England Ireland Find Havens
England Ireland Find Routes
Boat
Maintenance
Comfort
Operations
Safety
Other



NextPrevious

Rush Harbour

Tides and tools
Overview





Rush Harbour is situated on the east coast of Ireland, on the north coast of County Dublin and immediately north of the rocky Rush Point. It offers an anchorage, off a village that has a small drying boat pier where boats that can take to the hard may come alongside and dry out.

Rush Harbour is situated on the east coast of Ireland, on the north coast of County Dublin and immediately north of the rocky Rush Point. It offers an anchorage, off a village that has a small drying boat pier where boats that can take to the hard may come alongside and dry out.

The rocky point provides an exposed anchorage that can be made use of in offshore winds from southwest round to northwest, or in settled conditions. Access is straightforward as there are no off-lying dangers but there are no supporting lights so all approaches must be made in daylight.



Be the first
to comment
Keyfacts for Rush Harbour
Facilities
Gas availableTop up fuel available in the area via jerry cansShop with basic provisions availableMini-supermarket or supermarket availableSlipway availableHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationPleasant family beach in the areaCashpoint or bank available in the areaPost Office in the areaInternet café in the areaPharmacy in the areaBus service available in the areaTrain or tram service available in the area


Nature
Beach or shoreline landing from a tenderJetty or a structure to assist landingQuick and easy access from open waterScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinitySet near a village or with a village in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Restriction: shallow, drying or partially drying pierRestriction: rising tide required for accessRestriction: may only reasonably accommodate vessels less than a specific lengthNote: sectioned off swimming area in the vicinity

Protected sectors

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

Approaches
4 stars: Straightforward; when unaffected by weather from difficult quadrants or tidal consideration, no overly complex dangers.
Shelter
2 stars: Exposed; unattended vessels should be watched from the shore and a comfortable overnight stay is unlikely.



Last modified
November 19th 2020

Summary* Restrictions apply

An exposed location with straightforward access.

Facilities
Gas availableTop up fuel available in the area via jerry cansShop with basic provisions availableMini-supermarket or supermarket availableSlipway availableHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationPleasant family beach in the areaCashpoint or bank available in the areaPost Office in the areaInternet café in the areaPharmacy in the areaBus service available in the areaTrain or tram service available in the area


Nature
Beach or shoreline landing from a tenderJetty or a structure to assist landingQuick and easy access from open waterScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinitySet near a village or with a village in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Restriction: shallow, drying or partially drying pierRestriction: rising tide required for accessRestriction: may only reasonably accommodate vessels less than a specific lengthNote: sectioned off swimming area in the vicinity



Position and approaches
Expand to new tab or fullscreen

Haven position

53° 31.383' N, 006° 4.773' W

This is the position of the Rush Harbour pierhead.

What is the initial fix?

The following Rush Harbour initial fix will set up a final approach:
53° 31.484' N, 006° 4.323' W
This is about 800 metres outside the harbour on the 5 metre contour. A bearing of 255°T from here towards the head of the pier, a third of a mile away, will lead into the anchoring area in the entrance path to the pier.


What are the key points of the approach?

Key points for access:
Offshore details are available in eastern Ireland’s Coastal Overview for Strangford Lough to Dublin Bay Route location.
  • Locate the Martello Tower standing on the point 250 metres to the southeast of the pier.

  • Steer a midway course between the head of the harbour wall and the detached breakwater northward.

  • Beware the large drying rock area that dries beyond the head of the breakwater.


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 Rush Harbour for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Loughshinny - 0.8 miles N
  2. Rogerstown Inlet - 1 miles WSW
  3. The Boat Harbour - 1.5 miles SE
  4. Saltpan Bay - 1.6 miles SE
  5. Talbot’s Bay - 1.7 miles SE
  6. Seal Hole Bay - 2.1 miles SE
  7. Skerries Bay and Harbour - 2.4 miles NNW
  8. Malahide - 3 miles SSW
  9. Balbriggan Harbour - 4 miles NNW
  10. Carrigeen Bay - 4.4 miles S
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Loughshinny - 0.8 miles N
  2. Rogerstown Inlet - 1 miles WSW
  3. The Boat Harbour - 1.5 miles SE
  4. Saltpan Bay - 1.6 miles SE
  5. Talbot’s Bay - 1.7 miles SE
  6. Seal Hole Bay - 2.1 miles SE
  7. Skerries Bay and Harbour - 2.4 miles NNW
  8. Malahide - 3 miles SSW
  9. Balbriggan Harbour - 4 miles NNW
  10. Carrigeen Bay - 4.4 miles S
To find locations with the specific attributes you need try:

Resources search

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.

