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Clifden

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Overview





Clifden is a coastal town in the Connemara region of western Ireland, located on the Owenglin River where it flows into Clifden Bay. It offers a drying quay close to the town centre to boats that can take-to-the-bottom.

Drying for extended periods and tucked away up an estuary, Clifden Quay offers complete protection from all conditions. Access requires attentive navigation as the quay is approached through a shallow channel with rocks on either side.
Please note

There is extensive fish farming in this area, with fish cages and mussel lines, and caution is required to avoid these.




2 comments
Keyfacts for Clifden
Facilities
Water available via tapGas availableTop up fuel available in the area via jerry cansMini-supermarket or supermarket availableExtensive shopping available in the areaFuel by arrangement with bulk tanker providerSlipway availableLaundry facilities availableShore based toilet facilitiesShowers available in the vicinity or by arrangementHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaCashpoint or bank available in the areaPost Office in the areaInternet café in the areaDoctor or hospital in the areaPharmacy in the areaMarine engineering services available in the areaBus service available in the areaBicycle hire available in the areaTourist Information office available


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationAnchoring locationVisitors moorings available, or possibly by club arrangementBeach or shoreline landing from a tenderSailing Club baseUrban nature,  anything from a small town of more 5,000 inhabitants  to a large cityScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinityHistoric, geographic or culturally significant location; or in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Restriction: shallow, drying or partially drying pierRestriction: rising tide required for accessNote: fish farming activity in the vicinity of this location

Protected sectors

Current wind over the protected quadrants
Minimum depth
-1.8 metres (-5.91 feet).

Approaches
3 stars: Attentive navigation; daylight access with dangers that need attention.
Shelter
5 stars: Complete protection; all-round shelter in all reasonable conditions.



Last modified
October 10th 2018

Summary* Restrictions apply

A completely protected location with attentive navigation required for access.

Facilities
Water available via tapGas availableTop up fuel available in the area via jerry cansMini-supermarket or supermarket availableExtensive shopping available in the areaFuel by arrangement with bulk tanker providerSlipway availableLaundry facilities availableShore based toilet facilitiesShowers available in the vicinity or by arrangementHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaCashpoint or bank available in the areaPost Office in the areaInternet café in the areaDoctor or hospital in the areaPharmacy in the areaMarine engineering services available in the areaBus service available in the areaBicycle hire available in the areaTourist Information office available


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationAnchoring locationVisitors moorings available, or possibly by club arrangementBeach or shoreline landing from a tenderSailing Club baseUrban nature,  anything from a small town of more 5,000 inhabitants  to a large cityScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinityHistoric, geographic or culturally significant location; or in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Restriction: shallow, drying or partially drying pierRestriction: rising tide required for accessNote: fish farming activity in the vicinity of this location



Position and approaches
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Haven position

53° 29.123' N, 010° 1.784' W

This is the position of Clifden Quay.

What is the initial fix?

The following Clifden Bay Initial Fix will set up a final approach:
53° 28.649' N, 010° 11.570' W
This is the initial approach to Clifden Bay on the alignment of 080° of a white beacon on Fishing Point and Clifden Castle.


What are the key points of the approach?

Offshore details are available in western Ireland’s coastal overview for Slyne Head to Erris Head Route location.
  • Approach Clifden Bay on the alignment of 080°T of a white beacon on Fishing Point and Clifden Castle.

  • Break off the transit as Clifden Bay is approached, between Errislannan Point and Fahy Point, taking a central path.

  • Follow the entrance beacons into the river estuary to access the quay at HW ± 2 hours.

  • Beware of the training wall.


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 Clifden for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Clifden Boat Club - 0.6 miles W
  2. Mannin Bay - 2.3 miles WSW
  3. Cleggan Bay - 3.2 miles NNW
  4. Ballynakill Harbour - 3.4 miles NNE
  5. Bunowen Bay - 3.5 miles SSW
  6. Roundstone - 4.1 miles SE
  7. Gorteen Bay - 4.5 miles SSE
  8. Bertraghboy Bay - 5.2 miles ESE
  9. Little Killary Bay (Salrock) - 6.1 miles NE
  10. Inishbofin - 6.2 miles NW
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Clifden Boat Club - 0.6 miles W
  2. Mannin Bay - 2.3 miles WSW
  3. Cleggan Bay - 3.2 miles NNW
  4. Ballynakill Harbour - 3.4 miles NNE
  5. Bunowen Bay - 3.5 miles SSW
  6. Roundstone - 4.1 miles SE
  7. Gorteen Bay - 4.5 miles SSE
  8. Bertraghboy Bay - 5.2 miles ESE
  9. Little Killary Bay (Salrock) - 6.1 miles NE
  10. Inishbofin - 6.2 miles NW
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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How to get in?
Clifden Quay
Image: © Roger Harrison


The town of Clifden stands on the north bank of Clifden Bay at the eastern end of a drying inlet where the Owenglin River enters the bay over some picturesque falls. Clifden is the largest town in the region and often referred to as 'the Capital of Connemara'. Clifden Quay is located a 5-minute walk from the town centre making it a highly attractive berth for provisioning or visiting the town.

