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



NextPrevious

Courtmacsherry

Tides and tools
Overview





Courtmacsherry Harbour is located on the southwest coast of Ireland about twenty miles southwest of Cork Harbour. It is set into an inlet formed by the estuary of a river that enters the northwest corner of Courtmacsherry Bay. The haven offers an anchorage off a village with the potential to come alongside a pontoon.

Courtmacsherry Harbour is located on the southwest coast of Ireland about twenty miles southwest of Cork Harbour. It is set into an inlet formed by the estuary of a river that enters the northwest corner of Courtmacsherry Bay. The haven offers an anchorage off a village with the potential to come alongside a pontoon.

Situated up a well-sheltered river estuary and nestled behind a ridge, Courtmacsherry offers complete protection. One slight exception is that it can become uncomfortable during a westerly gale wind-over-tide. Access requires attentive navigation as the outer bay features some off-putting central obstructions and the river entrance has a moderately deep bar that can be subject to strong tides so both need special attention. However, all the dangers are marked or easily avoided by its wide access path and the approach has lighted marks all the way in.
Please note

Tides in the estuary are very strong, especially at springs. Courtmacsherry should not be attempted in any conditions from the southeast or moderately strong conditions from the south. In strong south-easterlies or southerly conditions, the seas break on the bar rendering it impassable. Although well-lit, a stranger should not consider entering Courtmacsherry by night.




Be the first
to comment
Keyfacts for Courtmacsherry
Facilities
Water available via tapWaste disposal bins availableDiesel fuel available alongsideTop up fuel available in the area via jerry cansShop with basic provisions availableSlipway availableShore power available alongsideShore based toilet facilitiesHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaPost Office in the areaBus service available in the areaHandicapped access supportedShore based family recreation in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationMarina or pontoon berthing facilitiesAnchoring locationBerth alongside a deep water pier or raft up to other vesselsVisitors moorings available, or possibly by club arrangementJetty or a structure to assist landingSailing Club baseSet near a village or with a village in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Restriction: may be subject to a sand barNote: strong tides or currents in the area that require considerationNote: harbour fees may be charged

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
5 stars: Complete protection; all-round shelter in all reasonable conditions.



Last modified
April 1st 2021

Summary* Restrictions apply

A completely protected location with attentive navigation required for access.

Facilities
Water available via tapWaste disposal bins availableDiesel fuel available alongsideTop up fuel available in the area via jerry cansShop with basic provisions availableSlipway availableShore power available alongsideShore based toilet facilitiesHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaPost Office in the areaBus service available in the areaHandicapped access supportedShore based family recreation in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationMarina or pontoon berthing facilitiesAnchoring locationBerth alongside a deep water pier or raft up to other vesselsVisitors moorings available, or possibly by club arrangementJetty or a structure to assist landingSailing Club baseSet near a village or with a village in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Restriction: may be subject to a sand barNote: strong tides or currents in the area that require considerationNote: harbour fees may be charged



Position and approaches
Expand to new tab or fullscreen

Haven position

51° 38.158' N, 008° 42.655' W

The Courtmacsherry pontoon, adjacent to the quay.

What is the initial fix?

The following Courtmacsherry initial fix will set up a final approach:
51° 36.000' N, 008° 38.730' W
This is on the alignment of the eastern shore of Coolmain Bay open of Coolmain Point 343°, about 120 metres southwest from the Black Tom buoy.


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.

  • Pass to the southwest of the Black Tom buoy to safely keep clear of the Barrel Rocks

  • Pass to the ortheast of Horse Rock and steer for Wood Point

  • Check there is sufficient draft to proceed upriver between Wood Point and the Courtmacsherry Buoy

  • Follow the marks upriver


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 Courtmacsherry for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Broadstrand Bay - 0.8 miles SSE
  2. Coolmain Bay - 0.9 miles ENE
  3. Blindstrand Bay - 1.1 miles SE
  4. Seven Heads Bay - 1.7 miles S
  5. Dunworly Bay - 2.3 miles SSW
  6. Clonakilty Harbour (Ring) - 3.4 miles WSW
  7. Holeopen Bay West - 3.8 miles E
  8. Holeopen Bay East - 4.2 miles E
  9. Sandy Cove - 4.7 miles ENE
  10. Dunnycove Bay - 5 miles SW
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Broadstrand Bay - 0.8 miles SSE
  2. Coolmain Bay - 0.9 miles ENE
  3. Blindstrand Bay - 1.1 miles SE
  4. Seven Heads Bay - 1.7 miles S
  5. Dunworly Bay - 2.3 miles SSW
  6. Clonakilty Harbour (Ring) - 3.4 miles WSW
  7. Holeopen Bay West - 3.8 miles E
  8. Holeopen Bay East - 4.2 miles E
  9. Sandy Cove - 4.7 miles ENE
  10. Dunnycove Bay - 5 miles SW
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?
Courtmacsherry Harbour
Image: Michael Harpur