Expand to new tab or fullscreen



What's the story here?
Rush Harbour's 19th-Century pier
Image: Michael Harpur


Rush is a village situated close west of a rocky point that extends out from the north side of the Rogerstown Inlet. The harbour lies at the lower end of the main street comprising a small 19th century L -shaped pier with a modern platform to seaward. It is situated on the west end of the rocky point and protected by breakwaters.


The modern platform to seaward
Image: Michael Harpur


The small harbour itself dries at half-tide, is very small and shallow and can only be used by small craft that can take to the bottom.


Rush Harbour dried out
Image: Michael Harpur


At the best of times, it is too crowded to be serviceable. It is nevertheless protected by breakwaters and has a sandy bottom for those with a very shallow draft who can come in and are lucky enough to find a space and dry out.


Rush Harbour at high water
Image: Brian Lennon


For those anchored off, it provides a convenient landing point and tenders should come in and tie up on the south-facing side of the pier.


How to get in?
Rush Harbour
Image: Ciaran Price External link


Convergance Point Ireland’s Coastal Overview from Strangford Lough to Dublin Bay Route location provide approach details. Those working their way along the coast should give Portrane Point, the southern arm of the Rogerstown Inlet, a berth of at least 500 metres to avoid the visible Cable Rock. Likewise, off Rush Point, there is a patch with 2 metres, 400 metres offshore at the Martello tower.


Approach to Rush Harbour - note the rocky patch awash covered in gulls
Image: Brian Lennon


Initial fix location From the Rush Harbour initial fix align the approach to the harbour. A conspicuous mark that assists in identifying the harbour is the point’s Martello Tower standing 250 metres to the southeast of the pier.

Closer approaches with the pier and platform visible
Image: Brian Lennon


Once identified align to steer a course for midway between the head of the harbour wall and the detached breakwater extending from the shoreline 100 metres to the north of the pier.


The foul ground as seen from the root of the breakwater
Image: Michael Harpur


This marks the southern end of a large drying rock area that dries to 2.7 metres and continues out east by northeast for 300 metres beyond the head of the pier that lies opposite. It is essential to keep clear of this area.


The rocky area seen opposite the outer platform
Image: Michael Harpur


Haven location Anchor according to draft and conditions on the approach to the harbour or if a spot is available dry by the old pier or on the beach nearby.

The area behind the pier at low water
Image: Michael Harpur



Why visit here?
Rush, officially now in Irish An Ros, derives its name from its original Irish name Ros Eó meaning 'peninsula of the yew trees'.

Rush has a long history of human habitation where it is believed to have been settled as far back as Neolithic times. This is evidenced by the discovery of flint in the area and a passage grave and cist located off the Skerries Road on the headland to the north of North Beach. The Vikings were the next settlers in this part of Fingal. Having become established on Lambay Island in 795 they raided the monasteries on Holmpatrick Island, now St Patrick’s Island off Skerries, and it is a fair expectation that all the serviceable small natural harbours along this coast would have been the base for longboats at some time or another. They stayed for four centuries, intermarried with the local people and left the area with its name of Fingal, meaning 'the land of the fair-haired strangers'.


Kenure House before it was taken down
Image: Public Domain


Next came the Normans and the lands here became the property of the De La Hayde family. They came from Stodham in Bedfordshire having settled there from Normandy following the invasion of England by William the Conqueror in 1085. In 1315, the lands in this area were granted to Edmund Butler, of Kilkenny, Earl of Carrick, later to be ennobled as Earls and Dukes of Ormonde. For generations, the Ormonde Butlers of Kilkenny continued to hold the ancient manor of Rush, including the lands of Balcony, Heathstown, Balscadden, Kenure, Ardlaw, and other parts of North County Dublin. They held their lands in Rush until the rising of 1641 where they took the side of the King and subsequently lost all their possessions in the Cromwellian confiscations. At the Restoration of 1660, King Charles II restored all their lands to them, but they lost them again in 1714 when James the 2nd Duke of Ormonde fell out of favour with George and had to flee to mainland Europe. Before departing they built Rush House that began life in 1703 to the designs of architect George Papworth.