The quay has a depth of 3 metes alongside at HW but dries to almost -2.00 metres as does its approaches almost a mile from the quay. With MHWS 4.4m MHWN 3.4m, this makes it the domain of moderate draft vessels that can take to the bottom and prepared to access the quay at HW ± 2 hours.


Convergance Point Offshore details are available in western Ireland’s coastal overview for Slyne Head to Erris Head Route location.


The white beacon on Fishing Point and Clifden Castle
Image: Graham Rabbits


Initial fix location The initial fix is the initial approach to Clifden Bay on the alignment of 080°T of a white beacon on Fishing Point and Clifden Castle. It leads in between the conspicuous Carrickrana Rocks and Mweem More, then to the south of Coghan's Rocks and north of Doolick Rock, as best seen on Admiralty Chart 2708.


The entrance to Clifden Bay as seen from the north shore
Image: © Roger Harrison


Clifden Castle may be difficult to pick out as it is a ruined grey building not easily distinguished from a distance. Break off the transit as Clifden Bay is approached, between Errislannan Point and Fahy Point, taking a central path. Then steer up the bay toward 'Double Rock' beacon at the entrance to the Owenglin River estuary.


Clifden Castle and the tidal inlet leading up to Clifden
Image: Tourism Ireland


This inlet running up to the quay is narrow, almost a mile long and dries almost throughout its length. The channel passes south of two prominent white and unlit stone beacons, 'Double Rock' and then 'Long Rock' at its entrance. Long Rock which dries to 4 metres close north of its beacon has a general rule of thum that there is at least 1.8 metres in the channel when it covers.

Leave 'Double Rock' beacon close to port, and then arc a little to starboard when steering for the 'Long Rock' Beacon to avoid a shallow area encroaching on a direct path. Then steer for a conspicuous white house on the north shore above an old stone quay.


The rounded conical navigation beacons approaching the town with the traing wall just visible
Image: © Roger Harrison


Rounded conical navigation beacons indicate navigable channel at high tide as the town quay is approached. Beware of a ruined training wall extending westward from the southern shore and then, from Black Rock, the channel and flanking training wall to starboard bends northwards towards the quay. Two conical beacons will be seen on the shore and one marking the northern end of the training wall.

Clifden Quay as seen from the southern shore
Image: Tourism Ireland


Haven location The Quay is an 'L' shaped battered quay wall built in the early part of the 19th-century. It runs northeast/southwest and turning to run north-south at its southern end. Walls of roughly dressed limestone blocks, with coping and steps of limestone with painted granite bollards set back from front edge of the quay, and some modern concrete bollards. Pick a place to dry out against the quay, there is usually ample space.
Please note

If the quay is too much trouble it is possible to anchor off outside Clifden Boat Club on the approaches and make the provioning run by dinghy.




Why visit here?
Clifden derives its name from the Irish words An Clochan, meaning 'bee-hive cell'. This is a small free-standing stone dwelling, circular in shape, constructed of stone and corbelled until it closes at the top, usually associated with hermits and monks. It is thought one must have been located on the Owenglen River where it flows into Clifden Bay.

Clifden Town
Image: Tourism Ireland


Clifden is the largest town in the province of western Galway called Connemara and is often referred to as the capital of the province. Connemara is a wild and moody that is regarded as the scenic jewel in Ireland's crown. The area has a strong association with traditional Irish culture and contains a major part of the Connacht Irish-speaking Gaeltacht, which is a key part of the identity of the region and is the largest Gaeltacht in the country. Most of Connemara was once owned by Colonel Richard Martin (15 January 1754 – 6 January 1834), an Irish politician and campaigner against cruelty to animals whose family held some of the biggest estates in all Ireland.

Trial of Bill Burns, showing Richard Martin with a donkey
Image: Public Domain
Martin's home was the 18th-century Ballynahinch Castle that stands above a small Lough some 8 miles (13 km) to the east. As a young man, he had a reputation as something of a hothead, earning the nickname of 'Hairtrigger Dick'. Most of his duels were fought over the maltreatment of animals in 1783 he was seriously wounded in a pistol duel with a Mayo landlord who had shot dead a dog.