Courtmacsherry Harbour, locally known as Courtmac, adjoins the northwestern side of Coolmain Bay and is set within the estuary of the Argideen River. Both are approached through Courtmacsherry Bay, which lies between Seven Heads and Old Head of Kinsale with the river entered about 6 miles to the northwest of the latter. The small seaside village of Courtmacsherry consists of a single long street on the south side of the river that is situated a mile to the west of Wood Point with thick woods on rising ground behind. The village has a pier, slipway and pontoon for sea access in the centre of the village. In addition to a number of commercial fishing vessels, the harbour is the base for a Royal National Lifeboat Institution Trent Class All-weather Lifeboat since 1995.


Courtmacsherry Visitor Pontoon
Image: Michael Harpur


The river is fronted by a bar that has 1.8 metres LAT, about 2 metres at LWS, which makes it accessible by most vessels at all states of the tide. Vessels carrying significant draft will need to enter with half a following tide and will be navigating whilst being carried in by a significant tidal flow. From here a narrow and well-marked channel increases in depth to 2.4 metres as it passes close off the southern shore, westward of Wood Point, to the town quays where depths in excess of 4 metres can be found. These depths are a reasonable expectation but cannot be relied upon as they are subject to change owing to shifting sands.


The outer pier
Image: Michael Harpur


It is possible to anchor clear of the channel before the No.7 buoy (QG). Beyond this buoy, the area fronting the town is entirely occupied by local moorings. The 36-metre long Visitor Pontoon, situated close west of the pier, provides overnight berthing for visiting vessels. A fee applies and payment can be made locally at the Pier House Bar. There is ample depth at the pontoon all tides.

The inner dock at Courtmacsherry
Image: Michael Harpur


The outside of the stone pier, east of the new platform extension, has about 0.9 metres of water LAT separating it from the pontoon. It may be used with permission from the harbour master during neaps. Vessels that can take to the bottom can dry out in the small dock that comprises the inner harbour.


How to get in?
The Old Head of Kinsale as seen during an approach on Courtmacsherry
Image: Burke Corbett


Convergance Point Use the details available in southwestern Ireland’s coastal overview for Cork Harbour to Mizen Head Route location for seaward approaches. Courtmacsherry Bay, lying between Seven Heads and Old Head of Kinsale, a distance of 7 miles in an easterly direction, is largely exposed and has several clusters of dangerous outlying rocks.

Seven Heads as seen on the approach to Courtmacsherry
Image: Burke Corbett


The Old Head of Kinsale is rendered unmistakable by its long peninsula with a lighthouse and the bold bluff headland of Seven Heads may be identified by its old telegraph tower and some smaller World War II watchpoints.


Seven Heads with Cotton Rock awash (right)
Image: Burke Corbett


Seven Heads' danger is Cotton Rock situated 300 metres out from the shore on the east side of the head. Awash at high water and drying to 3.6 metres it is situated half a mile northeast of Seven Heads southernmost point.


Black Tom with the Barrel Rock breaking in the backdrop
Image: Burke Corbett


The best course into the bay is to pass to the southwest of the Black Tom buoy to safely keep clear of the Barrel Rocks. This is because, with the exceptions of the outer Cotton Rock and Horse Rock, all the dangers are in the centre of Courtmasherry Bay and there are no obstructions between the headlands. Barrel Rock is the bay's main drying rocky area. It is over 1 mile out from the shore and was marked by a beacon that is now unmaintained and cannot be relied upon.

Barrel Rock Beacon - (no longer maintained) position: 51° 37.006’N, 008° 37.298’W


Black Tom Rock is situated to the west of this, Blueboy Rock to the east and the Inner Barrels to the north. The Black Tom buoy is moored 1 mile south of the Black Tom Rock.

