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Barrow Harbour

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Overview





Barrow Harbour is located in Co. Kerry on the west coast of Ireland within a tidal inlet in the southeast corner of Tralee Bay. Situated between Fenit Island and the mainland it is a beautifully secluded anchorage beneath an ancient castle within a vast white sand tidal lagoon.

Barrow Harbour is located in Co. Kerry on the west coast of Ireland within a tidal inlet in the southeast corner of Tralee Bay. Situated between Fenit Island and the mainland it is a beautifully secluded anchorage beneath an ancient castle within a vast white sand tidal lagoon.

The anchorage has protection from all conditions except those with a northerly component when it is entirely exposed. Attentive navigation is required for access as the entrance is narrow, obstructed by islets, and made difficult by swift tides. Therefore an approach should only be made in daylight, at slack water, preferably at low water, and in settled swell-free weather.
Please note

A vessel on anchor in Barrow Harbour should at all times monitor the weather to avoid being surprised by strong northerly winds. If this should happen breakers across the entrance will make it impossible to escape and it would be highly exposed in the anchorage.




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Keyfacts for Barrow Harbour



Last modified
May 15th 2018

Summary* Restrictions apply

A good location with attentive navigation required for access.

Facilities
None listed


Nature
Remote or quiet secluded locationAnchoring locationBeach or shoreline landing from a tenderScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
DANGER: Subject to conditions that could trap and destroy a vesselRestriction: strong to overwhelming tides in the localityNote: strong tides or currents in the area that require considerationNote: overfalls, tidal rips or breakers in the vacinity



Position and approaches
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Haven position

52° 17.840' N, 009° 52.260' W

This is in the anchoring area abreast of Fenit Castle.

What is the initial fix?

The following Fenit Harbour initial fix will set up a final approach:
52° 18.750' N, 009° 55.550' W
This is in middle of the Little Samphire lighthouse white sector where it transits the 10 metre contour. Departing the sectored light for a course of 95°(T) for two miles will place a vessel immediately north of the relatively prominent Illaunnacusha Rock from which an entrance approach commences.


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.


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 Barrow Harbour for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Fenit Harbour - 1 miles SSE
  2. Castlegregory - 3.3 miles WSW
  3. Illauntannig - 3.5 miles WNW
  4. Scraggane Bay - 3.7 miles W
  5. Brandon Bay - 6.6 miles W
  6. Kilbaha Bay - 10.1 miles N
  7. Ross Bay - 10.8 miles N
  8. Dingle Harbour - 11 miles WSW
  9. Carrigaholt Bay - 12 miles NNE
  10. Smerwick Harbour - 12.2 miles WSW
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Fenit Harbour - 1 miles SSE
  2. Castlegregory - 3.3 miles WSW
  3. Illauntannig - 3.5 miles WNW
  4. Scraggane Bay - 3.7 miles W
  5. Brandon Bay - 6.6 miles W
  6. Kilbaha Bay - 10.1 miles N
  7. Ross Bay - 10.8 miles N
  8. Dingle Harbour - 11 miles WSW
  9. Carrigaholt Bay - 12 miles NNE
  10. Smerwick Harbour - 12.2 miles WSW
To find locations with the specific attributes you need try:

Resources search



How to get in?
Barrow Harbour
Image: Francis Foley via CC BY-SA 2.0


Barrow Harbour is a tidal inlet off Tralee Bay. Once this was the major port for the region, servicing the monastic settlement of Ardfert and the general area of Tralee. It is today a remote and out beautifully secluded anchorage beneath an ancient castle within a vast white sand tidal lagoon.

Initial fix location From the initial fix located in the middle of the Little Samphire lighthouse white sector where it transits the 10-metre contour. Once this sounding is reached depart the white light sector, bearing 140°-152°, for a course of 95° T that leads to Illaunnacusha.

