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Brandon Bay

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Overview





Brandon Bay is a large open bay on Ireland's west coast situated on the northern side of the Dingle peninsula and at the foot of Brandon Mountain. It offers an anchorage off a small village fronted by a stone pier.

Brandon Bay is a large open bay on Ireland's west coast situated on the northern side of the Dingle peninsula and at the foot of Brandon Mountain. It offers an anchorage off a small village fronted by a stone pier.

The bay offers good protection in moderate weather with offshore winds from west round to the south. Access is straightforward as the open bay has plenty of water and is clear of any danger except for some shoal patches that lie well out of the way off its southern shoreline.
Please note

The open Brandon Bay is best avoided if there is any likelihood of bad weather approaching.




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Keyfacts for Brandon Bay
Facilities
Water available via tapMini-supermarket or supermarket availableSlipway availableShore based toilet facilitiesPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationPost Office in the areaMarine engineering services available in the areaBus service available in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationAnchoring locationJetty or a structure to assist landingNavigation lights to support a night approachScenic 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
Restriction: shallow, drying or partially drying pier

Protected sectors

Current wind over the protected quadrants
Minimum depth
6 metres (19.69 feet).

Approaches
4 stars: Straightforward; when unaffected by weather from difficult quadrants or tidal consideration, no overly complex dangers.
Shelter
4 stars: Good; assured night's sleep except from specific quarters.



Last modified
May 5th 2022

Summary* Restrictions apply

A good location with straightforward access.

Facilities
Water available via tapMini-supermarket or supermarket availableSlipway availableShore based toilet facilitiesPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationPost Office in the areaMarine engineering services available in the areaBus service available in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationAnchoring locationJetty or a structure to assist landingNavigation lights to support a night approachScenic 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
Restriction: shallow, drying or partially drying pier



Position and approaches
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Haven position

52° 16.081' N, 010° 9.477' W

This is off the head of the pier at Brandon that is lit, 2 FG(vert), visible for 4 miles.

What is the initial fix?

The following Brandon initial fix will set up a final approach:
52° 18.000' N, 010° 8.000' W
This is located one mile to the northeast of Brandon Point. The anchoring area off Brandon pier is two miles from here on a bearing of 200°(T).


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.

  • Brandon Point is clear but keep a ½ mile off the head of the sandy peninsula that separates Brandon Bay from Tralee Bay.

  • The bay is deep over the greater portion with a few shoals off its southern shore. So a direct route may be taken across it to the pier.


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 Brandon Bay for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Scraggane Bay - 5.3 nautical miles ENE
  2. Castlegregory - 5.7 nautical miles E
  3. Illauntannig - 6.3 nautical miles NE
  4. Dingle Harbour - 9 nautical miles SSW
  5. Smerwick Harbour - 10.4 nautical miles WSW
  6. Barrow Harbour - 10.7 nautical miles E
  7. Fenit Harbour - 11 nautical miles E
  8. Ventry Harbour - 11.9 nautical miles SW
  9. Kells Bay - 14.6 nautical miles S
  10. Great Blasket Island - 16.2 nautical miles SW
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Scraggane Bay - 5.3 miles ENE
  2. Castlegregory - 5.7 miles E
  3. Illauntannig - 6.3 miles NE
  4. Dingle Harbour - 9 miles SSW
  5. Smerwick Harbour - 10.4 miles WSW
  6. Barrow Harbour - 10.7 miles E
  7. Fenit Harbour - 11 miles E
  8. Ventry Harbour - 11.9 miles SW
  9. Kells Bay - 14.6 miles S
  10. Great Blasket Island - 16.2 miles SW
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?
Brandon
Image: Michael Harpur


Brandon Bay is entered between Brandon Point and the northwest extremity of a sandy peninsula, about 4 miles east by northeast, that separates it from Tralee Bay. Open to the northward, 4 miles wide and 3 deep, it is a broad beautiful bay surrounded by high mountains. On its western shore is the small village of Brandon which has a stone pier.


Brandon Pier
Image: Michael Harpur


The best anchorage in the large bay is off the western shore, abreast of Brandon Quay. This is a good stopping place in settled conditions or with moderate offshore winds. But with any appearance of bad weather from the north or strong winds from any quarter be prepared to lift anchor and be off. It is wide open to the north of northwest allowing a heavy swell to enter. Likewise, and although well sheltered from southwest to west winds, strong southerlies can fluke down the mountain valleys to make conditions uncomfortable.


