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 tidal height is sufficient they free-flow. The outer gate is left open at night to enable late arrivals to berth within the lock until the morning.
Keyfacts for Kilrush
Summary* Restrictions applyA completely protected location with safe access.
Position and approaches
Haven position52° 38.028' N, 009° 29.687' W
This is the head of the first pontoon of Kilrush Marina.
What are the initial fixes?The following waypoints will set up a final approach:
(i) Kilrush Entrance Channel Initial Fix
52° 37.605' N, 009° 30.605' W
50 metres south of a red and white spherical buoy that marks the Kilrush marina channel entrance.
(ii) Shannon Entrance Initial Fix
52° 32.528' N, 009° 46.944' W
This is the position of the Shannon Entrance marker, the Ballybunnion North Cardinal Marker Lt Buoy, VQ Fl. 6m.
What are the key points of the approach?
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What's the story here?
Image: Burke Corbett
The market town of Kilrush and its harbour stand at the head of a small lock and basin on the north shore of the Shannon, about five miles inside the entrance and 1½ miles northeast of Scattery Island. The harbour consists of a marina plus a number of small quays that dry.
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 approach channel is dredged to 2.5 metres 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 supports depths of 2.5 metres.
Vessels intending on visiting should contact the marina well in advance on +353 65 905 2072, firstname.lastname@example.org or email the marina manager Simon McGibney directly on email@example.com. The marina maintains a listening watch on Ch. 80 [Kilrush Marina] and may also be reached by a 'contact form' on their site kilrushmarina.ie.
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. Daily Overnight rate  €2 per metre (Min €16).
How to get in?
The run-up the River Shannon is detailed in the River Shannon Overview . Seaward approaches to the initial fix should note Baurnahard Spit to the northwest of Scattery Island and Carrigillaun to the northeast.
Down-river approaches to the initial fix 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, with 1 metre of cover situated 200 metres off the mainland. There also is a passage, carrying a least depth of 2 metres, between Scattery and Hog Island. This is complicated by a drying rocky bank of ‘Carrig Donaun’ near the middle of the fairway.
The initial fix will take a vessel to the north of Hogg Island and 50 metres south of a red and white spherical Lt buoy, L Fl 10s visible for one mile, that marks the entrance to the buoyed Kilrush marina channel.
Kilrush – entrance marker L Fl 10 s position: 52° 37.617' N, 009° 30.165' W
Enter the buoyed outer channel immediately north of the marker and follow the transits in-line 355° T, by night leading lights Oc. 3s. Stay exactly in the channel as there is little tolerance for deviation. The channel is buoyed port and starboard and has a maintained depth of 2.5 metres.
Within the lock a further 600-metre long channel leads to the pontoons. It has a maintained depth of 2.7 metres and a bearing of 070°(T). Similar to the outer channel it is also buoyed port and starboard. Berth as instructed by the friendly marina staff.
Why visit here?The town of Kilrush, in Irish Cill Rois meaning ‘Church of the Woods’, has existed since the 16th century.
It wasn't until the 18th-century with the succession of John Ormsby Vandelour as the wealthiest landlord in the district that it underwent major development. The Vandelour family were of Dutch origins and were the most prominent family in West Clare. They designed the layout of the town and this is evident today with many of the street names originating from Vandelour family names.
In the early 19th century Kilrush was a thriving seaport and market town. However, the famine years of 1845-1849 brought much hardship and the Vandelour name became associated with the worst landlord evictions. Sadly 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 and it has developed to become a busy market town.
Kilrush has been designated a ‘Heritage Town of Ireland’ in recognition of its landlord estate legacy plus rich maritime and market tradition. Of interest to visitors is the Kilrush Historic Town Trail which highlights the town’s heritage on useful information boards located at various points of the walk.
Those going further afield will find a land-based tour to Loop Head on the West Clare peninsula, where the Shannon Estuary meets the rugged Atlantic coastline, as interesting ashore as at sea. This contrasting coastline features beautiful sandy beaches and an unspoilt natural environment, including the ‘Bridges of Ross’ an important habitat for cliff-nesting seabirds such as fulmars, guillemots and cormorants; and traditional villages of Carrigaholt, Kilbaha, and Doonbeg which has a championship links golf course designed by Greg Norman.
The area offers visitors a wide range of land-based activities from sightseeing to walking but also it is a great base for water leisure. Central amongst these are Dolphin watching tours which visiting yachts will most likely have already encountered. This special area of conservation is home to about 140 Bottleneck Dolphins and calves, reputed to be the largest resident group in Europe. The location of Kilrush makes it an ideal base from which to explore the scenic waters of the 55-mile long Shannon Estuary, and also provides access to the 110-mile long River Shannon inland waterway system above.
From a practical point of view, this industrial town with excellent connections and a well-founded boat yard is the ideal base to carry out boat repairs and maintenance. It is also perhaps the best place to leave a boat or change a crew 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
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:
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.
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