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Dungarvan Town Quay

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Overview





Dungarvan Harbour is situated on Ireland’s south coast, about midway between Carnsore Point and Cork Harbour, on the northwestmost point of Dungarvan Bay. It is a provincial town with a drying quay where vessels can come alongside a floating pontoon, take to the bottom alongside its quays or anchor in a deepwater anchorage outside.

Dungarvan Harbour is situated on Ireland’s south coast, about midway between Carnsore Point and Cork Harbour, on the northwestmost point of Dungarvan Bay. It is a provincial town with a drying quay where vessels can come alongside a floating pontoon, take to the bottom alongside its quays or anchor in a deepwater anchorage outside.

Situated about 3 miles from the mouth of the bay, the town quay offers complete protection from any condition and can be truly described as a hurricane hole. Navigation is straightforward night or day, but as the harbour is situated at the head of a shallow bay, access will be restricted to the latter half of the tide for most boats. The channel is, however, very well marked, with a lighthouse at the entrance and ample closely spaced lit channel markers, which are easily picked up all the way in.
Please note

Dungarvan is best avoided during strong southerly and southeasterly winds when there are breakers over the bar.




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Keyfacts for Dungarvan Town Quay



Last modified
November 18th 2020

Summary* Restrictions apply

A completely protected location with straightforward access.

Facilities
Water hosepipe available alongsideDiesel fuel available alongsidePetrol available alongsideGas availableTop up fuel available in the area via jerry cansShop with basic provisions availableMini-supermarket or supermarket availableExtensive shopping available in the areaSlipway availableLaundry facilities 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 locationCashpoint or bank available in the areaPost Office in the areaInternet café in the areaDoctor or hospital in the areaPharmacy in the areaBus service available in the areaRegional or international airport within 25 kilometresTourist Information office availableShore based family recreation in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationAnchoring locationBerth alongside a deep water pier or raft up to other vesselsVisitors moorings available, or possibly by club arrangementJetty or a structure to assist landingNavigation lights to support a night approachSailing Club baseUrban nature,  anything from a small town of more 5,000 inhabitants  to a large cityHistoric, geographic or culturally significant location; or in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Restriction: shallow, drying or partially drying pierRestriction: rising tide required for accessRestriction: may be subject to a sand bar



Position and approaches
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Haven position

52° 5.450' N, 007° 37.100' W

Dungarvan Town Quay.

What is the initial fix?

The following Dungarvan initial fix will set up a final approach:
52° 4.500' N, 007° 32.000' W
This waypoint is between Carrickapane and Carricknamoan rocks, slightly to seaward and on the Carricknamoan side of midway between both.


What are the key points of the approach?

Offshore details are available in southeastern Ireland’s coastal overview for Rosslare Harbour to Cork Harbour Route location.

  • Plan the approach to have a sufficient rise of tide to make it to the quay or tide wait at the
    The Pool Click to view haven about a third of the way in.

  • Locate and pass in midway between the Carrickapane and Carricknamoan rocks.

  • Pass to the north of a yellow outflow buoy and then to the Wyse Buoy, where the channel commences.

  • Follow the marks in.


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 Dungarvan Town Quay for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Ballynacourty (The Pool) - 1 miles ESE
  2. Helvick - 2.1 miles SE
  3. Stradbally Cove - 3.7 miles ENE
  4. Ardmore Bay - 5.7 miles SSW
  5. Youghal - 7.3 miles SW
  6. Boatstrand Harbour - 7.4 miles ENE
  7. Knockadoon Slip - 9.5 miles SW
  8. Ballycotton - 13.1 miles SW
  9. Port of Waterford - 13.3 miles ENE
  10. Little Island - 13.9 miles ENE
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Ballynacourty (The Pool) - 1 miles ESE
  2. Helvick - 2.1 miles SE
  3. Stradbally Cove - 3.7 miles ENE
  4. Ardmore Bay - 5.7 miles SSW
  5. Youghal - 7.3 miles SW
  6. Boatstrand Harbour - 7.4 miles ENE
  7. Knockadoon Slip - 9.5 miles SW
  8. Ballycotton - 13.1 miles SW
  9. Port of Waterford - 13.3 miles ENE
  10. Little Island - 13.9 miles ENE
To find locations with the specific attributes you need try:

Resources search



What's the story here?
Dungarvan
Image: Michael Harpur


Dungarvan is a busy coastal market town and harbour that sits at the head of the extensive east-facing Dungarvan Bay. The town is situated at the mouth of the Colligan River, which divides it into two parts – Dungarvan to the west and Abbeyside to the east. Dungarvan Harbour is formed by The Quay fronting the town on the western side. Outside the harbour, a 1½-mile sandbar called The Cunnigar defines the western limit of the 2½-mile-wide Dungarvan Bay.


The Dungarvan Harbour Sailing Clubhouse overlooking the pontoon
Image: Michael Harpur


The harbour has a pontoon owned and run by the Dungarvan Harbour Sailing Club External link under license from Waterford City & County Council External link for the benefit of club members and visiting boats. Those planning a visit should make arrangements in advance by contacting Dungarvan Harbour Sailing Club's berthing manager on Landline+353 (0) 58 45663 and via email to E-mailcontact@waterfordcouncil.ie.

Visitors will be provided with a welcome pack and the [2020] charges apply for the pontoon:

  • • Visitors: €15 per night

  • • Club Members: First two nights @ €5 per night, and €10 per night thereafter.

The channel to Dungarvan Harbour is well-marked port and starboard,
and could not be simpler

Image: Burke Corbett


Although appearing daunting on a chart, in practice, and with a supporting tide, the run-up to the quays is well marked and could not be simpler. Tidal planning is, however, essential as there is a moderately deep bar with a charted depth of as little as 1.7 metres LAT that lies about midway between Ballynacourty Point Lighthouse and the Wyse Buoy. Thereafter, the run to the entrance can have as little as 0.5 metres LAT as the town is neared, with the final length into the town quay having as little as 0.2 metres LAT.


The view from the entrance to Dungarvan Harbour over Spit Bank at low water
Image: Michael Harpur


Hence the approach can only be made when there is a rise of tide sufficient to accommodate the vessel’s draught. At half-tide, there should be at least 1.8 metres in the channel between the buoys and there is an excellent deepwater tide wait available in The Pool Click to view haven about a third of the way in. Southwest gales also send a heavy swell into the bay, and those that are entering on the margins of the tide should factor this in.

Although the pilotage is very straightforward, it is advisable that first-time visitors make their visit with a more forgiving rising tide. But do not be put off: it is all sand and clay, with scarcely any hard contact in the bay and none near the channel. Likewise, vessels with draughts in excess of 3 metres can reach the quays, and the Dungarvan Harbour Sailing Club is renowned for its friendly welcome to visiting craft.


How to get in?
Ballynacourty Point Lighthouse provides a prominent mark for the entrance
Image: Michael Harpur


Convergance Point Seaward approaches are available from southeastern Ireland’s coastal overview for Rosslare Harbour to Cork Harbour Route location.


Helvick Head as seen from the northeast
Image: Michael Harpur


Dungarvan Bay is entered between the high, bold promontory of Helvick Head on the south, and Ballynacourty Point and its outlying rocks to the north.


Dungarvan Bay as seen from Abbey Point in the northwest at half tide
Image: Michael Harpur


Viewed at high water the bay presents a large expanse, but most of its area is covered by Whitehouse Bank, which dries eastward, and Spit Bank, which extends from the north shore. When both of these banks dry, the remainder of the bay is so shallow as to be of little use except to small, shoal-draught vessels.


Dungarvan Bay as seen from the southwest at low water
Image: Michael Harpur


The channel to Dungarvan leads along the northern side of the bay from Wyse’s Point to Abbey Point. It is narrow and well-marked, located about 2¼ miles east from the entrance to Dungarvan Harbour. It would be useful for first-time visitors to have a crew member with binoculars ready to locate the rocks detailed below and the harbour marks.

