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Ballygalley Bay

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Overview





Ballygalley Bay is situated on the northeast coast of Ireland about twenty-two miles south of Fair Head and three miles to the north of Larne. The bay offers an anchorage out of the run of the currents and off a small holiday village.

Ballygalley Bay offers good protection in west through south to southeast but is entirely exposed to any northerly quadrant conditions. With the absence of any immediate offshore dangers, or any tidal restriction, daylight access to the bay is straightforward.
Please note

The direction and velocity of the tide should be the central feature of any navigation planning in this area.




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Keyfacts for Ballygalley Bay
Facilities
Shop 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 area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationAnchoring locationBeach or shoreline landing from a tenderQuick and easy access from open waterSet near a village or with a village in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Restriction: strong to overwhelming tides in the localityNote: strong tides or currents in the area that require consideration

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
July 18th 2018

Summary* Restrictions apply

A good location with straightforward access.

Facilities
Shop 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 area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationAnchoring locationBeach or shoreline landing from a tenderQuick and easy access from open waterSet near a village or with a village in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Restriction: strong to overwhelming tides in the localityNote: strong tides or currents in the area that require consideration



Position and approaches
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Haven position

54° 54.066' N, 005° 51.450' W

This is the anchoring area in sand off the head of Ballygalley Bay.

What is the initial fix?

The following Ballygalley Bay Initial Fix will set up a final approach:
54° 54.467' N, 005° 51.146' W
This is set about 800 metres out from the head of the bay. A course of 210° T of Ballygalley castle leads into the anchoring area.


What are the key points of the approach?

Offshore details are available in the northeast Ireland’s Coastal Overview for Malin Head to Strangford Lough Route location.
  • Vessels approaching from the east or southeast can choose to pass around either side the well-marked Hunter Rock and The Maidens.

  • Locate Ballygally Castle, 0.6-mile west-southwest of the headland at the head of the bay, and track in on a bearing 210° T of the castle.


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 Ballygalley Bay for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Ferris Bay - 2.4 miles SE
  2. Brown’s Bay - 2.5 miles SE
  3. Larne Harbour - 2.8 miles SE
  4. Glenarm Bay and Harbour - 3.2 miles NW
  5. Ballydowan - 3.4 miles SE
  6. Portmuck - 3.4 miles SE
  7. Magheramorne Point - 3.5 miles SSE
  8. Mill Bay - 3.6 miles SE
  9. Carnlough Bay and Harbour - 4.4 miles NW
  10. Whitehead - 6.4 miles SSE
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Ferris Bay - 2.4 miles SE
  2. Brown’s Bay - 2.5 miles SE
  3. Larne Harbour - 2.8 miles SE
  4. Glenarm Bay and Harbour - 3.2 miles NW
  5. Ballydowan - 3.4 miles SE
  6. Portmuck - 3.4 miles SE
  7. Magheramorne Point - 3.5 miles SSE
  8. Mill Bay - 3.6 miles SE
  9. Carnlough Bay and Harbour - 4.4 miles NW
  10. Whitehead - 6.4 miles SSE
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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How to get in?
Ballygalley Bay is situated to the northwest of Ballygalley Head and is fronted by a small village and holiday resort. Ballygalley Head is a prominent feature of the coastline with its 89 metres high round knuckle shape, with a steep cliff and base fringed by craggy basaltic rocks. The ancient castle of Ballygalley stands proudly nearby, a teal-coloured Scottish baronial castle, overlooking the sea at the head of the bay.


Eastern Approach Vessels approaching from the east and northeast will need to circumvent the well-marked rock clusters of Hunter Rock, the Maidens, and Highland Rock situated 3 to 5 miles out to sea, east round to northeast, of Ballygalley Head.

Taken in order from, south to north, Hunter Rock has 0.8 metres of water over it. It is a single well-marked shoal that lies between the Maidens and Larne with North and South Cardinal Light buoys. It is the singular and only danger in this area with more than a mile and a half of clear water around it in all directions.

