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Darrynane Harbour

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Overview





Darrynane is situated on the southwest coast of Ireland and close northward of Lamb's Head, the north point of the entrance to Kenmare River. It offers a uniquely beautiful remote anchorage in a landlocked natural harbour with a choice of piers.

Darrynane is situated on the southwest coast of Ireland and close northward of Lamb's Head, the north point of the entrance to Kenmare River. It offers a uniquely beautiful remote anchorage in a landlocked natural harbour with a choice of piers.

Darrynane Harbour provides complete protection from the sea and swell in all conditions although it is somewhat exposed to wind. Particularly so to northerly squalls, so that vessels sheltering from heavy weather can expect some rig noise. The harbour’s southwest entrance however is extremely narrow and the sea breaks furiously outside in unsettled weather. As such this is a fine weather anchorage for access/exit requiring careful navigation. In good conditions, its substantial lit beacons, along with supporting alignments, serve to make the navigation readily apparent.
Please note

Ideally, the harbour should be approached in settled conditions powered by a reliable engine. Although all the transits are lit newcomers should only use them to support a dusk approach, and not attempt a night approach. The anchorage has become popular with water skiers during high summer making for an uncomfortable wash and noise at times.




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Keyfacts for Darrynane Harbour
Facilities
Water available via tapSlipway availablePublic 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 locationVisitors moorings available, or possibly by club arrangementBeach or shoreline landing from a tenderJetty 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
Restriction: shallow, drying or partially drying pier

Protected sectors

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

Approaches
2 stars: Careful navigation; good visibility and conditions with dangers that require careful navigation.
Shelter
5 stars: Complete protection; all-round shelter in all reasonable conditions.



Last modified
March 5th 2022

Summary* Restrictions apply

A completely protected location with careful navigation required for access.

Facilities
Water available via tapSlipway availablePublic 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 locationVisitors moorings available, or possibly by club arrangementBeach or shoreline landing from a tenderJetty 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
Restriction: shallow, drying or partially drying pier



Position and approaches
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Haven position

51° 45.650' N, 010° 8.900' W

Near the reported position of Darrynane Harbour’s three visitor moorings in the anchorage.

What is the initial fix?

The following Darrynane Initial Fix will set up a final approach:
51° 45.048' N, 010° 9.990' W
¾ of a mile outside the entrance on the leading lights.


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.

  • Only approach in settled weather.

  • Commence the approach from ¾ of a mile outside the entrance to avoid flanking rocks.

  • Align two conspicuous white leading beacons, front - Oc 3s 10m 4M, Rear - Oc 3s 16m 4M that providing a leading line in of 034° T.

  • When about 100 metres past Middle Rock with a beacon at the entrance, alter course to pass between the harbour's two inner marks.

  • Once 50 metres past the inner starboard mark turn to the southeast towards the anchorage keeping middle-to-the-Lamb's island side to avoid an unmarked rock of the mainland 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 Darrynane Harbour for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. West Cove - 3.5 nautical miles E
  2. Ballinskellig Bay - 5.3 nautical miles NW
  3. Ballycrovane Harbour - 7.8 nautical miles ESE
  4. Garnish Bay - 8.8 nautical miles S
  5. Dursey Sound - 9.3 nautical miles S
  6. Sneem Harbour - 9.8 nautical miles ENE
  7. Ardgroom Harbour - 10.1 nautical miles E
  8. Portmagee - 11.1 nautical miles NW
  9. Knightstown - 11.1 nautical miles NNW
  10. Castletownbere (Castletown Bearhaven) - 11.2 nautical miles SE
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. West Cove - 3.5 miles E
  2. Ballinskellig Bay - 5.3 miles NW
  3. Ballycrovane Harbour - 7.8 miles ESE
  4. Garnish Bay - 8.8 miles S
  5. Dursey Sound - 9.3 miles S
  6. Sneem Harbour - 9.8 miles ENE
  7. Ardgroom Harbour - 10.1 miles E
  8. Portmagee - 11.1 miles NW
  9. Knightstown - 11.1 miles NNW
  10. Castletownbere (Castletown Bearhaven) - 11.2 miles SE
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?
Darrynane Harbour and Bunavalla Pier
Image: Michael Harpur


Darrynane Harbour is situated on the southwest extremity of the Iveragh peninsula, 1½ miles northward of Lamb's Head and is enclosed by Abbey Island on its southern side and Lamb's Island to the east. It is a small landlocked harbour entered by a narrow southwest-facing entrance between rocks. The harbour is remote and sequestered surrounded by sandy beaches with a substantial Bunavalla Pier in its northeast corner and a smaller drying pier in the southwest end. The tiny hamlet of Caherdaniel sprawls along Derrynane Bay’s eastern flank hidden among the trees. It has two excellent pubs, at its heart but little in the way of facilities.


