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North Harbour (Trawkieran)

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Overview





North Harbour (Trawkieran) is the principal harbour of Clear Island that is located eight miles off the West Cork coast and is Ireland's southernmost inhabited island. It offers deep-draft vessels the option to come alongside a protected leisure pontoon set within the ferry port or anchor outside. Vessels that can dry out have the opportunity to berth inside its highly protected inner basin.

North Harbour (Trawkieran) is the principal harbour of Clear Island that is located eight miles off the West Cork coast and is Ireland's southernmost inhabited island. It offers deep-draft vessels the option to come alongside a protected leisure pontoon set within the ferry port or anchor outside. Vessels that can dry out have the opportunity to berth inside its highly protected inner basin.

North Harbour provides good protection from everything except strong northerlies. Vessels that can dry out will find protection from these within the inner harbour. Access requires attentive eye-ball navigation plus moderate offshore conditions for the first time entrant. The key difficulty will be finding the unmarked entrance of the harbour which is situated within a recessed cove.
Please note

Vessels with a deep keel will find the harbour extremely space-constrained at peak season and it is advisable to try and see if there is space available inside before an approach is made. A fender board, to protect topsides, is highly advisable for those planning to come alongside the rough harbour wall.




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Keyfacts for North Harbour (Trawkieran)
Facilities
Water available via tapWaste disposal bins 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 locationPost Office in the areaInternet café in the area


Nature
Remote or quiet secluded locationMarina or pontoon berthing facilitiesAnchoring locationBerth alongside a deep water pier or raft up to other vesselsJetty or a structure to assist landingQuick and easy access from open waterNavigation lights to support a night approachScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinitySet near a village or with a village in the immediate vicinityHistoric, geographic or culturally significant location; or in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Restriction: shallow, drying or partially drying pierRestriction: may only reasonably accommodate vessels less than a specific lengthNote: can get overwhelmed by visiting boats during peak periods

Protected sectors

Current wind over the protected quadrants
Minimum depth
3 metres (9.84 feet).

Approaches
3 stars: Attentive navigation; daylight access with dangers that need attention.
Shelter
4 stars: Good; assured night's sleep except from specific quarters.



Last modified
July 9th 2021

Summary* Restrictions apply

A good location with attentive navigation required for access.

Facilities
Water available via tapWaste disposal bins 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 locationPost Office in the areaInternet café in the area


Nature
Remote or quiet secluded locationMarina or pontoon berthing facilitiesAnchoring locationBerth alongside a deep water pier or raft up to other vesselsJetty or a structure to assist landingQuick and easy access from open waterNavigation lights to support a night approachScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinitySet near a village or with a village in the immediate vicinityHistoric, geographic or culturally significant location; or in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Restriction: shallow, drying or partially drying pierRestriction: may only reasonably accommodate vessels less than a specific lengthNote: can get overwhelmed by visiting boats during peak periods



Position and approaches
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Haven position

51° 26.450' N, 009° 30.230' W

North Harbour pierhead.

What is the initial fix?

The following North Harbour initial fix will set up a final approach:
51° 26.742' N, 009° 30.225' W
This is approximately 400 metres north by northeast of the harbour. A course of 196°T will lead into the entrance and towards the end of the outer breakwater.


What are the key points of the approach?

Offshore details are available in southwestern Ireland’s Coastal Overview for Cork Harbour to Mizen Head Route location.

  • Approaching from the east, or Gascanane Sound, note Bullig Reef.