The Drumanagh headland Martello Tower seen over the pierhead
Image: Michael Harpur


After their departure, the lands and house were taken over by the Echlins, who remained there until 1780. Elizabeth Echlin became heiress to the property when her brothers predeceased her. She married Francis Palmer from County Mayo, the family originally from Norfolk arrived in Ireland in 1681, who changed the name of the house from Rush House to Kenure Park, an anglicised version of 'Ceann Iubhair' meaning 'headland of the yew trees', and held it in the family for centuries afterwards. The Palmers passed the house down through the lineage until Lieutenant-General Sir Roger Palmer, the last Palmer baronet and one of the last surviving officers of the Charge of the Light Brigade in the Crimean War, who lived here in 1827 when the house was damaged by fire.


The Drumanagh Martello with its corresponding tower on Rush Point in the
backsrop

Image: Michael Harpur


He rebuilt and enlarged the house creating its seminal moment and the Palmer family continued to live in Kenure House until 1963. The then Colonel Palmer, the last of the line, decided that the never-ending battle against rising costs, dry rot, damp and deterioration was one he could no longer fight. The house and contents were auctioned off and the estate was sold to the Irish land Commission who divided some of the lands among the Rush farmers and sold the remainder to the County Council for a housing development and playing fields. Dublin County Council were unable to find a buyer for the immense building and it soon fell into disrepair got damaged and was vandalized. In 1978 the council made the horrendous decision to demolish the building for safety reasons. Now all that remains of the magnificent house is its impressive portico, which along with a demesne, walled gardens and 3,991 acres of land, would have been considered amongst the most impressive estates in the Fingal area, a sad finale to that once-great house.


Although built for fishing boats Rush Harbour was a centre for smuggling
Image: Michael Harpur


For centuries, Kenure House and its woodland dominated the skyline and the life of nearby Rush, if not its people. Having made their living for centuries from the sea and from the fertile land of the region, their relationship with their great landowners was respectfully independent. It is thought the area must have had piers of varies types down through time. The UK National Archives has a document dating from the late 15th-century regarding the building of a new harbour at Rush. It must have been limited because as far back as the early 16th-Century, the fishermen of Rush exhorted the owners of the estate to secure a safe harbour for their boats, saying that otherwise, they would have to seek employment elsewhere and "no longer dwell in this habitation". The headland’s first pier of any note was built in the reign of James 2nd (1633–1701). Historic maps from 1760 and 1765 show a quay or pier at this location in the late 18th century.

Afterwards, a large number of the community operated on the margins of the law, for Rush during the 18th-Century was a notorious centre for smuggling. The lucrative smuggling trade emerged after the British Government imposed excise duties on a large number of goods. The profession was further spurred on in the area when the British took possession of the Isle of Man in 1765 closing it down as a centre of warehousing. At this time as many as fifty large vessels from Rush were involved in the smuggling trade and the Preventative Water Guard, who fought against smuggling in the 1800's, based themselves in the Drumanagh Martello Tower that overlooked the harbour. Two local names stand out as key national characters, Luke Ryan and the local pirate Jack Connor, otherwise known as Jack the Batchelor or Jack Field.

Captain Luke Ryan (depicted in Hibernian Magazine 1782)
Image: Public Domain
Luke Ryan was born on the local estate in Rush in 1750. In 1760, he was employed as a stable hand in the Hamiltons' Hackettstown estate near Skerries and in 1762 was apprenticed to John Grimes, shipwright of Skerries. He was then indentured to Edward King as a ship’s carpenter at his boatyard in Ringsend in 1766. Eventually, he migrated to France and obtained a commission as a lieutenant in Dillon’s Irish Regiment. This was a brigade led by Lord Mountcashel that served as part of the French Army. In 1765 the use of the Isle of Man as a centre for warehousing ceased as the British took possession of the island and so about fifty large vessels in the area of Rush became involved in the smuggling trade. Seizing upon the developing smuggling trade Ryan returned to Rush and began operating as a smuggler between Ireland and France on his large cutter. This was a ship called Friendship that was believed to be the fastest ship on the water at the time. Once described in the Freeman’s Journal the… [Friendship is] 'ready to sail, being completely armed and manned, carrying 14 carriage guns and 60 as brave hands as any in Europe'. Upon it he smuggled 'French brandy, Dutch tea, arms and other assorted materials between Dunkirk and Dublin'. But he was drawing too much attention and returning to Rush from one of his runs Friendship was seized by Revenue Officers and towed to Poolbeg. Ryan managed to recapture the ship with the aid of his Rush companions and set off again.

