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Horse Island

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Overview





Horse Island is located on Ireland’s southwest coast at the head of Long Island Bay opposite Rossbrin on the mainland. It provides an anchorage off the island’s small pier.

Horse Island is located on Ireland’s southwest coast at the head of Long Island Bay opposite Rossbrin on the mainland. It provides an anchorage off the island’s small pier.

Set within an enclosed channel, and well sheltered by the mainland to the north, the anchorage offers good protection from all but very strong westerly or north-easterly winds. Approaches to the general area are straightforward at any stage of the tide but only the western end is marked and lit so final approaches should be with daylight.



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Keyfacts for Horse Island
Facilities
Marked or notable walks in the vicinity of this location


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this 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 22nd 2021

Summary

A good location with straightforward access.

Facilities
Marked or notable walks in the vicinity of this location


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this 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° 31.044' N, 009° 28.484' W

Just north of the Horse Island Pier

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 though the entrance. The anchoring area in Schull Harbour is mile a half from here.


What are the key points of the approach?

Convergance Point Offshore details are available in southwestern Ireland’s Coastal Overview for Cork Harbour to Mizen Head Route location and Rossbrin Cove Click to view haven 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 Horse Island for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Rossbrin Cove - 0.3 miles NNE
  2. Dereenatra - 0.5 miles WNW
  3. Castle Island (North Side) - 0.6 miles WSW
  4. Castle Island (South Side) - 0.7 miles WSW
  5. Calf Island East - 1.2 miles S
  6. Rincolisky Harbour - 1.3 miles ESE
  7. Ballydehob Bay - 1.4 miles NE
  8. Trá Bán - 1.4 miles SE
  9. East Pier - 1.4 miles ESE
  10. Schull Harbour (Skull) - 1.6 miles W
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Rossbrin Cove - 0.3 miles NNE
  2. Dereenatra - 0.5 miles WNW
  3. Castle Island (North Side) - 0.6 miles WSW
  4. Castle Island (South Side) - 0.7 miles WSW
  5. Calf Island East - 1.2 miles S
  6. Rincolisky Harbour - 1.3 miles ESE
  7. Ballydehob Bay - 1.4 miles NE
  8. Trá Bán - 1.4 miles SE
  9. East Pier - 1.4 miles ESE
  10. Schull Harbour (Skull) - 1.6 miles W
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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?
Horse Island as seen from the west
Image: Stephanie Jaax External link


Horse Island is a small low lying island in Roaringwater Bay near Schull. It is one of three low islands that adjoining the coast here, about a ½ mile offshore, and are separated from each other by narrow passes. They are set in a line and, from west to east, are Long Island, Castle Island and then Horse Island. Horse Island Channel lays between Horse Island and the mainland to the north. Horse Island is privately owned and has holiday homes and a small pier on its southwest corner facing the channel.


The pier on Horse Island
Image: Kristian Peter External link


The principal anchorage is just off the island in Horse Island Channel. From 4 to 2.7 metres LAT will be found in the channel shallowing gradually to the island.


How to get in?
Horse Island opposite Rossbrin on the mainland
Image: Stephanie Jaax External link


Convergance Point Offshore details are available in southwestern Ireland’s Coastal Overview for Cork Harbour to Mizen Head Route location seaward approaches and Rossbrin Cove Click to view haven for general approach directions as Horse Island pier lies on the opposite side of the channel.


Horse Island Pier as seen from Horse Island Channel
Image: Burke Corbett


Haven location The principal anchorage is in the Horse Island Channel anchorage. The island is completely private including its pier, so only land at the pier if permission has been given. The pier is only usable at high water, as it dries out well beyond its head, but it has very good protection for a dinghy to approach and land.

Landing on the island’s beaches from the sea is always permissible. Indeed, small flotillas of boats can be found moored off the beaches during the summer with many people having picnics. But no incursion should be made above the HW mark without express permission.