Black Tom Buoy - Fl G 5s position: 51° 36.408’N, 008° 37.959’W

The Initial Fix sets up this preferred approach and it is a clear wide approach path that is lighted.

Please note

Although preferred, this is not to say there are no other good approaches. In good conditions, with the benefit of good visibility and positive position, vessels approaching from the Old Head can ignore the Initial Fix and cut between The Barrel Rock and Black Tom to make directly for entrance to Courtmacsherry. There is a ½ mile between these with ample water. It is safe to leave the Barrel Rock 200 metres to starboard and then make directly for Wood Point. The problem however is the Barrel Rock beacon cannot be relied upon as it is no longer a maintained navigation mark. Vessels approaching from the northeast side of Courtmacsherry Bay may also safely cross the bay between the northern extremity of the Inner Barrels and the north shore. Similarly, vessels approaching along the western shoreline may freely pass between the Horse Rock and Barry’s Point where there is a gap of 600 metres with ample water.




Wood Point Light with Horse Rock seen in the distance
Image: David Brookes


Initial fix location From the initial fix proceed in on the alignment of the eastern shore of Coolmain Bay 343°T, to pass midway between Horse Rock and the Black Tom Buoy. At night this is in the white sector of the Wood Point Light a sectored light showing from a 3 metres high white metal column standing at an elevation of 15 metres on Wood Point.

Wood Point - Fl (2)WR5s, 15m, 6M position: 51° 38.000’N, 008° 41.000’W


Horse Rock
Image: Niall at the Pink Elephant External link


Horse Rock, and its close-lying Foal Rock, lies a ⅓ of a mile off Barry's Point and dries to 3.6 metres. It is usually visible except for at high water springs when a breaker may be expected.

Horse Rock (& Foal Rock) - unmarked position: 51° 36.630’N, 008° 40.000’W


Wood Point with Coolmain Bay as seen from south by southwest
Image: Michael Harpur


When Horse Rock is abeam, it is safe to steer towards Wood Point around which is the entrance to the river. This can be difficult to identify as Coolmain Point, Lisheen Point and Wood Point tend to blend together as a coastline and especially so in poor light. However, on closer approaches, Wood Point distinguishes itself as a high, well-defined point, with of the Wood Point Light. Progressing into the northwest corner the water shoals gradually to 3 metres abreast of Wood Point that is bold-to, and may be rounded closely.


Wood Point as seen from the north, with Barry's Point and Horse rock in the
backdrop

Image: Michael Harpur


The river enters the bay between Wood Point and Lisheen Point a ½ mile to the north in its northwest corner of Courtmacsherry Bay. A shoal bank extends to the north of Wood Point reducing the navigable width in the channel to scarcely more than 200 metres off the south shore. The entrance is well marked by the Wood Point light to port and Courtmacsherry Buoy to starboard with the Courtmacsherry buoy moored off a spit extending from the north shore.

Courtmacsherry Buoy - Fl G 3s position: 51° 38.287’N, 008° 40.897’W


Courtmacsherry Buoy
Image: Niall at the Pink Elephant External link


The bar lies immediately within the Wood Point light and Courtmacsherry buoy and is mostly sheltered from the heave of the sea. It tends to shift unpredictably and is largely driven by the amount and strength of the preceding southeasterly gales. Likewise, the channel marks can be damaged in such conditions and they cannot be entirely relied upon. For entry, it would be judicious to assume it is 1.5 metres deep at LWS and assume a limiting depth of chart datum in the channel. Vessels of any draft are advised to enter on the first half of a following tide. It is also recommended that sailing boats drop at this point as, owing to the shallows on each side of the channel, it is best to proceed into the harbour under power.
Please note

If arriving at low water and draught concerned or finding the outgoing tide a challenge there are several alternative tide wait locations, most noteworthy Coolmain Bay itself. Vessels proceeding to enter should make allowance for the river’s significant tidal flows. This is particularly the case at spring tides where specific attention is required to avoid being pushed out of the channel and set down onto moored boats.




Yacht tracking in on the the channel marks
Image: Michael Harpur


The channel up to the harbour is then marked by lit spar buoys and all marks including the light buoy should be tightly adhered to. The first two spars are directly west from the Courtmacsherry Buoy and easily identifiable. The third spar is situated a ¼ of a mile to the southwest of the second spar buoy off the old Lifeboat House. This is often difficult to see as it can be concealed amongst moored boats - look for a church and a white building on the shore in the background and it will be in that line of sight. Upstream of Ferry Point there are two further starboard buoys showing the snake of the river as well as moorings on both sides of the channel that can be followed up to the quay.
Please note

A late evening entry that tracks westward could be directly into the setting sun making the first two spar buoys difficult.