Unfortunately, this was a dramatic escalation of his legal situation as, by this act, Luke Ryan and his crew had switched their classification from smugglers to that pirates. If they were caught by the British again, they would all now hang. But this was now amidst the 1775 – 1783 American War of Independence, and ever the opportunist Luke Ryan’s solution was to join the Americans in their revolution. During the war, Britain managed to capture large numbers of American prisoners and the Americans in turn needed to capture British prisoners to trade out the American captives. The French naturally sympathised with the Americans and the Americans made a deal with French Privateers to attack British ships and capture their crews. The privateers could keep whatever loot they found but hand the British crews over to the Americans to trade out. Well known in the right circles, Ryan was in the right place at the right time to obtain an American privateer commission and by his estimation, if they were caught as privateers, they would be considered prisoners of war and thereby avoid the hangman’s noose. So, they sailed to France in search of Dr Benjamin Franklin and his commission.


Benjamin Franklin in 1778
Image: Public Domain
Perfectly skilled, placed and resourced the Friendship became the Black Prince in the summer of 1779. Ryan allowed Mr Marchant, an American, to carry the title of captain and he took on the title of First Mate, but it was still his crew. He was then given the first reluctantly issued commission, or letter of marque, by Benjamin Franklin to run as a privateer to plunder English ships. Unleashed by this commission and accompanied by two other heavily-armed raiders, the Black Princess and the Fearnot, Ryan and his mostly Irish followers went about plundering British ships around the English coast with a vengeance. Ryan and his men didn’t merely attack British ships – on occasion, they even attacked coastal towns and islands, which was widely reported in Ireland where he became a hate figure to panicked Loyalists. The Freemans Journal told their readers in 1780 that "Luke Ryan, Commander, landed at Stornaway, in the island of Lewis, and after plundering the town, carried off the principal inhabitants as hostages".

So successful was Ryan that Benjamin Franklin commissioned three Irish-captained vessels to patrol the Irish Sea and the English Channel. With his own fleet of vessels, he hoped to bring in more prisoners for a prisoner exchange with the British. But the privateers failed to bring in as many prisoners as he wanted, what they did do however was terrorise the shipping lines and caused havoc for the British in the British waters that vastly aid the war. But the activities of Irish privateers with American commissions had become a source of political irritation for the French government and a major worry to Benjamin Franklin and the American Congress. Pressure was brought to bear on reluctant Franklin to revoke American commissions to non-American nationals in his service. None of this was known to Ryan when the Black Prince was eventually wrecked on the French coast in 1780 but Ryan continued his privateer career aboard other ships Black Princess, Fearnot, La Marechal and Le Colonge in 1781. It was upon the latter Ryan’s career was brought to an end in 1782 when a French crew pushed him to attack a whaler, that turned out to be the Berwick, a 3rd rate English ship-of-the-line along with the Belle Poule in its shadow. Outgunned and outsailed, they pinned the Le Colonge against the shore and he was finally captured by British forces. He attempted to convince the courts he was French, before a series of witnesses that included numerous relatives gave the game away.


Depiction of a Privateer attack
Image: Public Domain


During his short run from mid-1779, Ryan had successfully captured 114 prizes and had ransomed a total of 76 masters of British vessels and exchanged 161 merchant seamen. In 1783 the House was told that the Irish privateers during the American war had cost the British merchant navy more than an estimated £8 million in damages. It is believed he singularly inflicted more damage on British shipping than his more famous Scottish counterpart, John Paul Jones whose actions in English waters earned him such a reputation as the 'Father of the United States Navy'; an epithet he shares with John Barry of Wexford. Unlike John Paul Jones, however, things did not go well for Ryan. He was convicted at London’s Old Bailey of piracy, smuggling and treason, and condemned to death. But the charmed Ryan was to dodge the gallows four times, receiving a last moment reprieve each time. Then, after the War Of Independence ended, the French intervened to secure his release. Despite accumulating a personal fortune of some £70,000 during his run, the French Bankers seized his assets and he eventually died in the King’s bench debtors’ prison in 1789 owing a debt of 200 pounds.


Boarding of the Triton by French corsair Hasard
Image: Public Domain


If Luke Ryan had the largest international impact of the two famous Rush characters, it would be Jack Connor captured the national interest. Alternatively known as Jack the Batchelor, Jack Connor was born in County Wexford 1776 and his family moved to Rush in 1788 when he was 12. Within a few years, he was engaged in the lucrative smuggling trade between Rush and the Isle of Man and soon showed himself a master of the profession. Eventually, Jack bought his own boat The Royal Oak and operated a large-scale operation, from as far afield as Dunkirk, out of his 'Smugglers Cave' situated in the cliff face between Loughshinny and Skerries. Trafficked goods included tea, brandy, rum, silk, lace and much more. In all his escapades he would go out of his way to aid those in distress, especially those who were widowed or fatherless. He also took great pity on the poor and would often ensure that the tax collectors spies would get incorrect information to prevent them from procuring the money or imprisoning them for non-payment of taxes. For these acts and his romantic and swashbuckling character, he soon became known as the Robin Hood of Ireland and even became accepted in society circles during his time. Jack died of a fever, most likely typhoid, at the young age of 36 and was buried in Kenure Graveyard where it is said that thousands came to mourn him. His grave is still visible at the back of the old Kenure Church ruin in Rush.

