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Ardmore Bay

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Overview





Ardmore Bay is situated on Ireland’s south coast, midway between Dungarvan and Youghal. It is an open bay with a good landing at a small pier at its head, where it is possible to anchor or pick up moorings.

Ardmore Bay is situated on Ireland’s south coast, midway between Dungarvan and Youghal. It is an open bay with a good landing at a small pier at its head, where it is possible to anchor or pick up moorings.

This is a tolerable location in anything south round to northwest or in settled conditions. However, the bay is entirely exposed to any wind that has the slightest easterly component. Access is straightforward at any state of the tide as the bay is open, clear of danger and shoals gradually to the shore.



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Keyfacts for Ardmore Bay
Facilities
Gas availableTop up fuel available in the area via jerry cansMini-supermarket or supermarket availableSlipway availableShore based toilet facilitiesShowers available in the vicinity or by arrangementHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationPleasant family beach in the areaCashpoint or bank available in the areaPost Office in the areaInternet via a wireless access point availableBus service available in the areaRegional or international airport within 25 kilometresBicycle hire available in the areaShore based family recreation in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationAnchoring locationVisitors moorings available, or possibly by club arrangementJetty or a structure to assist landingQuick and easy access from open waterScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinitySet near a village or with a village in the immediate vicinityHistoric, geographic or culturally significant location; or in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
None listed

Protected sectors

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

Approaches
4 stars: Straightforward; when unaffected by weather from difficult quadrants or tidal consideration, no overly complex dangers.
Shelter
3 stars: Tolerable; in suitable conditions a vessel may be left unwatched and an overnight stay.



Last modified
December 4th 2020

Summary

A tolerable location with straightforward access.

Facilities
Gas availableTop up fuel available in the area via jerry cansMini-supermarket or supermarket availableSlipway availableShore based toilet facilitiesShowers available in the vicinity or by arrangementHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationPleasant family beach in the areaCashpoint or bank available in the areaPost Office in the areaInternet via a wireless access point availableBus service available in the areaRegional or international airport within 25 kilometresBicycle hire available in the areaShore based family recreation in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationAnchoring locationVisitors moorings available, or possibly by club arrangementJetty or a structure to assist landingQuick and easy access from open waterScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinitySet near a village or with a village in the immediate vicinityHistoric, geographic or culturally significant location; or in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
None listed



Position and approaches
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Haven position

51° 56.980' N, 007° 42.960' W

At the head of the small pier’s outer breakwater.

What is the initial fix?

The following Ardmore Bay initial fix will set up a final approach:
51° 56.460' N, 007° 41.080' W
This is a mile to the south-southeast of the bay on the 20-metre contour and directly east of Ram Head. A course of 310° T will lead into the centre of the bay.


What are the key points of the approach?

Offshore details are available in southern Ireland’s Rosslare Harbour to Cork Harbour Route location.
  • Between Helvick Head and Youghal Bay the coast is high, bold, precipitous and free from outlying dangers.

  • Pass into the bay northeast of Ardmore Head and anchor according to draught.


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 Ardmore Bay for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Youghal - 2.9 miles W
  2. Knockadoon Slip - 4.2 miles SW
  3. Helvick - 5.5 miles NE
  4. Dungarvan Town Quay - 5.7 miles NNE
  5. Ballynacourty (The Pool) - 6 miles NNE
  6. Ballycotton - 7.9 miles SW
  7. Stradbally Cove - 8.6 miles NE
  8. Northeast of Great Island - 11.5 miles WSW
  9. Boatstrand Harbour - 11.8 miles NE
  10. East Ferry Marina - 11.8 miles WSW
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Youghal - 2.9 miles W
  2. Knockadoon Slip - 4.2 miles SW
  3. Helvick - 5.5 miles NE
  4. Dungarvan Town Quay - 5.7 miles NNE
  5. Ballynacourty (The Pool) - 6 miles NNE
  6. Ballycotton - 7.9 miles SW
  7. Stradbally Cove - 8.6 miles NE
  8. Northeast of Great Island - 11.5 miles WSW
  9. Boatstrand Harbour - 11.8 miles NE
  10. East Ferry Marina - 11.8 miles WSW
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?
Ardmore pier and slipway
Image: Michael Harpur


Ardmore Bay (northeast of Ram and Ardmore Heads) is an open bay, with the small historic village Ardmore at its head. The village is overlooked by the ruins of a cathedral and the 12th-century Round Tower situated to the southwest. It is primarily a seaside resort, with a permanent population of around 430, which increases in the tourist season.

