate of about 4.5 kn both ways in the narrows and they broadly follow the direction of the channel.




Vessel commencing the approach from the safe water marker buoy
Image: Michael Harpur


Initial fix location The initial fix is set close-south of the red and white spherical Lt buoy, L Fl 10s visible for 1 mile, that marks the entrance to the buoyed Kilrush marina channel.
Please note

Before commencing the approach it is sensible to prepare fenders to protect the topsides. Vessels come alongside the north face of the chamber which, for inbound vessels, is 'port side on'.



Kilrush – entrance marker L Fl 10 s position: 52° 37.617' N, 009° 30.165' W

On transit as seen from close south of the safe water mark
Image: Burke Corbett


Enter the marina fairway immediately north of the buoy. It is marked by four pairs of unlit lateral buoys and is dredged to approximately 3 metres at mean low water springs to the lock gates. Then follow the initial transits in-line 355° T, yellow diamonds located 400 metres northwest of Watch House Point, by night leading lights Oc.3s. These lead through the outer approach channel to the turning point for the lock. Stay exactly on transit as there is little tolerance for deviation.


Rear marker of the in-line 355° T
Image: Michael Harpur


The white control building on the south side of the lock will have been clearly visible from some distance. At the head of the first length of the channel, there is an almost right-angle turn eastward (to starboard) onto 070° T, to line up the lock chamber. It is however advisable to stand back until the outer lock gate is open to see if exiting vessels need space to pass.


Exiting vessels alongside in the lock
Image: Michael Harpur


At night this has a Green sector Fl.G.3s from the south side, green sector 065° to 091°T, to approach the lock. There is also a traffic signal R.G. in front of the lock building facing west that is visible only at the north end of the entrance channel.


The Marina as seen exiting the lock
Image: Michael Harpur


A 600-metre long channel leads to the pontoons from the lock. It has a maintained depth of 2.7 metres and a bearing of 070° T. Similar to the outer channel it is also buoyed with two pairs of lateral buoys between the lock gates and the pontoon.


Kilrush Marina's three finger pontoons
Image: Michael Harpur


Haven location A berth will be allocated to a vessel before leaving the lock. Berth as instructed by the friendly marina staff.


Why visit here?
Kilrush, in Irish Cill Rois means 'church of wooded height, promontory or shrubbery'. This stems from an early Christian Church that is located in the Churchyard beside the Terret Lodge, of the Vandeleur Estate further inland.

John Ormsby Vandeleur
Image: Public Domain
The natural protected tidal harbour at the head of a little inlet of the Shannon has existed since the 16th-century as a small fishing village. It was visited in 1703 by Thomas Moland when he noted that it had a good harbour, a church and a dozen houses. But that was all set to change in the 18th-century with the succession of John Ormsby Vandelour as the wealthiest landlord in the district.

The Vandelour family were of Dutch origins and came to Ireland in the 17th-century. They settled at Kilrush where they became the principal landowners and the most prominent family in West Clare. John Ormsby Vandeleur owned much of Kilrush and he built the large family home of Kilrush House just outside the town in 1808. It was a magnificent building of three storeys over a cellar with panoramic views of the Shannon, the Twelve Pins and the Kerry Mountains from its eighty-six windows. The estate was built upon wealth achieved from a financially beneficial marriage and some political skulduggery.

But he needed more revenue and soon realised that, in order to succeed, he needed to establish Kilrush as an economically viable town. If a strong local economy could be generated, then the wages of the tenants would improve and he could levy higher rents as a result. In turn, this increased rental income would supply Vandeleur with the means to aesthetically improve his estates and townlands. Foreseeing the potential Kilrush held as a trading port and port of refuge, he began to develop it into a harbour town.


Francis Street 1903
Image: National Library of Ireland on The Commons


His timing could not have been better as the Napoleonic Wars (1799–1815) led to an improvement in agricultural prices and Kilrush and the neighbouring countryside began to prosper. The harbour provided access to the Shannon Estuary, into which steamers plied their trade making it a very prosperous town, with an extensive trade eventually giving Kilrush a reputation as the 'portico to the highways of the Western World' - meaning, a principal service point on the estuary that was the motorway of that era. Under the patronage of the Vandelours, the town was noted as 'rising fast into some consequence' as a thriving seaport and market town.