  • Approaching from the west note Tonelunga Rock situated neat the ruins of Dún an Óir 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 North Harbour (Trawkieran) for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. South Harbour (Ineer) - 0.3 miles S
  2. Calf Island East - 1.7 miles NNE
  3. Kinish Harbour - 2.4 miles ENE
  4. Castle Island (South Side) - 2.5 miles N
  5. Long Island - 2.6 miles NNW
  6. Castle Island (North Side) - 2.7 miles N
  7. Horseshoe Harbour - 2.7 miles ENE
  8. Coney Island - 2.7 miles NNW
  9. Trá Bán - 2.8 miles NE
  10. Colla Harbour - 2.8 miles NNW
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. South Harbour (Ineer) - 0.3 miles S
  2. Calf Island East - 1.7 miles NNE
  3. Kinish Harbour - 2.4 miles ENE
  4. Castle Island (South Side) - 2.5 miles N
  5. Long Island - 2.6 miles NNW
  6. Castle Island (North Side) - 2.7 miles N
  7. Horseshoe Harbour - 2.7 miles ENE
  8. Coney Island - 2.7 miles NNW
  9. Trá Bán - 2.8 miles NE
  10. Colla Harbour - 2.8 miles NNW
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?
The island ferry alongside North Harbour
Image: Superbass via CC ASA 4.0


Clear Island, Cape Clear Island, or often just 'Cape', is a high, precipitous island off the southwest coast of County Cork in Ireland. The island is nearly 3 miles long in an east and west direction, and 1 mile wide. With a population of 147 people, it is the southernmost inhabited part of Ireland. Being an official Gaeltacht area (Irish-speaking area), most inhabitants speak Irish and English. North Harbour, or Trawkieran, is the principal island harbour that is set into a small inlet surrounded by sheltering cliffs on the islands northwest coast. Ferries sail regularly from the North Harbour to Schull and Baltimore on the mainland.


North Harbour's new visitor pontoon alongside the entrance
Image: © Bill Cremin


The harbour supports depths of 2 metres off the head of the pier but the inner harbour dries. Deep draft vessels carrying any draft can only come alongside the new visitor pontoon set against the outermost pier. The pontoon was set in place in 2018 when the Bulls Nose was rebuilt and storm gates were added. Details of depth are scarce but a fair expectation is from 2.5 - 3 metres. The small harbour remains highly constrained so visitors should prepare to raft up, typically three yachts deep, where there will be a lot of comings and goings. In settled conditions, it is possible to go alongside the inner end of the northern breakwater. But this is busy with vessels coming and going.


Partially drying inner harbour
Image: Colin Park via CC BY-SA 2.0


By contrast, vessels that can dry will have no trouble finding a berth in the very small, partly-drying, inner harbour. Access is available at mid-tide and the best location is to lie against the northwest side of the central pier. Vessels that can take to the ground will find the inner harbour’s gently sloping bottom an ideal location to dry. Boats that can utilise the inner harbour are better set up for longer stays.
Please note

Good astern steerage will be required to negotiate the very small space within the inner harbour and there is no room to swing.



It is also possible to anchor just below the slip and quay on the eastern shore. However, as the harbour is constrained it will be necessary to anchor both bow and stern to keep the yacht out of the path of the ferries.


How to get in?
North Harbour as seen from the south
Image: Garry Minihane Photography External link


Convergance Point Use Ireland’s coastal overview for Cork Harbour to Mizen Head Route location for seaward approaches. Cape Clear Island is readily identifiable from seaward; being the south-westernmost corner of Ireland and having Fastnet Rock located 4 miles to the southwest.


Fastnet Rock seen over Blananarragaun the islands southernmost point
Image: Superbass via CC ASA 4.0


The island is high and bold with the northerly mainland increasing in height in the backdrop. To the east of Clear Island, the shore retains its bold aspect but is less indented.


Cape Clear Island as seen from the northeast
Image: Old Wellies via CC BY-SA 4.0


The island is three miles long, in an east and west direction, and a mile wide, precipitous, and bold, especially on its southern side, where it rises abruptly from the sea to the height of 159 metres, but slopes more gradually to the north. Two wind motors will be seen on the summit of the island.