Ardmore slipway
Image: Michael Harpur


The east-facing bay is exposed but clear of danger, and shoals gradually to the shore. It affords temporary anchorage in fine weather on a bottom of rock and sand. Landings can be made on the small breakwater and boat slip in the corner of the bay near the village. Locally referred to as the boat cove, it is protected by two breakwaters and has recently seen some significant development. It lacks any depth of water to enable a vessel to come in and is primarily used to protect landings and to enable a handful of small local open fishing boats to be hauled clear of the water.

Cliff House Hotel as seen from the anchoring area
Image: Burke Corbett


The Cliff House Hotel, conspicuously situated on the south shore of the bay, has laid two heavy-duty moorings in the bay. These are situated directly in front of the hotel and in close proximity to the harbour. Use of the moorings is free of charge but, it goes without saying, vessels making use of these should reciprocate usage by bringing trade to the hotel. To ensure availability contact the hotel in advance on Landline+353 (0) 24 87800, E-mailinfo@cliffhousehotel.ie.


How to get in?
Ardmore Bay
Image: Conor Lennon


Convergance Point Use southern Ireland's coastal overview Rosslare Harbour to Cork Harbour Route location for seaward approaches. Ardmore Bay is entered ½ mile to the northeast of Ram Head, between Ardmore Head and a rocky point a mile to the north of the head. From the east, vessels may approach the eastward facing bay without impediment.


The Ram Head peninsula as seen from the south
Image: Burke Corbett


Vessels approaching from all other directions will find the Ram Head peninsula (sometimes Rams Head or Ram’s Head) readily identifiable from the south by its distinctive square watchtower. Vessels should keep at least 500 metres off Ram Head and/or outside the 10-metre contour to avoid off-lying rocks and shallows.


The bay opening as Ardmore Head is rounded
Image: Burke Corbett


Initial fix location From the Ardmore Bay initial fix, located to the east of Ram Head, a course of 310° T will lead into the centre of the entrance of the bay. The bay itself is located close north of Ram Head and then to the northeast of Ardmore Head. The distinctive 1987 wreck of the Samson crane ship, which ran aground under the inner cliffs at Ram Head, will be seen as the bay is entered.


Samson crane shipwreck inside Ardmore Head
Image: Burke Corbett


The mouth of the bay is just under a mile wide between Ardmore Head and a rocky point called the Black Rocks, which form the north boundary of the bay. The Black Rocks uncover out to a distance of 400 metres from the shore.


Approaching the anchorage and village in the southwest corner of the bay
Image: Burke Corbett


From the centre of the bay, proceed towards the village pier situated in the southwest corner of the bay. An ancient round tower, standing on the slope of a hill a little above the village of Ardmore, will be a conspicuous marker. It is advisable not to progress any further in of a clearing line of 230° T to the Bay’s distinctive Round Tower. Staying east of this clearing line keeps a vessel clear of the Black Rocks.


The boat cove as seen from seaward
Image: Burke Corbett


Haven location Anchor in sand and rock in about three metres north by northwest of the pier or pick up the hotel moorings.


Breakwater for the boat cove
Image: Conor Lennon


Land alongside the village slip, which is substantially buttressed by a recent breakwater and an outer pier. Do not cut the corner of the new inner breakwater that extends eastward from the shore alongside the slip. A rocky outcrop extends from the head of this breakwater; likewise the inner shore beneath the cliff face is rocky.


Why visit here?
Ardmore derives its name from the Irish Aird Mhor, meaning the 'great height', which describes the bay’s eastern promontory, rising to 58 metres. The village is historically significant for being the birthplace of Irish Christianity.

Ardmore Cathedral and Round Tower
Image: Tourism Ireland


The monastery was founded here as early as AD 316 by St Declan, who was born in Ireland and educated in Wales. This was nearly a century before the coming of St Patrick (AD 390-461), who was born in Scotland. The ruins of the small church of St Declan's Oratory are overlooked by the village’s signature landmark, the 30-metre high, 12th-century Round Tower. Standing over the village and bay, and highly conspicuous on the latter stages of an easterly approach, this tower is believed to mark the burial place of St Declan.

