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Glengarriff Harbour

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Overview





Glengarriff Harbour is situated on the southwest coast of Ireland and in the northeast corner of Bantry Bay. it is a beautiful harbour that offers the option of anchoring with excellent holding or picking up visitor moorings.

Glengarriff Harbour is situated on the southwest coast of Ireland and in the northeast corner of Bantry Bay. it is a beautiful harbour that offers the option of anchoring with excellent holding or picking up visitor moorings.

Glengarriff offers complete shelter from all weather conditions in beautiful surroundings. Access is available at any state of the tide in all reasonable conditions but Glengariff requires some straightforward navigation. Although there are lit marks on its primary entrance mussel rafts flank the approaches and small islets need to be circumvented in the inner harbour area. This makes it advisable to only enter during daylight.



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Keyfacts for Glengarriff Harbour
Facilities
Water available via tapGas availableTop up fuel available in the area via jerry cansShop with basic provisions availableShowers available in the vicinity or by arrangementHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationCashpoint or bank available in the areaPost Office in the areaInternet café in the areaPharmacy in the areaBus service available in the areaTourist Information office availableShore based family recreation in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationAnchoring locationVisitors moorings available, or possibly by club arrangementJetty or a structure to assist landingScenic 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
Note: fish farming activity in the vicinity of this locationNote: harbour fees may be charged

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



Last modified
January 21st 2022

Summary

A completely protected location with straightforward access.

Facilities
Water available via tapGas availableTop up fuel available in the area via jerry cansShop with basic provisions availableShowers available in the vicinity or by arrangementHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationCashpoint or bank available in the areaPost Office in the areaInternet café in the areaPharmacy in the areaBus service available in the areaTourist Information office availableShore based family recreation in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationAnchoring locationVisitors moorings available, or possibly by club arrangementJetty or a structure to assist landingScenic 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
Note: fish farming activity in the vicinity of this locationNote: harbour fees may be charged



Position and approaches
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Haven position

51° 44.594' N, 009° 32.352' W

At the centre of Glengarriff bay north of Garnish Island.

What is the initial fix?

The following Glengarriff initial fix will set up a final approach:
51° 42.550' N, 009° 32.570' W
This waypoint is 700 metres southeast of Four Heads Point 1.5nm from the channel between Ship Island and the eastern shoreline.


What are the key points of the approach?

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

  • Standoff Four Heads Point to avoid the foul ground and islets that extends eastward from the point.

  • Make towards Gun Point on the eastern shore keeping well off it to avoid shallow area extends westward from the point and mussel rafts above to the north-westward.

  • When clear of the mussel rafts make for the channel that lies between the outer Ship Island and the eastern shoreline marked by a pair of lit lateral buoys.


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 Glengarriff Harbour for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Bantry Harbour - 4.6 nautical miles SE
  2. Adrigole - 7.6 nautical miles WSW
  3. Dunbeacon Harbour - 7.8 nautical miles S
  4. Dunkerron - 8.4 nautical miles NNW
  5. Ormond's Harbour - 9.1 nautical miles WNW
  6. Dunbeacon Cove - 9.3 nautical miles S
  7. Kitchen Cove - 9.4 nautical miles SSW
  8. Kilmakilloge Harbour - 11.3 nautical miles W
  9. Lonehort Harbour - 11.5 nautical miles WSW
  10. Kilcrohane Pier - 11.7 nautical miles SSW
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Bantry Harbour - 4.6 miles SE
  2. Adrigole - 7.6 miles WSW
  3. Dunbeacon Harbour - 7.8 miles S
  4. Dunkerron - 8.4 miles NNW
  5. Ormond's Harbour - 9.1 miles WNW
  6. Dunbeacon Cove - 9.3 miles S
  7. Kitchen Cove - 9.4 miles SSW
  8. Kilmakilloge Harbour - 11.3 miles W
  9. Lonehort Harbour - 11.5 miles WSW
  10. Kilcrohane Pier - 11.7 miles SSW
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?
Glengarriff Harbour
Image: Michael Harpur


Glengarriff Harbour is a deep enclave set into the northeast corner of Bantry Bay. It is entered between Crowdy Point and Gun Point to the northeast and the harbour is divided into an inner and outer part by Garinish Island which lies on the west side of the harbour. The village of Glengarriff, of approximately 140 people, stands at the head of the harbour on its northwestern side. Its population swells during the summer as this area is known internationally as a tourism venue with many natural attractions, most particularly Garinish Island that has been transformed into an exotic garden.