Although Jack was always known as Jack the Bachelor, records show that he had married and was survived by five children, and the beautiful thatched cottage that was his family home can still be seen near the 'Michael Collins' pub on Rush’s Lower Main Street. His cave, an old mine outlet about a mile north of Loughshinny, may also be visited today. A cliff path that leads to it has disappeared due to coastal erosion but it is still possible to go along the beach to it at low tide. Legend has it a giant green serpent still guards what is left of Jack's treasure. A book entitled 'The life and adventures of John Connor, commonly called Jack the bachelor' now a free e-book details his adventures.


Rush today is a very quiet out of the way harbour
Image: Michael Harpur


By the 19th-century all of the piracy and smuggling had largely come to an end. The L-shaped limestone pier, seen today, dates from 1846-47 when it was constructed under the 1847 Relief Act although it must contain elements of the earlier piers. The breakwater, built in two sections to the northwest of Rush Harbour has constructed afterwards. Lewis in his 'Topographical Dictionary of Ireland' describes Rush harbour as being difficult to access and this breakwater may have been constructed to improve this. The harbour then continued for a period as a fishing port and as the base port for services to Lambay Island.


Sunset over Rush Harbour
Image: JH2020 External link


Today Rush is a pretty seaside town and a centre of market gardening. Just 30 minutes from the centre of the capital city, horticulture and agriculture have been superseded by Rush's increasing role as a 'commuter belt' town. Likewise, its attractive beaches and the seascape view over Lambay Island have always attracted day-trippers from Dublin City.

From a sailing point of view Rush is an exposed anchorage and best ventured into with the tide half rising or more. In settled westerly winds it is a delightful place to have lunch or to rest for a while on the way north or south. Those who come ashore will enjoy a wonderful little village with good pubs and restaurants. Vessels with young children aboard will find wonderful broad beaches north and south of the harbour.


What facilities are available?
Provisions and stores are available from Rush. Rush and Lusk railway station is part of the suburban train service between Dublin and Drogheda. However the station is situated about 3 km from the town that makes for a lengthy walk. Dublin Bus offers several bus routes, the 33, 33A and 33X and also many bus stops throughout the town. The bus service is highly convenient as it runs all the way to Lower Abbey Street, Dublin and back to Balbriggan. It also passes the railway station making a combined bus/train connection practical.


Any security concerns?
Never an issue known to have occurred to a vessel anchored off Rush Harbour.


With thanks to:
Brian Lennon local sailor of many years.





Rush Harbour at high water
Image: eOceanic thanks Jonjobaker via CC BY 2.0


Passing the platform
Image: eOceanic thanks Brian Lennon


Passing around the head of the pier
Image: eOceanic thanks Brian Lennon


The rocky head close north of the harbour awash off the breakwater
Image: eOceanic thanks Eirian Evans via CC BY 2.0


Breakwater and rock as seen from seaward
Image: eOceanic thanks Brian Lennon




Rush Harbour aerial overview




Rush District Overview


About Rush Harbour

Rush, officially now in Irish An Ros, derives its name from its original Irish name Ros Eó meaning 'peninsula of the yew trees'.

Rush has a long history of human habitation where it is believed to have been settled as far back as Neolithic times. This is evidenced by the discovery of flint in the area and a passage grave and cist located off the Skerries Road on the headland to the north of North Beach. The Vikings were the next settlers in this part of Fingal. Having become established on Lambay Island in 795 they raided the monasteries on Holmpatrick Island, now St Patrick’s Island off Skerries, and it is a fair expectation that all the serviceable small natural harbours along this coast would have been the base for longboats at some time or another. They stayed for four centuries, intermarried with the local people and left the area with its name of Fingal, meaning 'the land of the fair-haired strangers'.