North Hunter - VQ position: 54° 53.046’N, 005 45.114’W

South Hunter - VQ (6) + LFl 10s position: 54° 52.691’N, 005 45.284’W



The Maidens are situated four and a half miles east by northeast of Ballygalley Head. The southern section of the Maidens consists of two clusters of rocks called the West and East Maiden that are separated from each other by a deep and wide sound. The Maidens are marked by a lighthouse with a white tower and black band on the East Maiden plus the remains of a West Maiden lighthouse that was taken out of service in 1903.

Maidens Lighthouse - Fl (3) 20s 29m 24M position: 54° 55.748’N, 005° 43.709’W

The northern cluster consists of three small rocks that are in the form of a triangle. The western Russell’s Rock is 1.00 metre above high water, the eastern Highlandman Rock covers one hour before high water, and the southern or Allen Rock covers at high water. Rocky ledges extend both to the northward and southeast of the Allen Rock whilst the others are steep-to. A Highland Rock beacon shows their position.

Highlandman (Highland Rock) – unlit 1.5m position: 54°57.286'N, 005°43.935'W

Ballygalley Head will have been seen from seaward for several miles before these dangers are approached. Inshore the highest of several peaks in this vicinity, of which Robin Young Hill nearly attains 400 metres, will be seen to rise 2.7 miles west-southwest of Ballygalley Head.


Convergance Point Vessels converging on Ballygalley Bay from all other directions will find no outlying hazards. North of Hangman and Maiden Rocks, where the Antrim Mountains push out almost vertically to the coast, is clear of outlying dangers 400 metres beyond the cliffs.

Likewise, vessels approaching from the south will find an inshore passage from Larne Head, between the mainland and Hunter and the Maidens, steep-to and clear of off lying dangers. Good depths will be found close in with 400 metres from the rock clearing all dangers.


Initial fix location From the Ballygalley Bay initial fix Ballygally Castle will be seen standing on the rocks at the base of the cliffs 0.6-mile west-southwest of the headland at the head of the bay. Track in on the castle on a bearing 210° T.


Haven location Anchor according to draft and preference on a sandy bottom that shoals gradually to the head of the bay. Land on the beach at the head of the bay or at the slipway off the southern shore.


Why visit here?
Ballygalley Bay, also spelt Ballygally, derives its name from the Irish words Baile Geithligh. Pronounced bala gehlee this is believed to mean ‘Geithleach’s townland' but the origin of the personal name 'Geithleach' is uncertain and very rare in the area today.

Ballygalley’s history of inhabitation, akin to this entire stretch of coast, goes way back to very ancient times and long before the times of the Geithleach family. A 1990s archaeological excavation of the bay’s low ground, about 500 metres from the shoreline, unearthed the remains of a number of Neolithic houses. The historically important site produced a large number of artefacts, including pottery, worked flints and stone axes.

The bays signature Ballygally Castle, was built in 1625 by James Shaw, from Greenock in Scotland, and his wife Isabella Brisbane. Shaw originally came here in 1606 at the start of the ‘Plantation of Ulster’ and rented this land from the ‘Earl of Antrim’. It was almost twenty years later before he commenced the fine structure of Ballygally Castle that would be heavily influenced by Scottish design. Its high walls, steep roof, dormer windows and corner turrets featuring corbelled cylindrical tourelles with conical roofs on top, are all baronial design statements. Shaw added personalised touches inside with an inscription over the main entrance door leading to the tower that read ‘1625 Godis Providens is my Inheritans’. Above it he placed the joint coat of arms of the Shaw and Brisbane families, with the letters J.S and I.B.

Though featuring a flourish of design the castle was well capable of defending itself. It had walls five feet thick, including loopholes for muskets, and an open stream running through the outer hall provided water in the event of a siege. During the rebellion of 1641, it served as a place of refuge for the Protestants. The castle came under attack from the Irish garrison at Glenarm several times during the rebellion, but each assault was unsuccessful. It continued to be a point of retreat during the following two centuries and was used as a fortress as late as the 18th Century. Because the castle provided sanctuary for such large numbers of people and saw off so many large-scale attacks in its time, it is now believed that the original building was more extensive than the current remains of the ancient Castle.

