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Kilmakilloge Harbour

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Overview





Kilmakilloge Harbour is a large inlet on the southwest coast of Ireland, on the south bank of the Kenmare River and the north shore of the Beara Peninsula. It is situated 11 miles west of the large town of Kenmare and to the east of Ardgroom Harbour. It offers a choice of anchorages with a small hamlet and pier at the head of the inlet.

Kilmakilloge Harbour is a large inlet on the southwest coast of Ireland, on the south bank of the Kenmare River and the north shore of the Beara Peninsula. It is situated 11 miles west of the large town of Kenmare and to the east of Ardgroom Harbour. It offers a choice of anchorages with a small hamlet and pier at the head of the inlet.

The harbour with its variety of options offers excellent anchorages with good shelter and protection from all conditions. It offers safe access in all reasonable conditions at any stage of the tide night or day but with some care when operating within the harbour area.
Please note

There are extensive aquafarms in the harbour area.




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Keyfacts for Kilmakilloge Harbour
Facilities
Water available via tapGas availableTop up fuel available in the area via jerry cansShop with basic provisions availableShore based toilet facilitiesShowers available in the vicinity or by arrangementHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationPost Office in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationRemote or quiet secluded locationAnchoring locationBeach or shoreline landing from a tenderScenic 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 pierNote: fish farming activity in the vicinity of this location

Protected sectors

Current wind over the protected quadrants
Minimum depth
4 metres (13.12 feet).

Approaches
3 stars: Attentive navigation; daylight access with dangers that need attention.
Shelter
4 stars: Good; assured night's sleep except from specific quarters.



Last modified
February 8th 2022

Summary* Restrictions apply

A good location with attentive navigation required for access.

Facilities
Water available via tapGas availableTop up fuel available in the area via jerry cansShop with basic provisions availableShore based toilet facilitiesShowers available in the vicinity or by arrangementHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationPost Office in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationRemote or quiet secluded locationAnchoring locationBeach or shoreline landing from a tenderScenic 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 pierNote: fish farming activity in the vicinity of this location



Position and approaches
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Haven position

51° 46.024' N, 009° 50.400' W

This is on the 5-metre contour in the southwest end of Collorus Harbour the most secure of Kilmakilloge Harbour's recognised anchorages.

What is the initial fix?

The following Kilmakilloge Harbour Initial Fix will set up a final approach:
51° 47.020' N, 009° 50.354' W
Immediately outside the entrance setting up a midway approach between Collorus Point and Laughaun Point.


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.

  • Take a mid-course between Laughaun Point, on the northeast shore, and the unnamed outer head of Collorus Point opposite.

  • Pass the Book buoy close on its correct side.

  • Break off to the chosen anchoring location.


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 Kilmakilloge Harbour for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Ardgroom Harbour - 1.6 nautical miles WSW
  2. Sneem Harbour - 3.3 nautical miles NW
  3. Ormond's Harbour - 4.7 nautical miles NE
  4. Ballycrovane Harbour - 5.4 nautical miles SW
  5. Adrigole - 6.7 nautical miles SE
  6. Mill Cove - 6.8 nautical miles S
  7. Castletownbere (Castletown Bearhaven) - 7.4 nautical miles SSW
  8. Lonehort Harbour - 7.9 nautical miles SSE
  9. Lawrence Cove - 8 nautical miles S
  10. West Cove - 8 nautical miles W
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Ardgroom Harbour - 1.6 miles WSW
  2. Sneem Harbour - 3.3 miles NW
  3. Ormond's Harbour - 4.7 miles NE
  4. Ballycrovane Harbour - 5.4 miles SW
  5. Adrigole - 6.7 miles SE
  6. Mill Cove - 6.8 miles S
  7. Castletownbere (Castletown Bearhaven) - 7.4 miles SSW
  8. Lonehort Harbour - 7.9 miles SSE
  9. Lawrence Cove - 8 miles S
  10. West Cove - 8 miles W
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?
Kilmakilloge Harbour as seen from the east
Image: Michael Harpur


Lying close to the east of Ardgroom, Kilmakilloge Harbour provides perfect security for leisure vessels against all winds in a beautiful setting. Its position is easily recognised from its proximity to Ardgroom and a grassy precipice on the east side of the entrance.

