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Kilbaha Bay

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Overview





Kilbaha is situated on the west coast of Ireland in Co. Clare, immediately east of Loop Head, and the northern extremity of the Shannon estuary. It offers an anchorage near the drying pier of a small village, where vessels that can take to the ground may come alongside provided space is available.

Kilbaha is situated on the west coast of Ireland in Co. Clare, immediately east of Loop Head, and the northern extremity of the Shannon estuary. It offers an anchorage near the drying pier of a small village, where vessels that can take to the ground may come alongside provided space is available.

Kilbaha is a good anchorage in offshore winds from west to northeast. It is open to southerly component winds and especially so to south-easterly conditions that send a stiff short seaway into the bay. Drying boats may secure shelter from all quarters behind the pier if a berth is available. Attentive navigation is required for access as, although there are no off-lying obstacles, there are no lights or marks and the shoreline of the bay is fringed by sunken ledges. Hence a stranger should only approach in offshore winds with the benefit of good visibility.
Please note

Lobster pots may be encountered in the inner part of the bay. Holding in the anchorage is not the best and it can be subject to swell and tidal eddies. Small lobster boats usually occupy the alongside berths and in unsettled weather, nearby Carrigaholt would be a better location.




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Keyfacts for Kilbaha Bay



Last modified
May 16th 2018

Summary* Restrictions apply

A good location with attentive navigation required for access.

Facilities
Water available via tapTop up fuel available in the area via jerry cansShop with basic provisions availableHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationPost Office in the areaBus service available in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationRemote or quiet secluded locationAnchoring locationJetty 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
Restriction: shallow, drying or partially drying pier



Position and approaches
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Haven position

52° 34.125' N, 009° 51.677' W

This is the head of Kilbaha pier situated in the northwest corner of the bay.

What is the initial fix?

The following Kilbaha Bay initial fix will set up a final approach:
52° 33.500' N, 009° 50.700' W
This is set outside the middle of the bay. From here a course of 320 °(T) for three quarters of a mile will take a vessel to the anchoring position.


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. The forty-three-mile run-up the River Shannon, from the entrance to Limerick City, are detailed in the River Shannon Overview Route location.


Not what you need?
Try our Advanced Havens Search tool to find locations with the specific attributes you need, or click the 'Next', coastal clockwise, or 'Previous', coastal anti-clockwise, buttons to progress through neighbouring havens. Below are the ten nearest havens to Kilbaha Bay for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line distance
  1. Ross Bay - 0.7 miles NNW
  2. Carrigaholt Bay - 3.9 miles ENE
  3. Kilkee - 6.4 miles NE
  4. Hog Island - 8.5 miles ENE
  5. Kilrush - 8.6 miles ENE
  6. Illauntannig - 9.7 miles SSW
  7. Doonbeg - 9.7 miles NE
  8. Barrow Harbour - 10.1 miles S
  9. Scraggane Bay - 10.4 miles SSW
  10. Fenit Harbour - 11.1 miles S
Ten nearest havens by straight line distance
  1. Ross Bay - 0.7 miles NNW
  2. Carrigaholt Bay - 3.9 miles ENE
  3. Kilkee - 6.4 miles NE
  4. Hog Island - 8.5 miles ENE
  5. Kilrush - 8.6 miles ENE
  6. Illauntannig - 9.7 miles SSW
  7. Doonbeg - 9.7 miles NE
  8. Barrow Harbour - 10.1 miles S
  9. Scraggane Bay - 10.4 miles SSW
  10. Fenit Harbour - 11.1 miles S
Alternatively the above can be ordered by compass direction or coastal sequence




How to get in?
Kilbaha shoreline
Image: Brian Fagan


Kilbaha Bay is situated three miles inside Loop Head. It is a fair weather haven where holding is poor and it is sheltered in winds from west around to northeast but is exposed to swell from the southeast. The small fishing village of the same name stands on the hill immediately above.