Glengarriff village and pier at the head of the harbour
Image: Michael Harpur


The inner harbour area, to the north of Garinish Island, offers complete shelter to leisure craft. It has a wide choice of anchorages and six visitor moorings. A daily charge of €7.50 may be levied for the use of the moorings.


The slipway adjacent to the road near the hotel
Image: Michael Harpur


Glengarriff pier on the north shore has 1.8 metres LAT and the same in its approach channel but mussel boats and passenger ferries make it difficult to come alongside here.


How to get in?
Glengarriff Harbour set into the northeast corner of Bantry Bay
Image: Greg Markus


Convergance Point Use southwestern Ireland’s Coastal Overview for Mizen Head to Loop Head Route location for Bantry Bay approaches.

Initial fix location From the Glengarriff Initial Fix proceed round Four Heads Point keeping at least 300 metres off or in 20 metres to avoid the foul ground and islets that extends eastward from the point. After passing between Four Heads Point and the low islet of Carrigskye, opposite, the entrance to the harbour is clear up to Garinish (Illnacullen) Island. The only dangers are mussel farms that lay off both shores above Crowdy Point and Gun Point.

Make towards Gun Point on the eastern shore keeping at least 300 metres offshore as a shallow area extends westward from the point. On closer approaches steer towards the conspicuous martello tower on the 41-metre high summit of Garinish Island. This clears the mussel farm extending northwestward of Gun Point. Save for the foul ground that extends 200 metres southward of Garinish Island, called Yellow Rocks p account of their appearance, this area is clear and it is possible to anchor here in settled weather.


Garinish (Illnacullen) Island with the Martello Tower on its summit
Image: © Trebography


Once clear of the rafts off of Gun Point, alter course for the entrance into the inner harbour. This is on the east side of Garinish Island and the two islets that extend east of it, Garvillaun and Ship Island.


The channel lies between the outer Ship Island and the eastern shoreline (left)
Image: Michael Harpur


The channel lies between the outer Ship Island and the eastern shoreline. It is at least 300 metres wide, has over 16 metres of water and is marked on either side by lit lateral marks. A red port buoy, Fl.R3s is moored on the west side and to the east of Ship Island. A Green Starboard buoy, Fl.G.4s is moored off the eastern shoreline.


Calf Island (left) and Bark Island (right)
Image: Michael Harpur


When past Garvillaun Island, close north of Ship Island, the centre of the harbour is deep and clear of submerged rocks. Generally, the east side of the harbour is steep-to close offshore, but foul off its north and west sides above Garinish Island. There is one other mussel farm on the eastern side of the harbour beneath Glengarriff Castle.


Glengarriff Harbour as seen from its western side
Image: Michael Harpur


Haven location A choice of several lovely anchorages area available in the inner harbour. There is ample room to anchor in very good mud holding clear of dangers. Depths decrease from about 12 metres to less than 2 metres approaching the head of the harbour.


The islets in the north end of the inner harbour
Image: Michael Harpur


Yachts may anchor anywhere south of Bark Island in approximately 10 metres of water. North of Bark Island there is a perfectly sheltered anchorage in about 3 metres that provide convenient access to the piers and slips situated in the north end of the harbour.


Glengarriff Pier and landing platform
Image: Michael Harpur


In addition, there are six seasonal visitor moorings available rated 15 tons rated moorings are large, coloured bright yellow and labelled VISITOR.

Visitor Moorings - Position: 51° 44.900’N, 009° 32.300’W.


Tender pulling out from the landing platform close to the pier
Image: Michael Harpur


Landing can be had at the pier and a smaller platform and slip close east. There is also a slipway in the northwest corner close to the Eccles Hotel.


Why visit here?
Glengarriff takes its name from the Irish 'Gleann Garbh', meaning 'rough glen'. The name relates to a forested valley to the northwest that remains to this day as it was once the private estate of the Earl of Bantry. It is now a national forest that has some of the oldest and most extensive oak and birch groves left in Ireland. The ancient woodland's thick tree cover also maintains a level of humidity that allow ferns and mosses to flourish beneath.