Kilmakilloge Harbour as seen from the southwest
Image: Michael Harpur


Although appearing very spacious the harbour is restricted by a number of shoals so some pilotage is required. Likewise, as is the case with most all the sheltered harbours around the Beara Peninsula, they all have an element of aquaculture and this is very much the case here. The area to the south of the entrance is dominated by mussel farms but they do not impede access to the harbour's principal anchorages and are easily circumvented.


Bunaw Pier in the north end of Kilmakilloge Harbour
Image: Michael Harpur


The harbour has the mall hamlet of Bunaw on its north shore that has some limited facilities, including a good pub and excellent seafood but apart from that this is very much a natural reserve.


Bunaw Harbour and pier as seen at low water
Image: Michael Harpur


Kilmakilloge Harbour is popular with leisure craft on account of its natural beauty and perfect shelter. The spacious harbour has ample nooks and crannies with long, thin islets and inlets where a yacht could find a wide range of berthing locations and ample to explore. The four broadly recognised locations all offer additional protection from various wind quadrants and are as follows:

  • • Collorus Harbour in its southwestern arm, offers best protection from southerly / south-westerly winds.

  • • Bunaw Harbour to the north, offers best protection from all northerly component winds.

  • • Escadawer Point, offers best protection from all northerly component winds
  • • Carrigwee Islet in the eastern arm, offers best protection from southerly / south-westerly and easterly component winds.

The small hamlet of Bunaw
Image: Michael Harpur


All of the anchorages are easily addressed, despite the many mussel farms, have ample water and are reasonably protected as a whole with the most secure anchorage of them all being in Collorus Harbour.


How to get in?
The entrance as seen from the south
Image: Michael Harpur


Convergance Point Use Ireland’s coastal overview for Mizen Head to Loop Head Route location for seaward approaches and the the run-up the Kenmare River. Collorus Head divides Kilmakilloge Harbour from its near neighbour Ardgroom 1½ miles to the southwest. The harbour can usually be identified by a 52 metres high grassy precipice on the northeast side of the entrance.


The entrance to Kilmakilloge Harbour as seen over Laughan Point
Image: Michael Harpur


The outer entrance to the harbour is a ½ mile wide and lies between Laughaun Point on the northeast shore and an unnamed outer head of Collorus Point on the southwest side. The entrance then narrows to about a ¼ of a mile between the rocks extending out 200 metres from Collorus Point and the Book Rocks, which dry and extend a ¼ of a mile from the grassy cliff on the northwest shore. When proceeding into the harbour, keep a sharp eye out for lines extending from the mussel floats and unassociated fishing pots in the open channels.

Book Rocks is marked by a port buoy that may simply be passed close on its correct side to avoid all these dangers and enter the habour.

Book Rocks - Port Lateral Buoy Fl(2)R.10s position: 51 46.671’N, 49.699’W


Bunaw Harbour and pier
Image: Michael Harpur


Haven location Bunnaw Harbour is set into a rocky cove on the northeast side of Kilmakilloge Harbour. It derives partial shelter from a spit of boulders named Cush and Cushkeal extending southeastward from the grassy precise.


Front black and yellow pole on the head of the pier
Image: Michael Harpur


The entrance to Bunaw Harbour is marked by Cuskeal port buoy, Fl.R.5s, moored close to the mussel rafts 100 metres to the southwest. Pass between the buoy and the rafts and then steer into the pier on the 041° T alignment of the yellow poles at the head and the root of the pier. At night the front Oc.R.3s.9m, rear Iso.R.2s.11m.


The approach to Bunaw with the Cuskeal ridge just visible
Image: Michael Harpur


This leads in between the drying rocky spit of boulders called Cushkeal on the west and the Battle Spit on the other side.


The anchorage in the middle of Bunaw Cove
Image: Michael Harpur


The middle of Bunaw Cove has 3 to 4 metres. Keep just outside the moorings and about 100 metres from the pier because of rocks. The pier head has 3 metres at high water and 0.8 metres LAT to the north of the steps. The bottom is clean and gravelly and suitable for vessels that can take to the bottom to dry but keep the steps clear.


Bunaw Pier
Image: Michael Harpur


A good deal of sea however runs into the harbour area with northwest winds creating a heavy sea, especially at high water. During these times better shelter will be found elsewhere in the harbour.


Collorus Harbour in the western arm of the harbour
Image: Michael Harpur


The most secure anchorage is found in the western arm of the harbour, called Collorus Harbour, but the entrance to it is somewhat impeded by an extensive section of mussel rafts. These lie to the west of Spanish Island. Spanish Island is a low flat bank of large stones, surmounted by a mound of grass-topped clay about 4 metres high, that stands on the southeast end of this shoal.


