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Rossbrin Cove

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Overview





Located on Ireland’s southwest coast, Rossbrin Cove is situated at the head of Long Island Bay in a small drying south-facing inlet. It is located approximately midway between Schull and Ballydehob and the anchorage is within the entrance to the cove.

Located on Ireland’s southwest coast, Rossbrin Cove is situated at the head of Long Island Bay in a small drying south-facing inlet. It is located approximately midway between Schull and Ballydehob and the anchorage is within the entrance to the cove.

Set within an enclosed channel, and well sheltered by Horse Island which is located close south, the anchorage offers good protection from all but very strong westerly or north-easterly winds. Approaches to the general area are straightforward with the western end approach being marked and lit.



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Keyfacts for Rossbrin Cove
Facilities
Water available via tapDiesel fuel available alongsideSlipway availableMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationHaul-out capabilities via arrangementMarine engineering services available in the areaRigging services available in the areaElectronics or electronic repair available in the areaSail making or sail repair services


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationRemote or quiet secluded locationAnchoring locationJetty 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
4 stars: Good; assured night's sleep except from specific quarters.



Last modified
October 19th 2021

Summary

A good location with straightforward access.

Facilities
Water available via tapDiesel fuel available alongsideSlipway availableMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationHaul-out capabilities via arrangementMarine engineering services available in the areaRigging services available in the areaElectronics or electronic repair available in the areaSail making or sail repair services


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationRemote or quiet secluded locationAnchoring locationJetty 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° 31.453' N, 009° 28.168' W

In the neck of the inlet where 2 metres is assured.

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 mile 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.

  • Pass Amelia Buoy on its correct side to clear Amelia Rock.

  • Proceed to the midpoint of Copper Point and Coosheen Point before turning and taking a mid-channel direction to avoid the dangerous Mhweel Ledges.

  • Steer to the mainland side as Castle Island changes to Horse Island Channel to avoid Castle Island Spit.


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 Rossbrin Cove for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Horse Island - 0.5 nautical miles SSW
  2. Dereenatra - 1 nautical miles WSW
  3. Castle Island (North Side) - 1.4 nautical miles WSW
  4. Castle Island (South Side) - 1.5 nautical miles SW
  5. Ballydehob Bay - 1.8 nautical miles NE
  6. Rincolisky Harbour - 2.1 nautical miles SE
  7. Poulgorm Bay - 2.3 nautical miles NE
  8. East Pier - 2.4 nautical miles SE
  9. Trá Bán - 2.4 nautical miles SE
  10. Calf Island East - 2.4 nautical miles SSW
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Horse Island - 0.5 miles SSW
  2. Dereenatra - 1 miles WSW
  3. Castle Island (North Side) - 1.4 miles WSW
  4. Castle Island (South Side) - 1.5 miles SW
  5. Ballydehob Bay - 1.8 miles NE
  6. Rincolisky Harbour - 2.1 miles SE
  7. Poulgorm Bay - 2.3 miles NE
  8. East Pier - 2.4 miles SE
  9. Trá Bán - 2.4 miles SE
  10. Calf Island East - 2.4 miles SSW
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?
Rossbrin Cove at high water
Image: Michael Harpur


Rossbrin Cove is situated just over 2 miles east of Schull, on the north coast of Roaring Water Bay close north of Horse Island. It is a funnel-shaped inlet with small quays and a slip at its head. The vast majority of the upper harbour dries to mudflats at low water. Its most significant feature is the ruin of Rossbrin Castle that stands on a rocky bluff overlooking its western shore. At its head is a boatyard.

Local boat moored under the castle ruin
Image: Burke Corbett


Sheltered by Horse Island, the mouth of Rossbrin Cove offers a good anchorage. It may be possible for a boat to be left unattended at one of the moorings in the cove.


How to get in?
Horse Island and Castle Island with the Derreen Rocks just visible
Image: Michael Harpur


Convergance Point Offshore details are available in southwestern Ireland’s Coastal Overview for Cork Harbour to Mizen Head Route location seaward approaches. Vessels approaching from the south may use the Schull Harbour Schull Harbour Click to view haven general approach directions and initial fix. From there it is simply a matter of following the channels to the north of the islands and south of the mainland to Rossbrin.


