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Dirk Bay

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Overview





Dirk Bay is a small bay on the southwest coast of Ireland, tucked into a bight to the northeast of Galley Head about twenty miles east of Baltimore. It offers a secluded anchorage off a slip on the west side of the bay.

Dirk Bay is a small bay on the southwest coast of Ireland, tucked into a bight to the northeast of Galley Head about twenty miles east of Baltimore. It offers a secluded anchorage off a slip on the west side of the bay.

The anchorage provides tolerable protection in westerly and northerly conditions. It is entirely exposed to the south right around to the east. Daylight access is straightforward as although the bay has a hazard there are no off-lying dangers in the west side of the bay where the anchorage lies.
Please note

The eastern half of the bay should be entirely avoided as it is foul with both covered and drying dangers.




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Keyfacts for Dirk Bay
Facilities
Water available via tapSlipway available


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationRemote or quiet secluded locationAnchoring locationBeach or shoreline landing from a tenderJetty or a structure to assist landingQuick and easy access from open waterScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
None listed

Protected sectors

Current wind over the protected quadrants
Minimum depth
3 metres (9.84 feet).

Approaches
4 stars: Straightforward; when unaffected by weather from difficult quadrants or tidal consideration, no overly complex dangers.
Shelter
3 stars: Tolerable; in suitable conditions a vessel may be left unwatched and an overnight stay.



Last modified
April 19th 2021

Summary

A tolerable location with straightforward access.

Facilities
Water available via tapSlipway available


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationRemote or quiet secluded locationAnchoring locationBeach or shoreline landing from a tenderJetty or a structure to assist landingQuick and easy access from open waterScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
None listed



Position and approaches
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Haven position

51° 32.500' N, 008° 56.450' W

In the anchoring area in the west side of the bay.

What is the initial fix?

The following Dirk Bay initial fix will set up a final approach:
51° 31.798' N, 008° 56.400' W
This waypoint is half a nautical mile due east of Galley Head lighthouse.


What are the key points of the approach?

Offshore details are available in southwestern Ireland’s Coastal Overview for Cork Harbour to Mizen Head Route location and Clonakilty (Ring) Click to view haven provides for local approaches.


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 Dirk Bay for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Dunnycove Bay - 1.3 miles ENE
  2. Rosscarbery Inlet - 1.8 miles WNW
  3. Mill Cove - 2.4 miles WNW
  4. Tralong Bay - 2.8 miles W
  5. Clonakilty Harbour (Ring) - 3.2 miles NE
  6. Rabbit Island Sound - 4.2 miles W
  7. Glandore - 4.4 miles W
  8. Squince Harbour - 4.4 miles W
  9. Dunworly Bay - 4.4 miles ENE
  10. Blind Harbour - 5 miles W
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Dunnycove Bay - 1.3 miles ENE
  2. Rosscarbery Inlet - 1.8 miles WNW
  3. Mill Cove - 2.4 miles WNW
  4. Tralong Bay - 2.8 miles W
  5. Clonakilty Harbour (Ring) - 3.2 miles NE
  6. Rabbit Island Sound - 4.2 miles W
  7. Glandore - 4.4 miles W
  8. Squince Harbour - 4.4 miles W
  9. Dunworly Bay - 4.4 miles ENE
  10. Blind Harbour - 5 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?
Dirk Bay as seen from the southwest
Image: Michael Harpur


Dirk Bay is located on the west side of the entrance of Clonakilty Bay ¾ of a mile north by northeast of Galley Head and entered between Dundeady and Dunowen Head. The bay affords good anchorage in fine sand with westerly winds, anchored in what is locally known as Dirk Cove in the southwest side of the bay. This is under the lee of Dundeady where some houses, formally a coastguard station, and a slipway will be seen.


Houses near the shore in the southwest corner of Dirk Bay
Image: Michael Harpur


The bay offers excellent sand holding in depths of 4 to 5 metres. But is only usable overnight in settled weather in light winds from between north and west.


How to get in?
Dirk Bay opening up around Galley Head
Image: Burke Corbett


Convergance Point Use Ireland’s coastal overview for Cork Harbour to Mizen Head Route location for seaward approaches and the Clonakilty (Ring) Click to view haven directions for local approaches. Galley Head ¾ of a mile south by southwest of the bay makes Dirk Bay's position unmistakable.


Dirk Bay with Galley Head in the backdrop
Image: Michael Harpur


Initial fix location From the initial fix, located ½ a mile due east of Galley Head lighthouse, track due north for ¾ of a mile and come into Dirk Bay along the western shoreline. On closer approaches, Dunowen Head, which marks the bay’s eastern extremity, will become conspicuous.


Carrigduff Rock and the foul ground to the southwest of it just showing
Image: Michael Harpur


It is essential to make the approach into Dirk Bay from the south and to stay within the bay’s western side. The eastern half of the bay is foul with Carrigduff Rock. Carrigduff covers at half-tide and dries to 1.5 metres and it has foul ground extending 200 metres to the southwest of it.

Aside from this, there is little in the way of leisure craft. The Bream Rock patch has 7.3 metres over it on the west side of the bay and the charted wreck has 5.2 metres of cover.