Kenure House before it was taken down
Image: Public Domain


Next came the Normans and the lands here became the property of the De La Hayde family. They came from Stodham in Bedfordshire having settled there from Normandy following the invasion of England by William the Conqueror in 1085. In 1315, the lands in this area were granted to Edmund Butler, of Kilkenny, Earl of Carrick, later to be ennobled as Earls and Dukes of Ormonde. For generations, the Ormonde Butlers of Kilkenny continued to hold the ancient manor of Rush, including the lands of Balcony, Heathstown, Balscadden, Kenure, Ardlaw, and other parts of North County Dublin. They held their lands in Rush until the rising of 1641 where they took the side of the King and subsequently lost all their possessions in the Cromwellian confiscations. At the Restoration of 1660, King Charles II restored all their lands to them, but they lost them again in 1714 when James the 2nd Duke of Ormonde fell out of favour with George and had to flee to mainland Europe. Before departing they built Rush House that began life in 1703 to the designs of architect George Papworth.


The Drumanagh headland Martello Tower seen over the pierhead
Image: Michael Harpur


After their departure, the lands and house were taken over by the Echlins, who remained there until 1780. Elizabeth Echlin became heiress to the property when her brothers predeceased her. She married Francis Palmer from County Mayo, the family originally from Norfolk arrived in Ireland in 1681, who changed the name of the house from Rush House to Kenure Park, an anglicised version of 'Ceann Iubhair' meaning 'headland of the yew trees', and held it in the family for centuries afterwards. The Palmers passed the house down through the lineage until Lieutenant-General Sir Roger Palmer, the last Palmer baronet and one of the last surviving officers of the Charge of the Light Brigade in the Crimean War, who lived here in 1827 when the house was damaged by fire.


The Drumanagh Martello with its corresponding tower on Rush Point in the
backsrop

Image: Michael Harpur


He rebuilt and enlarged the house creating its seminal moment and the Palmer family continued to live in Kenure House until 1963. The then Colonel Palmer, the last of the line, decided that the never-ending battle against rising costs, dry rot, damp and deterioration was one he could no longer fight. The house and contents were auctioned off and the estate was sold to the Irish land Commission who divided some of the lands among the Rush farmers and sold the remainder to the County Council for a housing development and playing fields. Dublin County Council were unable to find a buyer for the immense building and it soon fell into disrepair got damaged and was vandalized. In 1978 the council made the horrendous decision to demolish the building for safety reasons. Now all that remains of the magnificent house is its impressive portico, which along with a demesne, walled gardens and 3,991 acres of land, would have been considered amongst the most impressive estates in the Fingal area, a sad finale to that once-great house.


Although built for fishing boats Rush Harbour was a centre for smuggling
Image: Michael Harpur


For centuries, Kenure House and its woodland dominated the skyline and the life of nearby Rush, if not its people. Having made their living for centuries from the sea and from the fertile land of the region, their relationship with their great landowners was respectfully independent. It is thought the area must have had piers of varies types down through time. The UK National Archives has a document dating from the late 15th-century regarding the building of a new harbour at Rush. It must have been limited because as far back as the early 16th-Century, the fishermen of Rush exhorted the owners of the estate to secure a safe harbour for their boats, saying that otherwise, they would have to seek employment elsewhere and "no longer dwell in this habitation". The headland’s first pier of any note was built in the reign of James 2nd (1633–1701). Historic maps from 1760 and 1765 show a quay or pier at this location in the late 18th century.

Afterwards, a large number of the community operated on the margins of the law, for Rush during the 18th-Century was a notorious centre for smuggling. The lucrative smuggling trade emerged after the British Government imposed excise duties on a large number of goods. The profession was further spurred on in the area when the British took possession of the Isle of Man in 1765 closing it down as a centre of warehousing. At this time as many as fifty large vessels from Rush were involved in the smuggling trade and the Preventative Water Guard, who fought against smuggling in the 1800's, based themselves in the Drumanagh Martello Tower that overlooked the harbour. Two local names stand out as key national characters, Luke Ryan and the local pirate Jack Connor, otherwise known as Jack the Batchelor or Jack Field.

Captain Luke Ryan (depicted in Hibernian Magazine 1782)
Image: Public Domain
Luke Ryan was born on the local estate in Rush in 1750. In 1760, he was employed as a stable hand in the Hamiltons' Hackettstown estate near Skerries and in 1762 was apprenticed to John Grimes, shipwright of Skerries. He was then indentured to Edward King as a ship’s carpenter at his boatyard in Ringsend in 1766. Eventually, he migrated to France and obtained a commission as a lieutenant in Dillon’s Irish Regiment. This was a brigade led by Lord Mountcashel that served as part of the French Army. In 1765 the use of the Isle of Man as a centre for warehousing ceased as the British took possession of the island and so about fifty large vessels in the area of Rush became involved in the smuggling trade. Seizing upon the developing smuggling trade Ryan returned to Rush and began operating as a smuggler between Ireland and France on his large cutter. This was a ship called Friendship that was believed to be the fastest ship on the water at the time. Once described in the Freeman’s Journal the… [Friendship is] 'ready to sail, being completely armed and manned, carrying 14 carriage guns and 60 as brave hands as any in Europe'. Upon it he smuggled 'French brandy, Dutch tea, arms and other assorted materials between Dunkirk and Dublin'. But he was drawing too much attention and returning to Rush from one of his runs Friendship was seized by Revenue Officers and towed to Poolbeg. Ryan managed to recapture the ship with the aid of his Rush companions and set off again.