Southbound yacht passing to the east of the Derreen Rocks
Image: Burke Corbett


South Eastern Approach Vessels approaching the area southeast, or from the south sides of Castle or Horse Islands, may enter Horse Island Channel by passing between the islands. The key danger to avoid is the Derreen Rocks that are situated between the islands. Vessels may pass on either side of the Derreen Rocks, of which the western side is the better been both the wider and deeper option. It is also essential to continue to steer north-eastward after passing Castle Island when using the western channel to avoid Castle Island Spit. Alternatively, cut between it and Castle Island with a sufficient rise to clear the 1.4 metre LAT saddle between the island and the spit head.
Please note

A first-time visitor would be best advised to take the Schull Harbour approach between Long and Castle Island.




Copper Point on the eastern point of Long Island, outside of Schull Harbour
Image: Michael Harpur


Initial fix location From the Schull Initial Fix, proceed between Long Island and the Amelia Rock buoy to the southwest of Castle Island. The Amelia Buoy marks the Amelia Rock, over which there is a depth of 2.1 metres at the extremity of Castle Grounds that extends from the west end of Castle Island for a distance of a ½ mile.

Copper Point as seen from the north shore
Image: Michael Harpur


Keep closer to, or a third to the east of, Long Island where Copper Point will be conspicuous. This presents a white 14 metre high round tower with a light showing.

Copper Point - Lighthouse Q(3)10s 16m 8M position 51° 30.250’N 009° 32.063’W

Continue northward after passing to the east of Copper Point steering towards Coosheen Point, the eastern side of the entrance to Schull Harbour. When about midway between both, turn hard east into Castle Island Channel, situated between Castle Island and the mainland, that is entered between Coosheen Point and Mweel Point. Mweel Point is the extremity of Mhweel Ledges that consist of several rocks above water and rocks which dry, that extend about a ¼ mile west by southwest of the western extremity of Castle Island.


Castle Island Channel as seen from Trawnwaud on the mainland side
Image: Michael Harpur


Castle Island Channel is the extension eastward of Long Island Channel. It is free from danger and has 16 metres in the entrance decreasing to 10 at its eastern end. This mid-channel course through Castle Island Channel is advised simply to keep well the north of the dangerous Mweel Ledges.


Rossbrin Point and Horse Island above
Image: Michael Harpur


Favour the mainland or northern side at the east end of Castle Island Channel where it joins Horse Island Channel. This area is obstructed by Castle Island Spit that extends 800 metres to the northeast of Castle Island toward Rossbrin Point.

Horse Island Channel leading to Rossbrin
Image: Michael Harpur


Continue along Castle Island Channel, between Horse Island and the mainland on the north, taking a mid-channel approach up to Rossbrin Cove.


Rossbrin Castle ruin makes a conspicuous mark for the cove
Image: Burke Corbett


Rossbrin Cove is entered from the north side of Horse Island Channel. The cove will have been made readily conspicuous for some time on the approach by Rossbrin Castle standing on the shoreline on the west side of the cove.


The view up Rossbrin Cove from the entrance
Image: Burke Corbett


Haven location Vessels carrying any draft should not proceed beyond where the castle ruin is any westward of northwest where it is about a 1.5 metres LAT. After this the inlet shallows quickly.

Slip at the western extremity of Rossbrin Cove
Image: Michael Harpur


The head of the cove dries entirely where it turns into a mud hole with small dingy channels that hold some water.


Small quay on the north side of the cove
Image: Michael Harpur


Land by dinghy at the slip at the western extremity of the inlet or the quay on the north shore. A ladder set into the wall makes landing very convenient at the quay.
Please note

Castle Island Channel provides no passage to Roaringwater Bay as the drying Horse Ridge lies across its east end. However, vessels of a moderate draft may cross this at high water to achieve access to and from Roaringwater and Ballydehob Bays.



Horse Ridge showing
Image: Burke Corbett



Why visit here?
Rossbrin takes its name from the conjunction of 'Ros Broin', first recorded as 'Rossebren' in 1573 which means 'Bron's headland'. The castle is sometimes referred to as O'Mahony because it was the seat and most eastern territory of the O'Mahony clan.