Carrickapane as seen from the northeast
Image: Michael Harpur


Initial fix location The Dungarvan initial fix is set roughly midway between Carrickapane and Carricknamoan rocks, and these are the two key rocks to identify. There is plenty of space as they are 1,200 metres apart, with deep water between.


Carrickapane as seen when passing between it and Carricknamoan
Image: Burke Corbett


Carrickapane Rock sits central to the entrance of Dungarvan Bay and is approximately 600 metres south of the initial fix. Better described as an islet, and locally known as Black Rock, Carrickapane Rock is clearly visible at 2 metres high and can be seen in all conditions. A sunken rocky ledge, with from 1.1 to 1.7 metres of cover, extends 200 metres westward from it, but around the other parts of Carrickapane it is largely steep-to. By night Carrickapane Rock is covered by Ballynacourty Point Lighthouse’s red sector.

Carrickapane or Black Rock – unmarked position: 52° 04.000’ N, 007° 32.000’ W


Carricknamoan as seen from the northeast, with the Caricknagaddy Reef extending
towards it

Image: Michael Harpur


Carricknamoan Rock is situated ½ mile eastward of Ballynacourty Point and 600 metres northward of the initial fix.

Ballynacourty Point Lighthouse, with Caricknagaddy Reef just showing, and
Carricknamoan as seen upon entry

Image: Burke Corbett


It is a 1-metre-high, flat-topped rock with a surrounding rocky patch. A reef called Caricknagaddy, nearly all uncovered at low water, extends ½ mile from the point in a southeasterly direction, terminating at Carricknamoan. By night Ballynacourty Point Lighthouse’s green sector covers Carricknamoan and the southern face of the reef within.


Carricknamoan as seen when passing between it and Carrickapane
Image: Burke Corbett


When approaching the initial fix, it may be more than difficult to pick out Carricknamoan from the shoreline behind. At deck level the low-lying reef appears all as one when viewed from the waypoint. Nevertheless, it is readily apparent that the vessel is in the middle of the gap.


Yellow outflow buoy with the Helvick east cardinal in the background
Image: Burke Corbett


Proceed west from the initial fix to pass south of the white tower of Ballynacourty Point Lighthouse and north of a yellow outflow buoy.

Outfall Buoy – Fl(2)Y.5s position: 52° 4.408' N, 007° 32.910' W

Ballynacourty Point Lighthouse – Fl(2) WRG 10s position: 52° 04.688’ N, 007° 33.182’ W

The Wyse’s Point channel marker will soon be seen approximately ½ mile west from Ballynacourty Point Lighthouse.

Wyse – Port Red Can Buoy Fl.R.5s position: 52° 04.719’ N, 007° 33.971’ W


From the Wyse buoy, provided the requisite tidal depth is in place, it is simply a matter of following the channel markers into the entrance between Cunnigar Point and Abbey Point.


The last marks of the buoyed channel leading to Dungarvan Harbour
Image: Burke Corbett


The key to the channel is capturing a rising tide that can accommodate the vessel’s draught. Although it is reasonable to expect at least 1.8 metres in the channel at half-tide, this may again vary depending upon the preceding winter’s easterly gales, especially so early in the sailing season. Likewise, a westerly gale may somewhat diminish the rise, whilst an easterly would cause a higher tide and flooding in the town. The depth in the marked channel may have decreased.
Please note

In 2010 /11 Deadman Sand was breached and a narrow deep channel is emerging through it. This is roughly a line from the Wyse to Davy Murray markers. This channel is not yet marked.




Abbey Point’s church and ruins mark Dungarvan Harbour's entrance from
all points of the bay

Image: Michael Harpur


As such it is best to take it steady on the margins of the tide and proceed with a sharp eye to the depth sounder. If the bottom is touched it will only be sand and clay; there are no rocks in the channel.


The channel marks leading up to the entrance’s light beacon as seen at low water
Image: Michael Harpur


From the entrance between Cunnigar Point and Abbey Point, the river fairway up into the town quay is marked by four lighted beacons.