This takes a vessel along the north shore of Fenit Island situated at the southern end of Ballyheige Bay. It passes to the north of the 5 metres high The Rose rock that lies on the north end of the foul ground and extends out for a mile west from the north end of Fenit Island. A further 13 metres high isolated rock called Crow Rock is situated just north of Fenit Island about 500 metres west-southwest of Illaunnacusha Rock.


Illaunnacusha , Crow Rock and the Rose seen in line from the east over Tralee
Golf Course

Image: Tourism Ireland


The 6 metre high and reasonably prominent Illaunnacusha rock is the key rock islet to positively identify. It lies 300 metres north of the entrance to the channel between Fenit Island and the mainland. This is the only entrance to Barrow Harbour as the island is connected with the mainland by a natural narrow and stony embankment at it southern end. This forms the western shore of the vast sandy lagoon, the inner expanse of which dries at low water, with the exception of a narrow channel.

Pathway around Illaunnacusha rock and into Barrow Harbour
Image: The Irish Drone


Once Illaunnacusha Rock has been positively identified the approach may commence. Keep the island close to starboard and pass 50 to a 100 metres to the east of the islet keeping a drying spit that extends from the mainland to port.

From there track into the centre of the 150-metre wide entrance. This will be clearly visible with the ruin of the round Martello tower, Barrow Castle, standing on the mainland point and an islet to the west of it. Although the latter is seen as an islet at high water, at low water, it will be seen to be connected to Fenit Island by an inner reef.

When the islet passes abeam abruptly alter course to the southwest. Then follow the slight curve in the channel off Fenit Island’s sandy beach on the starboard side, towards the prominent square tower of Fenit Castle. This avoids the sharp-edged sand bar that extends from the mainland immediately inside the entrance and to the south of Barrow Castle. This should be clearly visible at low water.

Haven location Anchor abreast of the castle, about 600 metres within the entrance, in 3.5 to 4 metres or in and about this location depending on the required draft. The anchorage is in the narrow channel and as such subject to strong tidal sweeps as the lagoon fills and empties. It may be advisable to use a second anchor as a precaution.


Why visit here?
Barrow Harbour was once a major port for the region servicing the monastic settlement of Ardfert three miles to the east, and the general area of Tralee three miles further. The ancient harbour’s importance is evident in its legacy of defensive castles.

Three castles have stood here; the round tower of Barrow, Fenit Castle, and 'Tawlacht', that once stood on the mainland opposite Fenit Castle and which has since disappeared. The ruins of the former two castles remain stalwartly guarding the narrow entrance to Barrow Harbour.

Chief amongst these is the spectacular Norman Fenit Castle. It was built around 1190 by the Fitzmaurices to protect the harbour from pirates. The castle added a further layer of defence to foil a seaborne attack. This was an iron or steel chain that was stretched across the neck of water between the mainland and the island near the castle, to shut in the inlet. At this time the area surrounding Fenit castle was called 'Fenit Within'. 'Tawlacht' castle, on the mainland, was known as 'Fenit Without'. The terms within/without refer to the walled protection that surrounded parts of the island from attackers from the landward side.

Fenit Castle
Image: Mark Murray CC BY-SA 2.0


Sadly Fenit Castle was almost completely destroyed in 1641 during the Cromwellian campaign. Standing on a rock overlooking the anchorage today the castles west and north walls retain most of their original height and stature. Other old ruins of two churches and a graveyard also exist on the island but the castle is the only one that remains visible.

Today Fenit Island is populated and connected to the mainland by the sandbar on the southwestern side. It is accessible by foot along the sandbar at most times, and by car at low tide, by driving on the beach. There are many scenic walking routes in the area and endless opportunities for sea angling.

Golfing enthusiasts will find they are practically anchored alongside Tralee Golf Club situated directly across the straits from Fenit Castle. The links course was designed by Arnold Palmer and offers a tough challenge, particularly in the wind, but rewards the golfer with dramatic and spectacularly beautiful views of Tralee Bay and Barrow Strand to the north.