Steer southward from the Book buoy in the entrance
Image: Michael Harpur


Steer southward from Brook Rock buoy for ¼ of a mile to the head of the section of mussel rafts. Then skirt around it to pass into the channel that lies between it and Collorus headland and proceed into the southwest end of the harbour.


Skirt the mussel rafts to pass into Collorus Harbour (left)
Image: Michael Harpur


Anchor anywhere from where the boat slip, backed by a large corrugated iron shed, will be seen on the Collorus headlands inner shore. Ensure the anchor is well dug in as the holding can be made unreliable by a weedy bottom.


Collorus Harbour's disused slip that leads to the road
Image: Michael Harpur


Land on the disused boat slip with the head that leads to the road - take care not to mistake it for the private jetty westward. There are no other facilities here.


The southeastern arm of Kilmakilloge Harbour
Image: Michael Harpur


The southeast arm of Kilmakilloge shoals gradually towards the head, offering another opportunity to anchor in great security in ample water. The south end of this area of water is now occupied by mussel rafts but they're easily avoided by skirting along their northern perimeter to pass down between them and anchor between the easternmost of the rafts and Carrigwee.


The eastern arm of the harbour is exceptionally pretty
Image: Michael Harpur


Carrigwee is located a little over ¼ of a mile north of Doorus Point and is the outer end of a reef extending from the eastern shore that dries to 3.4 metres. Anchor in 3 to 4 metres between the rafts and Carrigwee. A dinghy landing may be made near the road bridge southeast of Derreen when the tide is up. 1½ miles to the east at Lauragh there is a shop, a couple of pubs that do meals and fuel is also available.


Escadawer Point on the southern shore
Image: Michael Harpur


It is also possible to pass between these eastern harbour rafts to pass within Eskadawer Point. It is possible to anchor in 1.5 to 3 metres here. Stand well of Eskadawer Point as it is foul out to 200 metres northeastward. A small white perch reportedly marks the extremity of a reef off the point but do not rely on it being in place. There is also a rock with 1.8 metres LAT that lies close north of this situated now on the corner of the mussel rafts. So stand well clear of the rafts and take a central path on approach.


View from the south end of the inlet within Eskadawer Point
Image: Giles P Croft


Take care if proceeding beyond the 2-metre contour as another dangerous rock lies at the head of the inlet near the shore that is awash at high water.


Why visit here?
Kilmakilloge, pronounced 'Kilmacilow' with an emphasis on 'mac', takes its name from St Kilian. St Kilian is the anglicised form, and his name is spelt in a bewildering variety of ways such as Cilline, Céle, Ceallan, Ceallach, Ceallachán, Caoinleán. Some of which are seemingly unrelated such as the diminutive (pet name) 'Mocheallóg' which is most important in this case. For it is from the saints pet name that the harbour takes its name Cill Mocheallóg, which means 'the church of Mocheallóg'.

Depiction of St Kilian
Image: Public Domain
St Kilian is traditionally believed to have been born about 640 AD in Cloughbally as part of the Gailenga people who lived and ruled in East Cavan and North Meath. He received religious training at the Rosscarbery monastery founded by St Fachtna in the fourth century. It was after this that he founded his own monastery here in Kilmakilloge Harbour giving the harbour his name.

But this achievement would not be the end of St Kilian rather only the commencement of his remarkable story. For Kilian was a frontier man, a pioneer whose mission, like St Patrick in Ireland and St Colmcille, was to extend the frontiers of Christianity. So in his monastery, he trained his fellow monks for pilgrimage and laid plans for one of the greatest ever undertaken from the shores of Ireland.

From Kilmakilloge, Kilian and twelve companions, their heads tonsured in the traditional fashion of the Irish monks, set sail on their mission in the west coast's traditional hide-covered boat. Their journey finally brought them to Rome where Pope Conan directed them to preach Christianity in the province of Franconia, in Germany, where the influence of the earlier Barbarian invasion was still felt. So he and his monks travelled up the Rhine and the Main rivers and eventually arrived at Wurzburg in the year 686. Here he set about converting the local pagans including Duke Gosbert who was the ruler of the locality.