The inner, lighted beacons as seen at low water
Image: Michael Harpur


Inside the harbour there is not enough room to swing in deep water, so the helm should prepare to handle the boat in a confined space.


Abbey Point and the entrance to Dungarvan Harbour
Image: Michael Harpur


Haven location Yachts that need to stay afloat have two options available in Dungarvan Harbour:

  • • Use the 40-metre-long club pontoon on the northwest side of the town harbour.

  • • Anchor in deep waters immediately outside the entrance to the harbour.


Dungarvan Harbour Pontoon in the northwest corner of the harbour
Image: Michael Harpur


Inside the basin, Dungarvan Yacht Club is most accommodating with its club jetty, and the fee is more than reasonable. Come along port side to, bow to the bridge, as the Colligan River’s ebb runs strongly. Payments may be made at the clubhouse, which is immediately above and overlooks the town basin. Vessels carrying any draught should expect their keels to sink into the soft mud at low water alongside the club pontoon. The deepest berths are at the southeast end of the pontoon, which has 0.5 metres LAT; depths decrease northward towards its inner end, where it dries to 1 metre above LAT.


Dungarvan Harbour Pontoon
Image: Colin Park via CC BY-SA 2.0


The alternative option is to anchor in a deepwater pool that exists immediately outside the harbour. The anchoring position is close southwest of Cunnigar Point, where 8 metres will be found. This is the least preferred option as the area is heavily populated with local moorings and the seabed choked with old moorings. It is also exposed to southerly and easterly conditions at high water and the tide runs fast here. With space already limited, things can get very interesting with the locally moored boats as the tides ebb and flood, and the wind directions change.


Local boat moorings with club dinghies on Cunnigar Point
Image: Colin Park via CC BY-SA 2.0


Anyone anchoring here must use a trip line and take care not to encroach upon the fairway. Although a serviceable anchorage, borrowing an existing mooring would be the better option all round if possible, so it is best to make enquires with the club. There is also, reportedly, a small pool in the harbour that can float a boat up to 1.8 metres at low water; if available, locals can best advise as to its location. In any case, vessels that can make Cunnigar Point work may land at the town slip.

Long-keeled craft or vessels that stand well should dry out on the western Davitts Quay, where the best berth to aim for is a place in the wall with a ladder. The tide runs swiftly along the quay and it is advisable to moor port side on and facing upriver to best address the ebb current.


Drying berths in the harbour
Image: Michael Harpur


There are several mooring buoys situated abreast of the town, used by fishing vessels and leisure craft. Bilge-keeled vessels that can comfortably take to the hard may be able to make use of borrowed drying moorings if one is vacant, but be sure to enquire first.


Why visit here?
Dungarvan derives its name from the Irish Dún Garbháin, meaning 'fort of Garbhan' or 'Garbhan's fort'. This is thought to refer to Saint Garbhan, who founded an abbey of canons of St Augustine here in the 7th century, when it was anciently called Achadh Garvan. This abbey is said to have been built somewhere near the corner of Church Street, but no traces of it remain. There is some uncertainty about the original name of the area as Achadh and Dún have very different meanings; one signifies a field, the other a fort. So, the town of Dungarvan could owe its name not to a monk but to a chieftain.


Dungarvan Castle
Image: Tourism Ireland


The origins of the town can be traced back to a much earlier period of history. Evidence of Stone Age settlements has been found in the area around the town and it is recorded that in about the 3rd century, a tribe called the Deise settled on the site where Dungarvan now stands. The Normans arrived in the 1170s and built a Motte and Bailey fortification at Gallowshill, to the west of the town. When King John came to Waterford in 1185, he constructed several fortifications in the southeast of Ireland to cement his hold on the newly acquired territory. One of these Anglo-Norman castles was King John’s Castle (aka Dungarvan Castle), on the mouth of the Colligan River. From here ships could be anchored and soldiers could command the narrow strip of land to the south of the Comeragh Mountains, which linked east and west Waterford.