The old lighthouse ruin about midway along the south side of the Island
Image: Colin Park via CC BY-SA 2.0


The ruins of an old lighthouse, that was replaced by the Fastnet Rock lighthouse, will be seen about midway along the south side of the Island. Likewise the ruins of Dún an Óir Castle stand on the northwest side, about 0.8 miles north-northeast of the Bill of Cape Clear, the southwest extremity.


Dún an Óir Castle
Image: Old Wellies via CC BY-SA 4.0


Cape Clear Island's south side is clear of outlying dangers but not so its northern shores that have key dangers to be avoided. Likewise finding the entrance to the narrow cove that is North Harbour, set into the island's northern cliffs, can be a challenge from seaward.


North Harbour can be difficult to pick out from a distance
Image: Old Wellies via CC BY-SA 4.0


Eastern Approach Vessels approaching from the east, or Gascanane Sound details in routes, will find a foul area extending about ½ a mile offshore to the north of the island that extends from the small 13 metres high Illauneana island towards Calf Island East. This is a group of islets and rocks that terminate at Bullig Reef.

Bullig Reef – drying section unmarked position: 51° 27.468' N, 009° 29.117' W


Island ferry passing between Illauneana and Bullig Reef (just awash)
Image: Old Wellies via CC BY-SA 4.0


The old telegraph tower east of Baltimore Harbour in range with the white chapel at Sherkin, bearing 082°T as best seen on Admiralty 2129, leads to the north of Bullig Reef. Keep well into 20 metres of water and do not turn towards the Initial Fix until the vessel has passed due south of the western end of Calf Island East. Once round Bullig Reef it is safe to lay off a course for the Initial Fix but keep about 400 metres off Cape Clear Island’s rock-strewn shoreline.


Tonelunga Rock just showing off the castle at dusk
Image: Old Wellies via CC BY-SA 4.0


Western Approach Vessels approaching from the west are less obstructed but should note Tonelunga Rock that is situated 200 metres offshore near the ruins of Dún an Óir Castle. Also, Illaunnagart Rock, which extends 150 metres to the northeast of the headland on the western entrance to the harbour, should be given a wide berth.


Yacht approaching North Harbour
Image: Leo Daly via CC BY-SA 2.0


Initial fix location From the initial fix steer a course of 196°T that will lead into the entrance and towards the end of the outer breakwater, but eye-ball navigation and adjustments are required on the final approaches to the entrance and then on in.

This lead passes close to the Minnaun Rock that is part of a rocky outcropping group located at the eastern side of the entrance where it is just 30 metres wide. Once this rock is passed, to port, the eastern side of the cove becomes the safer side.
Please note

If an outgoing vessel is seen during the approach it is best to immediately abort the approach until it is clear again as the entrance is narrow. Likewise, if it is possible to see three or more masts already alongside in the harbour, there will be no space for another vessel that carries any draft, so anchor off or come back later.



North Harbour (before the marina was completed)
Image: Drone View


Haven location Berth as available making the best of what is available on the day.


Why visit here?
Cape Clear Island, which is also known as Cléire and sometimes also referred to in Irish as Oileán Chléire', is Ireland's most southerly populated island. Referred to by its position, North Harbour, a name that is reinforced by being opposite to the islands only other berthing location, South Harbour, the harbour's Irish name is Trawkieran, or more appropriately Trá Chiaráin. This means the 'beach of Ciarán', or 'Kiaran'.


St Ciarán's Church overlooking the harbour
Image: Colin Park via CC BY-SA 2.0


Ciarán was a saint who was born on Cape Clear and he is alleged to be the earliest of Ireland’s four pre-Patrician saints. According to the Annals of Innisfallen… "352 A.D.—St. Ciaran, Bishop of Saigher and patron saint of the people of Ossoraidhe (Ossory), was born in island called Cape Cleere (Clear)". His father, Lugneus, was a native of Ossory, and of kingly descent. His mother allegedly belonged to the Corca Loígde of the Clonakilty area, who were said to have provided several early kings of Ossory.

