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Located on Ireland’s southwest coast, Croagh Bay is situated at the head of Long Island Bay, north of Long Island and set into a mainland creek and river inlet. It offers a secure Long Island Channel anchorage in a remote and secluded location.

Located on Ireland’s southwest coast, Croagh Bay is situated at the head of Long Island Bay, north of Long Island and set into a mainland creek and river inlet. It offers a secure Long Island Channel anchorage in a remote and secluded location.

Set within the enclosed channel and at the head of a bay, the anchorage offers good protection from all but very strong southerly winds. Approaches to the general area are straightforward at any stage of the tide and the approach to the channel's eastern entrance is lit.

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Keyfacts for Croagh Bay
Marked or notable walks in the vicinity of this location

No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationRemote or quiet secluded locationAnchoring locationBeach or shoreline landing from a tenderQuick and easy access from open waterScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinity

None listed

Protected sectors

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

5 stars: Safe access; all reasonable conditions.
4 stars: Good; assured night's sleep except from specific quarters.

Last modified
November 17th 2021


A good location with safe access.

Marked or notable walks in the vicinity of this location

No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationRemote or quiet secluded locationAnchoring locationBeach or shoreline landing from a tenderQuick and easy access from open waterScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinity

None listed

Position and approaches
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Haven position

51° 30.074' N, 009° 34.962' W

This is in the deeper water immediately outside the bay.

What is the initial fix?

The following Schull initial fix will set up a final approach:
51° 29.947' N, 009° 31.682' W
This is 300 metres west of the Amelia Rock Marker and on the harbour’s 346° T in-line leading through the entrance. The anchoring area in Schull Harbour is a mile and a half from here.

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 seaward approaches to the Long Island Channel available in the Schull Harbour Click to view haven and Long Island Click to view haven entries.

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 Croagh Bay for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Coney Island - 0.5 nautical miles E
  2. Colla Harbour - 0.9 nautical miles ENE
  3. Long Island - 1 nautical miles E
  4. Schull Harbour (Skull) - 2.1 nautical miles NE
  5. Toormore Cove - 2.6 nautical miles WNW
  6. Carrigmore Bay - 2.8 nautical miles WNW
  7. Castle Island (South Side) - 3.1 nautical miles E
  8. Castle Island (North Side) - 3.1 nautical miles ENE
  9. Dereenatra - 3.4 nautical miles ENE
  10. Calf Island East - 3.9 nautical miles ESE
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Coney Island - 0.5 miles E
  2. Colla Harbour - 0.9 miles ENE
  3. Long Island - 1 miles E
  4. Schull Harbour (Skull) - 2.1 miles NE
  5. Toormore Cove - 2.6 miles WNW
  6. Carrigmore Bay - 2.8 miles WNW
  7. Castle Island (South Side) - 3.1 miles E
  8. Castle Island (North Side) - 3.1 miles ENE
  9. Dereenatra - 3.4 miles ENE
  10. Calf Island East - 3.9 miles ESE
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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?
Yachts anchored in Croagh Bay
Image: Burke Corbett

Croagh Bay is a shallow inlet running up to the Croagh River. It is located on the north and mainland side of Long Island Channel to the north side of Long Island between it and the mainland. The bay is entered between Gun Point and Coney Island. It is a remote sparsely-populated area that, been exposed to the Atlantic, has a wild treeless shore and its surrounding fields mostly given over to pasture.

The area offers one of the most sheltered locations in Long Island Channel with ample space to anchor. It has excellent holding ground and plenty of water for deep draught vessels and those that can take to the bottom will find perfect shelter up its creeks - most notably the Creek which goes west towards the settlement of Leamcon.

How to get in?
Crough Bay to the west of Coney Island
Image: Michael Harpur

Convergance Point Offshore details are available in southwestern Ireland’s Coastal Overview of Cork Harbour to Mizen Head Route location for seaward approaches. Vessels approaching from the south may use the Schull Harbour Click to view haven general approach directions and initial fix. This is the principal approach, the safest and is lit.

These directions should be used in conjunction with the Long Island Click to view haven entry as it is situated directly opposite Long Island pier on the mainland side of Long Island Channel.

The anchorage is situated less than 1 mile westward from Long Island pier on the west side of Coney Island. Be careful not to cut the southern corner of the island as a foul drying area extends 80 metres to the south of Coney Island. This rocky patch can be avoided by keeping Brow Head open of Gun Point. Likewise do not pass from Croagh Bay around the north side of the island, between it and the mainland, as it is very shallow with a large part of it drying from the island side at low water.

