Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition
The Natural History of Ireland (Author: Gerard Boate)

chapter 3

Of the lesser Havens, and the barred Havens of Ireland, also of the Roads and Anchor-places upon the Coast, and in the little Islands near the Coast

Wexford Haven.

AFTER the description of the principal havens of Ireland, we shall come to them of less moment, in which number we put all those, which either in their entrance, or within, have not water enough for the bigger sort of vessels; as likewise those, the which being deep enough, are but very little, and of a small pourprise; and in this description we shall observe the same order as in the former, beginning with Wexford, and so going northward, then west, afterwards southward, and lastly east and north eastward, until we have gone about the whole island.

The haven of Wexford runneth in west and by north, and with her innermost part altogether northward. Just before this haven lye two great shelves of sands by the side one of the other, of which that on the south side is called Haneman's path, and the other north grounds. There goeth a channel betwixt Haneman's path and the land on the south side of the haven, and another betwixt the north side and the north grounds; but this last hath but six


feet of water at full flood, and in the other eight feet with the flood of ordinary tides, and ten at spring tides. The chief channel is that which goeth in betwixt the two sands, being four and five fathoms deep. Besides these sands there is another shelf in the mouth of the harbour it self, which kind of sandy banks lying across in the mouth of harbours and rivers, are usually called Bars; and the havens which have them, barred havens. With a high flood there is about sixteen feet of water. Being past the bar, you have for some way three fathoms of water, three and a half, and four; but afterwards for a great way but ten feet, and ten and a half, with a high flood, although under the castle where the ships come to an anchor, you have four fathoms, and before the town three, but because of the forementioned shallows, no vessels can go to Wexford, that draw more than ten feet of water, but must unlade and lade in a creek near the mouth of the haven on the south side, about three miles from the town, where is water enough, but no shelter for the south west winds, the which do come over the land to this place.

Dublin Haven.

dublin haven hath a bar in the mouth, upon which at high flood and spring tide there is fifteen and eighteen feet of water, but at the ebbe and nep tide but six. with an ordinary tide you cannot go to the key of dublin with a ship that draws five feet of water, but with a spring tide you may go up with ships that draw seven and eight feet. those that go deeper cannot go nearer dublin than the ringsend, a place three miles distant from the bar, and one from dublin. this haven almost all over falleth dry with the ebbe, as well below ringsend as above it, so as you may go dry foot round about the ships which lye at an anchor there, except in two places, one at the north side, half way betwixt dublin and the bar, and the other at the south side not far from it. in these two little creeks (whereof the one is called the pool of clantarf, and the other poolbeg) it never falleth dry, but the ships which ride at an anchor remain ever afloat, because at low water you have nine or ten feet of water there. This haven, besides its shallowness, hath yet another great incommodity, that the ships have hardly any shelter there for any winds, not only such as come out of the sea, but also those which come off from the land, especially out of the south west, so as with a great south west storm the ships run great hazards to be carried away from their anchors, and driven into the sea; which more than once hath come to pass, and particularly in the beginning of November, An. 1637, when in one night ten or twelve barks had that misfortune befaln them, of the most part whereof never no news hath been heard since.


The Havens of Drogheda and Dundalk.

THE haven of Drogheda, or, as the word is pronounced in common use, Tredagh, is very troublesom to be got into, as having not only a bar lying across before its mouth, over the which vessels cannot pass but at high water, but also very narrow in the mouth, this haven not being an arm or bay of the sea, but only a river which keepeth her own bigness until the end, without receiving any notable enlargement of the sea about her mouth, as other rivers use to do. Upon this bar is as much water as upon that of Dublin, and the ships which can pass the bar, may go up to the key of Tredagh, which town is seated about two miles from the mouth of this river, which is called the Boyn.

Sixteen miles to the north of Tredagh standeth Dundalk, where a wide open bay (made by the giving back and retiring of the coast) growing narrow, and receiving a little river, which above Dundalk is but a small brook, maketh a kind of haven, where never is much water, and with the ebb may be passed over a-foot, wherefore, and because there is not any shelter for the winds coming from the sea, nor any usual traffick, this road is very little frequented.

The Havens of Dundrum, Ardglass, Oldfleet, Belletree, and the Bann.

A FEW miles on this side of Strangford, are the havens of Dundrum and Ardglass, the one not far from the other, both little, and not very deep, but safe, and a little way beyond the northern point of the bay of Knockfergus, is Oldfleet haven, a harbour of the same sort as those two last mentioned.

Port Belletree, six or seven miles to the west of Fair-foreland (the north-easterliest point of Ireland) is as little as any of those three, less defended of the winds, and the ground sharp and foul.

