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Dunbeacon Cove

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Overview





Dunbeacon Cove is situated on the southwest coast of Ireland near the head and on the south eastern shore of Dunmanus Bay. It is a rocky inlet overlooked by the spartan remains of an old tower house that provides an anchorage.

Dunbeacon Cove is situated on the southwest coast of Ireland near the head and on the south eastern shore of Dunmanus Bay. It is a rocky inlet overlooked by the spartan remains of an old tower house that provides an anchorage.

The cove's inner section is too shallow to allow a vessel in far enough to obtain any real shelter, whilst the outer section is exposed to the full length of Dunmanus Bay. The only shelter it offers is for moderate-sized craft in offshore winds, easterlies round through southeast to south. Attentive daylight navigation is required for access as the bay is fringed by outlying rocks.
Please note

Dunbeacon Cove has little to recommend it, being rocky, confined and only offering a berth for vessels of less than 8 metres. Dunbeacon Harbour, just two miles to the north, on the other hand, offers an excellent anchorage.




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Keyfacts for Dunbeacon Cove
Facilities
Marked or notable walks in the vicinity of this location


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationRemote or quiet secluded locationAnchoring locationJetty or a structure to assist landingScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
None listed

Protected sectors

Current wind over the protected quadrants
Minimum depth
2 metres (6.56 feet).

Approaches
2 stars: Careful navigation; good visibility and conditions with dangers that require careful navigation.
Shelter
1 stars: Stay-aboard; lunch stop or tide-wait exposed or tenacious holding location where a vessel should not be left unattended.



Last modified
November 24th 2021

Summary

A stay-aboard location with careful navigation required for access.

Facilities
Marked or notable walks in the vicinity of this location


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationRemote or quiet secluded locationAnchoring locationJetty or a structure to assist landingScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
None listed



Position and approaches
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Haven position

51° 35.435' N, 009° 35.081' W

This is in the centre of the area just inside the mouth of the inlet.

What are the initial fixes?

The following waypoints will set up a final approach:

(i) Dunbeacon Cove initial fix

51° 35.570' N, 009° 35.300' W

This is over the mouth of the cove about 400 metres west of the castle. The inlet is situated about 200 metres to the southeast of here.

(ii) Dunmanus Bay initial fix

51° 30.700' N, 009° 51.200' W

This initial fix positions an Atlantic approach to Dunmanus Bay and is set midway between Sheep's Head and Mizen Head.
Please note

Initial fixes only set up their listed targets. Do not plan to sail directly between initial fixes as a routing sequence.




What are the key points of the approach?

Details for the run up the long and narrow Dunmanus Bay are covered in the Dunbeacon Harbour Click to view haven entry.


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 Dunbeacon Cove for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Kitchen Cove - 1.9 nautical miles WNW
  2. Dunbeacon Harbour - 1.9 nautical miles NE
  3. Dunmanus Harbour - 4.2 nautical miles SW
  4. Kilcrohane Pier - 4.2 nautical miles WSW
  5. Schull Harbour (Skull) - 4.3 nautical miles SSE
  6. Toormore Cove - 5 nautical miles SSW
  7. Colla Harbour - 5.1 nautical miles S
  8. Coney Island - 5.3 nautical miles S
  9. Dereenatra - 5.4 nautical miles SE
  10. Croagh Bay - 5.4 nautical miles S
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Kitchen Cove - 1.9 miles WNW
  2. Dunbeacon Harbour - 1.9 miles NE
  3. Dunmanus Harbour - 4.2 miles SW
  4. Kilcrohane Pier - 4.2 miles WSW
  5. Schull Harbour (Skull) - 4.3 miles SSE
  6. Toormore Cove - 5 miles SSW
  7. Colla Harbour - 5.1 miles S
  8. Coney Island - 5.3 miles S
  9. Dereenatra - 5.4 miles SE
  10. Croagh Bay - 5.4 miles S
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?
Dunbeacon Cove close south of the peninsula where the ruin of
Dunbeacon Castle stands

Image: Michael Harpur


Dunbeacon Cove is a small rocky inlet situated on the southeastern shore of Dunmanus Bay. It is set about 1¼ miles to the southwest of Dunbeacon Point where Dunmanus Bay narrows to a river estuary. A sharply forked promontory runs out a ¼ of a mile into the bay here and within a nook is the tight inlet of Dunbeacon Cove. It may be identified by the spartan remains of Dunbeacon Castle that overlooks the bay from a ridge of sandstone on the promontory. Apart from the remains of the old tower, this is rural wilderness. A seasonal stream drains into the head of the inlet where a pathway may be found that leads up to the road.

First beach on the eastern shore within the cove
Image: Michael Harpur


The cove offers a fairweather anchorage or lunch stop for a moderately sized boat. The inner part of the cove dries out so that it is not possible to anchor far enough within to obtain good shelter in any developed conditions.


How to get in?
Dunbeacon Cove's location may be positively identified by the ruin of Dunbeacon
Castle

Image: Michael Harpur


Convergance Point Use Ireland’s coastal overview for Mizen Head to Loop Head Route location for seaward approaches and the the run-up the long and narrow Dunmanus Bay is covered in the Dunbeacon Harbour Click to view haven entry. Dunbeacon Cove may be readily identified by the last remaining wall of Dunbeacon Castle on the east side of the cove which is a very conspicuous object. Beyond it, a Rath or ancient fort will be seen on the low cliffy shore.
Please note

It would be advisable to first survey the cove at low water when all its protective reefs show.




