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Holeopen Bay West

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Overview





Holeopen Bay West is situated on the southwest coast of Ireland, about fifteen miles southwest of Cork Harbour and immediately northwest of the Old Head of Kinsale. It offers a remote and secluded passage anchorage but it is not possible to land here.

Holeopen Bay West is situated on the southwest coast of Ireland, about fifteen miles southwest of Cork Harbour and immediately northwest of the Old Head of Kinsale. It offers a remote and secluded passage anchorage but it is not possible to land here.

The bay provides an exposed anchorage that is protected from conditions with northerly and easterly components. This anchorage is entirely open to the Atlantic and requires the complete absence of any swell to be usable. Access is straightforward as it is completely open and absent of any obstructions.



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Keyfacts for Holeopen Bay West
Facilities
None listed


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationAnchoring locationQuick and easy access from open water

Considerations
Restriction: landing not recommended, possible or permitted here

Protected sectors

Current wind over the protected quadrants
Minimum depth
6 metres (19.69 feet).

Approaches
4 stars: Straightforward; when unaffected by weather from difficult quadrants or tidal consideration, no overly complex dangers.
Shelter
2 stars: Exposed; unattended vessels should be watched from the shore and a comfortable overnight stay is unlikely.



Last modified
March 24th 2021

Summary* Restrictions apply

An exposed location with straightforward access.

Facilities
None listed


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationAnchoring locationQuick and easy access from open water

Considerations
Restriction: landing not recommended, possible or permitted here



Position and approaches
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Haven position

51° 36.969' N, 008° 33.027' W

This is around the head under the western side.

What is the initial fix?

The following will set up a final approach:
51° 35.922' N, 008° 33.274' W
This waypoint is approximately three quarters of a mile to the southwest by west of the Old Head of Kinsale Lighthouse Fl (2) 10s 72m 20M. A course of 4° T from here will lead in to the bay.


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.


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 Holeopen Bay West for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Holeopen Bay East - 0.4 miles E
  2. Sandy Cove - 2.4 miles NNE
  3. Coolmain Bay - 3 miles WNW
  4. Blindstrand Bay - 3.1 miles W
  5. Castlepark Marina - 3.1 miles NNE
  6. Kinsale Harbour - 3.3 miles NNE
  7. Broadstrand Bay - 3.3 miles W
  8. Seven Heads Bay - 3.6 miles WSW
  9. Oyster Haven - 3.7 miles NE
  10. Courtmacsherry - 3.8 miles W
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Holeopen Bay East - 0.4 miles E
  2. Sandy Cove - 2.4 miles NNE
  3. Coolmain Bay - 3 miles WNW
  4. Blindstrand Bay - 3.1 miles W
  5. Castlepark Marina - 3.1 miles NNE
  6. Kinsale Harbour - 3.3 miles NNE
  7. Broadstrand Bay - 3.3 miles W
  8. Seven Heads Bay - 3.6 miles WSW
  9. Oyster Haven - 3.7 miles NE
  10. Courtmacsherry - 3.8 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?
Holeopen Bay West and the Old Head of Kinsale
Image: © Dr. David J. Otway


Holeopen Bay West is situated on the west side of bold projecting Old Head Of Kinsale headland that is bounded by steep cliffs with a prominent lighthouse on its southern extremity. It is entered between Ringagurteen, just over a ½ mile northwest of the Old Head of Kinsale Lighthouse, and Ringalurisky Point, just over 1 mile further northward.

The bay offers a remote and secluded anchorage in settled easterly conditions but it is not possible to land here.


How to get in?
Old Head of Kinsale Lighthouse
Image: Tourism Ireland


Convergance Point Use the details provided in available in southwestern Ireland’s coastal overview for Cork Harbour to Mizen Head Route location for approaches. The Old Head Of Kinsale with its lighthouse provides a conspicuous mark for at least twenty miles in all directions.

The Old Head, as it is generally referred to, is a bold projecting headland, bounded by steep cliffs, that makes for an unmistakable feature of this coastline. The head’s outer portion rises to a height of 76 metres and is almost isolated except for a narrow isthmus, about 120 metres across, that connects it to the mainland.

On the extreme southern point of the head is the lighthouse. The 30 metres high tower is painted black with two white belts and is visible in clear weather for up to 20 miles.

Old Head of Kinsale - lighthouse Fl (2) 10s 72m 20M position: 51°36.287'N, 008°32.018'W


Holeopen Bay West (left) and East (right)
Image: Tourism Ireland


Vessels approaching from the west will find access straightforward as there are no obstructions and the initial fix can be dispensed with for a direct approach into Holeopen Bay West. Vessels approaching from the east to the initial fix waypoint is just as obvious.
Please note

Races and overfalls form off the head at the extremity of the tides; to the southwest of the head in a west-going stream, and to the southeast of the head in an east-going stream. When overfalls are observed vessels should keep a mile off.