Yachts moored in Darrynane Harbour
Image: Michael Harpur


The anchorage is simply beautiful with good holding secure moorings and complete protection. It has in the past been an anxious harbour to approach as vessels had to entirely rely on transits to pass the outer rocks at the mouth of the entrance which was unmarked. The principal Middle Rock now has a beacon that removes any ambiguity.

The small drying pier in the southeast end of the harbour
Image: Michael Harpur


However, it remains inaccessible except in good conditions. The outlying rocks, as well as the foul ground between Darrynane and the outer islands, break furiously in unsettled weather. Closer in, especially in rough conditions from the southwest, the sea will break between the rocks of the narrow entrance making it dangerous if not impassable. This is also the case with a high southwest swell. So it can only be entered/exited in fine weather. But in settled conditions, this is a harbour is an absolute must-visit along this coast.


How to get in?
Darrynane Harbour and its off lying islands
Image: Michael Harpur


Convergance Point Use Ireland’s coastal overview for Mizen Head to Loop Head Route location for seaward approaches. Darrynane lies on the southwestern extremity of the Iveragh peninsula and its position is well signalled by the lofty rocky Scariff Island, with its similar adjacent smaller Deenish Island, that lie 4 miles offshore.


Scariff and its adjacent smaller Deenish Island
Image: Michael Harpur


Southern Approach Vessels approaching from the south can pass on either side of the 21 metres high Moylaun Island that lies 1½ miles east of Deenish Island. The inshore passage lies between Moylaun and the aptly named Two Headed Island located a ½ mile to the southeast close to Lamb's Head. The passages between these islands are clear of hidden danger with about 40 metres of water and can be safely navigated in fine weather. The only exception is when passing outside Moylaun Island where vessels should stand well off the southwest corner to avoid a reef that extends out 400 metres to Moylaun Rock.


Darrynane Harbour entrance (left) and Moylaun Island (right)
Image: Michael Harpur


There is also a deep water mid-channel cut between Two Headed Island and Leaghcarrig that lies close west of Lamb's Head. It has 14 metres and can be used in very settled conditions in the absence of swell.


Darrynane Harbour, with Lamb's Head, Leaghcarrig and Two Headed Island in the
backdrop

Image: Michael Harpur


Northern Approach Vessels approaching from the north should keep well offshore until the leading marks come in line as there is foul ground extending from Carrigsheehan called the Muckiv Rocks. These rocks extend out a ⅓ of a mile from the shore and are awash at high water but always show.


The front mark as seen from the head of Bunavalla Pier
Image: Michael Harpur


Initial fix location From the initial fix, laid up for either of these approaches, the two conspicuous white leading beacons on the shore opposite to the entrance should be visible. These, front - Oc 3s 10m 4M, Rear - Oc 3s 16m 4M, and provide the harbour entrances leading line of 034° T. They will appear in transit with a house between them.

On the 034° T Transit and approaching Darrynane Harbour
Image: Burke Corbett


It is absolutely essential to identify the leading marks/lights correctly and follow it closely to avoid rocks close to the track. These are the Muckiv Rocks to the northwest and the Bulligmore Rock just southeast of the transit off of Abbey Island. Bulligmore Rock dries to 0.3 metres and in any swell should break but it can remain hidden in settled conditions. So this is the primary danger but the leading marks should be visible in its vicinity as they are both well kept and easy to see.


The entrance to Darrynane Harbour
Image: Michael Harpur


The track in gets very narrow at the entrance but is nonetheless straightforward as the transit tracks through the two outer rocks.


Yacht coming into the Darrynane Harbour entrance on transit
Image: Michael Harpur


These are always visible and the southwestmost of these outer entrance rocks, Middle Rock lying close to the northwest end of Lamb's Island, now has a starboard beacon upon it so it may be positively identified.


Comming off transit to pass the beacon close east of Halftide Rock to port
Image: Graham Rabbits


When about 100 metres past Middle Rock alter course off of the leading line, about 030° to starboard, for a short distance. This is to pass between the harbours two inner marks:

  • • A lit red-topped stone beacon, 2F.R. to port, just inside close east of Halftide Rock on the northwest side of the channel. Seen on approach to be almost on the leading line.