Dunbeacon Cove entered between its eastern reefs and western Carriglea Rock
Image: Michael Harpur


Initial fix location From the initial fix the cove is entered between the off laying Carriglea Rock, which dries to 3.2 metres, situated off the western side of the entrance, and the corresponding rocks encroaching from the eastern shoreline. These combine to make the entrance little more than 200 metres wide.


The entrance as seen from the eastern shore
Image: Michael Harpur


Haven location The anchoring position is immediately inside the mouth of the cove. Vessels staying central in the outer section will find at least 2 metres and no dangers. Anchor over sand which slowly shelves to the head of the bay.

The gravelly beaches either side of Dunbeacon Castle
Image: Michael Harpur


Land on the cove's sandy beaches, with the inner one being the preferred option for those considering following the pathway by the stream and taking a hike.

Alternatively land beneath the castle on the small steeply sloping gravel beaches on either side of the sandstone prong on which it stands. This saves scaling some fences to inspect the castle.


Why visit here?
First recorded as 'Downebekon' in 1614, Dunbeacon Cove derives its name from the Irish 'Dún Béacáin' meaning the 'fort of Béacáin'. The name 'Béacáin fortress' implies that it was built in the area of where a round fort once existed.


Dunbeacon Castle at dusk
Image: © Matthew Wilkinson


This would not be surprising as Dunbeacon Cove seems to have been an important site down through prehistoric times. A large shell midden found down by the shore may date from Late Bronze Age's pre-existing round fort. An extensive wave-cut platform to the west of the promontory may well be the site of a ringfort destroyed by the waves. There is a well-preserved Stone Pair and a Standing Stone site on the western slopes of Mount Corrin. A local holy well, 'Toberaleen', from 'Tobar na lín' 'well of the flax', also has deep historical roots. The cove's signature castle stood on the shoulder of the promontory overlooking the entrance was built by the area's powerful O'Mahony clan – see Dunmanus Harbour Click to view haven.


The remaining east wall of Dunbeacon Castle on its sandstone promontory
Image: Michael Harpur


The majority of the O'Mahony tower houses in Ivagha were built by or for the sons of Conchobar Cabach. Dunbeacon Castle was allegedly built by his brother Dohmnall. If it is assumed that Dohmnall was born c.1400, so he may have built the tower house at any date during his adult life (c.1420 .c.1470) on what was thought to be the site of an older fort. Because Dohmnall had no surviving issue, it is recorded that a subsequent chieftain of the clan donated the vacant sept territory to his own son Donal O'Mahoney, brother of Donough Mor.


The southern gravelly cove at the foot of the castle
Image: Michael Harpur


The tower house was built to protect the boundary and pass between their territories and those of the O'Donovans. It had minimal defensive features, indicating that this was a time of peace and prosperity where it was peacefully held. These tower houses served as centres of the fishing industry and were surrounded by more comfortable houses. This part of the family thrived here in an unbroken chain for more than a century and a half until the 1579 Desmond Rebellion.

The panoramic view from the top of the tower
Image: Michael Harpur


Then, although the head of the O'Mahony clan kept aloof, the Dunbeacon family and the Rossbrin Castle families joined the uprising. After the rebellion failed the two O'Mahony there two tower houses were confiscated and passed into the hands of the English settlers. Ardintenant remained the headquarters of the clan until it was, most likely, surrendered to Captain Roger Harvy's forces after the Sack of Dunboy.


The landing beach in Dunbeacon Cove
Image: Michael Harpur


Today all that survives of Dunbeacon Castle's full height is half of the tower’s east wall. Yet, standing sentinel against the wind, facing down the length of Dunmanus Bay, its commanding position and the strategic advantage it would have imparted remains readily apparent today. The view encompasses the whole of Dunmanus Bay, permitting the entire 20km coastline of the Sheep's Head peninsula to be scanned. As a consequence, the site is very exposed, contributing to the piecemeal destruction of the tower house.

The pathway leading from the stream to the road
Image: Michael Harpur


From a boating point of view Dunbeacon Cove's rocky patches lying at each side of the entrance, the narrowness of the cove, the limited swing room, and the fact that the inner part of the cove dries out all mean that it does not provide an anchoring position far enough in to obtain any real shelter. This makes it a day anchorage, a lunch stop, or a place to have a swim off the beach and explore the ruin at best. If it is calm a better anchorage could be had just outside the cove but Dunbeacon Harbour would be the preferred overnight option.


What facilities are available?
There are no facilities at Dunbeacon Cove.


Any security concerns?
Nerve an issue known to have occurred to a vessel in Dunmanus Harbour, and Dunbeacon Cove.


With thanks to:
Burke Corbett, Gusserane, New Ross, Co. Wexford. Photography with thanks to Mike Searle and Matthew Wilkinson for the header image.







A photo montage of the area around Dunmanus



A photograph is worth a thousand words. We are always looking for bright sunny photographs that show this haven and its identifiable features at its best. If you have some images that we could use please upload them here. All we need to know is how you would like to be credited for your work and a brief description of the image if it is not readily apparent. If you would like us to add a hyperlink from the image that goes back to your site please include the desired link and we will be delighted to that for you.


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