Vandelour Estate evictions
Image: National Library of Ireland on The Commons


But then came the famine years of 1845-1849 brought much hardship. Sadly, the Vandelour family became associated with the worst evictions and forced emigration of local people during this period. In the late 1880s the Vandeleur Estate used a battering ram during evictions to render cottages uninhabitable. Over 20,000 were evicted in the area and the Kilrush workhouse witnessed terrible deprivation and deaths. The population of southwest Clare never attained the pre-famine numbers. The arrival of the West Clare railway at the end of the 19th-century helped the town to recover somewhat and it has since developed to become a busy market town.


A destroyed house on the banks of the river Shannon
Image: National Library of Ireland on The Commons


Today Kilrush has been designated a 'Heritage Town of Ireland' in recognition of its landlord estate legacy and rich maritime and market tradition. With the addition of the marina, the original fortunes of the early 18th-century estate town have been greatly revived. The first port of call for visitors has to be its Heritage Centre, open May-Sep daily, which has an exhibition about the Great Famine. This then is best followed by the Kilrush Historic Town Trail which highlights the town's heritage on useful information boards located at various points of the walk. The designed port and market town layout is immediately evident.


The Maid of Eireann monument at the top of Frances Street
Image: The Irish Fireside via CC ASA 4.0


The marina is located on the site of Merchants' Quay and the Customs House which controlled trading in the port. These quays were commissioned in the 1830s after the town with its exceptionally wide streets and handsome buildings were already in place. The short walk to the town is via the main street, the more than 30 metres wide straight Frances Street, which runs directly up from the harbour lined all the way with substantial shops, banks, bars and houses. Around the town over three centuries of its ancient monuments, public buildings, military installations, corn stores and commercial premises have survived and many of the street names originate from Vandelour family names. This said, the Maid of Eireann monument at the top of Frances Street, dedicated to the Manchester Martyrs who were executed in November 1867, still shows damage caused by departing English troops in 1921.

Vandeleur Walled Garden set amongst 170 hectares of native woodland
Image: Tourism Ireland


Sadly the magnificent Kilrush House, seat of the Vandeleur family, was destroyed in 1897 due to an accidental fire caused by a night lamp. Two decades later the estate was taken over by the Land Commission under the Land Purchase Scheme. The remains of the house were finally demolished in 1973. The last remnant of Kilrush House today is its private garden, set behind its large old stone walls, the Vandeleur Walled Garden. Forgotten for a century the garden underwent restoration work in 1997 and set amongst 170 hectares of native woodland, it is a hidden gem. Here a horticultural medley of trees, flowers and plants thrive in the area's unique micro-climate. It offers a fascinating glimpse of the Vandeleur past and has many additions such as water features, a tree collection, a horizontal maze, a summer house, an agricultural machinery display and the Vandeleur glasshouse to browse. Scattery Island is a short tender run or 15-minute ferry ride from the marina with the remains of its 6th-century monastic settlement.


Kilrush is the place to run to in the event of a bad forecast
Image: Tourism Ireland


From a boating perspective, Kilrush remains the essential estuary motorway service point it was in the past and a key bolt hole in a storm. Both being protected and having the protected access from Atlantic storms by Scattery Island, Hog Island, Kilrush Creek and the marina tidal lock it is the only completely safe harbour on the Irish West Coast from Dingle to Galway City. In fine weather, it is a key stepping stone for the west coast cruising vessel.


Kilrush is a key stepping stone for West Coast cruising and a Gateway to the River Shannon
Image: Michael Harpur


It is also a gateway from which to explore the scenic waters of the 55-mile-long Shannon Estuary and the 110-mile long River Shannon inland waterway system above. The industrial town with excellent connections and a well-founded boatyard is the ideal base to carry out boat repairs and maintenance. Its proximity to Shannon Airport also makes it an ideal place to leave a boat, change a crew or even arrange a long layup on the west coast of Ireland.