The wooded shoreline within Wood Point
Image: Michael Harpur


It is advisable to stay well to port of the last lateral mark, starboard No. 9. buoy, which is located close to the Hotel and marks the turn up northwestward to the pier. The channel has shifted here in recent times and the buoy has not been moved in accord so there have been groundings here at certain states of the tide. Following the line of moorings on the south side of the channel avoids all problems.


Last lateral mark with the lines of moorings showing the channel
Image: Michael Harpur


Generally speaking, the entrance is well marked, protected and easily managed and apart from other moored vessels, it is all sand so there is nothing hard to hit for a vessel that loses its way. The pier head is marked by 2 FR (vert) lights.


Courtmacsherry pier as seen from the east
Image: Michael Harpur


Haven location Visiting vessels may come alongside the 36-metre long pontoon, off the main quay. The helm should prepare for streams that reach up to 2 knots at springs off the pontoon. But do not swing too far on the approach as the deep channel at the pier is only 50 to 75 metres wide and it is easy for the unwary to ground on the north side of the channel. Pontoon space is at a premium and the harbour master will gladly advise of alternatives if no alongside berth is available.


Courtmacsherry pier and pontoon
Image: Michael Harpur


Vessels may anchor east of the No. 7 spar buoy in depths of up to 5 metres. Stay at least 200 metres off the south shore as there is a shoal extending from the shore and keep clear of the small boats moored to the west of it as it is shallow in this area. Avoid anchoring in such a fashion as to impede the RNLI lifeboat, that lies afloat, or in the area where local fishing boats are moored as the ground is foul.
Please note

This area has a lot of bottom weed and the anchor should be well dug in to be certain it is secure. Due to the strong alternating tides, it would be advisable to lay anchors up and downstream covering both tidal runs. A tripping line is also recommended as there are quite a few old and abandoned moorings lying around.




The lifeboat mooring off the head of the pier
Image: Michael Harpur


The stone pier may be used with permission from the harbour master during neaps and vessels that can take to the bottom can dry out in the small dock that comprises the inner harbour.


The drying inner dock
Image: Michael Harpur


Above Courtmacsherry the harbour expands, and at low water presents a considerable area of mud and sand extending 2½ miles to the west to the village of Timoleague where the remains of a fine 14th-century abbey, the largest of the religious houses in County Cork, stands to this day. However, beyond Courtmacsherry it is the domain of the tender.


Why visit here?
Courtmacsherry derives its name from 'MacSharry's Court', in Irish Cúirt Mhic Seafraidh, when this area was the westmost Borough of Norman territories after the invasion of Ireland.

Around this time the major townships in the area were those now known as Timoleague, Lislee, Barryroe and Dunworly. Among the Norman settlers were the De Barrys and the Hodnetts an English family who settled in the area from Shropshire. The former built the castle at Timoleague, and the latter settled in Lislee. The Barrys flourished and gave their name to Barryroe and Rathbarry, whereas the Hodnetts were said to have 'degenerated into mere Irish'. One branch changed their name to MacSeafraidh, meaning 'son of Geoffrey', which was subsequently anglicised to MacSherry, or McSharry, and their land overlooking the river took their name.


Courtmacsherry offers a haven of calm a short distance from the Old Head
Image: Niall at the Pink Elephant External link


Although the Barrys and Hodnetts still live in the district, there are no McSherrys. In the reign of Henry III, a great battle was fought at Timoleague, between the Hodnetts, under Lord Phillip Hodnett, and the Barrys, under Lord Barrymore. The Hodnetts were routed, and their leader was killed vastly reducing the families holding. The Hodnetts finally lost their title supporting the royalist cause against Cromwell in the Confederate wars. Their title to the land was given to one of Cromwell's followers Robert Gookin. His descendants lived on the Estate even when Lord Broghill took ownership. Interestingly, a banished Patrick MacSeafraidh, from County Antrim, that was a descendant of a Courtmacsherry Hodnett, emigrated to America in 1745. He founded what is McSherrystown in Adams County, Pennsylvania.