The southwest corner of Dirk Bay
Image: Michael Harpur


Haven location Once off the slipway, on the west side of the bay, find a nice patch of sand in depths of 4 to 5 metres and anchor off. The anchoring area has a fine sand bottom that provides for very good holding.


Dirk Bay's slipway
Image: Michael Harpur


Expect to see fishing buoys inshore of the anchorage. Take care of the tricky fingers when coming into the slipway.


Why visit here?
Dirk Bay takes its name from a 'dirk', or duirc in ancient Irish, which is a small straight-bladed sword or thrusting dagger of less than 30cm long. This would give the bay the meaning 'dagger bay'.


It is believed that the reef fingers gave Dirk Bay its name
Image: Michael Harpur


Historically, the 'dirk' was the personal weapon of officers engaged in naval hand-to-hand combat during the Age of Sail. They served a similar function to a modern dagger but also could be used as a cutting tool. The longer version was termed a 'rapier' and during the 16th to 18th centuries both could be employed in two-handed combat, with the 'dirk' held in one hand and rapier in the other. However, it is unlikely that a dirk was called upon for combat in this very quiet bay.


The coastguard slipway set between the shards of rock
Image: Michael Harpur


Most believe the term was used to indicate the long shards of metamorphic rock that extend out from the shore at the base of the cliffs. Alternatively, 'a dirk', dorc in ancient Gaelic also implies 'enmity'. So that could also refer to the difficulty of landing amongst the rocky fingers before the slip was built between the reefs. Or, alternatively, it could refer to the dangerous rocks in the eastern side of the bay.


The view down the slip
Image: Michael Harpur


Whatever the case, if it was the former landings in the bay were eased when in the 18th-century a coastguard station and slip were built to avail of the protection provided by Dundeady headland. This station was called 'Galley Head' and was part of the detachment within the district of Kinsale that in total comprised a force of 8 officers and 63 men, under the superintendence of a resident inspecting commander.


The old coastguard cottage with the Niall McLaughlin Architects extension
Image: Michael Harpur


In the summer of 2004, their long since abandoned 18th and 19th century stone structures were refurbished to provide the private residence. Niall McLaughlin Architects converted the old cottage and boathouse and added the extension joining all three with an asymmetric, cruciform cloister created a central courtyard. The final building has three bedrooms. The owners in the cottage at the top of the launch ramp with one-metre thick, rubble walls, and guests in the former boathouse backed up against the hillside. The new extension contains the living spaces in an airy, timber-frame structure on the far side of the promontory with a soaring canopy pushing out over the shore.


The old coastguard boathouse above the slip (right)
Image: Michael Harpur


The building, in this setting, to the writer, reminiscent of a structure that would have featured in the Hanna-Barbera cartoon series 'The Jetsons', won The Stephen Lawrence Prize for design in the following year. It also has stood the test of the Atlantic surviving storm-force south-easterly winds that when combined with spring tides lined up to hurl breakers up as high as the projecting canopy. Aside from this architectural development, the bay has remained the very quiet out-of-the-way place and seems to have been entirely passed over by Cork’s burgeoning tourist industry.


Galley Head and the bight immediately north-eastward
Image: Michael Harpur


Those who come ashore can enjoy a very pleasant walk out to Galley Head that offers extensive vistas over the bay and sea. Galley Head Lighthouse and station was built in 1875 at the southern end of the headland, known as Dundeady island, as to all intentions it does give that appearance from seaward. Historically, and like most all the significant promontories in this area, Galley Head was cut off from the mainland by the ancient walls of the stronghold of Dun Deidi. It was built by the Normans in circa 1215 on the site of an earlier fort. In its time it was one of the strongest defensive positions in West Cork, being much like that of the Dunworly fort in that it was completely surrounded by cliffs and sea, accessible only by a small causeway. In later years it went on to be an important fortress of the local O’Cowhig Clan and later became a Barry Roe castle. The ruins of the castle can be seen today standing near to the cliffs.


Galley Head as seen from a landward approach
Image: Michael Harpur


Galley Head lighthouse, often mistaken for the old head of Kinsale, was built during the heyday of lighthouse building and within twenty years of its closest neighbours at Old Head of Kinsale and Fastnet. Galley Head and the Fastnet have the distinction of being two of the most powerful lighthouses in Europe. Today the lighthouse overlooks two magnificent sandy beaches, one in the northeast corner of Dirk Bay and the other, Long Strand, to the west of the head. On a sunny day and particularly with northern winds, either of these beaches would make a very enjoyable place to land.


Galley Head as seen from seaward
Image: Burke Corbett


From a boating perspective, Dirk Bay is a highly convenient headland anchorage to wait out a tide or stop for lunch whilst making passage along the southwest Cork coastline. An overnight stay would most likely require settled conditions. Set in a quiet remote area that is almost entirely undeveloped, it offers visitors a secluded haven in an area of unspoilt tranquillity.


What facilities are available?
Fresh water is available from a tap on the pier, but apart from this there is nothing to be had here.


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


With thanks to:
Burke Corbett, Gusserane, New Ross, Co. Wexford.







Aerials views of Galley Head (i)




Aerials views of Galley Head (ii)




The history of the lighthouse.




A view of the Long Strand, or Castlefreke, situated at the western side of Galley Head



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