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Portmagee

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Overview





Portmagee is situated on the mainland of Co. Kerry on the southwest coast of Ireland at the south side of the entrance to Dingle Bay. It is located in the west end of the channel between Valentia Island and the mainland, to the southeast side of the island. The small fishing port provides visiting yachts with a sheltered anchorage and secure moorings.

Portmagee is a pleasant harbour that affords good protection from all wind and sea conditions off the quay. Access requires normal navigation with due diligence. Although there are no specific dangers in the entrance, in fair conditions, once inside Reencaheragh Point the channel contracts and has off-lying rocks and reefs. The chart should be studied carefully on the approach to the quay. There is also an alternative northern approach via Portmagee Sound from Knightstown for shallow air draft vessels.
Please note

During southwest gales Portmagee should be avoided owing to the violence of the sea under Bray Head and baffling winds. In these conditions, Knightstown should be used.




3 comments
Keyfacts for Portmagee
Facilities
Water available via tapWaste disposal bins availableGas availableShop with basic provisions availableSlipway availableShore based toilet facilitiesShowers 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 locationBicycle hire available in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationRemote or quiet secluded locationAnchoring locationBerth alongside a deep water pier or raft up to other vesselsVisitors 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 vicinity

Considerations
Restriction: height or air draft restrictions may applyNote: strong tides or currents in the area that require consideration

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
4 stars: Good; assured night's sleep except from specific quarters.



Last modified
April 3rd 2019

Summary* Restrictions apply

A good location with attentive navigation required for access.

Facilities
Water available via tapWaste disposal bins availableGas availableShop with basic provisions availableSlipway availableShore based toilet facilitiesShowers 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 locationBicycle hire available in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationRemote or quiet secluded locationAnchoring locationBerth alongside a deep water pier or raft up to other vesselsVisitors 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 vicinity

Considerations
Restriction: height or air draft restrictions may applyNote: strong tides or currents in the area that require consideration



Position and approaches
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Haven position

51° 53.200' N, 010° 22.020' W

The pierhead at Portmagee village near the bridge.

What is the initial fix?

The following Portmagee Initial Fix will set up a final approach:
51° 52.730' N, 010° 25.000' W
In the middle of the entrance to the harbour approximately half a mile east-southeast of Bray Head.


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.


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 Portmagee for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Knightstown - 2.4 miles NE
  2. Ballinskellig Bay - 3.6 miles SE
  3. Cahersiveen Marina - 3.8 miles NE
  4. Great Skellig (Skellig Michael) - 5.8 miles SW
  5. Darrynane Harbour - 6.9 miles SE
  6. West Cove - 8.4 miles ESE
  7. Ventry Harbour - 8.5 miles N
  8. Great Blasket Island - 8.8 miles NNW
  9. Dingle Harbour - 9.5 miles NNE
  10. Sneem Harbour - 11.2 miles ESE
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Knightstown - 2.4 miles NE
  2. Ballinskellig Bay - 3.6 miles SE
  3. Cahersiveen Marina - 3.8 miles NE
  4. Great Skellig (Skellig Michael) - 5.8 miles SW
  5. Darrynane Harbour - 6.9 miles SE
  6. West Cove - 8.4 miles ESE
  7. Ventry Harbour - 8.5 miles N
  8. Great Blasket Island - 8.8 miles NNW
  9. Dingle Harbour - 9.5 miles NNE
  10. Sneem Harbour - 11.2 miles ESE
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?
Portmagee pontoon and pier
Image: SYGAL 93 via CC BY-SA 2.0


Portmagee is a small village and fishing harbour situated at the west end of Portmagee Channel. The channel opens immediately to the south of Bray Head and at the seaward end of the strait that separates Valentia Island from the mainland. The anchoring area is 2½ miles east of Bray Head in Portmagee Sound, between the mainland where there is a pier and Valentia Island.

Portmagee offers a secure anchorage off the pier in 5 metres, opposite Skelling Heritage Centre. The pier is best avoided as it is mainly used by fishing vessels and subject to strong tides. There is a pontoon with limited depth close east of the pier but it has 2 meters on outermost berth at LW.

The pontoon is usually busy with tourists boarding tour boats from 9am - 7pm. This is something to note about Portmagee in general, although remote, it can be a busy spot during the summer with Skelling Tour boats flying up and down creating an uncomfortable anchorage during the day.


How to get in?
Bray Head with the Portmagee Channel to the right
Image: Fáilte Ireland


Initial fix location From the initial fix Bray Head, the southwest extremity of the island, is bold and precipitous. Head into the middle of the entrance surrounded by high cliffs. Expect a rough sea in this area and, with the wind inclining off either shore, violent gusts occur from the surrounding high lands.