Garinish's (Illnacullen) Martello Tower circa 1865-1914 when it was a windswept
rock

Image: National Library of Ireland on The Commons


Glengarriff is pretty by any measure. Set in the sheltered northwest corner of Bantry Bay, where the Caha Mountains descend into the ocean, the lush and thickly wooded valley has rightly lured visitors for centuries. By the 19th-century it had firmly established itself as a resort village for prosperous Victorians. They sailed from England to Cork, then took the train to Bantry and made the final crossing to Glengarriff by paddle steamer. In the latter part of the century the valley became increasingly accessible when, in 1850, a road link with Killarney was established by blasting through the mountains from Kenmare (the rail line subsequently closed in 1961).


The now lush and wooded Ilnacullin (Garinish Island) as seen from the west
Image: Tourism Ireland


Those who made the trek came to enjoy the harbour's spectacular beauty and mild climate. Glengarriff was known at this time as the 'Madeira of Ireland' and although nothing like Madeira its climate differential was very much a real thing. Thanks to the Gulf Stream and the assistance of its pine shelter belt, Glengarriff has a protected microclimate that is mild enough for subtropical plants to thrive. This can be recognised immediately upon entering the harbour by its clutch of islands being covered in a thick blanket of golden gorse and wild rhododendron. The Eccles Hotel that overlooks all this was much loved by the writers William Thackeray and Sir Walter Scott. Later it has been graced by Queen Victoria and George Bernard Shaw who is said to have written Saint Joan here.


Ilnacullin's a colonnaded Italianate garden as seen from the east
Image: Tourism Ireland


The jewel of the harbour is Illnacullen Island, Garinish on the charts, which is open to the public. Often called the 'Irish Eden' it consists of 15 hectares (37 acres) and is known to horticulturists all around the world as an island garden of rare beauty. Remarkably, Illnacullen was not always like this. Far from it, when the British War Office built the Martello Tower on its summit, around 1805, the island was a windswept rocky island that was barren but for some scrub. All changed however when in 1910 the island was sold by the British War Office to Annan Bryce, a Scottish businessman and Liberal politician, and his wife Violet L'Estrange.


Ilnacullin's a colonnaded Italianate garden as seen from the west
Image: Tourism Ireland


Between 1911 to 1914, the Bryce family contracted the famed architect Harold Peto and Scottish plantsman Murdo Mackenzie (known as 'Mac') to create a garden capable of defying the Atlantic storms and its salt-laden winds. They imported soil, stone and subtropical species and landscaped gardens were laid out to transform the island into the exotic garden seen today. The microclimate and peaty soil provide the damp, warm conditions needed for these ornamental plants to flourish. Exotic shrubberies abound, especially during the summer. In May and June, there is a seasonal blaze of colour with beautiful displays of camellias, magnolias, azaleas and rhododendrons. There is also a New Zealand fernery, a Japanese rockery and a rare collection of Bonsai trees.


The Italianate garden's ornamental reflective lily pool
Image: Tourism Ireland


But it was the gifted British architect Harold Peto that gave Ilnacullin its most glorious bone structure. The centrepiece is a collonaded Italianate garden with its formal terraces featuring a Classical folly and ornamental reflective lily pool. The main showpiece is a wisteria-covered 'Casita' that is a roofed-over viewing point that overlooks a sunken Italian garden and pool. Among its follies are a clock tower and a Grecian temple. Much of its charm resides in the contrast between the cultivated lushness of the garden and the glimpses of wild seascape and barren mountains beyond.


The view westward from the Casita
Image: Tourism Ireland


In addition to the 'Casita' and gardens, a spectacular view of the surrounding area may be obtained from the old Martello Tower that is freely accessible. Crowning the island it offers superb views out over Bantry Bay and Whiddy Island. Like other towers in Cork, but unlike all other Irish Martello towers, it has a straight cylindrical shape that does not splay out at its base. This is said to be due to the high rainfall which washed the lime mortar out of sloping walls before it could set. At one stage the Bryce family intended to build a new mansion here which was supposed to incorporate the Martello tower as a music room. Fortunately, plans changed and the fort remains intact.


