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Killary Harbour

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Overview





Killary Bay lies on the west coast of Ireland, halfway between Aughrus Point and Roonah Head. It is a deeply indented fissure that is eight miles long and has numerous mussel farming lines throughout the bay.

Killary Bay lies on the west coast of Ireland, halfway between Aughrus Point and Roonah Head. It is a deeply indented fissure that is eight miles long and has numerous mussel farming lines throughout the bay.

Killary Harbour offers good protection in all but westerly conditions. Access is straightforward with a buoyed, lit channel leading up a deep fjord-like inlet. First-time visitors should nevertheless approach Killary Harbour with caution, particularly at night or in heavy weather.



1 comment
Keyfacts for Killary Harbour



Last modified
March 3rd 2020

Summary

A good location with straightforward access.

Facilities
Water available via tapPetrol available alongsideMini-supermarket or supermarket availableSlipway availableHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaPost Office in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationRemote or quiet secluded locationAnchoring locationVisitors moorings available, or possibly by club arrangementJetty or a structure to assist landingScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinitySet near a village or with a village in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Note: fish farming activity in the vicinity of this location



Position and approaches
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Haven position

53° 35.867' N, 009° 41.752' W

This is the position at the head of the bay approach to Leenaun

What is the initial fix?

The following Killary Harbour initial fix will set up a final approach:
53° 38.373' N, 009° 59.752' W
This is the intersection of range markers of the beacons on Doonee Islet and Inishbarna in range 099° T & Cleggan Point over the east end of Inishbroon. It is a ⅓ of a mile northwestward of O'Mally Breaker.


What are the key points of the approach?

Offshore details are available in Western Ireland’s coastal overview from Slyne Head to Erris Head Route location.

  • Bring the beacons on Doonee Islet and Inishbarna into alignment 099°T.

  • Enter between Inishbarna and the north shore and proceed up the deep inlet.


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 Killary Harbour for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Little Killary Bay (Salrock) - 3.4 miles W
  2. Ballynakill Harbour - 6.4 miles W
  3. Fahy Bay - 7.1 miles WSW
  4. Bertraghboy Bay - 7.4 miles SSW
  5. Westport - 8.2 miles NNE
  6. Clifden - 8.5 miles WSW
  7. Rosmoney (Collan More Harbour) - 8.7 miles N
  8. Roundstone Bay - 9 miles SSW
  9. Clifden Boat Club - 9 miles WSW
  10. Cleggan Bay - 9.3 miles W
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Little Killary Bay (Salrock) - 3.4 miles W
  2. Ballynakill Harbour - 6.4 miles W
  3. Fahy Bay - 7.1 miles WSW
  4. Bertraghboy Bay - 7.4 miles SSW
  5. Westport - 8.2 miles NNE
  6. Clifden - 8.5 miles WSW
  7. Rosmoney (Collan More Harbour) - 8.7 miles N
  8. Roundstone Bay - 9 miles SSW
  9. Clifden Boat Club - 9 miles WSW
  10. Cleggan Bay - 9.3 miles W
To find locations with the specific attributes you need try:

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What's the story here?
Hillary Harbour as seen from the southern shore
Image: Matt Dean via CC BY 2.0


Killary Harbour is a narrow deep Atlantic Ocean inlet that forms the border of Counties Galway and Mayo. For nearly half its length, it runs southeastward from the Atlantic, and then it turns and runs directly east. During its course, it varies in width from 200 to 800 metres in width and is 8½ miles long and deep to within 1 mile of the head of the bay. Its entire length is flanked by high mountains which descend in rugged precipices down to the shore. With its magnificent dramatic scenery, it has been likened to a miniature fjord though a good deal shallower.


View to east of the anchorage off Leenaun pier
Image: © PETER CRAVEN


The inlet provides several sheltered anchoring locations along its length for all classes of vessels with leisure craft usually needing to pass about 3 miles up the inlet for it to provide shallow enough water to drop anchor. However, in unsettled weather, any westerly winds funnel up the inlet which can make for uncomfortable berthing at the usual anchorages.


How to get in?
Mweelrea as seen from Inishbofin at dawn
Image: James Stringer via CC BY-SA 2.0


Convergance Point Use western Ireland’s coastal overview from Slyne Head to Erris Head Route location for approaches. From seaward the surrounding landscape has several mountains, Mweelrea situated about 2 miles east by northeast of the entrance, being the highest, most prominent and making for a spectacular backdrop.

Mweelrea seen from the south with some low level clouds on its crest
Image: Herr Olsen via CC BY 2.0


Mweelrea at 814 metres it is the 26th-highest peak in Ireland and upon its first sight gives the impression of being much higher than it is in reality, from it rising so dramatically from the sea coast. It readily identifies the entrance for several miles in all directions.