Courtmacsherry as seen from the opposite northern shore
Image: Michael Harpur


Courtmacsherry' history runs deeper than the Norman Conquest and this was always an important area. An excavation in Courtmacsherry of a Bronze Age Fulacht Fiadh which is the Irish name given to burned mounds. A possible ringfort, southeast of Courtmacsherry, in Meelmane, indicates Courtmacsherry was part of the shared societal practice of Ireland in the Early Christian period. A coastal promontory fort also indicated the port town’s historic need for defences from naval threats and a later castle in Courtmacsherry reflected it had a community prominent enough to necessitate the presence of a resident governing body. The castle’s location, on the shoreline, further solidifies the importance of the sea to Courtmacsherry’s sustained fortunes.


The Argideen River
Image: Niall at the Pink Elephant External link


Later, descendants of Lord Broghill, the noted Boyle family, claimed the estate. Boyles styled themselves, Earls of the Shannon, from 1756 on and built a summer home here in the late 18th-century. They planted many exotic trees, shrubs and woods around the village. The village continued to grow in Victorian times, as a haven for holidaymakers from the city of Cork, and as a result, several new houses were built. This development was spurred on by the arrival of the railway in 1891. Courtmacsherry' limestone pier dates back to 1870-1880 when it was built, incorporating fabric of earlier pier and more was salvaged from an older pier to the east, known locally as Tanner's Pier, to facilitate the light railway that opened in 1891. The railway remained active until its closure in 1961.


The deeply forested headland is the legacy of the Earls of the Shannon
Image: Niall at the Pink Elephant External link


Today Courtmacsherry is a little sea-front village that consists of a single long street embraced by thick beautiful woodland on rising ground behind. The village and harbour have escaped major development because of its remote out of the way cul-de-sac location. The ridge protects it from the Atlantic and adds to its very relaxed, friendly demeanour. Courtmac, as it is colloquially known, is referred to locally with good humour as 'a quiet drinking village with a fishing problem'. The village's main industry consists of commercial and sports fishing and a moderate tourist industry that thrives during the summer months. It consists primarily of a hotel and a caravan park, that still largely caters to visitors from Cork. Entertainment can be found in the several bars and pubs in and around the village. There is also a festival at the end of July and the beginning of August, with lots of activities and competitions for children, and entertainment and events for adults.


Courtmacsherry's Trent Class Lifeboat
Image: Michael Harpur


Much of the village life centres around the Courtmacsherry Lifeboat service that was one of the first to have been established in Ireland. It was a forerunner of the present Trent Class Lifeboat that rescued the survivors of the RMS Lusitania on May 7th, 1915. At that time the vessel had no auxiliary power and the rescue operation was hindered by the lack of wind. The crew had to row the twelve miles distance to the stricken vessel and the journey took three hours each way. The current Trent Class Lifeboat would make the journey in 20 minutes.


Seven Heads as seen from the east
Image: Michael Harpur


For hikers, there are a host of spectacular walks in the area. The woods planted by the Earl of Shannon continue beyond the village eastwards to Wood Point and are visible from seaward on entry. Between the village and 'The Point' the trees run right to the water's edge and there are several natural bathing coves along the way. This connects a network of marked walks around the rugged cliffs and shoreline to Dunworley and on through Barrryscove and Ardgehane to Aghafore and Barryshall. The Seven Heads Walks booklet, available from most retailers in Courtmacsherry, covers this in detail. Alongside the route, is a detailed history of the area and the various flora and fauna to watch out for.


The ruins of Timoleague Abbey
Image: Michael Harpur


The most notably remain historic object is a two-mile walk westwards along the estuary, or via small boat upriver, that leads to the village of Timoleague. Timoleague, once called 'Ty-Mologa' meaning the 'house of St. Mologa', takes its name from the ruins of the Franciscan abbey, founded here by the MaCartys. The abbey was founded by the order in 1240 and extended at various times. The earliest section is the chancel of the Gothic church. The most recent addition, the 16th-century tower, was added by the Franciscan Bishop of Ross. The friary prospered on the trade of smuggled Spanish wines, easily delivered thanks to its position on the then navigable Argideen River. The river name itself been derived from the Irish word airgead meaning 'silver'. The friars remained in the abbey until 1642 when the friary and town were burnt by Lord Forbes soldiers who then set sail for the Shannon. It was the largest of the religious houses in County Cork. There is also excellent river fishing at Timoleague as well as the best local provision shops.