  • • A black-topped beacon, to starboard on Lamb's Rock situate close to the north side of Lamb's Island.


Fishing boat passing in through the entrance towards Bunavalla Pier
Image: Michael Harpur


This is a key turn as staying on-transit passes the wrong side of Halftide Rock beacon so it is essential to turn to starboard here. The long-established concrete beacons have a unique and distinctive shape that indicate they should be passed between their flat vertical faces.


The distinctive shape of the concrete beacons as seen from inside
Image: David McKelvey


Once 50 metres past Lamb's Rock it is safe to turn to the southeast towards the anchorage passing between Lamb's Rock beacon.


Odd Rock Beacon inside the entrance and off of the mainland shore
Image: Michael Harpur


This passes to the south of a third Odd Rock Beacon inside the harbour near the pier. It marks an isolated rock off the shoreline.


Approaching the anchoring area in the southeast corner
Image: Burke Corbett


Proceed about 400 metres down the harbour tending to the southwest side of the centre to the harbour's three visitor moorings. This is to avoid a dangerous rock that is well charted on the northeast side of the harbour that dries to 0.6 metres at LWS.


The run down the harbour to the moorings
Image: Michael Harpur


Haven location Pick up the moorings or anchor in the southeast end of the harbour area, clear of the moorings that are often oversubscribed, where excellent holding can be had over sand.


Yachts on visitor moorings in Darrynane Harbour with Lamb's Island (left)
Image: Michael Harpur


Darrynane Harbour moorings are provided and rated to 15 tons and are large, coloured bright yellow and labelled VISITOR.


Yacht at anchor in Darrynane Harbour
Image: Graham Rabbits


Land on the extensive white sand beaches or at the drying pier and small slip in the southeast corner of the harbour.


Pier and slip in the southeast end of the harbour
Image: Michael Harpur


Bunavalla Pier, in the northern end of the harbour, also has a slip beside this pier and a protected beach where it is possible to land. It is 75 metres long and has 0.5 metres at its head and 0.1 metres LAT on each side.

Bunavalla Pier
Image: Michael Harpur


It is primarily used for landing small fish boat catches at high tide but it is also an embarkation point for Skellig Michael tourist boats. Providing that it does not impede the principal uses of the pier it is possible to come alongside at the end of the pier temporarily at high water. But it would not be advisable with any swell, or to plan for a long-term stay.


Why visit here?
Darrynane, locally pronounced 'dairenaan' and now more popularly spelt Derrynane, takes its name from Irish words Doire Fhíonáin. Spoken with a silent 'fh', it means the 'oak wood' or 'grove' of Fionán'.


Derrynane Abbey or Ahamore Abbey
Image: Joachim S. Müller via CC BY-SA 2.0


The Fionán (sometimes Anglicised as Finian) it refers to is St Fionan Cam, better known under the name of St. Finnian of Clonard, who lived 470-549 AD. He is regarded as the 'teacher of the Irish saints' and is the patron saint of this part of the Iveragh peninsula. St Fionan founded Derrynane Abbey, also known as Ahamore Abbey, on Abbey Island in the 6th century. The monastery became a branch of the Augustinians but it was never as substantive as an Abbey. The Augustinian's principal seat was their priory of St Michael Ballinskelligs, and Derrynane would have only been a cell. So the Derrynane 'Abbey' only comes from the local vernacular but it gave the island its name. Likewise, the term 'island' might be a bit strong as, because of constant silting, it is accessible from the mainland across its beach and is truly only an island on high spring tides.


The remaing shale and limestone Romanesque church windows
Image: David McKelvey via CC BY SA 2.0


The remains of the religious settlement can be seen to this day. Ravaged by time only three interconnecting buildings remain to this day, all without roofs. The main building of the ancient abbey still holds onto the ruin of its shale and limestone Romanesque church windows that faced the sea. It is still used as a cemetery and must be one of the most beautiful locations in the world to be buried. All the coffins are shouldered across the beach and up the rise to the burial ground that overlooks the beach and ocean.


Abbey Island Cemetry
Image: Shawn Harquail via CC BY 3.0


The graves in the cemetery as well as inside the church span centuries. One of the tombs in the church is that of Mary O'Connell who was the wife of Daniel O'Connell (1775 – 1847) who is one of Ireland's most famous Irish lawyers and political leaders. Today, Darrynane is perhaps most famous for Darrynane House, his ancestral home and the place he lived for most of his life.