Nevertheless, it is a ¼ of a mile wide and free of obstacles.
Please note

However, Long Island’s off-lying ‘Bull Rock’ (7m) and Horse Island’s off-lying ‘Deaf Rocks’ all of which show.



The entrance to the Portmagee Channel
Image: Tobias Abel via CC BY-SA 2.0


Pass into the narrows of Portmagee Sound positioned in midchannel between Reencaheragh Point and Scughaphort Reef. Here you will see rocky islands to the north off Valentia Island and a reef fringing the mainland shoreline.

Once the narrows open continue east-northeast on a midchannel route until you see Quay Brack abeam to port. Care required east of Reencaheragh Point, on the south side due to its rocky ledges. Continuing up to the harbour pass midchannel between Valentia Island and Loughan Islet, 4 meters and surrounded by foul ground, which lies off the mainland shore. From here the pier and village will become visible.


Portmagee
Image: rst999



Haven location There is a good anchorage off the pier at Portmagee where 5 metres of depth will be found one hundred metres off the pierhead. There is a strong tide in the anchorage but equally good holding in sand and mud. It may be possible to come alongside at the pier for short periods or for a longer period at the pontoon.

Portmagee pontoon and pier as seen from the anchorage
Image: Tourism Ireland


Alternatively, by anchoring off the north shore you will avoid the worst of the current, the tour boat wash and be less of an obstruction to manoeuvring fishing vessels. Avoid the section close west of the pier where an underwater cable runs to Carriglea Point.

Portmagee Pier with Valentia Island in the backdrop
Image: Doug Snider


There is a road bridge across the channel at Portmagee. The original eleven-metre wide opening span is no longer operational and the bridge is now permanently closed. Hence only shallow air-draft vessel may pass under the bridge to anchor further up the Portmagee Channel.

The channel provides a high water depth of 4.6 metres up to Knightstown but local knowledge is required as the channel is obstructed by rocks and the navigation is challenging.


Why visit here?
Portmagee, known in Irish as "An Caladh", or 'the Ferry because of the once constant traffic back and forth between the village and nearby Valentia Island. It is a quiet picturesque village and southwest Kerry’s main fishing centre. Today, the two are linked by the harbour road bridge.


Portmagee
Image: Doug Snider


The English name ‘Portmagee’ comes from a notorious 18th-century smuggler Captain Theobald Magee; originally it was known as Magee's Port. Theobald Magee was a retired officer from King James' army who became a merchant trader shipping goods between Portugal, France and Ireland. Owing to the difficulty of policing the intricately jagged southwest coastline, his trade opportunistically turned to extremely profitable contraband spirits, textiles, tea and tobacco. He married Bridget Morgell, the widow of a rich Dingle merchant and daughter of the then MP for County Kerry, Thomas Crosby.

Being related to the best smuggler in Ireland placed Crosby in a difficult position and he managed to have Magee exiled to Lisbon. Magee subsequently died in a Lisbon monastery and the suspicion was that Thomas Crosby was the author of his departure. That, however, was not the end of the smuggling as his wife Bridget and their sons continued the family trade.


Portmagee Harbour
Photo: Fáilte Ireland


Access to Valentia Island is now via the Maurice O'Neill Memorial Bridge from Portmagee. Today Portmagee is the main departure point for boat trips to the Skellig Islands Click to view haven. For about 600 years these remote islands were a place of solitude and refuge for Christian monks who set up a monastic settlement and lived in beehive huts - the remains of which can still be seen today. Sceilig Mhichíl is the most popular of the islands and is, in fact, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Interestingly, Portmagee is the holder of an unusual 160-year-old tradition called the "Old Year", a parade that is held on New Year's Eve.


What facilities are available?
Limited quantities of provisions can be obtained from this small remote fishing village. Fresh water is laid on at the pier, and there are pubs and a good restaurant and in the vicinity.


Any security concerns?
Never an issue known to have occurred in Portmagee.


With thanks to:
Burke Corbett, Gusserane, New Ross, Co. Wexford. Updates with thanks to Mike Medcalf and Joseph Kiernan.


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Please zoom out to see the 'initial fix' for this location.
The above plots are not precise and indicative only.



























An aerial view Portmagee



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Add your review or comment:


Mike Medcalf wrote this review on Aug 4th 2014:

pontoon berths now available in the harbour - moorings have been removed

Average Rating: Unrated


Joseph Kiernan wrote this review on Jan 11th 2019:

Very busy spot during the summer with Skelling Tour boats flying up and down creating an uncomfortable anchorage during the day. Limited depth at pontoon with tourists boarding tour boats from 9am-7pm 2 meters on outermost berth at LW.

Average Rating: ***


Michael Harpur wrote this review on Apr 3rd 2019:

Thank you Mike and Joseph,
I have added your insights to the main body.

Average Rating: Unrated

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