Inishturk and Inishdalla as seen from Inishbofin
Image: Andreas F. Borchert via CC BY-SA 2.0



The western approach to Killary Harbour lies between Inishbofin and Inishturk and is easily identified. Proceeding through the centre of the fairway between the islands has no dangers until the meridian of Inishdalla has been passed. The principal hazard that then borders the approach to the initial fix is the isolated Pollock Shoal that lies 6 miles west by northwest of the entrance to Killary Harbour and has 3.7 metres of water over it. Pollock Shoal breaks and, as such, should not present a surprise. Keeping Mweelrea between the bearings of 095° and 100°T will pass to the south of Pollock Shoal. Likewise, Inishturk tower in a line with the west end of Inishdalla, astern, also passes to the southwest of Pollock.


The entrance to Killary Harbour as seen from the northwest
Image: Tourism Ireland


Initial fix location From the initial fix bring the beacons on Doonee Islet and Inishbarna into alignment 099°T. Both islets lay off the peninsula of Rossroe, that separates Killary Harbour from Little Killary Bay to the south. The alignment leads between O'Mally Breaker and Carrickgaddy Rocks and then, south of Inishdegil More and northward of Thanymore shoal that has 8.8 metres over it. During heavy weather, most of the dangers break.


Alingnment marks Doonee Islet with Inishbarna Islet rear
Image: © PETER CRAVEN


When the eastern extremity of Inishdegil More bears about north (000°T) the course should be altered to pass through the northwest-facing entrance channel between Doonee and Inishbarna islets to the south and Dooneen islet to the north. A lit port Blackrock marker buoy, Fl.R.6s, flanks the north side of the channel ¼ of a mile west of the Dooneen islet. This marks the Black Rocks that lie off the north point of entrance and being 1 metre high are always above water.


The view out through the entrance
Image: Tourism Ireland


Within the entrance, between Inishbarna and the north shore, which is little more than 300 metres wide, a depth of 24 metres will be found. The shores are steep-to and fringed by a very narrow margin of about 100 metres of rock and stone that shows at low water. 2 miles within, about south of the Summit of Lugaloughan, the depth decreases to 15 metres, from hence the average depth is about 10 metres, on a muddy bottom.


Yacht anchored in about 15 metres southward Summit of Lugaloughan
Image: Tourism Ireland


Throughout this entire length, a perfectly clear channel presents itself that is marked by lighted beacons at various intervals until the head of the inlet is approached. However, a sharp eye should be maintained throughout for inlet's extensive fish farms. The harbour has many mussel cages that principally lie off the southern side of the harbour.


Fish farms off the southern shore of Killary Harbour
Image: unukorno via CC BY 2.0


These are marked on the fairway side by lit yellow special mark buoys and beacons mounted on the rafts, Fl.Y.5s. Positions of the farms are only approximately charted and are often moved without notice and there is the occasional unmarked mussel raft on the north side, so vigilance is essential.


Gubbadanbo close to the entrance
Image: Google


Haven location The most popular anchorages, in order, are off Gubbadanbo, on the south shore ⅔ of a mike within the entrance. It has a small quay which dries.

Killary Harbour at Derrynasligganu
Image: Tourism Ireland


Off Dernasliggaun's Killary Lodge, an Adventure Centre, that may be accessed through an opening in the mussel rafts. Anchor in 2 to 4 metres and land, with prior permission at the Adventure Centre's private slip.


Bundorragha Quay
Image: Google


Off Bundorragha on the northern shore about 5 miles within the inlet where there is a small quay at the village. Anchor south of the beacon in 5 to 7 metres. Swinging space is limited for long vessels but ample room is available further out in settled conditions.


The stone quay at Leenaun
Image: Tourism Ireland


At Leenaun where there are 8 seasonal visitors moorings which lie off an old stone quay that dries, and there is a slip at the side of the quay suitable for a dinghy landing.


Why visit here?
Killary Harbour, from the Irish An Caolaire Rua which stems from caol(sh)áile, a compound of caol, meaning 'narrow inlet' and sáile meaning sea (water)’, which developed to caoláire that was anglasised to 'Killary'.

Killary Harbour as seen from Mweelrea
Image: Andreas Riemenschneider via CC BYSA 2.0


Set at the heart of Connemara Killary Harbour is a wonderful fjord, which has scarcely has any parallel in the British Isles, it more resembles the coastal scenery in Norway. It is best known as Ireland's only glacial fjord, though some also include Lough Swilly and Carlingford Lough in that description. The long narrow inlet runs inland to the very heart of the mountains for a distance of almost 10 miles. On each side, steep and precipitous mountains descend to the water‘s edge that varies in colour depending on where the sun hits.