St Declan’s Church and The Round Tower
Image: Tourism Ireland
St Declan is little spoken of but is seen as being very important nonetheless. It has often been proposed, because he formed the first Christian church and was a native Irishman, that St Declan should be the patron saint of Ireland rather than St Patrick. What is certain is that his Ardmore archaeological legacy is truly magnificent. The west gable wall within the ruins of the 12th-century Cathedral is of particular historical note. It features well preserved Romanesque stone carvings in a series of arcades. These depict scenes from the Old and New Testaments that are thought to have been retrieved from an earlier, 9th-century building.


Many believe the stone Round Tower was a bell tower, but it what is certain is that it was a place of refuge for the Monks and important ecclesiastical documents and treasures. The entrance doorway of the tower is some four metres above ground level and would have offered a short-term bolthole from a seaborne raid. It can be visited today via a short ascent from the village, where St Declan's Well will be passed in the vicinity of the footpath starting to the east of the pier.

What cannot be seen today is any trace of Ardmore Castle or, more appropriately, castles. There is no visible trace of these today, but this was not always the case. Smith, writing in 1746, records: 'Ardmore is now no more than a village, there appears at present, the stump of a castle; and not long since, was a much larger one there, which was taken down.'


Aerial view of St Declan's Church and the Round Tower
Image: John Finn


In 1844 Mr O’Flanagan wrote in his Historical and Picturesque Guide to the Blackwater in Munster: 'There are also traces of two ancient castles, but neither history nor tradition throws any light on the persons by whom or the purposes for which they were erected.' They had evidently completely vanished by 1860, when Hayman’s Guide to Youghal, Ardmore and The Blackwater appeared, as he has no mention of them. One castle stood just below the Oratory immediately outside the cathedral grounds. It was laid siege to in 1642 and capitulated within a day.

Ardmore Round Tower
Image: Tourism Ireland
The tale of the siege has a sparse account in historical documents; writers on the civil war in Ireland are very sparing in their notices of the subject. It is thought that the brutal treatment extended to defenders, after they capitulated with a request for mercy, was unpalatable and a story best left untold. The fullest account to be found is in Edmund Borlase’s 1743 The History of the Irish Rebellion, in which he provides a detailed military description of how ‘Lord Dungarvan and the Lord Broghill, summoning the Castle of Ardmore in the County of Waterford, belonging to the Bishop of Waterford, [and] after some petty boasts to withstand the utmost hazard it was yielded 26 of August 1642, on mercy’.

Borlace’s account of the battle is militaristic, triumphant and, to be entirely objective, the surrender of the castle was the only reasonable outcome. Moreover, the defenders fought a stalwart battle throughout the day. It was only after the church and tower had been taken, situated on the higher ground above the castle and eliminating more than a quarter of the defending forces, that the castle was surrendered 'on mercy'. 'Mercy' was scarce that day, however, as Borlace continues 'women and children [were] spared, but a hundred and forty men were put to the sword'. Objectively, the taking of the castle was very much less the brave feat that colours Borlace’s narrative. The Garrison that took the castle was sizeable and one of several operating in the area; as Borlace describes in the advance to the castle: ‘Our forces were about 400. All muskets, besides 60 horse, part of the two Lords troops.’ This vastly outnumbered and outgunned the 140 defending men, who had only two muskets to hold the church and castle from the advancing garrison of professional soldiers.

‘ Oh! sadly shines the morning sun,
On leaguer’d castle wall,
When bastion, tower and battlement,
Seem nodding to their fall.


From The siege of Ardmore Castle, 1642 by James Buckley.



The adjacent Whiting Bay
Image: John Finn


Today Ardmore is a quaint little seaside resort and fishing village. The level of fishing activity is small, however, and declining due to a lack of harbour investment. Only a limited number of open-boat fishermen are active from the village. As a tourist resort Ardmore is thriving, largely driven by its beautiful protected beaches. Fronting Ardmore Bay is the mile-long Blue Flag beach known locally as the ‘main beach’, while the adjacent Curragh, Ballyquin, Whiting Bay and Goat Island are four equally stunning beaches.

