Sailing into the Shannon River Estuary
|The marina at Kilrush|
Kilrush has so much potential
The River Shannon divides Clare from Kerry; it is Ireland’s longest and largest river. The mouth of the Shannon River is wide and inviting, stretching between Kerry Head on the South side and Loop Head on the North side. You really need time to be able to explore her lower reaches as there is little opportunity to find shelter before the town of Kilrush some 30 km up in County Clare on the North side of the River.
The Shannon is a powerboat paradise and a very popular tourist attraction for river boating. Consequently, there is a lot of information available about the River, especially from Limerick and beyond.
The lower Shannon has Ireland’s only pod of resident bottlenose dolphins. More than 100 dolphins have been identified using the Shannon estuary. The success rate of seeing dolphins here is reported to be better than 98%.
Kilrush is a small town with a great deal of potential. Its location surrounding this lovely and superbly protected natural harbour is ideal for stopovers when transiting the coast or for initiating an exploratory tour of the Shannon. Unfortunately, the Kilrush Marina and boatyard suffered for many years under the Shannon Development Corporation whose priority was Shannon Airport. There is a major plan development plan in place which could revitalize this historic town and bring major tourism potential to the area. In the meantime, improvement is taking place at a measured pace and the changes already evident under the new marina ownership are most welcome. Kilrush was even named Ireland’s Tidiest Small Town 2014.
How to get there
|Approach to Kilrush Marina past Scattery and Hog Islands|
Approaching from the South, once past the Blasket Islands, it is 36 miles to the Kerry Head and another 18 miles to Kilrush. There are several anchorages en route, but again, most choose to complete this passage in a single day.
|Scattery Island with round tower in evidence|
The latest edition of the Irish Cruising Club’s sailing directions for the South and West Coasts is essential reading for anyone cruising this region. Large scale Admiralty charts 2254 and 2173 cover the south western and northern approaches. Admiralty Standard Chart 1819 shows Approaches to the River Shannon and Imray chart C55 covers Dingle Bay to Galway Bay. Interactive planning charts available from the Royal Western Yacht Club.
Marina52.37.60 N, 09.30.18 W
The old port of Kilrush is home to a 120 berth marina with lock gate access to the Shannon Estuary and the Atlantic Ocean. Until recently the Marina was operated by Kilrush Creek Marina Limited, a subsidiary of Shannon Development. Thankfully, as of July 2014, it was acquired by L&M Keating (Maritime) Ltd. It was sorely in need of repair and upgrades, which are already beginning to make a difference.
|The floating docks at Kilrush Marina|
Currently, there is a tidal constraint on the marina access channel, allowing entry or exit only 2 hours either side of low water springs. As of autumn in 2014 they hope to have dredging complete to allow access at any time.
The marina is used as a base for day trips to Scattery Island and for Dolphin Watch cruises and is home to the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, whose offices can be found on Merchant’s Quay.
|Steve Morris and friends aboard a vessel they built|
Services availableThe boatyard has a slipway and a 40t Travelhoist. A Master Shipwright, Stephen Morris, skilled in timber and fiberglass and trained in New Zealand is a licensed contractor and boatbuilder in the marina with an 1800 sq ft workshop. 087 7990091 / email@example.com
The marina also has a marine diesel fitter, steel fabricator, and marine electronics and electrical contractors.
There is a supermarket within walking distance of the marina. The town has two ironmongers (hardware stores), several pubs, and several B&Bs but only one open year round with restaurant – Crotty’s Pub. Crotty’s is a real traditional Irish pub and offers a nice menu and comfortable accommodation within walking distance of the harbour and right in the heart of the town. Shannon Airport is just 30 miles by land from Kilrush and thus provides an excellent stopover for crew changes.
|View into town from the harbour|
HistoryKilrush as a town has existed since the 16th century. John Ormsby Vandeleur, of Dutch origin who became the wealthiest landowner in the area, proceeded to design and develop the layout of the town in the 18th century. He built a large family home in 1808. A Scottish businessman who assisted Vandeleur developed the harbour and a shipping company that prospered with the increase in agricultural prices during the Napoleonic Wars. By 1837, Kilrush was described as a seaport, market, and post town.
|Crotty's Pub is a lively place with B&B|
An impressive walled garden on the grounds of the old Vandeleur estate can still be visited today, though the home was destroyed by fire in the late 19th century.
The Royal Western Yacht Club has been revitalized in recent years as one of the oldest yacht clubs in the world.
What to doKilrush is a good base for exploring some of the most spectacular scenery in Ireland, including the Cliffs of Moher and Loop Head.
|Kilrush is Ireland's Tidiest Small Town in 2014|
The maritime opportunities available in Kilrush Creek Marina together with Kilrush town’s rich architectural and historical heritage, proximity to attractions such as Vandeleur Walled Gardens, West Clare Railway, Kilkee seaside resort, Loop Head Lighthouse and the wider attractions of West Clare, offer significant potential for exploration with the town as a base. Loop Head has been voted the Best Place to Holiday in Ireland.
Useful Links:L&M Keating (Maritime) Ltd.
Kilrush Marina http://kilrushmarina.ie/
Kilrush, Co. Clare, Ireland
Tel 065 9052072
Fax 065 9051692
Mobile 086 2313870
For information about Kilrush Marina
For information about Hog Island anchorage
Kilrush Heritage Town http://www.heritagetowns.com/kilrush.shtml
Inland Waterways Association of Ireland http://www.iwai.ie/nav/shannon.html
Dolphin Discovery http://www.discoverdolphins.ie/index.htm
The Shannon Dolphin and Wildlife Centre www.shannondolphins.ie
Irish Whale and Dolphin Group http://www.iwdg.ie/
Scattery Island Centre http://www.heritageireland.ie/en/ShannonRegion/ScatteryIslandCentre/Crotty’s Pub & Restaurant/B&B http://www.crottyspubkilrush.com/
|Overhead view over the marina|
|View of the town waterfront from the marina|