The east end of Horse Island facing Roaringwater Bay
Image: Stephanie Jaax External link


It is also possible to anchor outside of the Horse Island Channel and to the east of Horse Island in Roaringwater Bay. It is important to note that there is no passage from Horse Island Channel to Roaringwater Bay on account of Horse Ridge, which dries 0.6 metres LAT, that lies across the channels' east end. Shoal draft vessels may pass with an appropriate rise.


Why visit here?
Horse Island takes its name from the old Irish Each Inis, literally Horse Island or in modern Irish Oileán an Chapaill. It is one of Ireland's nine Horse Islands which most likely took their name for being places where horses were left to graze and recover from illness. As noted by Smith in his 1774 'History of Cork', such small islands… "produce a wonderful sort of herbage that recovers and fattens diseased horses to admiration".


Horse Island and Horse Island Channel
Image: Michael Harpur


A recent census puts the present occupation of this Horse Island at just two but this was not always the case. Old Celtic settlements occupied the island for thousands of years and left many relics that bear witness to the ancient dwellers. Most notably the medieval O'Mahony stronghold Castleduff, Caislen Dubh meaning 'dark castle' is identified on adjacent Castle Island. Most of the islands were inhabited in bygone times even little Skeam West – to the east of Castle, and roughly in the centre of all the islands of Roaringwater Bay, has the remnants of a church said to date from the 9th-Century.

Mid 1800's copper mine map of Horse Island
Image: Public Domain
The island had its largest population in the 19th-Century when very pure copper ore was discovered close to its eastern point. Between 1820 and 1874 the Irish Mining Company mined the ore employing more than one hundred men at its height in the 1830s and 40s. The very pure copper ore they extracted was shipped to Swansea where it fetched a very high price. The population of the island peaked at 137 people in 1841 with most of those living there been employed in the mines. Shortly thereafter the mine was exhausted and the population soon dwindled and the island went into terminal decline. By 1965, all the inhabitants had left.

Today the island is home to seven luxury properties, including a six-bedroom main house, two three-bedroom guest houses, two two-bedroom guest houses, and two one-bedroom cottages. Waisted north to south, near to its western end, the island has an interesting coastline that is lined by sandy bays and unusual cliff formations. It has three sandy beaches that attract locals during the season and at other times are populated by seals.

Copper miners on Horse Island
Image: Public Domain
Its coastal features contrast with the island's vast meadows. Warmed by the Gulf Stream and enriched with salt, the island also has several unusual and exotic plant species. But to the largest part, with no domestic grazing animals, the island’s grasses grow long and there are broad areas of scrub and bracken. Amidst these are some of the ruins of the old village and managers’ houses can still be found on the islands eastern end.

There was the possibility that Horse Island would see a commercial renaissance. In 2012 the island’s owner, Adrian Fitzgibbon, made a planning application to construct a new distillery on the island, and if approved it could set in place the plinth from which an Irish Islands whiskey region could be built. This never come to fruition but he fared very well nonetheless as when he put it up for sale in 2020 the island sold for an outstanding 5.5 million euros unseen by a high-net-worth European individual who only saw a video of it.


The ruins of the mines can still be seen on the east end of the island
Image: Michael Harpur


Today the wholly-owned private island is very much off the tourist trail. Some of the fine sandy beaches on the island are popular with local boaters in the summer months. A ferry serves the holiday homes but the island can also be reached on foot from the mainland at very low tides. This is by crossing the drying Horse Ridge that is situated on the eastern end of the island. A stony track connects the pier to the eastern tip of the island.


Horse Island as seen from the shore with Clear Island in the backdrop
Image: Michael Harpur


From a boating point of view, this is a well-protected anchoring location with easy access to Rossbrin and the ideal location for visiting sailors to land, have a picnic and experience the island’s wild beauty with views over the clear clean waters of Roaring Water Bay. However, because it is a private island, visitors should not ascend above the high-water mark.


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


Any security concerns?
Never an issue known to have occurred to vessel anchored of this remote island.