The five-mile-long Barrow Strand extending to the north is a very popular tourist destination and may also be very much of interest to film buffs. For Barrow Strand was the location for the beach scenes in the Academy Award-winning film Ryan's Daughter starring Robert Mitchum and Sarah Miles.

From a boating perspective, this is a spectacular beautiful anchorage in a very much out of the way location. It is ideal for the cruiser with time on his hands who wants to enjoy every inch of this area's outstanding natural beauty.


What facilities are available?
There are no facilities available at Barrow, and the nearest location for re-stocking provisions is Fenit.


Any security concerns?
A vessel is most likely to be entirely alone in the remote and secluded Barrow Harbour.


With thanks to:
Batty McCarthy, Fenit Harbour Master


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


















Barrow Harbour aerial overview




An overview of the tower and bay which happens to be next to Tralee Golf Course.


About Barrow Harbour

Barrow Harbour was once a major port for the region servicing the monastic settlement of Ardfert three miles to the east, and the general area of Tralee three miles further. The ancient harbour’s importance is evident in its legacy of defensive castles.

Three castles have stood here; the round tower of Barrow, Fenit Castle, and 'Tawlacht', that once stood on the mainland opposite Fenit Castle and which has since disappeared. The ruins of the former two castles remain stalwartly guarding the narrow entrance to Barrow Harbour.

Chief amongst these is the spectacular Norman Fenit Castle. It was built around 1190 by the Fitzmaurices to protect the harbour from pirates. The castle added a further layer of defence to foil a seaborne attack. This was an iron or steel chain that was stretched across the neck of water between the mainland and the island near the castle, to shut in the inlet. At this time the area surrounding Fenit castle was called 'Fenit Within'. 'Tawlacht' castle, on the mainland, was known as 'Fenit Without'. The terms within/without refer to the walled protection that surrounded parts of the island from attackers from the landward side.

Fenit Castle
Image: Mark Murray CC BY-SA 2.0


Sadly Fenit Castle was almost completely destroyed in 1641 during the Cromwellian campaign. Standing on a rock overlooking the anchorage today the castles west and north walls retain most of their original height and stature. Other old ruins of two churches and a graveyard also exist on the island but the castle is the only one that remains visible.

Today Fenit Island is populated and connected to the mainland by the sandbar on the southwestern side. It is accessible by foot along the sandbar at most times, and by car at low tide, by driving on the beach. There are many scenic walking routes in the area and endless opportunities for sea angling.

Golfing enthusiasts will find they are practically anchored alongside Tralee Golf Club situated directly across the straits from Fenit Castle. The links course was designed by Arnold Palmer and offers a tough challenge, particularly in the wind, but rewards the golfer with dramatic and spectacularly beautiful views of Tralee Bay and Barrow Strand to the north.

The five-mile-long Barrow Strand extending to the north is a very popular tourist destination and may also be very much of interest to film buffs. For Barrow Strand was the location for the beach scenes in the Academy Award-winning film Ryan's Daughter starring Robert Mitchum and Sarah Miles.

From a boating perspective, this is a spectacular beautiful anchorage in a very much out of the way location. It is ideal for the cruiser with time on his hands who wants to enjoy every inch of this area's outstanding natural beauty.

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:
Foynes Harbour - 20.9 miles NE
Askeaton - 23.4 miles ENE
Limerick Docks - 30.9 miles ENE
Hog Island - 14.8 miles NE
Kilrush - 15.2 miles NE
Coastal anti-clockwise:
Fenit Harbour - 1 miles SSE
Castlegregory - 3.3 miles WSW
Illauntannig - 3.5 miles WNW
Scraggane Bay - 3.7 miles W
Brandon Bay - 6.6 miles W

Navigational pictures


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














Barrow Harbour aerial overview




An overview of the tower and bay which happens to be next to Tralee Golf Course.



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.


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