The extremity of the Loop Head Peninsula with Loop Head lighthouse in view
Image: Tourism Ireland


North Western Approach Vessels approaching Kilbaha from the north and west will have the Loop Head lighthouse as a conspicuous mark; a white 23-metre high tower at an elevation of 84 metres. It is situated 500 metres within the extremity of Loop Head that terminates in a 55-metre high precipice.

Loop Head - Lighthouse Fl (4) 20s, 23M position: 52° 33.672’N, 009° 55.938’W

Please note

Rough seas can be experienced in the Loop Head area and it should be given a wide berth.




South Eastern Approach Vessels approaching from the south and east will also see the Ballybunion North Cardinal situated about 5.5 miles east by southeast of Loop Head. It marks the mouth of the Shannon.

Ballybunion - North Cardinal Lt Buoy VQ Fl. 6m position: 52° 32.528’N, 009° 46.944’W

Kilbaha Bay is located on the southern shoreline of the Loop Head Peninsula about midway between these marks. It is situated between Kilbaha Cliff on the west and Kilcloher Head, located 2.5 miles to the east. The quay is situated on the west side of the bay.

Initial fix location From the Kilbaha Bay initial fix steering a course of 320° T for ¾ of a mile will take a vessel into the anchoring position off the pier. The bay has submerged rocky ledges on either side so it is advisable to maintain a central track all the way in and take soundings as the vessel approaches the anchoring position.


Kilbaha shoreline and pier
Image: Brian Fagan


Haven location The anchoring area is in depths of 4 metres with the quay bearing 250°T. Holding in the bay is not especially good so expect to work the anchor in. Land at the pier or on its adjacent slipway.

The pier dries out beyond its head and has a sandy bottom at its inner end. Halfway along the inner face of the pier, alongside the first bollard out from the root, it dries to 1.4 metres LWS. Pier berths are difficult to come by owing to the level of lobster boat activity in the area. However, if space should present itself it is possible for vessels to temporarily berth alongside.
Note; vessels should not be left unattended and be ready to move so as not to impede fishing operations.

Vessels alongside the pier can secure shelter from southeast winds but in bad weather, a swell enters the bay causing a run along the pier.
Please note

The bottom steeply shelves from the pier in Kilbaha, and also a small stream tends to wash the sand out from beneath the keels of vessels taking to the hard. These, individually and in combination, can cause boats to fall away from the pier. It is advised that vessels planning to take to the ground here should induce a list towards the quay when securing the yacht and take the added precaution of bringing a halliard ashore.




Why visit here?
Kilbaha derives its name from the Gaeilge or Irish language name of Cill Bheathach that translates to ‘church of the round hill’.

The pier was set in place as Kilbaha was exiting the Famine, and constructed by the Fishery Board to land seaweed for fertilising the nearby land it proved a great benefit to local farmers. Turf that was cut in the vicinity was found to be of a superior quality and sent to Limerick from the quay.

At this time an interesting battle of wills surrounding the need for a village church was being played out between the people of the area and the landlord. In the 1850's the Loop Head Peninsula population then numbered 8,000 of which many were dying from Cholera. In that year a priest by the name of Father Michael Meehan was sent to help the dying victims and to give them the Last Sacrament. However, the celebration of Mass was prohibited in West Clare and the local landlord was actively enforcing the conversion of the local populace to Protestantism. Several schools were built to teach the Protestant faith and, in the days following the famine, attendance was incentivised by providing food to the children if they joined.

Although Kilbaha derived its name from the site of an early church there was at this time no church in the area. Moreover, there was not going to be one because the landlord would not permit their land to be used for a site. Undaunted Father Meehan acquired two adjoining houses in the village of Kilbaha. Knocking the two together into one he created a structure that he used for Mass. But this was halted very quickly by the local landlord who evicted him from the premises in little more than a month. The priest was then reduced to using improvised tents in which to hold services but which proved useless in bad weather.