Ferry making its way to the slip on the northwest side of Ilnacullin
Image: Tourism Ireland


Today the comely village of Glengarriff still exudes an air of Victorian gentility with its neatly painted shopfronts and craft shops. It has a host of local pubs that frequently offer live music in the evenings during the tourist season when it becomes lively. There is ample to explore around the village too. The valley of the River Glengarriff rising to the north and west that gave the harbour its name provides wonderful hikes.


Glengarriff's main street
Image: Colin Park via CC BY-SA 2.0


Five waymarked walking trails radiate from the main car park 1km north of the village. They are of varying lengths, from 500m to 3km, covering woodland, mountain, river and meadow. The walks abound in wildlife such as red squirrels in the forest and otters and kingfishers may be seen along the river. But the rough and rocky Caha Mountains make for challenging hill walking, despite their small size.


Shopping centre in Glengarriff main street
Image: Tourism Ireland


For those preferring to take a more moderate hike, there is a short but steep trail that leads up to Lady Bantry's Lookout, offering a vista of Bantry Bay and the West Cork area. Even easier are the gentler strolls in and around town. The Blue Pool is a pretty harbour hidden in an area of seaside woodland, which has been extensively developed, in the heart of the village. A visit to the exotic coastal garden Glengarriff Bamboo Park features 30 different species of bamboo and palms, and as always, offers splendid views. But the horticultural miracle of Ilnacullin is the must-visit.


Seals on Garnish Island
Image: Tourism Ireland


The island was bequeathed to the Irish people in 1953 and is now under the care of the Commissioners of Public Works. The OPW has recently finished a restoration of Bryce House and the rest of the features around the island with the loving care that they deserve. There is an entrance fee to set foot on the island but it is really worth it. Anchor near Otter Island and land at the slip on the northwest side and make a landing by tender.


Ilnacullin's slip
Image: Florian Fuchs via CC BY-SA 2.0


Ferries berth to the west of the slip, so take the tender around to the opposite eastern side to tie it off. There is a beach nearby but there is no way up to the island as the only access is via the slip. The best time to visit is early before the small turquoise-blue ferry chugs over with its many visitors. Sauntering around the harbour is very much worth it to see many sleepy harbour seals sunbathing on the rocks or cavorting in the water. One islet is colloquially known as 'Seal Island' as it is said to have a permanent colony of 250 seals.


The view westward over the harbour and the Caha Mountains
Image: Tourism Ireland


From a nautical perspective, Glengarriff Harbour also happened to be the birthplace of the Irish Cruising Club. Nineteen yachtsmen happened to meet there in July 1929 aboard five cruising yachts and though unplanned the club was founded and thrives to this day.


Yacht on visitor mooring in Glengarriff Harbour
Image: Graham Rabbits


From a boating point of view, the island-studded harbour surrounded by a shelterbelt of mountains is a cruising paradise. No one cruising Ireland’s southwest coast should miss out on this haven. It is truly a lovely harbour that offers a host of quiet anchorages to explore and several days of pleasure for the exploring boater. Even if the visit is unlucky with the weather, or a vessel is taking shelter here on account of rough conditions, there is ample to explore in the protected waters and some excellent eating out at the many local pubs and restaurants. It is also an excellent harbour to safely leave a yacht plus moorings are available.


What facilities are available?
Glengariff is a lovely little tourist village with post office, hotels, restaurants, pubs, and basic shops for provisions of milk and bread but not fresh meat. However, note that most shops here are tourist-oriented. Before 0900 and after 1800 it is possible to get alongside the pleasure ferry berth on the main pier to top up with water. Petrol & diesel are available and two water taps are available on the quay. The Eccles Hotel offers showers and baths to boaters.

Glengarriff is a 10-minute drive, 14 km (8 miles) from Bantry on the N71, and 30 km (18 miles) east of Castletownbere. Bus Éireann runs four to six buses daily between Bantry and Cork (two hours), and five daily to Glengarriff (25 minutes); the summer-only bus 282 allows you to continue from Glengarriff to Kenmare (one daily Monday to Saturday).


Any security concerns?
Never an issue known to have occurred in Glengarriff harbour. I left my boat here in the west corner of the bay in the Blue lagoon for a week unattended and there was no problem. In fact the ferry men to the island generously tied my yacht Topaz to their moorings as a force nine was promised one night while I was away and they felt she would be better on their spare mooring.


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







Aerial views of Glengariff



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