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Port Oriel (Clogher Head)

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Overview





Port Oriel is a fishing port on the east coast of Ireland, situated on the north side of Clogher Head, approximately five miles north of the Boyne River estuary and four miles south of Dunany Point, the southern limit of Dundalk Bay. Although primarily a fishing port, yachts may anchor offshore where there are reports of some moorings being available, or come alongside the pier or raft up to fishing boats. Vessels that can take-to-the-hard may also dry out in the harbour’s inner basin.

Port Oriel is a good anchorage in all winds except those from northeast round to east by northeast. It is subject to a good deal of swell within the harbour when conditions are strong from these quarters. Access is straightforward, night or day and at any stage of the tide, as the harbour is open to the north and there are no immediate offshore dangers.
Please note

Port Oriel is a popular weekend leisure boat destination. Vessels planning to visit during the weekend are advised to check with the Harbour Master before setting a course for the harbour.




3 comments
Keyfacts for Port Oriel (Clogher Head)
Facilities
Water available via tapDiesel fuel available alongsideShop with basic provisions availableFuel by arrangement with bulk tanker providerSlipway availableShore based toilet facilitiesPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this location


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationAnchoring locationBerth alongside a deep water pier or raft up to other vesselsSet near a village or with a village in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
None listed

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

A good location with straightforward access.

Facilities
Water available via tapDiesel fuel available alongsideShop with basic provisions availableFuel by arrangement with bulk tanker providerSlipway availableShore based toilet facilitiesPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this location


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationAnchoring locationBerth alongside a deep water pier or raft up to other vesselsSet near a village or with a village in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
None listed



HM  +353 41 22225      Ch.16 [Kilfinor]
Position and approaches
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Haven position

53° 47.967' N, 006° 13.404' W

This is the head of Port Oriel pier.

What is the initial fix?

The following Clogher Head Initial Fix will set up a final approach:
53° 48.100' N, 006° 12.900' W
This is situated 400 metres to the northeast of Clogher Head.


What are the key points of the approach?

Offshore details are available in eastern Ireland’s Coastal Overview for Strangford Lough to Dublin Bay Route location.

  • There are no outlying obstructions so a vessel may come straight in and round the pierhead.

  • Keep half a boat length to port of the pier passing between it and a starboard buoy that marks the shallows off the shoreline.


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 Port Oriel (Clogher Head) for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Drogheda & The River Boyne - 4 miles SW
  2. Gyles’ Quay - 6.9 miles N
  3. Balbriggan Harbour - 7 miles S
  4. Skerries Bay and Harbour - 8.4 miles SSE
  5. Dundalk - 8.6 miles NNW
  6. Carlingford Harbour - 9.1 miles N
  7. Greencastle - 9.3 miles NNE
  8. Carlingford Marina - 9.4 miles N
  9. Loughshinny - 10 miles SSE
  10. Greer’s Quay - 10.2 miles N
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Drogheda & The River Boyne - 4 miles SW
  2. Gyles’ Quay - 6.9 miles N
  3. Balbriggan Harbour - 7 miles S
  4. Skerries Bay and Harbour - 8.4 miles SSE
  5. Dundalk - 8.6 miles NNW
  6. Carlingford Harbour - 9.1 miles N
  7. Greencastle - 9.3 miles NNE
  8. Carlingford Marina - 9.4 miles N
  9. Loughshinny - 10 miles SSE
  10. Greer’s Quay - 10.2 miles N
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?


Clogher Head is a bold rocky promontory with the fishing village and harbour of Port Oriel tucked into a small cove on the cliff’s rocky northern face. The recently enhanced harbour area consists of a small drying inner basin from which a pier protrudes 200 metres north from the shore.

Offshore it is moderately bold-to and clear of danger, with 5 to 10 metres of water within 400 metres of its shoreline.

Initial fix location From the initial fix a vessel may come straight in for the pierhead. Expect a knot of current to stream east across the head of the pier. This eastbound stream is a constant pierhead occurrence except for the first two hours of the flood tide.