Courtmacsherry provides a tranquil berth for the coastal cruiser
Image: Michael Harpur


From a boating perspective, Courtmacsherry is the perfect nautical gem in the West Cork cruising landscape. The pretty, sheltered and hospitable harbour permeates a cosy sense of calm and security, even with rough weather outside in the bay. It is an ideal place for a coastal cruiser to come and rest for a while, and the anchorages surrounding the mudflats are a birdwatcher's paradise.


What facilities are available?
There is water, and electricity a domestic refuse facility available at the pontoon, toilets ashore. No showers are available although this may be possible by arrangement with the hotel at the eastern end of the quay. Also available are rubbish disposal and diesel fuel by arrangement via a tanker on the adjoining quay. Mechanics and divers are available locally if required.

The village of Courtmacsherry situated on the south side of the harbour has most basic provisions. A community shop located near the Pier where fresh and local produce maybe purchased and there is a local post office in the village. Two miles away Timoleague has a large grocery store and supermarket that offers a better provisioning option. There is also a supermarket located in nearby Barryroe. The village has three bars and a Hotel all open during the season as well as Coffee shops and takeaways. Evening meals are served in the Lifeboat Inn and the Hotel.

The daily 239 bus service runs from Cork, via Bandon, to Courtmacsherry. A local taxi service is also available in the area. The village is about 40km southwest of Cork city, and 10 minutes drive east from the larger provincial town of Clonakilty.


Any security concerns?
Never an issue known to have occurred to a vessel at Courtmacsherry.


With thanks to:
Anthony McCarthy, local yachtsman. Photographs with thanks to Niall at the Pink Elephant and Burke Corbett.



About Courtmacsherry

Courtmacsherry derives its name from 'MacSharry's Court', in Irish Cúirt Mhic Seafraidh, when this area was the westmost Borough of Norman territories after the invasion of Ireland.

Around this time the major townships in the area were those now known as Timoleague, Lislee, Barryroe and Dunworly. Among the Norman settlers were the De Barrys and the Hodnetts an English family who settled in the area from Shropshire. The former built the castle at Timoleague, and the latter settled in Lislee. The Barrys flourished and gave their name to Barryroe and Rathbarry, whereas the Hodnetts were said to have 'degenerated into mere Irish'. One branch changed their name to MacSeafraidh, meaning 'son of Geoffrey', which was subsequently anglicised to MacSherry, or McSharry, and their land overlooking the river took their name.


Courtmacsherry offers a haven of calm a short distance from the Old Head
Image: Niall at the Pink Elephant External link


Although the Barrys and Hodnetts still live in the district, there are no McSherrys. In the reign of Henry III, a great battle was fought at Timoleague, between the Hodnetts, under Lord Phillip Hodnett, and the Barrys, under Lord Barrymore. The Hodnetts were routed, and their leader was killed vastly reducing the families holding. The Hodnetts finally lost their title supporting the royalist cause against Cromwell in the Confederate wars. Their title to the land was given to one of Cromwell's followers Robert Gookin. His descendants lived on the Estate even when Lord Broghill took ownership. Interestingly, a banished Patrick MacSeafraidh, from County Antrim, that was a descendant of a Courtmacsherry Hodnett, emigrated to America in 1745. He founded what is McSherrystown in Adams County, Pennsylvania.


Courtmacsherry as seen from the opposite northern shore
Image: Michael Harpur


Courtmacsherry' history runs deeper than the Norman Conquest and this was always an important area. An excavation in Courtmacsherry of a Bronze Age Fulacht Fiadh which is the Irish name given to burned mounds. A possible ringfort, southeast of Courtmacsherry, in Meelmane, indicates Courtmacsherry was part of the shared societal practice of Ireland in the Early Christian period. A coastal promontory fort also indicated the port town’s historic need for defences from naval threats and a later castle in Courtmacsherry reflected it had a community prominent enough to necessitate the presence of a resident governing body. The castle’s location, on the shoreline, further solidifies the importance of the sea to Courtmacsherry’s sustained fortunes.


