England Ireland Find Havens
England Ireland Find Routes
Boat
Maintenance
Comfort
Operations
Safety
Other



NextPrevious

Dunree Bay

Tides and tools
Overview





Dunree Bay is a cove close south of Dunree Head on the eastern shore of Northern Ireland's Lough Swilly. It offers an anchorage beneath Fort Dunree with the fort's pier to land upon.

The small bay offers an exposed anchorage in conditions from north round through east to the south. However, in the case of the latter quadrant, it can be exposed to the swell which sometimes rolls up the Lough. Being unencumbered by outlying hazards it has straightforward access night and day, at all stages of the tide and in all reasonable conditions.



Be the first
to comment
Keyfacts for Dunree Bay
Facilities
None listed


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationRemote or quiet secluded locationAnchoring locationScenic location or scenic location 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: could be two hours or more from the main waterwaysNote: strong tides or currents in the area that require consideration

Protected sectors

Current wind over the protected quadrants
Minimum depth
4 metres (13.12 feet).

Approaches
4 stars: Straightforward; when unaffected by weather from difficult quadrants or tidal consideration, no overly complex dangers.
Shelter
3 stars: Tolerable; in suitable conditions a vessel may be left unwatched and an overnight stay.



Last modified
October 24th 2018

Summary

A tolerable location with straightforward access.

Facilities
None listed


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationRemote or quiet secluded locationAnchoring locationScenic location or scenic location 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: could be two hours or more from the main waterwaysNote: strong tides or currents in the area that require consideration



Position and approaches
Expand to new tab or fullscreen

Haven position

55° 11.543' N, 007° 32.486' W

This is in 4 metres in Dunree Bay

What is the initial fix?

The following Lough Swilly Initial Fix will set up a final approach:
55° 17.800' N, 007° 35.030' W
This is an approach position for the lough that keeps a vessel clear of Fanad and Dunaff Heads where there can be some confused seas. It is also close south of the first waypoint of the Lough Swilly Route.


What are the key points of the approach?

Offshore details are available in northwestern Ireland’s coastal overview for Erris Head to Malin Head Route location. A set of waypoints to assist when running up lough can be found in the Lough Swilly route 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 Dunree Bay for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Crummie's Bay - 0.4 miles NNW
  2. Scraggy Bay - 1 miles SW
  3. Portsalon - 1.7 miles WNW
  4. Lenan Bay - 1.8 miles NNE
  5. Macamish Bay - 2 miles S
  6. Buncrana - 2.9 miles SE
  7. Pincher Bay - 3.6 miles NNW
  8. Rathmullan - 3.6 miles S
  9. The Lough Swilly Marina - 4.2 miles SSE
  10. Mulroy Bay - 5.7 miles W
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Crummie's Bay - 0.4 miles NNW
  2. Scraggy Bay - 1 miles SW
  3. Portsalon - 1.7 miles WNW
  4. Lenan Bay - 1.8 miles NNE
  5. Macamish Bay - 2 miles S
  6. Buncrana - 2.9 miles SE
  7. Pincher Bay - 3.6 miles NNW
  8. Rathmullan - 3.6 miles S
  9. The Lough Swilly Marina - 4.2 miles SSE
  10. Mulroy Bay - 5.7 miles W
To find locations with the specific attributes you need try:

Resources search

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.

Expand to new tab or fullscreen



How to get in?
Fort Dunree with Dunree Bay close south
Image: Peter Homer


Dunree Head bears west by southwest from Dunnaff Head a distance of nearly 5½ miles. It is similar in appearance to Dunnaff except that it is much lower being 94 metres high. Dunree Light, Fl(2)WR.5s46m12/9M, stands about halfway up the cliff making it highly conspicuous. In 2015 a new 4-metre high navigational tower and beacon light was fitted to serve as a daylight marker. On the cliff at this point there is the prominent Fort Dunree, which historically completely commanded the entrance. Dunree Bay lies close south of the head and the recently refurbished pier, (2018) leads up to the fort.


Dunree Light
Image: Greg Clarke via CC BY-SA 2.00


The preferred anchorage is in the centre of the ½ mile wide bay which has a depth of about 4 metres. Dunree Bay offers a fairweather summer anchorage as Dunree Bar, lying at the north of the Linsfort Shoals, breaks heavily when the strong ebb current sets out of Dunree Bay and meets any swell setting into the Lough. At such times anchorages on the Lough's west shore should be favoured where the depths are greater and the channel is free from breakers.

Dunree Head as seen from Saldanha Head on the opposite shore
Image: Jakub Michankow


Convergance Point Approaches to the Lough Swilly can be found in northwestern Ireland’s coastal overview for Erris Head to Malin Head Route location. A set of waypoints to assist with the run up the lough as far as Fanad can be found in the Lough Swilly route Route location. The entire length of Lough Swilly is marked with various easily identified navigation lights along the main deepwater shipping channel. The fairway is about 3½ miles wide at its entrance from which it gradually narrows to a width of 1½ miles Dunree Head and Saldanha Head on the opposite shore.

Stand-off Dunree Head on final approaches as immediately under the fort there are three rocks which cover and uncover at half tide. Dunree Skellig, drying to 1.5 metres, is the outermost laying about 75 metres from the cliffs with 10 metres of water close outside.

Fort Dunree and its landing pier
Image: Greg Clarke via CC BY-SA 2.00


Haven location Anchor according to draft to conditions in excellent sand holding. Land by dinghy on the pier.


Why visit here?
Fort Dunree takes its name from the Irish Dún Fhraoigh meaning Fort of the Heather which indicated that this naturally defensive site has been important militarily down through history.