Unfortunately, this was a dramatic escalation of his legal situation as, by this act, Luke Ryan and his crew had switched their classification from smugglers to that pirates. If they were caught by the British again, they would all now hang. But this was now amidst the 1775 – 1783 American War of Independence, and ever the opportunist Luke Ryan’s solution was to join the Americans in their revolution. During the war, Britain managed to capture large numbers of American prisoners and the Americans in turn needed to capture British prisoners to trade out the American captives. The French naturally sympathised with the Americans and the Americans made a deal with French Privateers to attack British ships and capture their crews. The privateers could keep whatever loot they found but hand the British crews over to the Americans to trade out. Well known in the right circles, Ryan was in the right place at the right time to obtain an American privateer commission and by his estimation, if they were caught as privateers, they would be considered prisoners of war and thereby avoid the hangman’s noose. So, they sailed to France in search of Dr Benjamin Franklin and his commission.


Benjamin Franklin in 1778
Image: Public Domain
Perfectly skilled, placed and resourced the Friendship became the Black Prince in the summer of 1779. Ryan allowed Mr Marchant, an American, to carry the title of captain and he took on the title of First Mate, but it was still his crew. He was then given the first reluctantly issued commission, or letter of marque, by Benjamin Franklin to run as a privateer to plunder English ships. Unleashed by this commission and accompanied by two other heavily-armed raiders, the Black Princess and the Fearnot, Ryan and his mostly Irish followers went about plundering British ships around the English coast with a vengeance. Ryan and his men didn’t merely attack British ships – on occasion, they even attacked coastal towns and islands, which was widely reported in Ireland where he became a hate figure to panicked Loyalists. The Freemans Journal told their readers in 1780 that "Luke Ryan, Commander, landed at Stornaway, in the island of Lewis, and after plundering the town, carried off the principal inhabitants as hostages".

So successful was Ryan that Benjamin Franklin commissioned three Irish-captained vessels to patrol the Irish Sea and the English Channel. With his own fleet of vessels, he hoped to bring in more prisoners for a prisoner exchange with the British. But the privateers failed to bring in as many prisoners as he wanted, what they did do however was terrorise the shipping lines and caused havoc for the British in the British waters that vastly aid the war. But the activities of Irish privateers with American commissions had become a source of political irritation for the French government and a major worry to Benjamin Franklin and the American Congress. Pressure was brought to bear on reluctant Franklin to revoke American commissions to non-American nationals in his service. None of this was known to Ryan when the Black Prince was eventually wrecked on the French coast in 1780 but Ryan continued his privateer career aboard other ships Black Princess, Fearnot, La Marechal and Le Colonge in 1781. It was upon the latter Ryan’s career was brought to an end in 1782 when a French crew pushed him to attack a whaler, that turned out to be the Berwick, a 3rd rate English ship-of-the-line along with the Belle Poule in its shadow. Outgunned and outsailed, they pinned the Le Colonge against the shore and he was finally captured by British forces. He attempted to convince the courts he was French, before a series of witnesses that included numerous relatives gave the game away.


Depiction of a Privateer attack
Image: Public Domain


During his short run from mid-1779, Ryan had successfully captured 114 prizes and had ransomed a total of 76 masters of British vessels and exchanged 161 merchant seamen. In 1783 the House was told that the Irish privateers during the American war had cost the British merchant navy more than an estimated £8 million in damages. It is believed he singularly inflicted more damage on British shipping than his more famous Scottish counterpart, John Paul Jones whose actions in English waters earned him such a reputation as the 'Father of the United States Navy'; an epithet he shares with John Barry of Wexford. Unlike John Paul Jones, however, things did not go well for Ryan. He was convicted at London’s Old Bailey of piracy, smuggling and treason, and condemned to death. But the charmed Ryan was to dodge the gallows four times, receiving a last moment reprieve each time. Then, after the War Of Independence ended, the French intervened to secure his release. Despite accumulating a personal fortune of some £70,000 during his run, the French Bankers seized his assets and he eventually died in the King’s bench debtors’ prison in 1789 owing a debt of 200 pounds.