St Ciarán as depicted by Richard King
Image: Public Domain
This high-status bloodline alone would explain the presence of a church of his on the island of Cape Clear. The Annals of Innisfallen noted in "402 A.D.—Ciaran and Declan, two bishops, came from Rome to preach the Gospel in Ireland. Ciaran after having preached the Gospel in Inis Cleere, and all over Corca Laidhe, founded a Bishop’s See at Saigher in Ossory, and Declan also another Bishop’s See at Ardmore in the Decies". He became a bishop about the year 538 AD and having retired to a solitary place called Saighir [Sair], in the territory of Eile in Munster, he erected a monastery there. This gradually grew and became the nucleus of a town where he dedicated himself to the care of his monastery and preaching the Gospel to the Ossorians and others, that he converted great numbers.

Preceding Saint Patrick by some generations as the 'Apostle of Eirinn' he is said, spuriously, to have brought Christianity to Ireland before Patrick. Today the ruin of his 12th-century St Ciarán's Church and burial ground, Trá Chiaráin, still overlooks the harbour and it is one of the first features encountered upon arrival. He is the patron saint of the island and the Islanders gather each year on the 5th of March by a well that is dedicated to him to celebrate his feast day.

But human inhabitation of Cape Clear Island reaches back to much earlier times as is witnessed by the island megalithic standing stone and 5,000-year-old passage grave. Intriguingly, at the eastern end of Cape Clear Island, there is a couple of side-by-side marriage stones that are about 2,000 years old. The one with the hole in it is considered to be the female and the other male. Tradition has it that these are marriage stones. Couples were thought to have clasped hands through the hole to exchange vows during marriage ceremonies.


Cape Clear Island's marriage stones
Image: Colin Park via CC BY-SA 2.0


The strongest link to the past has to be the 14th-century O'Driscoll castle Dún an Óir that can be explored from the harbour area via a short stroll westward. The castle stands upon a small island, now separated from the mainland off the north side of Cape Clear Island. Steep cliffs over five metres high surround it. At low tide, the rocky floor of the gap is exposed, making it possible to climb down from the mainland and up to the island. But as this cannot be recommended, the site is virtually inaccessible, although it can be closely observed from the mainland. Dún an Óir means 'chiefs [or dignitary's] fort of gold'.


Dún an Óir Castle
Image: Old Wellies via CC BY-SA 4.0


The O'Driscoll's possessed the islands of Sherkin and Cape Clear as well as much of West Cork (see Baltimore entry). Dún an Óir was cannonaded in the early 1600s but the O'Driscoll's forfeited it along with all their possessions, both on the mainland and in the islands, at the climax of the Nine Years' War. This was the failed campaign by Hugh O'Neill, Hugh Roe O'Donnell and other Irish lords against English rule during the reign of Tudor Queen Elizabeth I. Most of the O'Driscolls emigrated to Spain in its aftermath, leaving behind them their followers and dependents, who gradually became mixed with the local population. The castle and its associated history are well illustrated in the island museum.


The Dún an Óir' withstanding the full force of the Atlantic for centuries
Image: Old Wellies via CC BY-SA 4.0


Those who want to explore the island will find a very steep climb leading out from the harbour and across the island isthmus. The island itself is small, 3 miles long and 1½ miles wide, rugged and divided into east and west halves by an isthmus. The summit of the island offers spectacular views over Long Island Bay to the Mizen Peninsula, to the northwest and the mainland’s most southerly point, back to Sherkin Island, Baltimore and out to the Fastnet Rock. Those hiking out should take the opportunity to visit the disused ruin of the original Cape Clear lighthouse. It stands 33 metres high and can be found near the centre of the south-eastern side of the island. This operated from 1810 until 1854 when it was replaced by the clearly visible Fastnet Rock lighthouse located to the southwest of the island; as discussed in the South Harbour entry.