The reliquary of St Kilian, Colmán and Totnan in Würzburg Cathedral
Image: José Luiz via ASA 4.0


Before he allowed the Duke to be baptised and converted to Christianity, Kilian insisted he give up his wife, Geliana, who was the Duke’s dead brother’s widow. She was less than thrilled and ordered that Kilian be killed. And so it was, whilst at prayer, Kilian along with two companions, Colmán and Totana, were beheaded and their bodies secretly buried. But their martyrdom caused outrage and a public fast was held in honour of the monks. Shortly after Duke Gosbert converted to Christianity and was followed by most of his people making Kilian and his monk's mission a success. The heads of the three monks were recovered and encased in a beautiful reliquary of cut rock crystal, their skulls studded with precious jewels, which became an object of devotion.


Kilmakilloge Harbour
Image: Tourism Ireland


Every year since, on the 8th July, the reliquary containing the heads is solemnly brought up from the Wurzburg Cathedral's crypt. It is processed through the streets, ending back in the cathedral where it is displayed during the two weeks dedicated to the saint. Irish President Michael D Higgins joined in the festivities in 2019.


Sheep taking in the vista over Kilmakilloge Harbour
Image: Michael Harpur


Today his place of departure could be described as an earthly paradise providing a boater with the most extraordinary vistas. Tucked in behind green pastures, the rolling brown hills to the north and the high broken summits of Caher mountains to southward make for a magnificent boundary. Many of the hills run into the bay forming bold headlands whose forms and tints vary as the vessel passes through the bay.


The mountains that form the southern boundary to the harbour
Image: Michael Harpur


The ranges form part of the 128-mile Beara Way long-distance walking route circling around the Beara Peninsula that is dotted with stone circles and the remains of old ring forts. It is reputed to be the most scenic trail in all of Ireland and those interested in joining it could not enter it at a point with memorable vistas. For those more interested in simply stretching their legs there are plenty of short marked trails and paths along Kilmakilloge Harbour taking anything from thirty minutes to two hours, including where a belvedere affords fine views across to the Iveragh Peninsula.


Yachts in Kilmakilloge Harbour
Image: Tourism Ireland


For those looking for a tamer experience, there are the Derreen Gardens which are woodland gardens that run down to the water's edge on the eastern end of Kilmakilloge Harbour. They were planted over a hundred years ago by Henry Petty-Fitzmaurice the 5th Lord Landsdowne in the grounds of his residence. The fabulously wealthy and politically impeccable member of the Victorian Society inherited the property in 1866. He was a First Lord of the Treasury, a Governor of Canada, a Viceroy of India in his time. With such an active work life he was drawn to the remoteness of the harbour area. He personally supervised alterations to Derreen House in 1870 and began to use Derreen as their summer residence. Thereafter he employed 40 people to transform the bare rock and scrub oak around the house into a luxuriant woodland garden. Here he brought delicate things from all over the world and watched them thrive due to the mild temperatures experienced in this region thanks to the effects of the gulf stream.


Helen's Pub a much loved watering hole that serves excellent seafood.
Image: Michael Harpur


Today the garden is still owned by the descendants of Sir William Petty and it covers more than 60 acres that are connected by nearly 12 km of paths. Open daily 10 am – 6 pm these paths take visitors past a wealth of sub-tropical plants and trees, and you can take one of the planned walks through the glades of eucalyptus, giant blue gums and massive stands of bamboo and wonder at the 140ft high giant red cedars. Azaleas and rhododendrons abound the entire area and groves of New Zealand tree ferns. Of the many walks, the outer ring called the Broad Walk is the easiest and features views out over the bay.


The view from the benches just outside Helen's Bar
Image: Michael Harpur


From a boating perspective, Kilmakilloge Harbour offers a choice of anchorages that can offer perfect security from all winds, in a perfectly beautiful location. There are limited provisioning capabilities but Bunaw's pub has long been a favourite watering hole for Irish sailors who quench their thirst whists making best advantage of the produce of the mussel farms that they had to circumvent. On a fine day eating that meal outside just cannot be beaten.


What facilities are available?
Provisioning is limited with Bunaw Harbour offers the visiting yachtsman the best opportunity for restocking of provisions from the small shop and post office, as it is possible to berth alongside the pier in shallow depth. Top up fuel and Kosengas can be obtained from a garage which is about 5 miles from the quay. The pub serves hot food and excellent seafood. Freshwater from the pub's kitchen and use of the pub's showers are reported to have been made available to visiting yachtsmen by the kindly landlord. Top up fuel and Kosgas is available from a garage about 5 miles from the quay.

Approx. 1.5 miles from the Carrigwee anchorage at Lauragh there is a shop, two pubs that do meals and fuel available. There are no facilities at Collorus Harbour.


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