The outer bay offers good protection in all southerly conditions. The inner part of the bay is shallow and is encumbered with extensive drying sandbanks, but a yacht of modest draught may cross these safely and at high water can reach Ballyvaughan village for further protection. Access to the outer bay needs some attentive navigations to pass the outer dangers.
Keyfacts for Ballyvaughan Bay
Summary* Restrictions applyA good location with attentive navigation required for access.
Position and approaches
Haven position53° 7.330' N, 009° 8.892' W
This is the position at the new quay pierhead at Ballyvaughan.
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Ballyvaghan Bay lies 3½ east of Black Head on the southern shore of Galway Bay. The greater part of the bay dries at low water. An intricate boat channel communicates with the small town of Ballyvaghan, situated in the southwest corner, that has a pier. It also connects to Lough Muckinish, to the east, by a narrow tortuous channel running between rocky shores. Only vessels of a very modest draft may cross these safely with sufficient rise of the tide to go up to the old quay by the village and lie alongside the southeast side on a bottom shingle and small stones.
In front of Ballyvaghan Bay is Illanunloo Rock. A small portion of this is always visible, 0.6 metres high, but it is difficult to identify against the land. It is foul for up to 200 metres all around with its north side is steep-to. The rocky islet requires attentive navigation when approaching from sea as it is difficult to identify against the land.
To the southwest of Illanunloo the Farthing Rocks that are an extensive rocky shoal which uncover on last quarter ebb and some of which dry 1.7 metres. They lie a ⅓ of a mile from the low shingly shore to the south.
The alignment 096° T, as best seen on Admiralty Chart 1984, of Shanmuckinish Castle and Saint Patrick's Church, provides a leading line into the bay to the south of Illaunloo and close north of Farthing Rocks.
Image: Mark Murray CC BY-SA 2.0
Anchor ½ mile to the southeast of Illanunloo Rock. The inner part of the bay is shallow and is encumbered with extensive drying sandbanks, but a yacht of modest draught may cross these safely and at high water can reach Ballyvaughan village 2 miles south-southwest inland through an intricate channel, and then berth alongside at either of the village's two quays, one on the east side and one on the west, both of which dry with a bottom of shingle and small stones. The preferred berths are on the east side of both quays, the 'new' quay giving slightly better shelter than the 'old' quay where the bottom is shingle and stony.
There is a pool with about 3 metres depth at low water off the end of the 'new' pier, use the sounder into it, and preferably moor with two anchors to reduce swinging. It is well sheltered at low tide and the edges are clean sand.
Why visit here?Being only 25 miles from Galway city and situated in the northeast corner of The Burren, an area of great rocky expanse considered by many to be a unique landscape, Ballyvaughan Bay and the small harbour village of the same name is a popular destination for tourists.
The village grew up around the harbour which developed as a thriving fishing community from the 19th century and the sheltered and picturesque bay makes it a popular port even now, which since the new pier and slipway was built in 2006 has opened up the area for pleasure boats, fishing, scuba diving and other sea activities. A castle site and Celtic ring fort in its surrounds show that this bay has historically been a strategic location in the region. The valley in which Ballyvaughan is situated contains many Celtic ring forts, one of which Cahermore has stone walls that are up to 9 feet high and its lintelled doorway is still intact. Ballyvaughan ring fort is an earth fort which is unusual in this area but quite common elsewhere.
Ballyvaughan is an ideal base for exploring the surrounding area, as there are numerous self-guided walks around the village, including the Ballyvaughan Wood Loop, Black Head Loop, Carron Loop, or for the more adventurous the Burren Way which is 26 miles of Green Road and which starts in Ballyvaughan.
Limestone areas like The Burren are famous for their large cave systems, and there are two caves which are open to the public, the Aillwee Caves, and since 2006 the Doolin Cave with one of the largest stalactites known to the world.
Ballyvaughan is the arts and crafts centre of County Clare and the village boasts a Gallery, craft shops, a craft fair and a rather special art college. The Burren College of Art is an internationally recognised “ not for profit charitable Trust” committed to the initial education of artists, and to their continuing professional development. The location of this specialist art college in the grounds of a 16th-century castle on Ireland's remote Atlantic coast makes this education unique in the world.
Ballyvaughan village boasts many amenities and services including hotels and B & B's, pubs and restaurants, coffee houses, supermarket and village stores, and the Tourist Information office can be found in the craft shop at The Village Stores on the main street.
What facilities are available?The village of Ballyvaughan has many amenities and services including Hotels and Guest Houses, Pubs and Restaurants, Coffee shops, supermarket and provision stores; post office; ATM machine; laundrette; tourist information office in the craft shop next to The Village Stores; bike hire shop; service station for fuel; there is also a farmers market on Saturdays.
With thanks to:Mark Murry S/Y Motivator
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