The view eastward up Long Island Channel from south of Coney Island
Image: Burke Corbett

The Long Island entry also provides additional directions for vessels intending to approach from the southwest so as to enter Long Island Channel western end via Goat Island Sound or Man of War Sound.

The small Coney Island off the mainland on the eastern side of Croagh Bay
Image: Burke Corbett

Croagh Bay is made unmistakable by the small 11 metres high Coney Island on its eastern side. The bay is also overlooked by the conspicuous Leamcon Signal Tower, on the crest of the round-topped, 107 metres high Tower Hill situated about 1½ miles northeast of Castle Point.

Croagh Bay with Leamcon Signal Tower on the crest of Tower Hill
Image: Burke Corbett

The final approach to Croagh Bay from either of these approaches is between the point situated a ¼ of a mile to the northeast of Gun Point and Coney Island. Vessels entering the bay should prefer a central-to-western side approach path to stay well clear of the foul area called the Esheens. The Esheens dry to 1 metre LAT and extend about 300 metres to the west from Coney Island.

The Esheens extending westward from Coney Island
Image: Burke Corbett

Haven location Anchor according to draft and conditions in the head of Croagh Bay. Excellent sand and mud holding can be found throughout the bay.

Yachts in Croagh Bay as seen from the western landing beach
Image: Burke Corbett

Land by dinghy on the western shore or at high water up the northern end of the Croagh River inlet where an old quay can be found on the west side.

Why visit here?
Pronounced locally as 'crew', Croagh is an Anglicisation of the Irish words crough or crua commonly used in the north and west of Ireland to mean 'stiff-soiled area'. This perfectly describes the estuary and the creeks nature that, from a mariner's point of view, offers excellent holding and careening potential.

However, it is from its other nautical properties, its recessed, remote nature, just out of sight of the main passageways of the Long Island Channel, Schull and Crookhaven that gives this quiet backwater a rather extraordinary history. For in the late Middle Ages this made it the perfect safe haven for pirates, smugglers, and those who want to profit from such activities. Extraordinary though it may seem, this nook was a hive of illicit activity.

After the defeat of the Irish at the Battle of Kinsale start of the 1600s, Sir George Carew, (President of Munster serving under Elizabeth I during the Tudor conquest of Ireland) had the singular objective of 'pacifying' the province. Determined to do this by repopulation his plantation efforts commenced immediately with the establishment of a number of English settlements, such as at Baltimore, Whiddy Island, Castlehaven and Crookhaven. His southwest Munster plantation policy was practically complete before the Dublin Parliament Plantation Acts of 1613-15. By then the old and new English such as the Coppingers, the Bechers and Sir William Hull had taken over the lands of the vanquished Gaelic chieftains who had most taken flight. Freedom of religion and the rich fishing-rights pickings that the clans had previously thrived upon seemed to be the main attractions.

Leamcon Castle (or Black Castle) on Castle Point
Image: Mike Searle via CC BY SA 2.0

But that was not entirely the case for the Devon-born Sir William Hull who settled in Leamcon up Croagh Bay's western creek. He had a chequered history having received an indictment for engaging in piracy operations, or more appropriately, being a privateer. This occurred in 1604 when he had attacked a French ship off the coast of Devon. He was subsequently found not guilty but this was most probably due to the influence of his father who was mayor of Exeter.

Nevertheless, the Crown saw in him the makings of a poacher-turned-gamekeeper and around 1605 he was 'planted' into the O'Mahonys' traditional lands overlooking Roaringwater Bay. He took up residence in Leamcon Castle also known as Black Castle situated on Castle Point 1½ miles west of the bay. From here he immediately took over the many money-making activities such as fishing and handling the continental fishing fleets which the clans had previously taxed.

Hull, by any measure, must have been a dynamic and very capable individual as in a subsequent Court hearing, more than three decades later and following the rising of 1641, it was noted that he had established a large-scale business enterprise in his time. These included pilchard palaces, basic processing buildings where the pilchard oil was extracted, at Croagh Bay, Dunmanus and Dunbeacon. These were serviced by his 16 seine boats, each would have a crew of 12 and a further 80 would be needed were counted amongst his operation. He was also active at Crookhaven where he had a major fishery in operation as early as 1616. In addition to these local operations, he also had a facility on Whiddy Island, rented by Davenant from O’Sullivan Bere, and more off Cornwall. It is also believed Hull also had another fishery in Newfoundland. These fisheries were financed by London merchants as well as Hull’s business partner was Richard Boyle, the Great Earl of Cork (1566 - 1643).

