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Keem Bay

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Keem Bay situated on Achill Island to the east of the Achill Head and to the northwest of Clare Island, in Co. Mayo on the west coast of Ireland features a beautiful sandy beach. Vessels may find temporary anchorage here in very fine weather, but the head of the bay is shallow, and swell can curl into the bay making for an uncomfortable stay. Access is straightforward but it really is only a place to stop to break up a longer passage.

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Keyfacts for Keem Bay

The following videos may be useful to help first time visitors familiarise themselves with the rugged beauty of Achill.

The following video presents footage of Keem strand the beach just to the west of Keel Bay.

About Keem Bay

An expedition round Achill Island including taking in the beautiful island of Achill Beg is a journey of about 50 miles. From a sailors point of view Achill Island looks huge and menacing, lovely to gaze upon but often hard work to get past. The expedition round Achill Head will always be the pivotal point of the trip and has to be grabbed when conditions allow and with due caution, but it is well worth the effort even if the whole trip takes the best part of three days.

If time permits, Achills stunning landscape and rich history offers visitors a wide range of scenic attractions, beauty spots and places of interest. On the route of the Atlantic Drive, a 25 mile journey of breathtaking scenery, is the Tower at Kildavnet a 15C tower house associated with the O'Malley clan who were once the ruling family of Achill. The Tower is known locally as Grace O'Malley's Castle after the 16C legendary Pirate Queen who ruled the western seaboard. The three storey tower at Kildavnet is one of a series of such strongholds that Grace O'Malley, or Granuaile as she is often referred to, established. The strategic importance of its location at the mouth of Achill Sound and protecting the passage that connects Clew Bay with Blacksod Bay is underlined by the fact that the present day Achill lifeboat station is situated close by it.

The "Deserted Village" of approximately 80 ruined stone cottages near to Dugort at the base of Slievemore mountain in the north of the island is a reminder of how hard times were in the past. For many years people lived in the village renting the cottages and small plots of land from the landowner, and then in 1845 the Famine struck Achill as it did in the rest of Ireland and most of the inhabitants moved to the nearby village of Dooagh which is beside the sea and from which they hoped to be able to feed their families, whilst others emigrated to the mainland. They were never to return and the village became abandoned which is where the name “Deserted Village” comes from.

Keem Bay was traditionally used by local fishermen and is the location of artist Paul Henry's famous 1910 painting “Launching the Curragh” which is on display in the National Gallery of Ireland. Until fairly recently the waters of Keem Bay were home to the basking shark which were hunted and killed by the fishermen directed by spotters situated on the cliffside at Moyteoge Head. The oil of the shark was extracted for export as a fine grade lubricant for the aerospace industry, but this practice has been made illegal.

Achill Beg, Irish : Acaill Bheag meaning Little Achill, is a small island off the southern tip of Achill Island which was inhabited until as recently as 1965 when all the occupants were evacuated and settled either on the main island or on the mainland. A lighthouse on Achill Beg's southern tip was also completed in the same year.

Achill Island has many facilities mainly centred around Achill Sound the main village, and they include a supermarket and other shops, hotels, restaurants, pubs and coffee shops, post offices, doctors, a pharmacy, Garda (police) stations, and taxi services.

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:
Blacksod Bay - 5.7 miles NNE
Inishkea Island South - 5.9 miles N
Frenchport (Portnafrankagh) - 10.5 miles NNE
Broadhaven Bay - 12.5 miles NNE
Ross Port - 14.5 miles NE
Coastal anti-clockwise:
Keel Bay - 1.8 miles E
Westport - 15 miles ESE
Clare Island - 7.9 miles SE
Inishturk - 9.9 miles SSE
Killary Harbour - 17.3 miles SE

Navigational pictures

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

The following videos may be useful to help first time visitors familiarise themselves with the rugged beauty of Achill.

The following video presents footage of Keem strand the beach just to the west of Keel Bay.

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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