Some miles further is the haven of Colrain, called Bann haven, the which is nothing else but the mouth of the river Bann, the which here falleth into the sea, keeping her own narrowness until the end, in the same manner as we said above of the haven of Tredagh. This river passing through Lough Neagh, the greatest lake of all Ireland (the which receiving several rivers, hath no other outlet into the sea but the Bann) carrieth a mighty deal of water, the which being inclosed in a narrow channel, poureth it self into the sea with great violence for which reason, and because of the narrowness of the mouth, this haven is very hard to enter, having also but little depth, so as vessels which draw eight feet of water, must at least have three quarters of the flood before they can enter.


Telling Haven, Mackswin's Bay, the Havens of Ballyshannon, Slego, Endrigo, Moy, and Niffadoy.

UPON the west coast of Ulster, about half way between Cape Telling and Kilbeg, is Telling haven, a round bay, with a good sand ground, which will contain about thirty ships: west and southwest winds blow directly into it, but off all other winds one is there defended. Two or three miles eastwards from Kilbeg is Mackswin's bay, where a ship may ride safe without cable and anchor, but the entrance being every where beset with rocks, it is dangerous to go into it. Some miles to the southwest of Dunnagal haven, is Ballyshannon, being the mouth of that short river, by which Lough Earn, one of the greatest Lakes of lreland, dischargeth it self into the sea, which river runneth just on the borders of the two provinces of Ulster and Connaught, dividing the same; this having a bar before it, by reason whereof no bigger vessels than of thirty or forty tunns can enter into it.

Slego and Endrigo are two little harbours, situated near the one to the other, in the north part of Connaught, very much encumbred with rocks and sands in the entrance, but otherwise reasonably deep; for a ship of two hundred tunns may come and ride before the town of Slego.

About half way between the town of Slego and Broad-haven is Moy, being the innermost of a great bay, divided from the rest by a little island somewhat long, the which lieth cross in that manner, that only one channel remaineth, whereby to go out of the great bay into the lesser, or the haven, which channel is twelve foot deep; but in the haven it self, being nothing else but two little creeks, divided asunder by some sands lying betwixt them, it is about fifteen or sixteen foot deep; but in the little channel which passeth into the inmost creek, being nearest to the village Moy, there is but nine foot of water at full flood with an ordinary tide.

Some miles to the southeast of Slime head, (a famous cape in Connaught, and situated about half way the length of that province) is port Niffadoy, a reasonable good harbour, but very dangerous to get into, the sea there round abouts being full of rocks both blind ones and others.

The Havens of Tralee, Youghal, and Dungarvan: item of Wicklow, Arklow, Malahide, &c.

AT Tralee, half way between Smerwick and the mouth of the haven of Limerick, is a fair haven but none of the biggest.


About the middle way between Cork and Waterford is the haven of Youghall, before the which lieth a bar, not to be passed but at high water.

Twelve miles eastwards from Youghall, is Dungarvan, being a narrow tide-haven, whose mouth is full of rocks, many of which do not appear, and so more dangerous, and at low water it falleth dry, so as one must go into it at high stood, and pass amidst the rocks.

As for the havens of Arklow (where with high water it is but six feet deep), of Wicklow (where at full flood you have but ten feet of water), Malahide, a little to the north of the bay of Dublin, Coledagh haven, and Red haven, the first betwixt Lough Foyle and Lough Swilly, and the other betwixt Lough Swilly and Sheeps haven, Milk haven, not far from Slego; Mablin haven, betwixt Waterford and Wexford, and some others of the same nature: they are so little, that they will hardly serve for other than fisher boats, and therefore scarce merit the name of havens.

Roads upon the Coast of Ireland, from Waterford to Fair-foreland.

BESIDES this great number of havens in Ireland, there are many good roads, where ships at need may save themselves, and commodiously come to an anchor, not only upon the coast of the main land, but also in the most part of the little islands, which lye round about Ireland.

To begin with those on the main. From the point of Waterford to Carnesore, being the space of about twenty miles, the coast is full of bays, where one may come to an anchor. Under Carnesore ships anchor in six and nine fathoms. In St. Margaret's bay, three miles from Carnesore it is good anchoring in five and six fathoms, sand ground. A little further is the bay of Greenore, where you may anchor as near the land as you will, in six, five, four, or three fathoms.

Some miles from Wexford to the point of Glascarick, from which place to the bay of Dublin, being about fifty miles, the coast is full of inlets, where it is very good anchoring, in good sand ground, especially to the north of Arklow head (in a fair sand hay everywhere in eight, seven, or five fathoms) and between Arklow and Missen head, being the space of six or seven miles.