Against this backdrop of persecution, Father Meehan came up with the idea of a small mobile church. He believed that if he could construct a suitable structure he could bring it to the Kilbaha shore and position it below the high tide mark. This part of the shore, between the high tide and low water, was in English law considered noman's land and the only position where the harsh property laws could not be enforced. In 1852 a Carrigaholt carpenter was commissioned to build the portable box, which resembled a bathing hut on wheels, and the completed carriage was drawn in a triumphal procession from Carrigaholt to Kilbaha. Father Meehan used the box, or ‘The Little Ark’, as it became known, to say Mass.

‘The Little Ark’ drew congregations exceeding three hundred people to the foreshore at Kilbaha every Sunday. There they would kneel in prayer, in all weathers, around the Ark. The news spread and it soon began to attract attention drawing visitors to the area to witness the phenomenon. All who came to see this sight were confounded and amazed. Confounded to see as a result of landlord intolerance, a quarter of a century after the passing of Emancipation, the Catholics of west Clare could not get a site for a church; and amazed to see the lengths to which the people went to practice their religion. This Mass ceremony on the shores of Kilbaha Bay continued unfalteringly for four years.

Eventually, after many false starts, a suitable site for a church was begrudgingly conceded to the priest in 1857. The foundation stone for Kilbaha’s Moneen Church, 'Our Lady, Star of the Sea', was laid that year. On the day of the church’s dedication, the Mass was celebrated in the Ark before a crowd of three thousand people. The Little Ark was finally placed inside the completed church and remains there to this day, housed in a specially built annexe. The extraordinary Father Meehan died on the 24th of January 1878 after spending his last remaining years working in the parish.

Today Kilbaha is a rural but well-utilised lobster fishing pier with a well-frequented bar, in the centre of the bay. Surrounded by the waters of the Atlantic and River Shannon, and on a clear day, with the mountains of Kerry easily visible to the south, it is a place of unspoilt natural beauty. It is the ideal location for a visiting boat to visit the Loop Head peninsula which is one of Ireland’s most wildly beautiful locations and a best-kept secret.

From a boating perspective, Kilbaha Bay is an ideal location for a vessel to await a tide to enter the Shannon and approach it along the calmer northern shore of the estuary. It likewise makes for an ideal location for northbound leisure vessels to take shelter from northerly component winds to await a better window. Furthermore, it is very much a straight-in-and-out location, providing a very convenient offshore wind lunch stop for vessels making passage along this coast.


What facilities are available?
The pier has a slipway plus a fresh water tap. There is an excellent pub standing conspicuously a short walk away on the shoreline in the middle of the bay. A small village, to the west side of the bay, has the typical facilities you would expect to support its small domestic population of less than 500 people. A shop with basic provisions, a pub, post office plus a petrol pump can be found there.

Situated near the end of the Loop Head peninsula Kilbaha is far away from major roads. The N67 is the closest situated 25 kilometres east of the village. The closest village is Kilkee, with a population in excess of 1300, situated on the N67 road at the north east of Kilbaha, to which there is a daily bus service. On Saturday’s only, there is a service to Limerick.


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


With thanks to:
Anthony Lucey, Area Officer, Irish Coast Guard Kilkee.


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












A panoramic view of Kilbaha Bay




A series of still shots of Kilbaha and the surrounding area


About Kilbaha Bay

Kilbaha derives its name from the Gaeilge or Irish language name of Cill Bheathach that translates to ‘church of the round hill’.

The pier was set in place as Kilbaha was exiting the Famine, and constructed by the Fishery Board to land seaweed for fertilising the nearby land it proved a great benefit to local farmers. Turf that was cut in the vicinity was found to be of a superior quality and sent to Limerick from the quay.