Rossbrin Castle was the seat of the O'Mahony
Image: Michael Harpur


The O'Mahony name comes from Mathghamban, son of Cian Mac Mael Muda, a 10th-century prince and his wife Sadbh, daughter of the legendary Irish High King Brian Boru. The clan's reign coincided with the arrival of the Anglo-Normans in 1169 at the request of Diarmait Mac Murchada, the deposed king of Leinster. With Diarmait reinstated to his lands the Anglo-Normans set about seizing territory for themselves. There followed a period of unrest during which time the O’ Mahony territory was constantly under attack by the Normans and neighbouring Irish clans. However, the clan maintained much of their lands which included all the land to the west of Rossbrin to Mizen Head which they controlled from a series of castles strung out along the coastline.

Rossbrin Tower as seen from the anchoage
Image: Michael Harpur
The most famous member of the O'Mahony clan was Finghinn O'Mathuna who died in Rossbrin 1496. Finghinn was acclaimed as being unmatched in Munster for hospitality and scholarship. The latter was noted in the 'Annals of Ulster' where he was described as "a great scholar in Irish, Latin and English". In 1476 Finghinn became the new clan chieftain presiding over the clan lands from his seat Rossbrin Castle that was believed to be recorded as existing as early as 1327. At the time west Cork’s old Gaelic clans of O'Mahony, O'Driscoll, and O'Sullivan ruled their territories in harmony and they all became fabulously wealthy through the medieval herring and pilchard fishing industry.

At the beginning of the 17th-Century, there were more than 500 large French, Spanish and Portuguese fishing boats constantly harvesting the fish shoals off the southwest coast. It is estimated that each clan chieftain's income exceeded a thousand pounds each. This was by way of fishing rights, harbour dues, shore facilities to salt their catch (herring had to be processed within 24 hours), protection money, exports, and by serving and provisioning the foreign ships. Taking a pound, at the time, could purchase two cows this presented the clans with a large and very reliable income.


The quiet have would have been a hive of activity in Medieval times
Image: Michael Harpur


It was this prosperity that gave rise to a significant building of tower houses and religious buildings in the first half of the 15th century. The O'Mahonys alone built twelve castles of which a number at Rossmore, Dunbeacon and Ballydevlin are in the area. All the castles had minimal defence features indicating how peaceful this period of prosperity was. Although they did retain many of the features of 'true' castles, such as battlements and narrow slit windows they were predominantly icons of power. Rossbrin's castle came from an earlier period and its siting strongly suggests that the tower house was intended to overawe the small haven. This haven may well have sheltered the small sea force necessary to collect duties from foreign fishing vessels. The view from its battlements encompasses the whole of Roaring Water Bay and it would have been both possible to scan the Atlantic to the southwest as well as contact the surrounding castles of Kilcoe Castle, Ardintenant, Castleduff (on Castle Island) and Rincolisky.


The battlments of Rosbrin Tower provided views over the entirety of the bay
Image: Michael Harpur


Whilst they never fought with neighbouring clans, the O'Mahony became a source of constant frustration for the English forces. The Crown moved to finally subdue the clan late in the 16th century after the Nine Years War. Also known as the Desmond Rebellions, this was where Aodh Rua Ó Dónaill and other Irish clan leaders rose against English rule. When the rebellion was finally suppressed, two O'Mahony tower houses, Rossbrin and Dunbeacon were confiscated and passed into the hands of the English settlers. This, however, would be no easy round-up for the Crown and the castle went back and forth between the opposing forces many times. The Crown reigned supreme and in 1584 a lease from Queen Elizabeth was recorded conveying his 'Castle and desmesne of Rosbrin, containing half an acre of land, surrounded by a wall, with edifices therein' to one Oliver Lambert'.

John O’Mahony, ca. 1861-1865
Image: Public Domain
But it was in the aftermath of the 1601 Siege or Battle of Kinsale, the ultimate battle in England's conquest of Gaelic Ireland that the O'Mahony clan would be finally broken. From that time onward there is little recorded history to be found of them. Yet the family name would significantly appear more than two centuries later in John O'Mahony (1816-1877). Heralding from Kilbeheny, near Mitchelstown, O’Mahony’s father and uncles participated in the United Irishman uprising of 1798 and narrowly avoided execution as a result of the death of their chief enemy, Lord Kingston, a local landowner.