Ringed by mountains and still waters, Killary is a world away from the preceding
Atlantic Ocean

Image: Tourism Ireland


The mountain scenery on its northern shore is it's absolute finest and is much greater than the southern side, which is in places merely hilly. It is at its most impressive at the entrance where the enormous walls of Mweelrea fall steeply into the inlet. Connacht's highest, rising to 814 metres (2,670 ft), Mweelrea takes its name from the Irish Cnoc Maol Réidh, 'bald hill with the smooth top' that aptly describes the Giant of the West. But not far away to the south behind its hills high mountains again present themselves in the form of the Maumturk Mountains and the Twelve Bens.


Killary Harbour provides majestic views and sheltered waters
Image: Tourism Ireland


Once inside and away from the Atlantic swell the excessive stillness of the land-locked water, in which the shadows of the hills are so clearly reflected, make for a stark contrast from the preceding Atlantic Ocean. Ringed by mountains, the scenery is spectacular, awe-inspiring and dramatic, and feels all the more peaceful when visited from seaward. The fjord is often visited by dolphins so if you are lucky you may not be the only mariner entering the haven.


Autumnal Killary Harbour
Image: Tourism Ireland


Killary is now a centre for aquaculture well known for producing some of Ireland’s most delicious mussels. These shellfish are celebrated at the Connemara Mussel Festival in Tullycross. From a boating perspective, if its stunning scenery that attracts you then Killary Harbour is a location not to miss on this coast. Its good shelter also makes a wonderful place to drop into.

The head of the inlet
Image: Tourism Ireland



What facilities are available?
There are two minor settlements within the harbour, on the southern side near the mouth of the fjord lies the hamlet of Rosroe, whilst the larger village of Leenaun lies at the head of the inlet. Facilities are limited though Leenaun does have water, petrol, a small shop, Post Office, Pubs and restaurants and a hotel.


With thanks to:
PETER CRAVEN & eOceanic.







Views of the fjord from a boat tour


About Killary Harbour

Killary Harbour, from the Irish An Caolaire Rua which stems from caol(sh)áile, a compound of caol, meaning 'narrow inlet' and sáile meaning sea (water)’, which developed to caoláire that was anglasised to 'Killary'.

Killary Harbour as seen from Mweelrea
Image: Andreas Riemenschneider via CC BYSA 2.0


Set at the heart of Connemara Killary Harbour is a wonderful fjord, which has scarcely has any parallel in the British Isles, it more resembles the coastal scenery in Norway. It is best known as Ireland's only glacial fjord, though some also include Lough Swilly and Carlingford Lough in that description. The long narrow inlet runs inland to the very heart of the mountains for a distance of almost 10 miles. On each side, steep and precipitous mountains descend to the water‘s edge that varies in colour depending on where the sun hits.


Ringed by mountains and still waters, Killary is a world away from the preceding
Atlantic Ocean

Image: Tourism Ireland


The mountain scenery on its northern shore is it's absolute finest and is much greater than the southern side, which is in places merely hilly. It is at its most impressive at the entrance where the enormous walls of Mweelrea fall steeply into the inlet. Connacht's highest, rising to 814 metres (2,670 ft), Mweelrea takes its name from the Irish Cnoc Maol Réidh, 'bald hill with the smooth top' that aptly describes the Giant of the West. But not far away to the south behind its hills high mountains again present themselves in the form of the Maumturk Mountains and the Twelve Bens.


Killary Harbour provides majestic views and sheltered waters
Image: Tourism Ireland


Once inside and away from the Atlantic swell the excessive stillness of the land-locked water, in which the shadows of the hills are so clearly reflected, make for a stark contrast from the preceding Atlantic Ocean. Ringed by mountains, the scenery is spectacular, awe-inspiring and dramatic, and feels all the more peaceful when visited from seaward. The fjord is often visited by dolphins so if you are lucky you may not be the only mariner entering the haven.


Autumnal Killary Harbour
Image: Tourism Ireland


Killary is now a centre for aquaculture well known for producing some of Ireland’s most delicious mussels. These shellfish are celebrated at the Connemara Mussel Festival in Tullycross. From a boating perspective, if its stunning scenery that attracts you then Killary Harbour is a location not to miss on this coast. Its good shelter also makes a wonderful place to drop into.

The head of the inlet
Image: Tourism Ireland


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:
Inishturk - 9.6 miles WNW
Clare Island - 9.4 miles NW
Rosmoney (Collan More Harbour) - 8.7 miles N
Westport - 8.2 miles NNE
Rabbit Island - 10.7 miles NNE
Coastal anti-clockwise:
Little Killary Bay (Salrock) - 3.4 miles W
Ballynakill Harbour - 6.4 miles W
Fahy Bay - 7.1 miles WSW
Bofin Harbour - 11.4 miles W
Cleggan Bay - 9.3 miles W

Navigational pictures


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












































Views of the fjord from a boat tour



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.


Add your review or comment:


PETER CRAVEN wrote this review on Feb 9th 2020:

You can have a nice hot seaweed bath just outside Leenaun.
Pubs and restaurants in Leenaun.
Easy tender landing in protection of pier to west of marker.

Average Rating: Unrated

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