Daniel O'Connell
Image: Public Domain
The mansion is situated about a 600-metre walk beyond the quay and it was originally the home of Daniel's uncle Maurice O'Connell. Known as 'Hunting Cap' O'Connell', he was a notorious local smuggler who grew rich smuggling in goods from France and Spain.


The house was largely rebuilt by Daniel when he inherited it in 1825 and it became his country seat. By this point, the Irish lawyer and political leader was well established as a hugely popular and non-violent campaigner, who championed the campaign for Catholic Emancipation.

This was the granting of full rights of citizenship to Catholics and the right for them to sit in the Westminster Parliament. A right that had been denied for over 100 years and the right he helped it to become a reality in 1829.

He went on to champion the campaign for the Repeal of the Union between Ireland and Great Britain. Known as 'The Liberator', or 'The Emancipator', his towering statue stands at the lower end of Ireland's principal O'Connell Street, facing O'Connell Bridge, that was all renamed after him in 1924.


Derrynane House
Image: Chris Brooks via CC BY 3.0


His house is an extensive but irregular pile of building, partly in the castellated style, is now open to the public and it comes complete with a lovely garden and 320-acre seaside estate. It is now a museum dedicated to O’Connell, furnished with his memorabilia and there is a video presentation on his life and times. It includes an impressive triumphal chariot with gold and purple silk, mouldings and armchairs. It was in this that he lapped Dublin after his release from prison in 1844 and was carried at the head of a crowd of 200,000 to his home in Merrion Square. The mansion has trails, including a woodland fairy trail, running through mature woodland, bordering on rocky outcrops that lead to wide sandy beaches and dunes. Although Daniel O’Connell was buried in Dublin a plaque with some information can be found surrounding his family grave on Abbey Island.


Darrynane Bay close south of the harbour
Image: Michael Harpur


The house, it's ground and Abbey Island is part of Derrynane National Historic Park. The Ring of Kerry has very few beautiful and historic country houses, so this wonderful gift is a short walk from the pier. But none more so the gift than that the surrounding scenery, Derrynane’s beach is one of the most beautiful in Kerry.


Derrynane Beach fronting Darrynane Bay
Image: Michael Foley via CC BY 2.0


It's a lovely fine golden sandy beach shelves gently into crystal clear waters that are surrounded by scalloped sandy coves set between grassy dunes and whaleback outcrops of wave smoothed rock. This is all backed inland by lines of wind-gnarled trees beyond add to the wild air.


Darrynane Beach
Image: Tourism Ireland


Set at the seaward end of the 'Ring of Kerry' which is at its most wild and romantic, Darrynane lies amidst some of the most spectacular scenery in Ireland. Even the surrounding scenery on the approaches is awe-inspiring. The range of rugged and lofty mountains that terminal the Iveragh peninsula shoreward. The line of islands out to Scariff with entrances to the bays of Bantry and Kenmare with Dursey Island to the south, and the entrance to the broad sweeping Ballinaskelligs Bay and the pinnacles of the Skellig Isles to the north. It truly encapsulates all that is the best and most unique of a cruise along the southwest coast of Ireland and the beautiful nest amidst all this spectacle that should not be missed.


A perfect nest in a beautiful area
Image: Robert Linsdell via CC BY SA 2.0


From a boating point of view, the harbour requires settled conditions to entre but it makes for a great passage anchorage where a vessel can sit out a gale in flat water once in. There is a pub that serves food during the summer months a couple of hundred yards from the old pier and beach and another pub, a good hours walk inland, that also serves excellent food, if variety is required.


What facilities are available?
There is very little in the way of facilities or supplies here. Water is reportedly available from a privately owned tap near the east quay. Basic stores were once available from Freddy O'Connell's in Caherdaniel Village, about two miles away. The village also has a very good restaurant. Milk can be obtained from Keating's Hotel about a ½ mile away. About some 300 metres along the road from the quay there is a friendly bar. There is no fuel available in the immediate area.


Any security concerns?
Never a problem known to have occurred at this location, but in the last few years the beach gets crowded with people particularly at the weekends, so normal security precautions are advisable. Also it is reported that there is now a sailing school there, which may interfere with a landing party.


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







Aerial overview




A rib exiting the harbour where it is possible to see the pass




The following video presents scenic views of the harbour area



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