In the mouth of the bay of Dublin, at this side of the bar, is good anchoring as well on the south side, before the village Dalkee (which place is known by the name of Berton road) as on the north side, round about that great cape, named the head of Hoath.

Between Strangford haven and the bay of Knockfergus are divers good anchoring places, but all that coast is very foul with rocks, and blind rocks. To the north of Knockfergus are divers inlets, where one may come to an anchor, there are some rocks, but they all stand above the water, so as easily they they may be shunned.


The rest of the Roads upon the Coast of Ireland.

TO THE west of Fair-foreland the coast is flat and clean, so as there ships may anchor every where in eight and nine fathoms. Under the point of Eniston on the west side one may anchor for easterly winds, or to stop the tide.

Between Lough Swilly and Sheep haven is an inlet where ships may come to an anchor; but the ground is somewhat foul.

On the west side of cape Horn ships may ride at anchor for easterly winds: and along the whole coast between cape Horn and the isles of Aran is everywhere good anchor-ground, as also upon the west coast between St. John's point and Dunnagal haven, being the space of five or six miles.

In the sound of Blasques it is good anchoring on the south side of the point for northern and western, and on the north side for the contrary winds.

On both sides of the old head of Kinsale, by the Dutch mariners called cape Velho, ships may anchor as deep or shallow as they will.

There is also a good inlet for to anchor in a few miles beyond the haven of Cork, and on the east side of Ardimore head is a bay, where it is good riding for westerly winds in seven or eight fathoms.

There is also a good anchoring place or two betwixt Dungarvan and the haven of Waterford.

Roads in the Islands of Saltees, Dalkee, Ireland's Eye, and Lambay.

AS FOR the roads in the islands; about halfway betwixt Waterford haven and Carnesore lie two little islands, a mile or two from the land, call'd Saltees: the southmost whereof, which lieth furthest from the land, is much bigger than the other, ships may pass between these two islands in five, six, and seven fathoms. On the east side of the lesser island is a good road to come to an anchor in seven or eight fathoms, where ships may ride in safety for south west, west, and north west winds and on the north west side of the bigger island ships may anchor in seven, eight, or nine fathoms, the road being defended off south south east, and east south east winds. Close by the south point of Dublin bay lieth a small island, called Dalkee, betwixt which and the main land passeth a sound seven, eight, and nine fathoms deep, in which you may anchor under the island. On the north side of the head of Hoath lyeth another small island, scarce half a mile in compass (wherein, as also in Dalkee, no body inhabiteth, both serving only for to feed cattle) having a decayed chappel on the west side, over against which ships may come to an anchor.


Three or four miles beyond Ireland's Eye lieth the isle of Lambay, belonging to sir William Usher of Dublin, who hath there a fine little castle of freestone, and close by it a village, wherein dwell divers families, of fishers and husbandmen, who plow part of this island, and upon the rest feed cattle and sheep. The whole island, being about three miles in compass, is high land, wherefore it may be seen a great way off. On the north side of this island ships may anchor in twelve and thirteen fathoms for a southerly wind. For a sea-wind the ships must ride on the west side, over against the castle: but that road is not very good, because always in that sound, being about three miles broad, goeth a great sea.

Roads in the rest of the little Islands about Ireland.

RIGHT against the promontory of Fair-foreland lieth the island Raghlin, where ships may sail round about, as well at the outside, as betwixt it and the land, according as the wind and tide serve. On the south west side is a fair bay with very fine sand ground, where ships may ride defended off all winds. A little way on this side and to the east of Bann haven lieth Skires Portrush, a rocky island, the which on the south side hath a fair bay, very good sand ground, where ships may anchor in six or seven fathoms, being sheltred off all winds, except the east north east wind, the which along the coast doth directly blow upon it.

There is a good road on the south east side of the isle of Aran, situated on the north west side of lreland and betwixt this island and the main there lye three or four small isles, where ships may anchor in divers places, and be secured off all winds.

There is also a good road for some winds under Eneskie island, the middlemost of the three islands situated betwixt Achill head and Slime head, called Boche, where is good anchoring in four fathoms; under the northernmost island of those three lying in the mouth of the bay of Galloway, under Ennis Morrow, one of the Blasques; under Dorses island, lying betwixt the bays of Maire and Bantry, in the sound which passeth betwixt the same isle and the main land.

Ten or twelve miles to the east of Cork haven lieth an island called Ballycotton, where ships may anchor in five or fix fathoms for westerly and southerly winds. There is also a good road on the east side of Capel island, a little isle, lying three or four miles from the mouth of the haven of Youghall.