Dundalk, County Louth, Ireland
Summary* Restrictions applyA completely protected location with straightforward access.
LWS draught1 metres (3.28 feet).
Today's local tide estimatesLW 00:04, HW 06:44
LW 12:50, HW 19:29
We are now on Neaps
Swell todayDirection N, height 0.0 metres, period 0.0 seconds, significant wave height of 0.0 metres.
Local weather outlook
Haven position54° 0.545' N, 006° 23.378' W
Where is that position?At the northwest end of Dundalk’s ‘Quay’ that resides on the south side of the Castletown River alongside the town, to the southeast of Dundalk Bridge.
What is the initial fix?
What is the story here?Dundalk Harbour is situated on the northeast coast of Ireland, four miles up the estuary of the Castletown River that flows through drying sandbanks and training walls into Dundalk Bay. The town resides to the south of the river and fronts the river with small but prosperous drying commercial and fishing quays. The industrial quays are not set up for pleasure craft and are less than prepossessing. However leisure vessels are welcome to berth here where a maintained metre of water can be found alongside and a vessel may also take to the ground on soft mud.
Dundalk and the Castletown River provide a vessel with complete protection from all conditions. Copious commercial channel markings and lights make access straightforward in moderate and all offshore winds. It is recommended any yachts attempting Dundalk should have reliable and capable engines to work the channel.
With onshore winds the Castletown River entrance is more challenging. Unfamiliar boats visiting in conditions from southeast round to east to north-northeast should not attempt the entrance in anything above a force four. The southeast is the worst condition for the entrance where dangerous seas build upon the extensive bar.
Not what you need?
Drogheda & The River Boyne - 17.6 miles S
Balbriggan Harbour - 24.9 miles SSE
Skerries Bay and Harbour - 27.3 miles SSE
Loughshinney - 29.9 miles SSE
Carlingford Harbour - 7.6 miles ENE
Carlingford Marina - 7.5 miles ENE
Greer’s Quay - 6.7 miles NE
Omeath - 6.9 miles NE
Why visit here?Dundalk name is derived from the Irish: Dún Dealgan meaning "Dalgan's fort" or ' the fort of thorns ' that is reputedly the home to the national mythical warrior Cúchulainn. As such the town is located in an area that is steeped in national history.
The Neolithic people came to the area around 3500 BC and left behind one of their most lasting landmarks at Ballymascanlon on Dundalk’s northern side. This is the Proleek Dolmen that stands not unlike a giant mushroom with three stalks. The colossal 5000 year old structure has a capstone 'the giants load' that weighs more than 40 tons (40,000kg) and it remains a mystery today how stone age people managed to haul the rock on top of the three uprights. Nearby is a large grave made of rocks, said to be the tomb of a Scottish giant who came to Ireland to challenge the hero Fionn Mac Cumhail - and lost.
It was however the poets in Celtic society, known as the fili, that were responsible for mythological tales and legends of Dundalk. They first settled in north Louth around 500 BC and were lead by their chieftain Conaill Carnagh. He was the legendary chief of the Red Branch Knights of Ulster and the most famous tale of all the Táin Bó Cuailgne and Cúchulainn. Immersed in this Celtic mythology the town's crest today reads "Mé do rug Cú Chulainn Cróga" that translates to ‘I gave birth to brave Cú Chulainn’.
The town originally developed as an un-walled ‘Sráid Bhaile’ that is gaelic for village (translates literally as "Street Townland") and became an urban centre at the end of the 1189 when it was granted a charter in by the conquering Norman knight Bertram de Verdon. The area benefited from being close to an easy bridging point over the Castletown River and was the ideal location for Norman to construct walls and other fortifications, such as the Motte and Bailey of Castletown. The town grew in time alongside these.
Surviving the warfare of the 16th and 17th centuries, Dundalk developed to be a significant market town throughout the middle ages. It emerged into a modern era in the 1740's and 50's by means of a re-development plan begun by the then town landlord James Hamilton. He constructed the streets leading to the town centre, many of his ideas modelled upon European cities, and sadly the demolition of the old walls and castles. The result is the modern town we know today.
In the 19th century, the town grew in importance and many industries were set up in the local area. Impressive buildings line the streets and fold around the corners of its gentle streetscapes. This development was helped considerably by the opening of railways, the expansion of the docks area or 'Quay'. Today Dundalk is the administrative centre of the county and has evolved into a hub for technology, electronics and engineering.
Without doubt the ‘Quay’ area is industrial and less than attractive. Indeed Dundalk Sailing Club departed Dundalk for the shores of Carlingford Lough in 1999 and changed its name to Dundalk & Carlingford Sailing Club for more aesthetically pleasant surroundings and freedom from tidal restrictions. Nevertheless Dundalk offers a completely secure berth for all conditions. A berth that is complimented by the outstanding beauty of the Cooley Peninsula that provides a stunning backdrop to an area of deep national historical interest.
Add to this the facilities of the extensive County Louth town immediately to hand and this location could become a much more interesting proposition for the coastal explorer than many would think at first glance.
How to get in?The extensive Dundalk Bay resides between Dunany Point and Cooley Point and is fringed to the north beneath an imposing ridge of mountains collectively referred to as Carlingford Mountains. From Gyles’ Quay extensive sand-banks sweep round the bight of the bay to beyond Anagassan, on the south shore, uncovering at low water for a distance of up to two miles from the high-water line. The narrow channel of the Castletown River leads through these sands to the harbour of Dundalk with the Pile Light, a 10 metre high white house on green piles, situated at its mouth.