Initial fix location Steering a course of 4°T from the initial fix leads into the wide-open bay. The ruin of De Courcy Castle standing over the isthmus makes a good lead-in mark.


Yacht anchored in Holeopen Bay West
Image: Burke Corbett


Haven location The anchorage is situated off the narrow neck halfway out on the western side and in the middle of Holeopen Bay West. It is located about 0.8 of a nautical mile due north of the lighthouse itself.


Why visit here?
Holeopen West Bay takes its name from the subterranean passage that passes through the isthmus at its narrow neck to the north of the Old Head of Kinsale - see Holeopen Bay East External link. The much-venerated headland is steeped in history.


The 12th-century De Courcy castle at the golf course entrance
Image: David P Howard via CC BY-SA 2.0


It is one of the few Northern Europe landmarks depicted on the 2nd-century map by the Greek geographer, Claudius Ptolemy. The natural defensive promontory was then a Celtic stronghold until from 820 AD to 918 AD the Vikings had control of the Old Head. After the 12th-century Norman Conquest, the Anglo-Norman knight Sir John De Courcy took the area. De Courcy had distinguished himself in the wars of England and Gascony in the time of Henry II. Having been champion of England in a dispute with France, King John granted him and his descendants the privilege of remaining covered in the presence of the sovereign.


The tower house and curtain wall
Image: JohnM via CC BY-SA 2.0


Milo de Courcy built the curtain wall castle that can be seen in ruins today by the entrance to the golf course. The fort is also known as Dun Mac Patrick referring to previous defences on the site that would go back as far as the third century. The ruins of the small tower house straddle the narrow 120-metre wide neck of the Old Head of Kinsale which has a ditch and curtain wall constructed across its width. The ditch is 15 metres wide and 2.5 metres deep and the retaining wall on the southern inner side, and other partial remains. The tower retains its wall-walk, although it is now lacking its parapet. A stair in the southeast corner is reached from the uppermost of two doorways in the south wall, and the second storey has a vault. Above that was a private room with windows with embrasure seats.


The restored Old Head Signal Station
Image: David P Howard via CC BY-SA 2.0


The headland's principal other historical building, apart from its lighthouses (see Holeopen Bay East External link), is its signal station. At the beginning of the 19th-century, the fears of an invasion by Napoleon and his forces
and of political unrest in Ireland caused the British authorities to build a series of signal towers along Ireland's coastline.


View southward from the Old Head Signal Station
Image: David P Howard via CC BY-SA 2.0


The towers were described as a 'fencible guardhouses', giving the impression of them being military fortifications of some kind. In reality, these were lightly guarded structures not specifically designed as strongholds. Unlike the much stronger Martello Towers, built around the same time, would not have been able to withstand any pounding from cannon fire. Their primary function was to pass urgent messages from its neighbouring stations west and east, or from ships at sea by line-of-sight readings, along the chain to Dublin Castle. A large signal mast was set next to the tower on which a series of pennants and balls would have been suspended, with different patterns used to denote particular signals. Eighty-one signal towers were built southwards around the coast from the No. 1 Pigeon House Fort in Dublin all the way to Malin Head in Donegal. The Old Head of Kinsale Signal Tower was No. 25 in the chain.

The ragged shore of Hole Open Bay West that takes the full force of the Atlantic
Image: tiarescott via CC BY 2.0
But they were built for an invasion that would never come, and when Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo in 1815, their purpose ended. This, together with the high maintenance costs, caused the abandonment of most of the weather-beaten towers. Most of the abandoned sites were stripped of timber and dressed stone and left to fall into ruin. The signal station at the Old Head of Kinsale in County Cork has recently been fully restored and houses a small museum. One floor of the museum is dedicated to the Irish signal stations and the other is dedicated to the sinking of the RMS Lusitania in 1915, which occurred 11 miles out from the Old Head in 1915 - see Holeopen Bay East External link.

Of the two bays, Holeopen Bay East is more frequently used as it provides protection from the prevailing south-westerlies and Atlantic swell. From a boating perspective, Holeopen Bay West is a convenient place to drop into to acquire protection from easterly or north-easterly elements, to wait out a tide, or to have a lunch break in settled conditions.

It is also possible to stay overnight in settled conditions. Because this is a major headland there is always a chance of seeing some of the larger marine wildlife. It is not uncommon to spot Sunfish, Porpoises or Dolphins as well as the spectacular bird colonies on the western side of Holeopen Bay.


What facilities are available?
There are no facilities in this secluded bay.


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


With thanks to:
Burke Corbett, Gusserane, New Ross, Co. Wexford. Photos with thanks to Dr. David J Otway, John Finn and Burke Corbett.