On closer approach, follow the head of the pier around until the inner harbour area opens to port, and turning for the entrance before the starboard buoy that indicates the shallows off the shore. There is ample space between the pier and the starboard buoy to manoeuvre a boat without any difficulty. By night there is a sectored light at the head of the cove which provides for safe nighttime access on a bearing of 179°T.



Haven location Expect a depth of 4 metres alongside the pierhead inside the harbour with the depth gradually decreasing towards the southern end of the wall where it dries.



Berthing alongside the pier depends on the activities of the local fishing boats. It is hard to predict, as at times the harbour could be full of fishing boats whilst at other times a visiting boat could have the entire harbour area to itself. The bollards are set apart at some distance so any vessel that is not rafting up alongside a fishing boat should prepare long warps. The pier has well-recessed ladders to come aloft.
Please note

Do not disrupt fishing activities by leaving leisure vessels unattended for any lengthy periods.



Those entering the inner basin can expect to find 2 metres at the entrance at half tide. The drying inner basin is however usually crowded, particularly so at weekends. The best opportunity for those planning to dry out alongside in the basin is to try and secure a berth during the week. It advisable to contact the harbour master in advance. The inner basin’s entrance can be closed by storm boards in bad weather, but that is unlikely in the sailing season.



Any available mooring buoys are partly occupied by local boats. Furthermore, they are accessible only to shallow to moderate drafts. The anchorage north of the slip and west of the quay head has a fairly good holding and is exposed to the swell of the bay.


Why visit here?
Port Oriel, in Irish Poirt Oirialla, along with the distinctive uplands in the southwest of County Louth also named Oriel, commemorate an ancient area princedom. The nearby fishing village of Clogherhead derives its name from its headland Clogher Head. In Irish Ceann Chlochair, the Ceann meaning head or headland and cloichear, derived from clochar, meaning ‘stony place’.

Situated twenty minutes’ walk inshore of the pier, the friendly village was known as Clogher and before that in the nineteenth century as Killclogher. This was derived from Cill Chlochair, ‘church of the stony place’ and was most likely named after the late-medieval or 17th-century church that is situated on a hill above the village today. Immediately alongside the church and graveyard are the remnants of a Norman motte-and-bailey that underscored the importance of the area militarily. The village developed through the centuries safely hidden from the sea marauders behind its sheltering headland. However, legend has it that the area of rocks, known as Red Man’s Cave, or Dead Man's Cave, that lie at the side of the head may have been the site of ancient butchery.

There are many stories attached to Red Man’s Cave. The most famous has it that a number of clergymen took refuge in the cave during the 1649-50 Cromwellian invasion. But the sanctuary was short lived and they were hunted down by Cromwell’s soldiers. Once discovered all the Catholic priests were massacred in cold blood. The name Red Man’s Cave is said to come from the slaughter’s aftermath. When the bodies were discovered the cave walls were coated in the blood of the slain.

Another popular local story is of a mysterious 'Captain Redman' who helmed his vessel and crew to this cave from Spain. The journey was plagued by ill luck from the outset, foul weather, odd occurrences and disease. Most of the crew had died from scurvy before the vessel hauled up in the lee of Clogherhead to take shelter from a storm. Believing the vessel to be cursed the remaining crew and Captain Redman came ashore and took sanctuary in the cave. With no sign of the storms abating, the men were forced to camp in the cave for several nights. But each night another member of the crew mysteriously died. When only two remained they began to suspect Captain Redman must be responsible. The final two ambushed the captain and cut off his head. This they then took and stuck on a spike at the mouth of the cave entrance. Legend has it that anyone who ventures to the cave at night, might catch a glimpse of the headless ghoul of Captain Redman in search of his head. Locals on the cliffs have reportedly heard him singing and whistling at the mouth of the cave. More evidence of the supernatural lies in the unusual preponderance of red seaweed that uniquely thrives near the cave.