Fort Dunree as seen from the south
Image: Greg Clarke via CC BY-SA 2.00


Lough Swilly is a gloriously desolate and scenic sea lough, some 30 miles (50 km) long, that separates the Inishowen Peninsula from the rest of Donegal. The lough is deep enough to allow for quite large vessels and this, allied to its remoteness, has made it the perfect place for smuggling goods or people in and out of the country. Consequently, Lough Swilly has seen more than its fair share of intrigue and adventure and has played host to some pivotal events in Ireland's turbulent history.

The guns of Fort Dunree, with Knockalla Fort opposite, completely command the
entrance

Image: Greg Clarke via CC BY-SA 2.00


The Norsemen and later the Anglo-Normans and the mercenary soldiers the Gallowglasses used Lough Swilly when coming to Ireland. The Flight of the Earls, O'Neill and O'Donnell who fled into exile, took place from Rathmullan in the early 17 century. Wolfe Tone was taken under naval arrest into Buncrana in the late 18-century. And in the 19th century, during the First World War, it was used to defend the naval base at Buncrana when the Grand Fleet sheltered in the Lough.


Guns of Fort Dunree
Image: Greg Clarke via CC BY-SA 2.00


The forts on Lough Swilly were built because of the 1796 Napoleonic threat of invasion. The 1798 penetration of a small French fleet, under Admiral Bompart and accompanied by Theobald Wolfe Tone, prompted the British to fortify the Lough immediately. This sparked the building of a series of fortifications guarding the different approaches and landing points within the lough which were completed by 1820. Fort Dunree was commenced in 1798, when Napoleon was still alive, on a rocky promontory accessed over a natural fissure. Located opposite Knockalla Fort, on the other side of the lough, the two forts completely commanded the entrance, being just within range of each other at the time.

One of Fort Dunree's heavy guns
Image: Michael Murtagh via CC BY-SA 2.0


The fort was neglected after the peace of 1815 but was refurbished and armed with seven 24 Pounder guns in 1874. It was remodelled in 1895 to have 2 x 4.7” quick-fire guns below, and later 12 pounder and 2 x 6” guns in an upper land battery. The top of a hill overlooking the site was walled in to form a redoubt. It was this high degree of fortification and the natural seagoing properties of the Lough that lead to the small fishing harbour of Buncrana becoming a naval base, known militarily as ‘HMS Hecla’, during the First World War.


View up the Lough from Fort Dunree
Image: Greg Clarke via CC BY-SA 2.00


As part of the 1921 Anglo Irish Treaty, the fort along with the other military structures in Lough Swilly remained in British hands on a care and maintenance basis. All of the defences were finally transferred to the Republic of Ireland in 1938, with the Lough Swilly forts being officially handed over at Fort Dunree. The central figures in this dramatic episode were Sergeant King of the Royal Artillery and Sergeant McLaughlin of the Irish National Army, who by a remarkable coincidence the two soldiers representing the armed forces of two states, were brothers-in-law, Sergeant King was married to Sergeant McLaughlin’s sister. During the Second World War, the Irish Army were stationed at the fort to prevent the warring factions violating the country's neutrality. In 1952 the Irish coast artillery service was disbanded and Fort Dunree was finally decommissioned.


Fort Dunree today
Image: Andreas F. Borchert via CC BY-SA 2.0


Fort Dunree was opened to the public in 1986 and today houses a fascinating display of military memorabilia and artefacts as well as an array of large guns on Dunree Hill, the 6” Mark VII's that were installed 1911. The fort comprises of a Martello Tower, which is now part of a museum accessed over a natural fissure, and its First World War defence structures set into a hillside. The museum complex features a wide range of exhibitions, an audiovisual centre, and a cafe housed in a restored forge. Even if you have no interest in military history, it’s worth visiting for the extraordinary views. Newly developed hillside walks enable the visitor to take in the areas breathtaking views out over Lough Swilly and the Urris Mountains with the Gap of Maghmore which allows access to Uriss and Dunaff.


Guns of Fort Dunree
Image: Greg Clarke via CC BY-SA 2.00


Perched majestically on its rocky outcrop overlooking the Lough, Fort Dunree remains one of the last garrison outposts of the 19-century. The primary attraction of this anchorage has been the refurbishment of the forts landing pier. It is a must-see for every visitor to the Lough.


What facilities are available?
there are no facilities at this location


With thanks to:
Graham Wilkinson, Kevin Flanagan, George O'Hagan and Ciaran Bradley.


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




Fort Dunree, Lough Swilly, Donegal, Ireland
Image: eOceanic thanks Tourism Ireland


Fort Dunree heavy gun
Image: eOceanic thanks Tourism Ireland


Fort Dunree pill box cover the upper reached of the the Lough
Image: eOceanic thanks Tourism Ireland




Aerial overviews of Rort Dunree 1




Aerial overviews of Fort Dunree 2



A photograph is worth a thousand words. We are always looking for bright sunny photographs that show this haven and its identifiable features at its best. If you have some images that we could use please upload them here. All we need to know is how you would like to be credited for your work and a brief description of the image if it is not readily apparent. If you would like us to add a hyperlink from the image that goes back to your site please include the desired link and we will be delighted to that for you.


Add your review or comment:

Please log in to leave a review of this haven.



Please note eOceanic makes no guarantee of the validity of this information, we have not visited this haven and do not have first-hand experience to qualify the data. Although the contributors are vetted by peer review as practised authorities, they are in no way, whatsoever, responsible for the accuracy of their contributions. It is essential that you thoroughly check the accuracy and suitability for your vessel of any waypoints offered in any context plus the precision of your GPS. Any data provided on this page is entirely used at your own risk and you must read our legal page if you view data on this site. Free to use sea charts courtesy of Navionics.