The Argideen River
Image: Niall at the Pink Elephant External link


Later, descendants of Lord Broghill, the noted Boyle family, claimed the estate. Boyles styled themselves, Earls of the Shannon, from 1756 on and built a summer home here in the late 18th-century. They planted many exotic trees, shrubs and woods around the village. The village continued to grow in Victorian times, as a haven for holidaymakers from the city of Cork, and as a result, several new houses were built. This development was spurred on by the arrival of the railway in 1891. Courtmacsherry' limestone pier dates back to 1870-1880 when it was built, incorporating fabric of earlier pier and more was salvaged from an older pier to the east, known locally as Tanner's Pier, to facilitate the light railway that opened in 1891. The railway remained active until its closure in 1961.


The deeply forested headland is the legacy of the Earls of the Shannon
Image: Niall at the Pink Elephant External link


Today Courtmacsherry is a little sea-front village that consists of a single long street embraced by thick beautiful woodland on rising ground behind. The village and harbour have escaped major development because of its remote out of the way cul-de-sac location. The ridge protects it from the Atlantic and adds to its very relaxed, friendly demeanour. Courtmac, as it is colloquially known, is referred to locally with good humour as 'a quiet drinking village with a fishing problem'. The village's main industry consists of commercial and sports fishing and a moderate tourist industry that thrives during the summer months. It consists primarily of a hotel and a caravan park, that still largely caters to visitors from Cork. Entertainment can be found in the several bars and pubs in and around the village. There is also a festival at the end of July and the beginning of August, with lots of activities and competitions for children, and entertainment and events for adults.


Courtmacsherry's Trent Class Lifeboat
Image: Michael Harpur


Much of the village life centres around the Courtmacsherry Lifeboat service that was one of the first to have been established in Ireland. It was a forerunner of the present Trent Class Lifeboat that rescued the survivors of the RMS Lusitania on May 7th, 1915. At that time the vessel had no auxiliary power and the rescue operation was hindered by the lack of wind. The crew had to row the twelve miles distance to the stricken vessel and the journey took three hours each way. The current Trent Class Lifeboat would make the journey in 20 minutes.


Seven Heads as seen from the east
Image: Michael Harpur


For hikers, there are a host of spectacular walks in the area. The woods planted by the Earl of Shannon continue beyond the village eastwards to Wood Point and are visible from seaward on entry. Between the village and 'The Point' the trees run right to the water's edge and there are several natural bathing coves along the way. This connects a network of marked walks around the rugged cliffs and shoreline to Dunworley and on through Barrryscove and Ardgehane to Aghafore and Barryshall. The Seven Heads Walks booklet, available from most retailers in Courtmacsherry, covers this in detail. Alongside the route, is a detailed history of the area and the various flora and fauna to watch out for.


The ruins of Timoleague Abbey
Image: Michael Harpur


The most notably remain historic object is a two-mile walk westwards along the estuary, or via small boat upriver, that leads to the village of Timoleague. Timoleague, once called 'Ty-Mologa' meaning the 'house of St. Mologa', takes its name from the ruins of the Franciscan abbey, founded here by the MaCartys. The abbey was founded by the order in 1240 and extended at various times. The earliest section is the chancel of the Gothic church. The most recent addition, the 16th-century tower, was added by the Franciscan Bishop of Ross. The friary prospered on the trade of smuggled Spanish wines, easily delivered thanks to its position on the then navigable Argideen River. The river name itself been derived from the Irish word airgead meaning 'silver'. The friars remained in the abbey until 1642 when the friary and town were burnt by Lord Forbes soldiers who then set sail for the Shannon. It was the largest of the religious houses in County Cork. There is also excellent river fishing at Timoleague as well as the best local provision shops.


Courtmacsherry provides a tranquil berth for the coastal cruiser
Image: Michael Harpur


From a boating perspective, Courtmacsherry is the perfect nautical gem in the West Cork cruising landscape. The pretty, sheltered and hospitable harbour permeates a cosy sense of calm and security, even with rough weather outside in the bay. It is an ideal place for a coastal cruiser to come and rest for a while, and the anchorages surrounding the mudflats are a birdwatcher's paradise.

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:
Broadstrand Bay - 0.8 miles SSE
Blindstrand Bay - 1.1 miles SE
Seven Heads Bay - 1.7 miles S
Dunworly Bay - 2.3 miles SSW
Clonakilty Harbour (Ring) - 3.4 miles WSW
Coastal anti-clockwise:
Coolmain Bay - 0.9 miles ENE
Holeopen Bay West - 3.8 miles E
Holeopen Bay East - 4.2 miles E
Sandy Cove - 4.7 miles ENE
Castlepark Marina - 5 miles ENE

Navigational pictures


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





























































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.