However, the martyring of the Catholic priests by Cromwellian soldiers is the most likely explanation for the cave’s name. The 18th-century storyline of ‘Captain Redman’ has all the hallmarks of a convenient smuggler’s tale. Smuggling was very active along this coast during this period. With a largely superstitious population, a story like this would prove a useful deterrent for the curious who could chance upon a location that was made for a perfect natural cache. In recent times the inside of the cave has been painted red to commemorate the event. However, time and the forces of nature have made the cave largely inaccessible from land today.

Today Port Oriel is Louth’s main fishing port and plays host to one of the largest fleets in the country. In 2007 the harbour received the benefit of an investment in excess of €2 million that has made it one of the finest piers nationally. The area is also a popular tourist destination with its surrounding hills and the port area boasting some of the finest countryside on Ireland’s east coast. The headland above Port Oriel has a magnificent walk along steep sea cliffs that offer breathtaking views of Ireland's east coast from the northern peaks of the Mourne and Cooley Mountains to as far south as Lambay Island and the Rockabill Lighthouse. The views are even better for a short walk up to the well-preserved ruins of the church and walled graveyard above the village.



Clogherhead is notable for its sandy beach that extends from near the lifeboat station, past the centre of the village and on southward to the Boyne estuary. A second beach, on the north of the village, is known as the 'Big Strand'. Recently designated Blue Flag beaches, both boast excellent water sports conditions and safe bathing facilities with a lifeguard on duty at the village beach during summer months. In bad weather, visitors can make use of the Neptune watersports centre in the village, which is run by the local Council. Anglers will find the area frequented by shoals of mackerel during July, August and September with some of the best fishing to be had from its pier. Other species caught here include mullet, codling, plaice and dabs.

From a purely boating point of view, Port Oriel offers easy access, good provisions and onshore dining. This makes it a convenient and interesting stop for a boat making a passage up the east coast of Ireland.


What facilities are available?
Diesel fuel is available on the quay in the basin. Fresh water is reportedly available by the toilets at the southern end of the pier - but visitors have found it difficult to locate. There is no electricity available except a three phase provided for the fishing boats. Fresh provisions and stores can be found at the village of Clogherhead. The village caters for a permanent population of about a thousand and is twenty minutes’ walk to the southwest. There are three public houses in the village offering comfortable surroundings in which to while away the day and night, with music available at weekends. The village offers a number of restaurants including a pizzeria, a seafood and meat dish restaurant, a Chinese restaurant and a takeaway. The village is 12 km north of the provincial town of Drogheda which offers more services.

Bus Éireann route 189 serves Clogherhead several times a day (but not Sundays) linking it to Drogheda, Duleek and Ashbourne. Drogheda also offers very good connections to Dublin city, on the Belfast–Dublin main line of the Irish rail network. Drogheda is located close to the M1, E1 Euro Route 1, the main Dublin to Belfast motorway.


Any security concerns?
If moored alongside you should not leave the vessel unattended, in case you are required to move so as not disrupt fishing activity.


With thanks to:
Richard McGoveran - ISA/RYA Yachtmaster Instructor/Examiner. Photography with thanks to Gordon Dunn, Albert Bridge, Michael Harpur, Jai, Kieran Campbell, David Murphy and Peter Clark.


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Add your review or comment:


Rodolphe Thimonier wrote this review on Jun 25th 2016:

The mooring buoys are partly occupied by local boats. Furthermore they are accessible only to shallow to moderate drafts. The anchorage North of the slip and West of the quay head has a fairly good holding and is exposed to the swell of the bay.

Average Rating: ***


Michael Harpur wrote this review on May 22nd 2018:

Thank you Rodolphe,
I have updated the body text as you suggested.

Average Rating: ****


Ron Lub wrote this review on Jun 11th 2019:

Nice little harbour, with a smooth wall to moor the boat

Average Rating: ****

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