Although the port is very busy it is usually possible to berth alongside local boats at the pier but there is no room to anchor in the harbour. There are many anchorages between the off lying islands, Rutland Harbour being the principal one, but the channels to them are small and studded with rocks.
Except in strong weather conditions from the northwest quarter the harbour affords very good shelter. Entry to the harbour port through a channel is straightforward but attentive navigation is necessary due to the amount of local comings and goings.
Keyfacts for Burtonport
SummaryA good location with attentive navigation required for access.
Position and approaches
Haven position54° 58.941' N, 008° 26.589' W
this is the position at Burtonport pierhead
What is the initial fix?
Not what you need?
- Rutland Harbour & Island - 0.4 miles W
- Arranmore Island - 1.1 miles WNW
- Cruit Bay - 2.1 miles NNE
- Owey Island - 2.6 miles N
- Bunbeg - 3.9 miles NE
- Gola Island - 4.4 miles NNE
- Church Pool & Portnoo - 5.1 miles S
- Inishsirrer Island - 5.5 miles NNE
- Dawros Bay - 6.3 miles SSW
- Toberglassan Bay - 9.3 miles NE
How to get in?
The 'Erris Head to Malin Head' coastal description provides approach information to the suggested initial fix. Vessels approaching from the south should select the northeast bound sequenced description; vessels approaching from the north should select the southwest bound sequence; western approaches may use either description.
Burtonport and numerous other small islands in the area form part of the bleak desolate district called “The Rosses”.[See the entry for Bunbeg, Gweedore Harbour] The main approach is through Rutland North Channel and Rutland Harbour, and the port is entered through a channel which has been widened and dredged making access considerably easier up to the quay.
Access to the harbour is straightforward but requires attentive navigation and the shelter is very good in all weathers except northwest gales.
The quay at Burtonport can get very congested with many fishing vessels and the daily ferry service to and from Arranmore but it is usually possible to berth alongside one of the local boats at the pier. However it is best not to leave a yacht unattended for too long as you may be required to move at short notice. Due to the amount of traffic day and night there is now no room to anchor within the harbour.
There are many anchorages between the islands but the channels are small and studded with innumerable rocks that make it impossible for anyone but an experienced pilot to navigate among them, and although Rutland Harbour is the principal anchorage the approach is intricate and it can only be made available under favourable circumstances. If merely waiting for wind and weather the best anchorage is Aran road, under the little island of Calf on the east side of Arran.
Why visit here?The bustling fishing port of Burtonport, Irish : Ailt an Chorrain, is part of the Gaeltacht, Irish speaking, region of County Donegal, and although the locals are happy to converse in English with visiting tourists Irish is the day to day spoken language. The village derived its name from a wealthy English landowner of the time, Lord Burton of Conynham, who established a jetty and a few other amenities at the location and called it “Burton's Port” hence the name Burtonport.
Burtonport is part of The Rosses, Irish : Na Rosa, a geographical and social region in the west of County Donegal centred around the town of Dungloe, approx. 5 miles from Burtonport, which acts as the educational, shopping and civic centre for the area. Defined by physical boundaries in the form of rivers, as well as history and language use, the area has a distinctive identity, separate from the rest of Donegal. The Rosses, Cloughaneely and Gweedore, known locally as “the three parishes” which together have over 16,000 Irish speakers, form a social and cultural region different from the rest of the county, with Gweedore serving as the main centre for socialising and industry.
There are a large number of islands off the coast of this region, Inishfree, Arranmore, and Rutland to name but three of them. Rutland Island which is opposite Burtonport used to be the main port of call of the area and during the 17C it was a flourishing commercial centre where a colony of English settlers had been established on it after the plantation of Ulster in 1609. Although today the island consists mainly of holiday homes it holds memories of many historic events such as the brief landing of a French military force led by James Napper Tandy in a failed attempt to assist rebels during the rebellion of 1798. There is a plaque on the island to commemorate the event.
Up until recent years Burtonport was a thriving fishing port whose main employers were the Fishermen's Co-op and the Ice Plant of the Irish Sea Fisheries Board, but these establishments have been in decline due to the abandonment of fishing as a career and a way of life by the locals, due to the depleted fish stocks and restrictive fishing laws. Today the harbour is now being developed towards the tourist industry with amenities for small pleasure craft, and more recently the construction of a wind farm across the harbour which is currently under way.
As the mainland port for both the Arranmore car ferry service and the Arranmore fast ferry passenger service, Burtonport receives a lot of passing tourist traffic and together with the local fishing fleet this creates a busy harbour that is usually very full. However don't be put off by this as visiting yachts can generally berth alongside one of the local vessels or use one of the anchorages in the approach channel. If you do berth alongside it is advisable not to leave a yacht unattended for any length of time, as you may be required to move at short notice.
Burtonport is considered to be one of the major sea angling centres of Donegal renowned for its catches of salmon, lobster and crab during the summer months. A slipway, fresh water and diesel are available at the quayside, and the village which is half a mile up the road from the quay has limited facilities which include petrol from the local garage, gas refills, a shop for provisions, a post office, bars, restaurants and hotels, a local bus service, and a convenient regional airport at Donegal Carrickfin. The village can also help with engine maintenance, hull damage and electronic repairs.
With thanks to:inyourfootsteps.com site research. Photography with thanks to Rossographer, Joseph and Suzanne Mischyshyn, Kenneth Allen, Pauric Ward, and A McCarron.
The following video presents excellent footage of the north Rutland channel going into Burtonport.
The following video presents footage of the waters around Burtonport.
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