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 in offshore winds, easterlies round through southeast to south. Attentive navigation is required for access as the bay is fringed by outlying rocks.
Keyfacts for Dunbeacon Cove
SummaryA stay-aboard location with careful navigation required for access.
Position and approaches
Haven position51° 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.
What are the key points of the approach?
Not what you need?
- Kitchen Cove - 1.1 miles WNW
- Dunbeacon Harbour - 1.2 miles NE
- Dunmanus Harbour - 2.6 miles SW
- Kilcrohane Pier - 2.6 miles WSW
- Schull Harbour (Skull) - 2.6 miles SSE
- Toormore Cove - 3.1 miles SSW
- Colla Harbour - 3.2 miles S
- Coney Island - 3.3 miles S
- Trawnwaud (Castle Island Sound) - 3.3 miles SE
- Croagh Bay (Long Island Sound) - 3.3 miles S
How to get in?Dunbeacon Cove may be readily identified by the ruins of Dunbeacon Castle on its northeast shore.
Details for the run up the long and narrow Dunmanus Bay are covered in the Dunbeacon Harbour entry.
From the initial fix the cove is entered between the northern offlyers of the 3.2 metres high Carriglea Rock, 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 anchoring position is immediately inside the mouth of the cove. Vessels staying central in the outer section will find at least two metres and no dangers. Anchor in sand that slowly shelves to the head of the bay.
Land at the cove's small drying quay or on its choice of beaches, the gravelly one near the main road is the preferred option if you are considering a hike.
Why visit here?Dunbeacon Cove, derives its name from the Irish ‘Dún Béacáin’ meaning fort of Béacáin.
The coves signature castle, along with Dunmanus Castle, were both built by the areas powerful O'Mahony family, who gave the bay area its name; Dunmanus being derived from the Irish Dún Mánais meaning ‘fort of the O'Mahoneys’. The family had fourteen strongly built castles in total and Dunbeacon and Dunmanus castles were constructed to protect the boundary and passes between the O'Mahony territories and those of the O'Donovans.
It is believed Donal O'Mahoney, brother of Donough Mor, built the Dunbeacon fort around 1460 on what was thought to be the site of an older fort. The fort was held by the family in an unbroken chain for nearly two centuries until the 1579 Desmond rebellion. Then, although the head of the O'Mahony clan kept aloof, the Dunbeacon family and the Rossbrin Castle families joined the uprising. Their castles were taken during the 1580s confiscations that followed the failed rebellion. The O'Mahoneys burnt the occupied tower and it passed back and forth between sides until it was finally captured by the English in 1602.
Today all that remains is a single three storey fragment 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.
From a sailing 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 so that it does not provide an anchoring position far enough in to obtain any real shelter, combine to make it a day anchorage, a lunch stop, or a place to have a swim off the beach. 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
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