Aerial view of Old Head of Kinsale


About Holeopen Bay West

Holeopen West Bay takes its name from the subterranean passage that passes through the isthmus at its narrow neck to the north of the Old Head of Kinsale - see Holeopen Bay East External link. The much-venerated headland is steeped in history.


The 12th-century De Courcy castle at the golf course entrance
Image: David P Howard via CC BY-SA 2.0


It is one of the few Northern Europe landmarks depicted on the 2nd-century map by the Greek geographer, Claudius Ptolemy. The natural defensive promontory was then a Celtic stronghold until from 820 AD to 918 AD the Vikings had control of the Old Head. After the 12th-century Norman Conquest, the Anglo-Norman knight Sir John De Courcy took the area. De Courcy had distinguished himself in the wars of England and Gascony in the time of Henry II. Having been champion of England in a dispute with France, King John granted him and his descendants the privilege of remaining covered in the presence of the sovereign.


The tower house and curtain wall
Image: JohnM via CC BY-SA 2.0


Milo de Courcy built the curtain wall castle that can be seen in ruins today by the entrance to the golf course. The fort is also known as Dun Mac Patrick referring to previous defences on the site that would go back as far as the third century. The ruins of the small tower house straddle the narrow 120-metre wide neck of the Old Head of Kinsale which has a ditch and curtain wall constructed across its width. The ditch is 15 metres wide and 2.5 metres deep and the retaining wall on the southern inner side, and other partial remains. The tower retains its wall-walk, although it is now lacking its parapet. A stair in the southeast corner is reached from the uppermost of two doorways in the south wall, and the second storey has a vault. Above that was a private room with windows with embrasure seats.


The restored Old Head Signal Station
Image: David P Howard via CC BY-SA 2.0


The headland's principal other historical building, apart from its lighthouses (see Holeopen Bay East External link), is its signal station. At the beginning of the 19th-century, the fears of an invasion by Napoleon and his forces
and of political unrest in Ireland caused the British authorities to build a series of signal towers along Ireland's coastline.


View southward from the Old Head Signal Station
Image: David P Howard via CC BY-SA 2.0


The towers were described as a 'fencible guardhouses', giving the impression of them being military fortifications of some kind. In reality, these were lightly guarded structures not specifically designed as strongholds. Unlike the much stronger Martello Towers, built around the same time, would not have been able to withstand any pounding from cannon fire. Their primary function was to pass urgent messages from its neighbouring stations west and east, or from ships at sea by line-of-sight readings, along the chain to Dublin Castle. A large signal mast was set next to the tower on which a series of pennants and balls would have been suspended, with different patterns used to denote particular signals. Eighty-one signal towers were built southwards around the coast from the No. 1 Pigeon House Fort in Dublin all the way to Malin Head in Donegal. The Old Head of Kinsale Signal Tower was No. 25 in the chain.

The ragged shore of Hole Open Bay West that takes the full force of the Atlantic
Image: tiarescott via CC BY 2.0
But they were built for an invasion that would never come, and when Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo in 1815, their purpose ended. This, together with the high maintenance costs, caused the abandonment of most of the weather-beaten towers. Most of the abandoned sites were stripped of timber and dressed stone and left to fall into ruin. The signal station at the Old Head of Kinsale in County Cork has recently been fully restored and houses a small museum. One floor of the museum is dedicated to the Irish signal stations and the other is dedicated to the sinking of the RMS Lusitania in 1915, which occurred 11 miles out from the Old Head in 1915 - see Holeopen Bay East External link.

Of the two bays, Holeopen Bay East is more frequently used as it provides protection from the prevailing south-westerlies and Atlantic swell. From a boating perspective, Holeopen Bay West is a convenient place to drop into to acquire protection from easterly or north-easterly elements, to wait out a tide, or to have a lunch break in settled conditions.

It is also possible to stay overnight in settled conditions. Because this is a major headland there is always a chance of seeing some of the larger marine wildlife. It is not uncommon to spot Sunfish, Porpoises or Dolphins as well as the spectacular bird colonies on the western side of Holeopen Bay.

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:
Coolmain Bay - 3 miles WNW
Courtmacsherry - 3.8 miles W
Broadstrand Bay - 3.3 miles W
Blindstrand Bay - 3.1 miles W
Seven Heads Bay - 3.6 miles WSW
Coastal anti-clockwise:
Holeopen Bay East - 0.4 miles E
Sandy Cove - 2.4 miles NNE
Castlepark Marina - 3.1 miles NNE
Kinsale Harbour - 3.3 miles NNE
Oyster Haven - 3.7 miles NE

Navigational pictures


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
























Aerial view of Old Head of Kinsale



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