The bay provides good shelter in winds from south-southwest through west to north. A short sea sets up in conditions from opposite quadrants, south, round through east to northeast. During southwest gales, a long rolling swell sets in around Kilcredaun Point. However, by working the bay, moving into the area between the old and new quays, alongside the new quay, or by anchoring to the south of Carrigaholt Point, protection from most quarters may be obtained. The bay provides straightforward access having no off-lying dangers and being less than two miles from the Shannon’s well marked main shipping route. There are no lights to support a night entry.
Keyfacts for Carrigaholt Bay
SummaryA good location with straightforward access.
Position and approaches
Haven position52° 36.060' N, 009° 41.920' W
New Quay pier head
What is the initial fix?
What are the key points of the approach?
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How to get in?
Photo: Tourism Ireland
Carrigaholt Bay lies immediately inside the entrance of the River Shannon to the east of Kilcredaun Point on its north bank. The small fishing village of Carrigaholt lies on its western side at the mouth of the Moyarta River where an old pier now lies in ruin. A new pier has been constructed close south and at the foot of a conspicuous castle that has stood guard over the mouth of the Shannon. Lying to the north of Kilcredaun Point and protected by it, Carrigaholt Bay offers the first safe haven with all westerly component winds within the entrance. But with the wind from east-northeast to south, there is an uneasy short sea for leisure craft, and in southwest gales a long rolling swell sets in around Kilcredaun Point.
Image: Peter Hurford
The Shannon Entrance Initial Fix is the position of the Ballybunion North Cardinal that marks the mouth of the Shannon. Use the River Shannon Overview for approaches.
Once the River Shannon has been entered it is safe to follow the north shoreline keeping out a few hundred metres. Note the position of Ladder Rock directly under Kilcredaun Head Lighthouse and the wreck of the Okeanos which shows 1.2 metres at LW under the battery at Kilcredaun Point. Apart from these two inshore obstructions, the north coast is clear of dangers.
To the east of Kilcredaun Point the shore falls back to the north, forming Carrigaholt Road and Carrigaholt Bay. Carrigaholt Road, lying to the north of Kilcredaun Point and protected by it, offers a secure anchorage with all westerly component winds.
Photo: Tourism Ireland
Carrigaholt Bay shoals gradually towards the shore where it dries and is mostly level throughout. It has the advantage of being free from any great strength of tide. Anchor, north round to east, off the new quay near the conspicuous ruins of a towerhouse on Carrigaholt Point, according to your preferred draught where you will find excellent holding in sand over clay and mud.
Image: Peter Hurford
It is possible to come alongside at the new quay where 3 metres LWS can be found at the pierhead. This offers good protection in southerly winds. However, this is a very busy fishing quay and it is mostly occupied by lobster boats so a berth cannot be relied upon. In northwest through north to northeast winds, boats will slam against the wall and those taking to the ground will pound.
If the wind turns to the west or northwest protection may be had to the south of New Quay and Carrigaholt Castle in the north end of Kilcredaun Bay. Good holding in three metres in sand will be found there.
The old quay at the village is only available to shallow or moderate draft vessels at high water and is protected from all conditions. It is also used by fishing boats. Before approaching the old quay it is recommended that it is thoroughly inspected and local advice is sought.
Why visit here?Carrigaholt, in Irish Carraig an Chabhaltaigh meaning "Rock of the Fleet", lies at the mouth of the River Moyarta, that flows into the estuary of the Shannon. The bay hosts an old fishing port watched over by a 15th-century towerhouse.
Image: Peter Hurford
The towerhouse was built circa 1480 by the McMahons of West Corca Baiscin and was home to the last Gaelic Chieftains. It has a fiery and colourful history that includes rebellions, battles and much pirating of merchant ships headed for Limerick. Amongst these stories was a situation in 1588 where it steadfastly refused permission to land seven ships of the Spanish Armada that had anchored in the bay. Yet during the following year, it was itself captured by O’Brien, the Earl of Thomond, after a four-day siege. The defenders, in breach of the surrender terms, were all summarily hanged. The castles final inhabitants, the Burtons, departed in the late 19th century and all that remains today is a shell of its former nobility.
During the Napoleonic period, there were eight defensive stone forts built along the mouth of the Shannon between Carrigaholt and Labasheeda. Of these the nearby Kilcredaun Point Fort today still stands in excellent condition.
Today Carrigaholt is a picturesque fishing village centred between two quays. Although both piers are used by fishing boats only the southern pier or ‘new’ pier, is fully operational on a commercial basis serving fishing boats and dolphin watching boats.
The village has a very attractive centre, displaying distinctive streetscapes and local character. It has two restaurants, a fast food takeaway and four public houses, some of which offer live entertainment, particularly during the summer high season. There is a holiday caravan park located nearby. Fishing is still continued in the village with a small number of boats delivering their catches to a local processing company. The village is also a centre for the local farming community.
Carrigaholt Bay is an ideal sailing base for many reasons. Access is convenient and it is the perfect location to wait out a tide, have a night stop in reliably flat waters before going up the Shannon to Limerick, or for making an early start west to the Blaskets. Furthermore, a yacht entering the Shannon seeking shelter from stiff westerlies need go no further.
Image: Peter Hurford
Most of all it is the perfect River Shannon stepping stone. The River Shannon, in Irish Abha na Sionainne or an tSionna / an tSionainn, is the longest navigable river in the British Isles and its name is derived from the rivers Goddess "Sionna". It flows through 113 km (70 miles) generally southward from the ‘Shannon Pot’ in County Cavan before turning west and emptying into the Atlantic below Carrigaholt. Limerick City stands at the point where the river water meets the sea water of the estuary and beyond the city, the river is unaffected by sea tides. Up-stream from Limerick, the Shannon effectively becomes an inland waterway where progress is restricted by locks and bridges - see upriver in the interactive map view. Further information, maps etc. regarding Shannon navigation are available from the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland.
What facilities are available?Water is available on the New Quay. Carrigaholt village is a ten minute walk where basic supplies are available including, groceries, fuel, meat, post office, and the food in the public house is reportedly good.
Any security concerns?Never an issue known to have occurred in Carrigaholt Bay.
With thanks to:Burke Corbett, Gusserane, New Ross, Co. Wexford.
A dolphin watching trip in Carrigaholt Bay on a calm day
Add your review or comment:
Micheal O'Shea wrote this review on May 29th 2017:
Hi there, Just to correct this page. There are no visitor moorings in the bay. I was up there this weekend and they have been removed. Hope this helps someone. Micheal O SheaAverage Rating: Unrated
Michael Harpur wrote this review on Jun 15th 2017:
Thank you Michael, I have noted that. If you see any other corrections please do not hesitate to let me know.Average Rating: Unrated
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