The Mizen Peninsula as seen during the accent from the harbour
Image: Old Wellies via CC BY-SA 4.0


Today Cape Clear hosts a small permanent population of about 140 people that make a living from tourism, the sea and farming. It forms part of the Gaeltacht where the first language is Irish and it is one of the few places in Ireland where it is still in daily use. As such, many students come here in the summer to perfect their Irish. People who do not speak Irish will, however, have no trouble communicating with the very friendly locals. The island itself can only be described as a natural paradise with feral scenery, sparkling harbours, cliffs and bogs and a lake that can all be discovered on foot. Heather, gorse, sea pinks, honeysuckle and a variety of other wildflowers cover the rugged hills carved up by a patchwork of stonewalls.


The original Cape Clear lighthouse
Image: Colin Park via CC BY-SA 2.0


North Harbour is its ferry port and normal entry point for most visitors and as such the most active of the two anchorages the island offers in summer. The ferries regularly come and go from the harbour and their passengers tend to amble around the quays as they await or disembark the ferries, or visit the restaurants, shops, and pubs. In addition to the ferry traffic, a wide variety of vessels tend to drop in and out of the harbour as it is very much a favourite lunch stop for many boatmen. Built into a narrow cove in the northern cliffs of the island the haven makes for a particularly beautiful harbour and outside of this, all is natural.


Carn at the highest point of Cape Clear Island
Image: Colin Park via CC BY-SA 2.0


The remoteness of the island's location, coupled with its proximity to the continental shelf, provides a unique habitat for wildlife. Situated on important daily and annual migration routes it is a centre for bird watching and has an important bird observatory. The surrounding seas abound with seals, basking sharks, dolphins, leatherback turtles, sunfish and even whales, and the sky above is full of Black and Common Guillemots, Cormorants and Storm Petrels, but unfortunately the best months for bird watching fall just outside the sailing season being April and October.


The ferry service makes North Harbour is the most active part of the island
Image: Colin Park via CC BY-SA 2.0


Late season sailors may take advantage of the Cape Clear Island International Storytelling Festival. This occurs every first weekend of September since 1994. The unique festival features professional international storytellers from all over the world. All of these contribute to Cape Clear’s unspoiled charm that makes it a very special visit for the cruising yachtsman.


The head of North Harbour
Image: Old Wellies via CC BY-SA 4.0


From a boating perspective, removed from the hustle and bustle of mainland life, Cape Clear offers relaxation, nature and peace. But with provisions pubs near to hand and the security of a marina that can be sealed of by storm boards for added peace of mind.


What facilities are available?
A good selection of stores, plus petrol and diesel are available at the local co-operative on the west side of the harbour. Water taps can be found on the north side of this harbour, by the small ice plant, and on the outer pier.There is a bottle bank and facilities for rubbish disposal in the harbour area, but the use of these is discouraged as it is difficult to deal with them on offshore islands. A reasonably well-stocked shop in the harbour provides fresh milk and bread after the first ferry has replenished its stocks in the morning. There are pubs and cafes plus a good selection of dining opportunities, including a summer 'Chip Van', in North Harbour.

Two ferry services operate out of North Harbour, one to Baltimore and the other to Schull or Crookhaven.


Any security concerns?
Never a security issue known to have occurred on Clear Island.


With thanks to:
Burke Corbett, Gusserane, New Ross, Co. Wexford.







Aerial Overview



Aerial views of the North and South Harbours and the old lighthouse



The approach to North Harbour


About North Harbour (Trawkieran)

Cape Clear Island, which is also known as Cléire and sometimes also referred to in Irish as Oileán Chléire', is Ireland's most southerly populated island. Referred to by its position, North Harbour, a name that is reinforced by being opposite to the islands only other berthing location, South Harbour, the harbour's Irish name is Trawkieran, or more appropriately Trá Chiaráin. This means the 'beach of Ciarán', or 'Kiaran'.