Boarding of the Triton by French corsair Hasard
Image: Public Domain


If Luke Ryan had the largest international impact of the two famous Rush characters, it would be Jack Connor captured the national interest. Alternatively known as Jack the Batchelor, Jack Connor was born in County Wexford 1776 and his family moved to Rush in 1788 when he was 12. Within a few years, he was engaged in the lucrative smuggling trade between Rush and the Isle of Man and soon showed himself a master of the profession. Eventually, Jack bought his own boat The Royal Oak and operated a large-scale operation, from as far afield as Dunkirk, out of his 'Smugglers Cave' situated in the cliff face between Loughshinny and Skerries. Trafficked goods included tea, brandy, rum, silk, lace and much more. In all his escapades he would go out of his way to aid those in distress, especially those who were widowed or fatherless. He also took great pity on the poor and would often ensure that the tax collectors spies would get incorrect information to prevent them from procuring the money or imprisoning them for non-payment of taxes. For these acts and his romantic and swashbuckling character, he soon became known as the Robin Hood of Ireland and even became accepted in society circles during his time. Jack died of a fever, most likely typhoid, at the young age of 36 and was buried in Kenure Graveyard where it is said that thousands came to mourn him. His grave is still visible at the back of the old Kenure Church ruin in Rush.

Although Jack was always known as Jack the Bachelor, records show that he had married and was survived by five children, and the beautiful thatched cottage that was his family home can still be seen near the 'Michael Collins' pub on Rush’s Lower Main Street. His cave, an old mine outlet about a mile north of Loughshinny, may also be visited today. A cliff path that leads to it has disappeared due to coastal erosion but it is still possible to go along the beach to it at low tide. Legend has it a giant green serpent still guards what is left of Jack's treasure. A book entitled 'The life and adventures of John Connor, commonly called Jack the bachelor' now a free e-book details his adventures.


Rush today is a very quiet out of the way harbour
Image: Michael Harpur


By the 19th-century all of the piracy and smuggling had largely come to an end. The L-shaped limestone pier, seen today, dates from 1846-47 when it was constructed under the 1847 Relief Act although it must contain elements of the earlier piers. The breakwater, built in two sections to the northwest of Rush Harbour has constructed afterwards. Lewis in his 'Topographical Dictionary of Ireland' describes Rush harbour as being difficult to access and this breakwater may have been constructed to improve this. The harbour then continued for a period as a fishing port and as the base port for services to Lambay Island.


Sunset over Rush Harbour
Image: JH2020 External link


Today Rush is a pretty seaside town and a centre of market gardening. Just 30 minutes from the centre of the capital city, horticulture and agriculture have been superseded by Rush's increasing role as a 'commuter belt' town. Likewise, its attractive beaches and the seascape view over Lambay Island have always attracted day-trippers from Dublin City.

From a sailing point of view Rush is an exposed anchorage and best ventured into with the tide half rising or more. In settled westerly winds it is a delightful place to have lunch or to rest for a while on the way north or south. Those who come ashore will enjoy a wonderful little village with good pubs and restaurants. Vessels with young children aboard will find wonderful broad beaches north and south of the harbour.

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:
Rogerstown Inlet - 1 miles WSW
The Boat Harbour - 1.5 miles SE
Saltpan Bay - 1.6 miles SE
Seal Hole Bay - 2.1 miles SE
Talbot’s Bay - 1.7 miles SE
Coastal anti-clockwise:
Loughshinny - 0.8 miles N
Skerries Bay and Harbour - 2.4 miles NNW
Balbriggan Harbour - 4 miles NNW
Drogheda & The River Boyne - 9.2 miles NW
Port Oriel (Clogher Head) - 10.8 miles NNW

Navigational pictures


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














































Rush Harbour aerial overview




Rush District Overview



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.


Add your review or comment:

Please log in to leave a review of this haven.



Please note eOceanic makes no guarantee of the validity of this information, we have not visited this haven and do not have first-hand experience to qualify the data. Although the contributors are vetted by peer review as practised authorities, they are in no way, whatsoever, responsible for the accuracy of their contributions. It is essential that you thoroughly check the accuracy and suitability for your vessel of any waypoints offered in any context plus the precision of your GPS. Any data provided on this page is entirely used at your own risk and you must read our legal page if you view data on this site. Free to use sea charts courtesy of Navionics.