As a Gaelic scholar, John O'Mahony joined Daniel O'Connell's movement for the Repeal of the Union Act of 1800 in 1843, but quickly became dissatisfied with the lack of progress. He then joined the Young Irelander movement which Smith O'Brien led and took part in the failed Young Irelander Rebellion of 1848. Fleeing from arrest he settled for a time in Paris, where he lived in great poverty. In 1854, he joined John Mitchel in New York City. In 1858, he founded the Fenian Brotherhood in the United States, a sister organisation to the Irish Republican Brotherhood that actively fought British forces in Canada. It became a powrfull movement and organisation that was to play a significant part in the liberation of Ireland.

Today there is little left of the castle that, in its heyday, had four stories with two flanking towers. Sadly, the site has deteriorated significantly over the past century. In 1905 the west wall collapsed during a storm, in 1963 part of the vaulted third storey loft fell, and a further collapse occurred in 1975, leaving only the remaining four storeys high northeast corner that can be seen today.


Rossbrin Boatyard
Image: Michael Harpur


From a boating point of view, the anchorage off Horse Island Channel and just outside the quiet tidal harbour provides excellent shelter. Although a quiet location, there is always the comings and goings of boats to provide a measure of interest to an observer peacefully passing away time in the cockpit.
Boaters are afforded a unique ability to enjoy Rossbrin's West Cork 'lifestyle'. Properties rarely come up for sale here as they get handed down through generations, which is little surprise in such a scenic location. It is also the perfect place to take of some boat work at Rossbrin Boatyard. Although there may be little in the way of shopping available in the village, Schull is always close at hand for this.


What facilities are available?
Rossbrin may not offer much in the way of shops but it does boast an excellent boatyard where every possible help will be given. Their facilities include water from a tap, diesel fuel, lifting facility, mechanics and electricians, and also a sail repairer.


Any security concerns?
Never an issue known to have occurred to vessel anchored off Rossbrin.


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



About Rossbrin Cove

Rossbrin takes its name from the conjunction of 'Ros Broin', first recorded as 'Rossebren' in 1573 which means 'Bron's headland'. The castle is sometimes referred to as O'Mahony because it was the seat and most eastern territory of the O'Mahony clan.


Rossbrin Castle was the seat of the O'Mahony
Image: Michael Harpur


The O'Mahony name comes from Mathghamban, son of Cian Mac Mael Muda, a 10th-century prince and his wife Sadbh, daughter of the legendary Irish High King Brian Boru. The clan's reign coincided with the arrival of the Anglo-Normans in 1169 at the request of Diarmait Mac Murchada, the deposed king of Leinster. With Diarmait reinstated to his lands the Anglo-Normans set about seizing territory for themselves. There followed a period of unrest during which time the O’ Mahony territory was constantly under attack by the Normans and neighbouring Irish clans. However, the clan maintained much of their lands which included all the land to the west of Rossbrin to Mizen Head which they controlled from a series of castles strung out along the coastline.

Rossbrin Tower as seen from the anchoage
Image: Michael Harpur
The most famous member of the O'Mahony clan was Finghinn O'Mathuna who died in Rossbrin 1496. Finghinn was acclaimed as being unmatched in Munster for hospitality and scholarship. The latter was noted in the 'Annals of Ulster' where he was described as "a great scholar in Irish, Latin and English". In 1476 Finghinn became the new clan chieftain presiding over the clan lands from his seat Rossbrin Castle that was believed to be recorded as existing as early as 1327. At the time west Cork’s old Gaelic clans of O'Mahony, O'Driscoll, and O'Sullivan ruled their territories in harmony and they all became fabulously wealthy through the medieval herring and pilchard fishing industry.

At the beginning of the 17th-Century, there were more than 500 large French, Spanish and Portuguese fishing boats constantly harvesting the fish shoals off the southwest coast. It is estimated that each clan chieftain's income exceeded a thousand pounds each. This was by way of fishing rights, harbour dues, shore facilities to salt their catch (herring had to be processed within 24 hours), protection money, exports, and by serving and provisioning the foreign ships. Taking a pound, at the time, could purchase two cows this presented the clans with a large and very reliable income.