The ruins of the Augustinian abbey in Dungarvan
Image: Public Domain


It is one of a number of royal castles built in Ireland around this time, and with its protection the town took off. Soon there was a church at the top of the town, linked to the castle by a single road, which remains to this day as Church Street. A wall built on the land side of the town ran from the church to the castle. By 1215 King John had granted it a charter, while in 1242 Henry III granted Dungarvan the right to hold an annual fair. Dungarvan thrived for centuries and was noted for its hake fishery. The town walls were extended to cover the seaward side and records show that a large commercial pottery operated just outside these new walls.


Oliver Cromwell
Image: Public Domain
The Augustinians established an Abbey at Abbeyside in 1290 with the support of the M'Graths Clan, of which the remains of their ancient keep can still be seen. King John’s castle was radically redesigned in the 15th century to accommodate cannons. They weren’t protection enough, however, for in the late 1400s the castle was captured and blown up. Both the castle and abbey were later to take the brunt of the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland, when the fate of the town’s people suddenly turned on the smallest of quixotic gestures.

Having taken Wexford and executed a massacre, Cromwell's New Model Army was unable to take Waterford or Duncannon, which held out, expecting the same treatment should they surrender. Cromwell lay siege to both, but it dragged on deep into winter and had to be called off to make arrangements for winter quarters. The initial plan was to use the town of Wexford, but having inadvertently destroyed it, Cromwell decided he should use Dungarvan instead. His route lay through the extreme breadth of the County of Waterford, and, as on former occasions, his progress was distinctly marked by confiscation and blood. It was on the evening of December 4, 1649 that he arrived at the walls of Dungarvan. Part of Cromwell’s army was detached to the neighbouring castle of Knockmoan, which was taken by storm within days and all opposition overcome. Negotiations with the town of Dungarvan had been ongoing during this time and, unlike Waterford and Duncannon, it surrendered without a siege.


Duke of Devonshire Bridge in Dungarvan as depicted during the Victorian period
Image: Public Domain


At the end of the month, Cromwell entered the town of Dungarvan on horseback, at the head of his troops. The plan was to calmly disperse the troops around the town and have the inhabitants put to the sword. The merciless army was waiting for his word to cut loose on the inhabitants when an extraordinary incident occurred. A woman, whose surname was Nagle, broke from the crowd and advanced boldly to the mounted Cromwell as he was passing along the street. She took his horse by the bridle and with a flagon of beer in her hand, drank to the health of the conqueror and offered him the goblet. The woman’s spirited flare immediately captivated Cromwell, who was taken completely off-guard by the unexpected act. Pausing momentarily to consider what he should do, he leaned forward and took the goblet from her hand and sitting back drank a deep draught. So pleased was he with the turn of events and her flare that he revoked his former order. Not only did he spare the lives of the inhabitants but he also ordered that the town should not be plundered by his troops. However, the castle and abbey were not spared, and the latter never recovered.


Fair Day in Dungarvan’s hallmark square sometime between 1902 and 1914
Image: National Library of Ireland on The Commons


Dungarvan blossomed in the early 19th century, during which time the 5th and 6th Dukes of Devonshire redesigned the town. The Colligan River, which bisects Dungarvan, was connected by a low tide causeway. In 1813-16 the dukes built a single-arch bridge of rusticated sandstone, imported from Runcorn in Cheshire, with massive voussoirs (wedge-shaped stones) and scroll keystone. Joining the town’s two halves and providing road access to Waterford, the bridge played a significant role in the economic and social development of the town and its environs. They also constructed the town’s hallmark square and street structure. All of this enabled Dungarvan to flourish and grow into the thriving business and residential centre it is today.