How to get in?
Brandon Bay as seen from the southeast
Image: Billy Cosgrave via CC BY-SA 4.0


Convergance Point Use Ireland’s coastal overview for Mizen Head to Loop Head Route location for seaward approaches. The position of the harbour is made unmistakable by Sybil Point and the precipitous coast that leads 13 miles to the northeast to the precipitous Brandon Point. Between these are the peaks of the Three Sisters, the entrance to Smerwick Harbour, Ballydavid Head and the high mountain ranges that terminate in distinctive cliffs about 3¼ miles southwest of Brandon Point near Brandon Head.


Dolphins gamboling as Brandon Point is approached from the west
Image: Christophe Gue via CC BY-SA 4.0


Brandon Point is steep-to and deep but Ballymore Point, a ½ mile southward and between it and the pier, is shallow out to 200 metres from the shore.


Brandon Point as seen from the east
Image: Kman999 via ASA 4.0


The principal dangers are off the eastern entrance with Tonaranna and Coosanea, and other drying rocks extend up to ¼ of a mile out from the low lying western head of the sandy peninsula that separates Brandon Bay from Tralee Bay.


The eastern entrance fringed with Coosanea and Tonaranna
Image: Michael Harpur


The bay between is deep over the greater portion with a few shoals off its southern and southeastern shore of which one dries. So a direct route may be taken across it to the pier.

Brandon Pier, Ballymore Point and Brandon Point
Image: Michael Harpur


Initial fix location From the Brandon initial fix follow the western coastline for two miles on a bearing of 200° T Brandon village pier that is located 1¼ miles to the south of Brandon Point. At night the pier has a 3 metres high light column at its head.


Brandon Pier and its slipway
Image: Michael Harpur


Haven location The best anchorage is in 5 metres or more over mud and sand to the east of the pier inside the fishing boat moorings. This is as marked on Admiralty 2739 and set on the 152° T alignment of Caher Point and Fermoyle House; situated on the southern shore about a 1½ miles south-southeast. Vessels intending to go closer to the pier should make note of a patch of rock south of the quay that should be avoided. Land at the slipway or alongside the pier.


Brandon Pier at low water
Image: Michael Harpur


The pier dries and it is rarely calm enough for a vessel to go alongside except in very settled conditions it may be possible to temporarily berth there. It would however not be advisable to dry out here.

An alternative anchoring position is off the attractive beach to the south of the bay making note of the positions of the shoals off the southern shore.


Cloghane Creek at low water
Image: Michael Harpur


There is an extensive inlet called Cloghane Creek in the southwest corner of the bay entered close south of Caher Point. The greater part of this dries at low water but it can be approached along the northwest shore. This is the domain of the adventurous and determined creek-crawler and not the average boater. However, a vessel that can take-to-the-bottomcarrying a draught of less than 2.5 metres might safely lie protected from the effects of swell here. The best water is close inshore near the entrance to the north of the small grassy Lady's Isle. But it cannot be recommended as the channel is narrow and shallow over a changing sandbar. It is also much more complicated than it appears on the chart and at high water is open to a fetch that commences at Rough Point. As such it should only be considered in an emergency.


Why visit here?
Brandon Bay in Irish 'Ce Bhreanainn' derives its name from Mount Brandon which was named after Saint Brendan also known as 'Bréanainn The Navigator'.

Taking in the view from Mount Brandon today
Image: Tourism Ireland


Legend suggests around AD 530, before setting sail on his legendary voyage to cross the Atlantic, he climbed to the summit n a bid to see the Americas. He built one of his monastic cells at the foot called Shanakeel, in Irish 'Seana Cill' that can be translated to 'the old church', also called 'Baalynevinoorach', and this would also have caused it to be named after him. It was from the tiny inlet between cliffs, 1¾ miles eastward of Ballydavid Head and charted as Brandon Cove, that was the departure point and the one which Tim Severin's Brendan Voyage departed from in 1976.

'Saint Brendan and the Whale' from a 15th-century manuscript
Image: Public Domain
From the Bronze Age to early Christianity, Brandon Bay area is steeped in early Irish history. The southwest corner of the bay has many archaeological sites that date from the early Bronze Age to Christianity. In particular, there is the ancient site of 'Loch a Duin' that contains a remarkable series of monuments from the Bronze Age. In this valley alone there are approximately 90 stone structures dating from 2500 BC.