Dundalk Pile Lighthouse - Fl WR 15s 10m 21M position: 53° 58.560’N, 006° 17.714’W
The pile light provides two lights. The top light white sector 284° to 313° shows the safe approach into Dundalk Bay avoiding the Dunany Shoals, on the south side, and the dangers extending from Cooley Point, Imogene and Castle Rock to the north, that are further marked by the following buoys:
Dunany Light buoy - (port hand) Fl R 3s position: 53° 53.530’N, 006° 09.502’W
Imogene Light buoy - (port hand) Fl (2) R 10s position: 53° 57.415’N, 006° 07.042’W
The low water depth of the entrance channel is approximately 1.5 metres however it is best to enter at half flood when the training walls remain uncovered and visible. The channel has depth of 2.5 metres at high water minus four hours, and 3.3 metres at high water minus three hours.
Before approaching it is advised you make the harbour office aware of your planned entry and seek clearance so as not to impede any commercial ship movements. Keep Channel 12 open throughout.
The Dundalk Harbour Initial Fix is located one mile from the Dundalk Pile Light. It is situated in the close approach leading light that resides beneath the Dundalk Bay light and marks the channel itself. This light is Oc G 5s visible 325.5°- 328.5° that is a narrow band of 3°. A course of 326° T will take you in along this alignment into the river entrance from the initial fix where Dundalk No.1 Marker Fl.G.3s should be visible.
The channel from the lighthouse towards Dundalk is well marked and lit all the way. Its general direction from the lighthouse is northwest for two miles, and then turns westward for about three-quarters of a mile further to Soldiers point. Beacons on west or south side of the channel are even numbers and have a square topmark light QR. The east and north side markers are odd numbers with a diamond topmark, light QG. It is advised that you give beacons and perches a sufficient berth and use a chart to the detail of Admiralty Chart 1431 ‘Drogheda and Dundalk’ Scale 20,000:1 for this detail work.
The outer portion in the sandbanks is confined for much of its length by training walls that cover at high water. All is sand save for a place half way up that is shallow at Soldiers Point where hard rock is found.
From Soldiers point to the town the south side of the river is em¬banked with an extensive section in front of the town quay. The 50 – 60 metres wide channel runs close along the embankment to the quays and is highly protected. The quay is used by cargo ships and fishing boats. The best location to berth is at the west end of the quay where about 15 cockle-dredging boats berth.
Come alongside the wooden quay where a metre can be found. Lie alongside in a metre, or partly waterborne in soft mud depending upon your vessels draft. Those who can take to the hard can dry out.
What are the tides here?Today's local tide estimates are based on High Water Dublin (North Wall) -0019
Today's Dublin (North Wall) tides — High waters: 07:03, 19:48, Low waters: 00:23, 13:09
Today's Dover tides — High waters: 06:28, 18:54, Low waters: 00:48, 13:21 (From Tide Times)
We are now on Neaps, need more detailed tidal planning information?
MHWS 5.5m MHWN 4.0m MLWN 1.6m MLWS 0.4m
The Castletown River tidal streams are strong for leisure craft and ebb tides may be reinforced by heavy rains. One mile east of Dundalk at ‘Soldiers Point’ they begin as follows:
Dover -0430, Dublin -0500, the in-going tide commences at a spring rate of 1.25 kn
Dover +0040, Dublin +0010, the out-going tide commences at a spring rate of 1.5 kn
The above image represents the current tidal stream off this haven in local time. Click [+] to advance the estimate by an hour and click [ - ] to step back. Future tidal planning is best accomplished by extracting the date's Dover Tide HW , and clicking [+] or [ - ] based on the presented Dover offset. Do you need information on the tidal graphics?
What facilities are available?Dundalk Town has a population of 35,000 and is the second largest town in Ireland. Furthermore within a 40 km radius the catchment area grows to 482,000. It has all the amenities, pubs and restaurants that you would expect to service a population of that size and most all yachting services a vessel would require, save that of sail repair, are catered for. Water and diesel is available at the quay.
Dundalk also offers very good connections to Dublin city 86 km to the south, on the Belfast–Dublin main line of the Irish rail network. It is at the approximate midpoint of the M1, or E1 Euro Route 1, between Dublin to Belfast motorway. Dublin international airport is 72 km to the south or 40 minutes away.
Other useful transport contacts in this area:
Dundalk Train Station + 353 42 933 5521
Dundalk Bus Station + 353 42 9334075
What emergency contacts are there?Dublin Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC) VHF Ch 83 covers the area from Carlingford Lough to Youghal. Carlingford (04), Wicklow Head (02), Rosslare (23) and Mine Head (83) provide relay stations. Coastguard Radio is always called on a working channel. Emergencies are worked on 16, 67 and working channel.
Alternatively, or if ashore, phone 999 or 112 (free) and ask for ‘Marine Rescue’. Gardai (police), Fire and Rescue are also available on this number. Dublin (MRSC) may be contacted directly on +353 1 662 0922/3
Dundalk Harbour Master
Phone: +353 42 34096
VHF: Ch. 16, 12, 14, 2, two hours either side of high water
Any security concerns?The quay is an unsecured area in a major provincial town where normal vessel security should be attended to.
What navigational resources are available for this area?British Admiralty 1411 ‘Irish Sea - Western Part’, Scale of 200,000:1. For detail work Admiralty Chart 1431 ‘Drogheda and Dundalk’ Scale 20,000:1. Imray chart C62 – ‘Irish Sea’ plus Discovery Ordinance Survey map 36 cover this area. ’Sailing Directions - Irish Cruising Club - East & North Coasts of Ireland’ provides an excellent pilot for this area. OpenStreetMap provides local maps that include relief details plus walking and cycle routes for this locality.
With thanks to:Charles Floody, Drogheda Harbour Pilot for more than three decades.
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