Duke of Devonshire Bridge, Dungarvan
Image: Michael Harpur


Dungarvan is today the administrative centre of County Waterford. The historic market town retains much of its original charm, offering an appealing blend of the traditional and modern. Those who want to make it a base from which to explore the surrounding countryside will find seascapes; green, placid river valleys; and wild, rugged, heather-covered mountains within a short driving distance of the town quay. Of particular interest is an area called Ring, in Irish An Rinn, seven miles south of Dungarvan. It is the second most easterly Irish-speaking area in the country. This offers an opportunity to sample traditional Irish life, where regular Irish music sessions are held in the local pubs to entertain everybody. The Seanchaí (Irish for a storyteller) pub on the Youghal road is one such example.


Dungarvan Bay as seen from its cycleway
Image: Tourism Ireland


The most marked historical feature for those arriving by sea is the preserved ruins of the Augustinian Priory, dating back to 1290, situated on the east bank of the harbour entrance. The abbey’s 60ft-high square tower, resting on groined arches, was adapted as a belfry for the adjoining Catholic Church. The church also has tombs dating back to 1490 within its grounds.


Dungarvan's very protected Clonea Strand to the south of the town, behind The Cunnigar
Image: Tourism Ireland



The remains of Dungarvan Castle stand just north of where the harbour narrows on the west bank. It consists of a polygonal shell keep, with an enclosing curtain wall, a corner tower and a gate tower. The shell keep is the earliest structure, dating from the 12th century. Although common in England, shell keeps are rare in Ireland. Inside the curtain wall are two-storey military barracks, dating from the first half of the 18th century. During the Irish Civil War, the barracks were taken by the IRA forces who set fire to them before leaving in August 1922. With the foundation of the Garda Siochana in 1922, the building was restored and used as the local Garda Station until 1987, after which it was abandoned. Of the walls John built to fortify the town, no traces remain.


Ruins of the Augustinian Priory overlooking the entrance
Image: Michael Harpur


The castle is a national monument and the barracks are now restored and house an informative exhibition about the castle. It is open to the public via guided tours, which include an audio-visual presentation that provides a summary of both Dungarvan’s and the castle’s history.


Dusk over Dungarvan Harbour
Image: Kanbron via CC BY-SA 2.0


From a boating perspective, this is a perfect place to avoid a bad weather system. The basin is completely protected and in the centre of the provincial town, where there is excellent provisioning and plenty to see and explore, as well as excellent connections to venture further afield.


What facilities are available?
Power and water are available on the pontoon. The sailing club is very welcoming and delighted to see travelling sailors. It has showers and a comfortable clubhouse, along with the jetty and some moorings that are often offered free of charge. Please reciprocate this courtesy by bringing as much business as possible to the clubhouse.

Dungarvan is a major town with a full range of urban services to hand. It is an excellent location to provision the vessel, with everything, including fuel, within a 10-minute walk of the clubhouse jetty. There is a host of cafés, restaurants and pubs serving food, and even a supermarket in the renovated buildings along the quay, with more around the town. In boating terms, there is a well-maintained concrete slipway in Dungarvan town, suitable for launching vessels up to 8 metres in length. However, larger vessels should only use it up to three hours either side of high tide.

Local travel is catered for with plenty of taxis available at the rank, which is a stroll from the club pontoon, while there is a host of bus options for those wishing to travel further afield. There are hourly 040 Express bus services to Cork, Waterford and Dublin, all with international airports. Local bus services are also available – 362 Ardmore, 364 Waterford, 366 Waterford, Fermoy & Mallow and 386 Clonmel. A night coach service, via Sealink’s Rosslare to Fishguard ferry, connects to Bristol and London in the UK. The town has excellent road communications, including the N25 (European route E30), which connects Cork, Waterford and Rosslare Europort.


Any security concerns?
Never an issue known to have occurred in Dungarvan. However, this is in the centre of a town with public access to the quays, so it would be best to lock up and clear the decks as normal in a busy area such as this.


With thanks to:
Burke Corbett, Gusserane, New Ross, Co. Wexford & Austin Flynn Commodore of Dungarvan Yacht Club.







A good overview of Dungarvan.