St Ciarán's Church overlooking the harbour
Image: Colin Park via CC BY-SA 2.0


Ciarán was a saint who was born on Cape Clear and he is alleged to be the earliest of Ireland’s four pre-Patrician saints. According to the Annals of Innisfallen… "352 A.D.—St. Ciaran, Bishop of Saigher and patron saint of the people of Ossoraidhe (Ossory), was born in island called Cape Cleere (Clear)". His father, Lugneus, was a native of Ossory, and of kingly descent. His mother allegedly belonged to the Corca Loígde of the Clonakilty area, who were said to have provided several early kings of Ossory.

St Ciarán as depicted by Richard King
Image: Public Domain
This high-status bloodline alone would explain the presence of a church of his on the island of Cape Clear. The Annals of Innisfallen noted in "402 A.D.—Ciaran and Declan, two bishops, came from Rome to preach the Gospel in Ireland. Ciaran after having preached the Gospel in Inis Cleere, and all over Corca Laidhe, founded a Bishop’s See at Saigher in Ossory, and Declan also another Bishop’s See at Ardmore in the Decies". He became a bishop about the year 538 AD and having retired to a solitary place called Saighir [Sair], in the territory of Eile in Munster, he erected a monastery there. This gradually grew and became the nucleus of a town where he dedicated himself to the care of his monastery and preaching the Gospel to the Ossorians and others, that he converted great numbers.

Preceding Saint Patrick by some generations as the 'Apostle of Eirinn' he is said, spuriously, to have brought Christianity to Ireland before Patrick. Today the ruin of his 12th-century St Ciarán's Church and burial ground, Trá Chiaráin, still overlooks the harbour and it is one of the first features encountered upon arrival. He is the patron saint of the island and the Islanders gather each year on the 5th of March by a well that is dedicated to him to celebrate his feast day.

But human inhabitation of Cape Clear Island reaches back to much earlier times as is witnessed by the island megalithic standing stone and 5,000-year-old passage grave. Intriguingly, at the eastern end of Cape Clear Island, there is a couple of side-by-side marriage stones that are about 2,000 years old. The one with the hole in it is considered to be the female and the other male. Tradition has it that these are marriage stones. Couples were thought to have clasped hands through the hole to exchange vows during marriage ceremonies.


Cape Clear Island's marriage stones
Image: Colin Park via CC BY-SA 2.0


The strongest link to the past has to be the 14th-century O'Driscoll castle Dún an Óir that can be explored from the harbour area via a short stroll westward. The castle stands upon a small island, now separated from the mainland off the north side of Cape Clear Island. Steep cliffs over five metres high surround it. At low tide, the rocky floor of the gap is exposed, making it possible to climb down from the mainland and up to the island. But as this cannot be recommended, the site is virtually inaccessible, although it can be closely observed from the mainland. Dún an Óir means 'chiefs [or dignitary's] fort of gold'.


Dún an Óir Castle
Image: Old Wellies via CC BY-SA 4.0


The O'Driscoll's possessed the islands of Sherkin and Cape Clear as well as much of West Cork (see Baltimore entry). Dún an Óir was cannonaded in the early 1600s but the O'Driscoll's forfeited it along with all their possessions, both on the mainland and in the islands, at the climax of the Nine Years' War. This was the failed campaign by Hugh O'Neill, Hugh Roe O'Donnell and other Irish lords against English rule during the reign of Tudor Queen Elizabeth I. Most of the O'Driscolls emigrated to Spain in its aftermath, leaving behind them their followers and dependents, who gradually became mixed with the local population. The castle and its associated history are well illustrated in the island museum.