Monument to Ardmore’s fishing heritage, between the village and pier
Image: Michael Harpur


The village itself has an art gallery, pottery and craft shops, plus a choice of fine hotels, restaurants and pubs for that most important meal. It has the added enchantment of being part of the Gaelic-speaking 'Coastal Gaeltacht' district of the Ring (An Rinn). Signposts, shop names and businesses of the community are all conducted in Gaelic. This makes for a unique visitor experience, as the love of Irish music, song and dance, together with the language, is very special.


Napoleonic tower on Ram Head
Image: Tourism Ireland


Those who like to stride out should not miss the highly rewarding Cliff Walk out along the Ram Head peninsula. This begins near the Cliff House Hotel and ends back in the village main street, and is well marked by posts along the route. It provides breath-taking scenery and views over the extent of Ardmore Bay from the 64-metre-high rocky headland. There are several historic features of interest en route.


Samson wreck on the inner shore of the peninsula
Image: Kevin Higgins via CC BY-SA 2.0
The Gothic-style watchtower, a seamark that readily identifies Ram Head, was built in the 1860s as part of the Irish coastline defences during the Napoleonic wars. The smaller, more easterly watch station was used to monitor passing sea and air traffic during World War II.

Located on the inner shore of the peninsula is the notable wreck of the Samson, which was a crane barge. It was being towed from Liverpool to Malta when, during a storm in December 1987, it was cut loose from its two tugboats off the Welsh coast. The crew members were subsequently rescued and the Samson blew a couple of hundred miles to its final resting point on the rocks of Ardmore Bay. Here it has been rusting away ever since, cast in its new role as tourist attraction and popular wreck for divers.


The recovered 12-pounder stern gun from SS Folia
Image: Michael Harpur


There are many other older wrecks in the bay area, including the Marechal de Noailles, Bandon, Peri, Scotland, Sextusa, Peg Tranton, and the more recent Anne Sophie and Fee des Ondes. The remaining keel of the latter wreck may still be seen at low tide on the main beach. Four miles out to the south of Ram Head lies the wreck of Cunard Line’s SS Folia, which draws much attention for both local and visiting divers. The 131-metre (430ft), twin-funnelled passenger liner was built in 1907 and was armed with a 12-pounder 12-cwt stern gun during World War I. She was nonetheless torpedoed in March 1917 by a German U-Boat about 4 miles southeast of Ram Head when bound from New York to Bristol. The U-Boat commander allowed the crew to take to their lifeboat, who then heard the church bells of Sunday Service. Following the sound, they arrived into Ardmore, where they were well catered for by villagers. The captain and 67 crew survived the sinking, while seven were found to be missing, presumed killed by the explosion. The stern gun from the Folia was recovered by a team of local divers and presented to the village of Ardmore in March 2017.


Local fishing boats on the slipway
Image: Michael Harpur


The well-kept family resort and small, quaint fishing village has plenty to offer the passing cruiser. It may not be the best anchorage in the world, but is perfectly serviceable for a short stay. Moreover, access is direct and easy, plus there is a very good landing area. Once inside, the village is charming and it comes with beautiful sweeps of beach, wonderful and interesting cliff walks, and offers a superb archaeological site to explore.


What facilities are available?
Ardmore has in the past been largely overlooked by the cruising community and as such has few facilities specifically tailored to visiting yachtsmen. The small pier and quay has a slipway. The village immediately above has facilities to support a permanent population of about 350, which is vastly increased during the summer by visitors, as well as those who stay in the caravan park above the beach. The main street has a mini supermarket, a pharmacy and a number of pubs, restaurants and hotels. A petrol station is open in the village during the summer providing fuel by Jerry can. Bus Éireann provides a three-times daily bus service, No. 260 Ardmore / Youghal / Cork, and the twice daily 362 Ardmore / Dungarvan / Waterford. Waterford airport is within 40 minutes’ drive. The hotel offers showers and internet access for people using its facilities.


Any security concerns?
Never an issue known to have occurred to a vessel anchored or on moorings in Ardmore Bay.


With thanks to:
Burke Corbett and Siobhan Ryan, THE CLIFF HOUSE HOTEL, Ardmore, Co Waterford.Photos with thanks to Burke Corbett, Mik Herman, Kevin Higgins, Mjrogers50, John Finn and Michael Watson.







Aerial overview of Ardmore Bay



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