About Dungarvan Town Quay

Dungarvan derives its name from the Irish Dún Garbháin, meaning 'fort of Garbhan' or 'Garbhan's fort'. This is thought to refer to Saint Garbhan, who founded an abbey of canons of St Augustine here in the 7th century, when it was anciently called Achadh Garvan. This abbey is said to have been built somewhere near the corner of Church Street, but no traces of it remain. There is some uncertainty about the original name of the area as Achadh and Dún have very different meanings; one signifies a field, the other a fort. So, the town of Dungarvan could owe its name not to a monk but to a chieftain.


Dungarvan Castle
Image: Tourism Ireland


The origins of the town can be traced back to a much earlier period of history. Evidence of Stone Age settlements has been found in the area around the town and it is recorded that in about the 3rd century, a tribe called the Deise settled on the site where Dungarvan now stands. The Normans arrived in the 1170s and built a Motte and Bailey fortification at Gallowshill, to the west of the town. When King John came to Waterford in 1185, he constructed several fortifications in the southeast of Ireland to cement his hold on the newly acquired territory. One of these Anglo-Norman castles was King John’s Castle (aka Dungarvan Castle), on the mouth of the Colligan River. From here ships could be anchored and soldiers could command the narrow strip of land to the south of the Comeragh Mountains, which linked east and west Waterford.


The ruins of the Augustinian abbey in Dungarvan
Image: Public Domain


It is one of a number of royal castles built in Ireland around this time, and with its protection the town took off. Soon there was a church at the top of the town, linked to the castle by a single road, which remains to this day as Church Street. A wall built on the land side of the town ran from the church to the castle. By 1215 King John had granted it a charter, while in 1242 Henry III granted Dungarvan the right to hold an annual fair. Dungarvan thrived for centuries and was noted for its hake fishery. The town walls were extended to cover the seaward side and records show that a large commercial pottery operated just outside these new walls.


Oliver Cromwell
Image: Public Domain
The Augustinians established an Abbey at Abbeyside in 1290 with the support of the M'Graths Clan, of which the remains of their ancient keep can still be seen. King John’s castle was radically redesigned in the 15th century to accommodate cannons. They weren’t protection enough, however, for in the late 1400s the castle was captured and blown up. Both the castle and abbey were later to take the brunt of the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland, when the fate of the town’s people suddenly turned on the smallest of quixotic gestures.

Having taken Wexford and executed a massacre, Cromwell's New Model Army was unable to take Waterford or Duncannon, which held out, expecting the same treatment should they surrender. Cromwell lay siege to both, but it dragged on deep into winter and had to be called off to make arrangements for winter quarters. The initial plan was to use the town of Wexford, but having inadvertently destroyed it, Cromwell decided he should use Dungarvan instead. His route lay through the extreme breadth of the County of Waterford, and, as on former occasions, his progress was distinctly marked by confiscation and blood. It was on the evening of December 4, 1649 that he arrived at the walls of Dungarvan. Part of Cromwell’s army was detached to the neighbouring castle of Knockmoan, which was taken by storm within days and all opposition overcome. Negotiations with the town of Dungarvan had been ongoing during this time and, unlike Waterford and Duncannon, it surrendered without a siege.


Duke of Devonshire Bridge in Dungarvan as depicted during the Victorian period
Image: Public Domain


At the end of the month, Cromwell entered the town of Dungarvan on horseback, at the head of his troops. The plan was to calmly disperse the troops around the town and have the inhabitants put to the sword. The merciless army was waiting for his word to cut loose on the inhabitants when an extraordinary incident occurred. A woman, whose surname was Nagle, broke from the crowd and advanced boldly to the mounted Cromwell as he was passing along the street. She took his horse by the bridle and with a flagon of beer in her hand, drank to the health of the conqueror and offered him the goblet. The woman’s spirited flare immediately captivated Cromwell, who was taken completely off-guard by the unexpected act. Pausing momentarily to consider what he should do, he leaned forward and took the goblet from her hand and sitting back drank a deep draught. So pleased was he with the turn of events and her flare that he revoked his former order. Not only did he spare the lives of the inhabitants but he also ordered that the town should not be plundered by his troops. However, the castle and abbey were not spared, and the latter never recovered.