During all this time it stayed in the Shaw family until the early 1800s when they lost their lands and wealth. It then passed through several hands taking on many different roles such as a coastguard station, for several years, then a rectory for an extended period, until it was eventually sold to the textile millionaire Mr Cyril Lord in the early nineteen fifties. He refurbished the building and turned it into a hotel that was subsequently purchased by its present owners ‘The Hastings Hotels Group’ in 1966. They have, over the years, undertaken a series of extensive renovation programmes.

Today the 17th Century castle sits in the middle of the village that spreads out around its feet. Situated at the junction with the road to Cairncastle the castle now contains a 4-star hotel with renovated bar and restaurant. It is reputed to be the oldest occupied building in Ireland one of Ireland’s best-preserved Scottish baronial style plantation houses. The castle also has a reputation for being haunted by a number of ghosts. The most active of which is the former resident, Lady Isobel Shaw the wife of Lord James Shaw, who has a habit of knocking on the doors of the rooms and disappearing. Legend has it Lord Shaw wanted a son to be his heir, and this was his chief desire of Lady Shaw. When she delivered him his heir he snatched her away and locked her up in a room at the top of the castle, and it is said she fell to her death trying to escape. Another theory has it that Lord Shaw himself threw her to her death or he paid someone to do it. Whichever the case the ghost of Lady Isobella is said to be friendly and is regularly seen wandering around the old castle, perhaps in search of her beloved son. Madame Nixon is another ghost who lived in the hotel in the 19th century and can be heard walking around the hotel in her silk dress. Today Ballygally Castle hotel is proud of its resident ghosts. It dedicates the small room in the corner turret of the older part of the castle, known as "The Ghost Room", to them and does not rent it out to guests.

The small village of Ballygalley may often be overlooked as a destination. But anyone setting down on its 200-metre long sandy beach will see it has plenty to offer. To the north, up towards the Antrim coast, is the dramatic wall of Antrim with its headlands. To the east, the open sea expands, and beyond it, the low outline of the Scottish coast can be visible. To the south is the distinctive Ballygalley Head with its roadside crag, a village landmark and a favourite with climbers. Inland to the west are the village’s landmark features such as Scawt Hill and Sallagh Braes. Immediately ashore is its castle, standing proudly in all of its 17-century Planter sobriety it looks more a centrepiece of Scotland than Ireland. There is a lot to take in and the village offers its visitors a range of activities. It has a host of wonderful walks, and golfers will find the welcoming 18 Hole Cairndhu Golf Club, on top of Ballygalley Head to the south of the village, more than attractive. Divers will find the wreck of an 1889 gunboat, SS Thrush, a big attraction. Though the Ballygally Castle building is more impressive from the outside than in, a potential drink with Lady Isobella in the ‘Ballygally Castle Hotel’ dungeon bar has to be tempting.

From a boating point of view, Ballygalley Bay is the first anchorage and settlement to the north of Larne. It provides a place to step out of the run of the current along this coastline, with good protection and holding to the prevailing winds. This is a considerable advantage in this area making it a good place to await a favourable tide or even to overnight in good conditions.


What facilities are available?
Ballygalley now has a new two-storey community centre (funded by the Big Lottery, Larne Borough Council and NER) which includes a Spar shop with some Post Office facilities at ground level and a Community Hall on the first floor.


Any security concerns?
Never a problem known to have occurred to a vessel anchored in Ballygalley Bay.



With thanks to:
Terry Crawford, local boatman of many decades. Photography with thanks to Kenneth Allen, Mat Tuck, Michael Clarke, Albert Bridge, Richard Webb, Sandra White, Sue Adair, Dave Napier and Phil Sangwell.


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Please zoom out to see the 'initial fix' for this location.
The above plots are not precise and indicative only.

































This video shows the beach at the head of the bay at dusk




This video shows aerial views of Cairncastle & Ballygally




This video shows aerial views of from Scawt Hill



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