Martin believed that all animals had feelings and awareness and that abusing them was akin to abusing humans. He finally turned to the law famously succeeding in bringing Bill Burns to justice for animal mistreatment which was the world's first known conviction for animal cruelty, a story that delighted London's newspapers and music halls at the time. He then succeeded in getting the pioneering Cruel Treatment of Cattle Act 1822, nicknamed 'Martin's Act', passed into British law which was the world's first animal rights bill. He was renamed 'Humanity Dick' by King George IV in recognition of his efforts. Two years later he founded the society for the 'Prevention of Cruelty to Animals', which became the RSPCA. He died unrecognised and bankrupted by his efforts, but was much admired in his day in France.

Early Clifden
Image: Public Domain


The town of Clifden was founded in 1812 by John D'Arcy a local landowner in an attempt to tame the wilderness and provide work. Clifden Castle, which he built circa 1810, was his residence. The quay was designed by Alexander Nimmo and started as a relief work in 1822 on the insistence of J D Arcy, but not completed until 1831. Formerly used for trade, this intact quayside is now used by pleasure craft and fishing boats. John D’Arcy died in 1839. At the time of his death, John’s ambition had been achieved. Clifden was then the headquarters for the coastguard and police force for the district. It had a bridewell and before long there would be a courthouse and workhouse. The town was thriving and the economic benefits to the region were becoming clear as more land in the neighbourhood was brought under cultivation and agricultural production increased to supply the growing market.

Marconi wireless station buildings circa 1907
Image: Courtesy of The Marconi Company
In the early 1900's Clifden gained prominence when Marconi built his first high power transatlantic long wave telegraphy station 6km south of the town. The siting was to minimize the distance to its sister station in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia and the first point-to-point fixed wireless service, connecting Europe and North America, opened for public service with a transmission in October 1907. It was large complex for this rural backwater including a huge condenser house building, a powerhouse with its 6 boilers, and the massive aerial system consisting of 8 wooden masts, each 65 metres high extending eastwards over the hill for a distance of 0.5 kilometres. The aerials gave off sparks which could be heard in the distance, indicative of the huge power and voltages involved 150KW at 15,000 volts. The complex was seriously damaged during the Irish Civil War and it ceased operations in July 1922.

Alcock and Brown's plane after the crash landing
Image: United States Public Domain


Before that, the site played another part in transatlantic history when on the 15th June 1919 Alcock and Brown flew their failing Vickers Vimy aircraft over the Marconi Wireless Station unsuccessfully trying to attract attention. They then headed for Clifden where they circled around the town and were observed by a number of townspeople. Hoping to find a suitable landing site they returned to the Marconi Station and mistook Derrygimla Bog, just south of Clifden, for a smooth green landing strip. Although the nose of the plane sunk into the bog neither Alcock nor Brown suffered serious injury and their place in aviation history of making the first transatlantic flight was secured.


Clifend Quay at sunset
Image: © Roger Harrison


From a boating perspective, the safe and sheltered tidal harbour is a five-minute walk from the town centre the best town to provisioning along this coast. It and has the reputation of being one of Ireland 's most picturesque harbours, and one that sailors should make a point of dropping into on a cruise of the west coast of Ireland. What is particularly attractive about Clifden is the choice of very good berthing opportunities it offers, such as drying out at the quay or anchoring off Clifden Boat Club on the approaches in the bay, or entering Ardbear Bay and anchoring to the south of Yellow Slate Rocks. These and many others in the locality make it a cruising destination.


What facilities are available?
All fresh provisions and stores can be obtained at Clifden and it also has an internet cafe. The town's wide variety of interesting shops and supermarkets make it the best point to stock up in this part of the coast. A jetty in the river below the supermarket, accessible by dinghy near high water, further facilitates this. This together with lots of bars and restaurants within the town all help to make Clifden a really worthwhile destination.

Fuel and Lube oil available in drums from Clifden town and tanker deliveries to Clifden quay. Some spares and mechanical repair available locally. Clifden has good bus access to both Westport and Galway for onward rail travel.


With thanks to:
eOceanic


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
























Views across Clifden Bay shows the outstanding beauty of the area




The history of Clifden




Dolphin Beach in Clifden Bay.



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Add your review or comment:


Paul Harrison wrote this review on Sep 14th 2015:

Mooring off Clifden Bay SC @6.50 a night in 2015. Very friendly club, bar food available. toilets and shower in club.

Average Rating: Unrated


Guy Adams wrote this review on Jun 28th 2016:

Clifden Boat Club serves great food, very helpful staff

Average Rating: Unrated

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