Fair Day in Dungarvan’s hallmark square sometime between 1902 and 1914
Image: National Library of Ireland on The Commons


Dungarvan blossomed in the early 19th century, during which time the 5th and 6th Dukes of Devonshire redesigned the town. The Colligan River, which bisects Dungarvan, was connected by a low tide causeway. In 1813-16 the dukes built a single-arch bridge of rusticated sandstone, imported from Runcorn in Cheshire, with massive voussoirs (wedge-shaped stones) and scroll keystone. Joining the town’s two halves and providing road access to Waterford, the bridge played a significant role in the economic and social development of the town and its environs. They also constructed the town’s hallmark square and street structure. All of this enabled Dungarvan to flourish and grow into the thriving business and residential centre it is today.


Duke of Devonshire Bridge, Dungarvan
Image: Michael Harpur


Dungarvan is today the administrative centre of County Waterford. The historic market town retains much of its original charm, offering an appealing blend of the traditional and modern. Those who want to make it a base from which to explore the surrounding countryside will find seascapes; green, placid river valleys; and wild, rugged, heather-covered mountains within a short driving distance of the town quay. Of particular interest is an area called Ring, in Irish An Rinn, seven miles south of Dungarvan. It is the second most easterly Irish-speaking area in the country. This offers an opportunity to sample traditional Irish life, where regular Irish music sessions are held in the local pubs to entertain everybody. The Seanchaí (Irish for a storyteller) pub on the Youghal road is one such example.


Dungarvan Bay as seen from its cycleway
Image: Tourism Ireland


The most marked historical feature for those arriving by sea is the preserved ruins of the Augustinian Priory, dating back to 1290, situated on the east bank of the harbour entrance. The abbey’s 60ft-high square tower, resting on groined arches, was adapted as a belfry for the adjoining Catholic Church. The church also has tombs dating back to 1490 within its grounds.


Dungarvan's very protected Clonea Strand to the south of the town, behind The Cunnigar
Image: Tourism Ireland



The remains of Dungarvan Castle stand just north of where the harbour narrows on the west bank. It consists of a polygonal shell keep, with an enclosing curtain wall, a corner tower and a gate tower. The shell keep is the earliest structure, dating from the 12th century. Although common in England, shell keeps are rare in Ireland. Inside the curtain wall are two-storey military barracks, dating from the first half of the 18th century. During the Irish Civil War, the barracks were taken by the IRA forces who set fire to them before leaving in August 1922. With the foundation of the Garda Siochana in 1922, the building was restored and used as the local Garda Station until 1987, after which it was abandoned. Of the walls John built to fortify the town, no traces remain.


Ruins of the Augustinian Priory overlooking the entrance
Image: Michael Harpur


The castle is a national monument and the barracks are now restored and house an informative exhibition about the castle. It is open to the public via guided tours, which include an audio-visual presentation that provides a summary of both Dungarvan’s and the castle’s history.


Dusk over Dungarvan Harbour
Image: Kanbron via CC BY-SA 2.0


From a boating perspective, this is a perfect place to avoid a bad weather system. The basin is completely protected and in the centre of the provincial town, where there is excellent provisioning and plenty to see and explore, as well as excellent connections to venture further afield.

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:
Helvick - 2.1 miles SE
Ardmore Bay - 5.7 miles SSW
Youghal - 7.3 miles SW
Knockadoon Slip - 9.5 miles SW
Ballycotton - 13.1 miles SW
Coastal anti-clockwise:
Ballynacourty (The Pool) - 1 miles ESE
Stradbally Cove - 3.7 miles ENE
Boatstrand Harbour - 7.4 miles ENE
Dunmore East - 14.5 miles E
Creadan Head - 15.6 miles ENE

Navigational pictures


These additional images feature in the 'How to get in' section of our detailed view for Dungarvan Town Quay.








































































A good overview of Dungarvan.



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