What facilities are available?
The Marina is situated on the northwest side of Kilrush harbour and has 120 fully serviced pontoon berths and is accessible at all stages of the tide. It is about a five-minute walk to the town centre that has all amenities to serve a population of 2,600; including a wide variety of shops, supermarkets, bars, restaurants and accommodation. The Marina's facilities include showers, changing rooms, self-service laundry and a lounge area in the Marina Centre. Water, Gas, Electricity, Deisel, Petrol (in cans) are all available at the marina.

This is the ideal place to come for any boat work that needs to be attended to. A comprehensive range of services are available in the marina’s boatyard via five nominated specialist contractors that include a chandlery, rigging repair, sail repair, marine engineering, electronic repair etc. The yard has a 45-ton travel lift crane with jib for mast lifting and stepping. Secured hard standing, open or covered, is available for those who wish to leave their boats.

Shannon International Airport is about an hour away and bus services operate to Dublin (about 5 hours) plus Limerick situated 70kms to the east.


Any security concerns?
The marina is secured with access via locked gates.


With thanks to:
Gareth Thomas, Yacht Jalfrezi.







Aerial view of Kilrush Marina and beyond




A good view of the marina at Kilrush




A drive through the town of Kilrush



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Add your review or comment:


Thomas Carty wrote this review on Jan 4th 2019:

Its misleading having "crow flies" distances, we are in boats, not hot air balloons. By sea from Kilrush to Kilkee is more than 4 miles, its about forty or more on the water. Can we get water distances please?

Average Rating: Unrated


Michael Harpur wrote this review on Jan 21st 2019:

Hi Thomas,
Thank you for your observation, let me give you some context as to how and why we lay it out this way.

The objective of the ‘ten nearest’ section is to illustrate where the charted positions of surrounding havens so they may easily be identified on a chart. This is a simple, programmatic, added convenience we can easily attend to help our users more quickly assess the immediate options in addition to visually displaying them on google maps etc. Much the same as ‘Next’ and ‘Previous’ simply follow the havens one to the next along the coast. They are standard useful tools, but when the nearest haven is at the opposite side of a promontory, either tool will not be true regarding the actual sailing distance.

The sailing distance is the domain of the navigator and/or skipper who after locating the haven are best to make that decision. Only they know what their interests are and the environment they are operating in. Upon finding the locations, it is then up to those decision makers to factor in the ‘actual sailing’ distance along with a wide range of other decisions that make up the boating experience.

We do share tried and tested routes, if people want to pick them up as a convenience, but we believe that these individual cuts between havens are best handled at the local level as there is no right way to calculate them. For instance, the routes vary widely depending upon the type of vessel, power or sail, its specific draft, the tidal streams at hand, the wind velocity, direction and seaway at any given time, night or day, etc. Even the shortest distances are irrelevant for hot air balloons, as best I know it, as they are to the largest part governed by which way the wind happens to be blowing.

Likewise, there is the degree of comfort with risk where it gets very difficult to discern. If we go to another nearby promontory extending out to Slyne Head, Mannin Bay is not 1.8 miles from Bunowen Bay. How far it away depends upon how comfortable a skipper is with all of the above variable and taking Joyce’s Pass. That is not any type of decision we should be making for people.

So hence we point out where the locations are and the rest, to the largest part, is the business of what going out in a boat is all about. I do agree with you on the discussion piece, in the resources menu, where we reiterated our ‘direct distance’ is as the ‘crow flies’ to make that clear is overkill. We have removed that comment now. You are a deeply experienced sailor and it annoyed you so it would other experienced sailors and should thereby be removed.

The reason it was there is because, just about every week, we get at least one correspondence from someone who said that they have got into sailing because we have shown them a whole new world by boat. We always have those people in mind when we erite anything. When we double down on any explanation, it is because we want to make sure the people new to sailing are getting our meaning. But on balance that was a useless modifier and we have removed it.

Thank you for bringing it to our attention.

Average Rating: *****

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