The head of the creek leading westward to Leamcon
Image: Burke Corbett

Hull had quickly become one of the most influential and wealthy local settlers in the area. He established his main demesne, or fortified house, eastward and overlooking the eastern branch of the Creek that stretches westward from the anchorage. Here he could control shipping, trade and industry within an environment protected by secrecy, seclusion and self-interest. Surely impressed by what must have been the early signs of his industriousness, the English Admiralty appointed him Deputy Vice-Admiral of Munster in 1609. Piracy was rampant on the southern Irish coastline at the time and they entrusted the energetic Hull with its suppression.

But they could not be more wrong as Sir William Hull was a piratical cad that would become the perfect example of the best efforts of the admiralty unintendingly contributing to the problem of piracy. From the outset, Hull was known as a friend and ally, rather than foe, of the pirates that operated from here. Far from doing anything to suppress piracy, he was entirely complicit, making considerable financial gains from his dealings with them. When he became the acting authority for the region he made Croagh Bay the centre of his piratical empire and the 'nest' of the pirates of the North Atlantic. By the 1610s, some 25 pirate vessels, mainly English, were being careened and repaired in Croagh Bay and the area was the perfect base.

Croagh Bay's remoteness ensured anonymity, obscurity and with the collusion of the official authority, they could operate with freely. Add to this then the multitude of islands and tricky local-knowledge navigation within the confines of a relatively short stretch of sea and they had the natural protection of ample evasion pathways and safe anchorages. It even came complete with a host of convenient staging points from which they could target passing trade ships and control the waters within Roaringwater Bay. All of these properties allowed the pirates of Croagh Bay to become prosperous predators, where they could operate with such ease that many brought family and relatives to settle on Hull’s estate.

So from Croagh Bay, a pirate plague flourished in the first half of the 17th century. And, needless to say, the dynamic Hull benefited the most all the time adding to his fortune. He was a master of being able to straddle the thin divide between legitimate business and illegitimate trade. On one hand, he ran his legitimate fishery empire and many other interests flawlessly. He even amassed a fortune by charging rent from the pirates that come to live on his estate and made good businesses supplying them with other services such as groceries, hardware, alehouses and brothels.

On the other hand, Hull was their chief contact, or 'land pirate' as contemporaries called him, for the North Atlantic pirates. He happily received stolen goods, such as pepper, sugar and canvas, in return for a large percentage of the profits. He always retained the upper hand and, managing both sides, he could make anyone that crossed him regret it. In 1625, Hull captured eight pirates at Long Island and sent them to Cork where they were executed. Yet despite facing continuous accusations of piracy throughout his career, Hull received a knighthood from Charles I in 1621.

Croagh Bay with Long Island in the backdrop
Image: Burke Corbett

His occupation of the townland of Leamcon would finally come to an end in the rising 1641 when the O’Mahony’s moved to regain their former holdings. According to Hull, his entire industry was wiped out by '800 rebels in all'. Hull was so complacent and indignant with the action of the rebels that he forgot that he was an arch-robber himself and sought redress in the courts. But it was in these hearings that Hull himself was implicated for his involvement and help given to pirates. A High Court of Admiralty paper described him as 'a notorious harboro of pirates and receavor of theire goodes'. Nevertheless, he managed to retain an official post as Deputy Vice-Admiral of Munster and freely returned to sea as a privateer, raiding French and Spanish ships with the blessing of Charles I.

All of this possibly explains why Croagh Bay is entered between the island and Gun Point where no gun exists. This would, in Hulls time, have been the ideal location from which to defend the western entrances into Long Island Sound, the Long Island Channel and Croagh Bay. Sadly, nothing now survives of his demesne, but the town land's straight east boundary may be a vestige of an enclosure associated with it.

Croagh Bay with Mount Gabriel with its conspicuous radar domes in the backdrop
Image: Burke Corbett

From a boating point of view, Croagh Bay is one of the many beautiful anchorages that may be used in and around the Long Island Channel. Of the other option in the Long Island Channel, Croagh is one of the most protected as it has the mainland to the west around through north to northeast, and also obtain a fair measure of easterly protection from the small 12 metres high Coney Island. What the bay offers most is rural seclusion in beautiful Cork scenery, yet it has Crookhaven and Schull just 30 minutes either way, with very easy access from each direction.

What facilities are available?
There are no facilities at this remote anchorage.

Any security concerns?
Never an issue known to have occurred to vessel anchored in the Long Island Channel area.

With thanks to:
Burke Corbett, Gusserane, New Ross, Co. Wexford. Photography with thanks to Burke Corbett and Ben Barker.

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