At this time an interesting battle of wills surrounding the need for a village church was being played out between the people of the area and the landlord. In the 1850's the Loop Head Peninsula population then numbered 8,000 of which many were dying from Cholera. In that year a priest by the name of Father Michael Meehan was sent to help the dying victims and to give them the Last Sacrament. However, the celebration of Mass was prohibited in West Clare and the local landlord was actively enforcing the conversion of the local populace to Protestantism. Several schools were built to teach the Protestant faith and, in the days following the famine, attendance was incentivised by providing food to the children if they joined.

Although Kilbaha derived its name from the site of an early church there was at this time no church in the area. Moreover, there was not going to be one because the landlord would not permit their land to be used for a site. Undaunted Father Meehan acquired two adjoining houses in the village of Kilbaha. Knocking the two together into one he created a structure that he used for Mass. But this was halted very quickly by the local landlord who evicted him from the premises in little more than a month. The priest was then reduced to using improvised tents in which to hold services but which proved useless in bad weather.

Against this backdrop of persecution, Father Meehan came up with the idea of a small mobile church. He believed that if he could construct a suitable structure he could bring it to the Kilbaha shore and position it below the high tide mark. This part of the shore, between the high tide and low water, was in English law considered noman's land and the only position where the harsh property laws could not be enforced. In 1852 a Carrigaholt carpenter was commissioned to build the portable box, which resembled a bathing hut on wheels, and the completed carriage was drawn in a triumphal procession from Carrigaholt to Kilbaha. Father Meehan used the box, or ‘The Little Ark’, as it became known, to say Mass.

‘The Little Ark’ drew congregations exceeding three hundred people to the foreshore at Kilbaha every Sunday. There they would kneel in prayer, in all weathers, around the Ark. The news spread and it soon began to attract attention drawing visitors to the area to witness the phenomenon. All who came to see this sight were confounded and amazed. Confounded to see as a result of landlord intolerance, a quarter of a century after the passing of Emancipation, the Catholics of west Clare could not get a site for a church; and amazed to see the lengths to which the people went to practice their religion. This Mass ceremony on the shores of Kilbaha Bay continued unfalteringly for four years.

Eventually, after many false starts, a suitable site for a church was begrudgingly conceded to the priest in 1857. The foundation stone for Kilbaha’s Moneen Church, 'Our Lady, Star of the Sea', was laid that year. On the day of the church’s dedication, the Mass was celebrated in the Ark before a crowd of three thousand people. The Little Ark was finally placed inside the completed church and remains there to this day, housed in a specially built annexe. The extraordinary Father Meehan died on the 24th of January 1878 after spending his last remaining years working in the parish.

Today Kilbaha is a rural but well-utilised lobster fishing pier with a well-frequented bar, in the centre of the bay. Surrounded by the waters of the Atlantic and River Shannon, and on a clear day, with the mountains of Kerry easily visible to the south, it is a place of unspoilt natural beauty. It is the ideal location for a visiting boat to visit the Loop Head peninsula which is one of Ireland’s most wildly beautiful locations and a best-kept secret.

From a boating perspective, Kilbaha Bay is an ideal location for a vessel to await a tide to enter the Shannon and approach it along the calmer northern shore of the estuary. It likewise makes for an ideal location for northbound leisure vessels to take shelter from northerly component winds to await a better window. Furthermore, it is very much a straight-in-and-out location, providing a very convenient offshore wind lunch stop for vessels making passage along this coast.

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:
Ross Bay - 0.7 miles NNW
Kilkee - 6.4 miles NE
Doonbeg - 9.7 miles NE
Mutton Island - 12 miles NE
Seafield (Quilty) - 12.3 miles NE
Coastal anti-clockwise:
Carrigaholt Bay - 3.9 miles ENE
Kilrush - 8.6 miles ENE
Hog Island - 8.5 miles ENE
Limerick Docks - 27.7 miles E
Askeaton - 19.8 miles E

Navigational pictures


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












A panoramic view of Kilbaha Bay




A series of still shots of Kilbaha and the surrounding area



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