The quiet have would have been a hive of activity in Medieval times
Image: Michael Harpur


It was this prosperity that gave rise to a significant building of tower houses and religious buildings in the first half of the 15th century. The O'Mahonys alone built twelve castles of which a number at Rossmore, Dunbeacon and Ballydevlin are in the area. All the castles had minimal defence features indicating how peaceful this period of prosperity was. Although they did retain many of the features of 'true' castles, such as battlements and narrow slit windows they were predominantly icons of power. Rossbrin's castle came from an earlier period and its siting strongly suggests that the tower house was intended to overawe the small haven. This haven may well have sheltered the small sea force necessary to collect duties from foreign fishing vessels. The view from its battlements encompasses the whole of Roaring Water Bay and it would have been both possible to scan the Atlantic to the southwest as well as contact the surrounding castles of Kilcoe Castle, Ardintenant, Castleduff (on Castle Island) and Rincolisky.


The battlments of Rosbrin Tower provided views over the entirety of the bay
Image: Michael Harpur


Whilst they never fought with neighbouring clans, the O'Mahony became a source of constant frustration for the English forces. The Crown moved to finally subdue the clan late in the 16th century after the Nine Years War. Also known as the Desmond Rebellions, this was where Aodh Rua Ó Dónaill and other Irish clan leaders rose against English rule. When the rebellion was finally suppressed, two O'Mahony tower houses, Rossbrin and Dunbeacon were confiscated and passed into the hands of the English settlers. This, however, would be no easy round-up for the Crown and the castle went back and forth between the opposing forces many times. The Crown reigned supreme and in 1584 a lease from Queen Elizabeth was recorded conveying his 'Castle and desmesne of Rosbrin, containing half an acre of land, surrounded by a wall, with edifices therein' to one Oliver Lambert'.

John O’Mahony, ca. 1861-1865
Image: Public Domain
But it was in the aftermath of the 1601 Siege or Battle of Kinsale, the ultimate battle in England's conquest of Gaelic Ireland that the O'Mahony clan would be finally broken. From that time onward there is little recorded history to be found of them. Yet the family name would significantly appear more than two centuries later in John O'Mahony (1816-1877). Heralding from Kilbeheny, near Mitchelstown, O’Mahony’s father and uncles participated in the United Irishman uprising of 1798 and narrowly avoided execution as a result of the death of their chief enemy, Lord Kingston, a local landowner.

As a Gaelic scholar, John O'Mahony joined Daniel O'Connell's movement for the Repeal of the Union Act of 1800 in 1843, but quickly became dissatisfied with the lack of progress. He then joined the Young Irelander movement which Smith O'Brien led and took part in the failed Young Irelander Rebellion of 1848. Fleeing from arrest he settled for a time in Paris, where he lived in great poverty. In 1854, he joined John Mitchel in New York City. In 1858, he founded the Fenian Brotherhood in the United States, a sister organisation to the Irish Republican Brotherhood that actively fought British forces in Canada. It became a powrfull movement and organisation that was to play a significant part in the liberation of Ireland.

Today there is little left of the castle that, in its heyday, had four stories with two flanking towers. Sadly, the site has deteriorated significantly over the past century. In 1905 the west wall collapsed during a storm, in 1963 part of the vaulted third storey loft fell, and a further collapse occurred in 1975, leaving only the remaining four storeys high northeast corner that can be seen today.


Rossbrin Boatyard
Image: Michael Harpur


From a boating point of view, the anchorage off Horse Island Channel and just outside the quiet tidal harbour provides excellent shelter. Although a quiet location, there is always the comings and goings of boats to provide a measure of interest to an observer peacefully passing away time in the cockpit.
Boaters are afforded a unique ability to enjoy Rossbrin's West Cork 'lifestyle'. Properties rarely come up for sale here as they get handed down through generations, which is little surprise in such a scenic location. It is also the perfect place to take of some boat work at Rossbrin Boatyard. Although there may be little in the way of shopping available in the village, Schull is always close at hand for this.

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:
Dereenatra - 0.6 miles WSW
Castle Island (South Side) - 0.9 miles SW
Castle Island (North Side) - 0.8 miles WSW
Schull Harbour (Skull) - 1.7 miles W
Long Island - 2.2 miles WSW
Coastal anti-clockwise:
Horse Island - 0.3 miles SSW
Ballydehob Bay - 1.1 miles NE
Poulgorm Bay - 1.4 miles NE
Calf Island East - 1.5 miles SSW
Trá Bán - 1.5 miles SE

Navigational pictures


These additional images feature in the 'How to get in' section of our detailed view for Rossbrin Cove.













































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