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



About Horse Island

Horse Island takes its name from the old Irish Each Inis, literally Horse Island or in modern Irish Oileán an Chapaill. It is one of Ireland's nine Horse Islands which most likely took their name for being places where horses were left to graze and recover from illness. As noted by Smith in his 1774 'History of Cork', such small islands… "produce a wonderful sort of herbage that recovers and fattens diseased horses to admiration".


Horse Island and Horse Island Channel
Image: Michael Harpur


A recent census puts the present occupation of this Horse Island at just two but this was not always the case. Old Celtic settlements occupied the island for thousands of years and left many relics that bear witness to the ancient dwellers. Most notably the medieval O'Mahony stronghold Castleduff, Caislen Dubh meaning 'dark castle' is identified on adjacent Castle Island. Most of the islands were inhabited in bygone times even little Skeam West – to the east of Castle, and roughly in the centre of all the islands of Roaringwater Bay, has the remnants of a church said to date from the 9th-Century.

Mid 1800's copper mine map of Horse Island
Image: Public Domain
The island had its largest population in the 19th-Century when very pure copper ore was discovered close to its eastern point. Between 1820 and 1874 the Irish Mining Company mined the ore employing more than one hundred men at its height in the 1830s and 40s. The very pure copper ore they extracted was shipped to Swansea where it fetched a very high price. The population of the island peaked at 137 people in 1841 with most of those living there been employed in the mines. Shortly thereafter the mine was exhausted and the population soon dwindled and the island went into terminal decline. By 1965, all the inhabitants had left.

Today the island is home to seven luxury properties, including a six-bedroom main house, two three-bedroom guest houses, two two-bedroom guest houses, and two one-bedroom cottages. Waisted north to south, near to its western end, the island has an interesting coastline that is lined by sandy bays and unusual cliff formations. It has three sandy beaches that attract locals during the season and at other times are populated by seals.

Copper miners on Horse Island
Image: Public Domain
Its coastal features contrast with the island's vast meadows. Warmed by the Gulf Stream and enriched with salt, the island also has several unusual and exotic plant species. But to the largest part, with no domestic grazing animals, the island’s grasses grow long and there are broad areas of scrub and bracken. Amidst these are some of the ruins of the old village and managers’ houses can still be found on the islands eastern end.

There was the possibility that Horse Island would see a commercial renaissance. In 2012 the island’s owner, Adrian Fitzgibbon, made a planning application to construct a new distillery on the island, and if approved it could set in place the plinth from which an Irish Islands whiskey region could be built. This never come to fruition but he fared very well nonetheless as when he put it up for sale in 2020 the island sold for an outstanding 5.5 million euros unseen by a high-net-worth European individual who only saw a video of it.


The ruins of the mines can still be seen on the east end of the island
Image: Michael Harpur


Today the wholly-owned private island is very much off the tourist trail. Some of the fine sandy beaches on the island are popular with local boaters in the summer months. A ferry serves the holiday homes but the island can also be reached on foot from the mainland at very low tides. This is by crossing the drying Horse Ridge that is situated on the eastern end of the island. A stony track connects the pier to the eastern tip of the island.


Horse Island as seen from the shore with Clear Island in the backdrop
Image: Michael Harpur


From a boating point of view, this is a well-protected anchoring location with easy access to Rossbrin and the ideal location for visiting sailors to land, have a picnic and experience the island’s wild beauty with views over the clear clean waters of Roaring Water Bay. However, because it is a private island, visitors should not ascend above the high-water mark.

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:
Rossbrin Cove - 0.3 miles NNE
Dereenatra - 0.5 miles WNW
Castle Island (South Side) - 0.7 miles WSW
Castle Island (North Side) - 0.6 miles WSW
Schull Harbour (Skull) - 1.6 miles W
Coastal anti-clockwise:
Ballydehob Bay - 1.4 miles NE
Poulgorm Bay - 1.7 miles NE
Calf Island East - 1.2 miles S
Trá Bán - 1.4 miles SE
East Pier - 1.4 miles ESE

Navigational pictures


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

























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