Although relatively quiet today Brandon pier was a hive of activity a century ago. At that time as many as 100 curraghs plus several larger vessels fished from here. They brought in mackerel which was cured on the quays packed into barrels and sent in large quantities to North America. Likewise, Brandon butter was sent from here to Cork both by sea and packhorse. But in the past century, this trade suffered a sudden and terminal decline and the bay’s activity diminished.

Set at the southern foot of the mountain the small attractive village of Brandon derives its living today from fishing and tourism. Located within a Gaeltacht region, where the Irish language is spoken by everyone, it has a special character. For here there are all the traces of a way of life almost forgotten elsewhere; neighbours helping each other to cut and harvest turf, stories and songs about local characters shared by the fireside, traditional music and set dancing performed in the local pubs most nights.


The surrounding mountains always draw the eye in Brandon
Image: Michael Harpur


Those who are in the area near the last weekend of July should not miss Feile Lughnasa which takes place in Brandon village. The ancient Celtic harvest festival celebration offers a wide variety of entertainments including sheep shearing, dog trials, poetry, music and dance, and locally produced food all washed down with copious pints of the regulation Guinness. The highlight of the festival is the ascent of Mount Brandon with music, poetry reading, and a picnic at its peak. Likewise, every year on one of the last Sundays in August is the Brandon Regatta. This is a series of curragh races with teams competing from all along the coast.


Mount Brandon
Image: Tourism Ireland


The most remarkable aspect of the area will always be its mountains. Chief amongst these is the 952 metres high Mount Brandon which dominate this section of the Dingle Peninsula. This ancient mountain was formed some 200 million years ago which makes it 170 million years older than the Himalayas. One of Ireland's most remarkable hilltop promontory forts lies on the eastern side of the mountain, standing on a peak at 800 metres (2,600 feet) with a knife-edged ridge that is shaped like the prow of a ship.


Conor Pass to the southwest of Brandon in the centre of the Dingle Peninsula
Image: Michael Harpur


The high ground creates a surrounding area of outstanding beauty with many rivers, lakes, streams and waterfalls. The landscape varies from mountain peaks overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, to bog-clad valley floors, to sandy beaches washed by translucent waters, to the breaking surf on the eastern side of Brandon Bay. It is truly spectacular and will remain so as the area was recognised by a 'Beatha' Environmental Quality Award for both its excellent environment and sustainable management.


View from the mountains to the south of Brandon Bay
Image: William Glasgow Howe


With this beauty and character, there is plenty for the visiting crew to engage. For those who enjoy exploring on land, there are many stunning walks to choose from. There are many archaeological sites in the southwest corner of the bay and the most popular walk over Mount Brandon. Information and maps can be obtained from the Visitor Centre in the nearby village of Cloghane, in Irish 'An Clochan', about 4 km from Brandon.


Brandon Bay beach
Image: William Glasgow Howe


For those who want to get wet, the bay is one of Ireland's top windsurfing locations having several times hosted the PWA professional wave sailing events, and is home to several windsurfing schools. Brandon is also a very popular fishing spot for sea angling off the pier, or for those who prefer to catch brown trout then take a rod to Cloghane's Owenmore River - but be prepared to walk back to Brandon when the tide goes out. For bird watchers, there is no finer place than Brandon Point, Irish Srub Brain, which has a viewpoint. This is accessible by road from Brandon village where, in the evening during the nesting season, many Manx Shearwaters home overhead to their broods.


Brandon is a place to kick back and enjoy some fine weather
Image: Michael Harpur


From a boating point of view, this is a delightful anchorage in settled weather with harbour-side pub meals at the head of the pier. And should the weather turn, the perfectly secure Fenit Marina is a little over 10 miles away.


What facilities are available?
Brandon village has a store with fresh provisions that serves a small permanent population of just over 100. There is a post office, the harbour side pub does bar snack meals, and another inn offers more refined food. At nearby Cloghane there is also a store and a further two pubs and a bus service to Tralee where most things can be found. Minor mechanical repairs are also reportedly available in the area.


Any security concerns?
Never an issue known to have occurred to a vessel anchored in Brandon Bay.


With thanks to:
Batty McCarthy, Fenit Harbour Master







Castlegregory and Brandon Bay



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