The Dún an Óir' withstanding the full force of the Atlantic for centuries
Image: Old Wellies via CC BY-SA 4.0


Those who want to explore the island will find a very steep climb leading out from the harbour and across the island isthmus. The island itself is small, 3 miles long and 1½ miles wide, rugged and divided into east and west halves by an isthmus. The summit of the island offers spectacular views over Long Island Bay to the Mizen Peninsula, to the northwest and the mainland’s most southerly point, back to Sherkin Island, Baltimore and out to the Fastnet Rock. Those hiking out should take the opportunity to visit the disused ruin of the original Cape Clear lighthouse. It stands 33 metres high and can be found near the centre of the south-eastern side of the island. This operated from 1810 until 1854 when it was replaced by the clearly visible Fastnet Rock lighthouse located to the southwest of the island; as discussed in the South Harbour entry.


The Mizen Peninsula as seen during the accent from the harbour
Image: Old Wellies via CC BY-SA 4.0


Today Cape Clear hosts a small permanent population of about 140 people that make a living from tourism, the sea and farming. It forms part of the Gaeltacht where the first language is Irish and it is one of the few places in Ireland where it is still in daily use. As such, many students come here in the summer to perfect their Irish. People who do not speak Irish will, however, have no trouble communicating with the very friendly locals. The island itself can only be described as a natural paradise with feral scenery, sparkling harbours, cliffs and bogs and a lake that can all be discovered on foot. Heather, gorse, sea pinks, honeysuckle and a variety of other wildflowers cover the rugged hills carved up by a patchwork of stonewalls.


The original Cape Clear lighthouse
Image: Colin Park via CC BY-SA 2.0


North Harbour is its ferry port and normal entry point for most visitors and as such the most active of the two anchorages the island offers in summer. The ferries regularly come and go from the harbour and their passengers tend to amble around the quays as they await or disembark the ferries, or visit the restaurants, shops, and pubs. In addition to the ferry traffic, a wide variety of vessels tend to drop in and out of the harbour as it is very much a favourite lunch stop for many boatmen. Built into a narrow cove in the northern cliffs of the island the haven makes for a particularly beautiful harbour and outside of this, all is natural.


Carn at the highest point of Cape Clear Island
Image: Colin Park via CC BY-SA 2.0


The remoteness of the island's location, coupled with its proximity to the continental shelf, provides a unique habitat for wildlife. Situated on important daily and annual migration routes it is a centre for bird watching and has an important bird observatory. The surrounding seas abound with seals, basking sharks, dolphins, leatherback turtles, sunfish and even whales, and the sky above is full of Black and Common Guillemots, Cormorants and Storm Petrels, but unfortunately the best months for bird watching fall just outside the sailing season being April and October.


The ferry service makes North Harbour is the most active part of the island
Image: Colin Park via CC BY-SA 2.0


Late season sailors may take advantage of the Cape Clear Island International Storytelling Festival. This occurs every first weekend of September since 1994. The unique festival features professional international storytellers from all over the world. All of these contribute to Cape Clear’s unspoiled charm that makes it a very special visit for the cruising yachtsman.


The head of North Harbour
Image: Old Wellies via CC BY-SA 4.0


From a boating perspective, removed from the hustle and bustle of mainland life, Cape Clear offers relaxation, nature and peace. But with provisions pubs near to hand and the security of a marina that can be sealed of by storm boards for added peace of mind.

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:
Kinish Harbour - 2.4 miles ENE
Quarantine Island - 3.1 miles NE
Inane Creek - 3.9 miles NE
Oldcourt - 5.5 miles NE
Reena Dhuna - 4.4 miles NE
Coastal anti-clockwise:
South Harbour (Ineer) - 0.3 miles S
Horseshoe Harbour - 2.7 miles ENE
Castle Ruins - 2.8 miles ENE
Baltimore - 3.4 miles ENE
Barloge Creek (Lough Hyne) - 5.3 miles ENE

Navigational pictures


These additional images feature in the 'How to get in' section of our detailed view for North Harbour (Trawkieran).




















































Aerial Overview



Aerial views of the North and South Harbours and the old lighthouse



The approach to North Harbour



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