The inlet provides complete shelter protection in all reasonable weather conditions. Access through the long and narrow marked channel requires careful navigation.
Keyfacts for Mulroy Bay
SummaryA completely protected location with careful navigation required for access.
Position and approaches
Haven position55° 12.121' N, 007° 48.692' W
this is the position at Fanny's Bay anchorage
What is the initial fix?
Not what you need?
- Sheep Haven - 1.3 nautical miles SW
- Portsalon - 6.6 nautical miles E
- Pincher Bay - 7.4 nautical miles NE
- Tramore Bay - 7.6 nautical miles W
- Scraggy Bay - 8.4 nautical miles ESE
- Crummie's Bay - 9 nautical miles E
- Dunree Bay - 9.3 nautical miles E
- Lenan Bay - 10.1 nautical miles ENE
- Macamish Bay - 10.6 nautical miles ESE
- Ramelton - 11.4 nautical miles SSE
What's the story here?This north facing inlet is situated between Lough Swilly to the east and Sheephaven Bay to the west, with its entrance between Melmore Head and Ballyhoorisky Point, about 10 miles to the north of Letterkenny.
How to get in?
The 'Erris Head to Malin Head' coastal description provides approach information to the suggested initial fix. Vessels approaching from the south should select the northeast bound sequenced description; vessels approaching from the north should select the southwest bound sequence; western approaches may use either description.
Image: © Ciaran Kelly
The outer bay is quite open and leads to a narrow tortuous winding channel about 8 miles long in a north-south direction. This channel varies in width and depth with three significant narrows throughout its length, which eventually opens into Broadwater, an open shallow sea lough that has many small islands and islets, and which is again connected by a further narrow channel to Northwater (Kinny Lough).
At its commencement, the second narrows is spanned by a new bridge opened in 2009 linking Rawros Point and Paddys Point which offers 19 metres of clearance. Caution should also be taken to avoid four special water monitoring buoys which may be moored in the vicinity of Island Roy at the end of the first narrows and before the new Mulroy Bay bridge.
Of the many anchorages throughout the length of this bay the best one is in Fanny's Bay about 3 miles inside the bar with 2 metres depth and which affords complete shelter out of the stream at all times. Other notable anchorages are to the north of Dundooan Rocks off the west shore, south of Ballyhoorisky Island off the east shore, in Glinsk Bay at the end of the first narrows off the east shore, and for those who journey to the head of the bay there is alongside berthing at the quay at Milford in 3 to 4 metres depth.
Why visit here?Mulroy Bay, is an anglicisation of the Irish name Cuan Mhaoil Ruaidh. The bay was first recorded in 1608 by the shortened version of Maol Rua simply meaning meaning 'red current' with the full Irish title Cuan na Mhaoil Ruaidh meaning 'Bay of the Red Current' or 'Bay of the Red Stream'.
The bay penetrates many miles inland through three sets of narrows leading to an almost inland lake environment that has tranquil and scenic surroundings. Beyond the third narrows is Broadwater which has beautiful scenery with tree-clad shorelines and rocky shoals, many of which are marked by ancient stone cairns. Mulroy Bay has been described as having some of the most awe-inspiring and jaw-dropping scenery in all of Ireland.
There is little in the way of facilities for the length of the bay, but at the excellent anchorage in Fanny's Bay, there is a slipway for a landing, to enable a walk to be made to the village of Downings one mile across the peninsula dividing Mulroy Bay from Sheephaven Bay, where there is a post office and shop.
The village of Milford, in Irish Baile na Galloglach, situated at the head of the bay is a small market town which from the 19C has been the centre of local and national trade in North Donegal owing to its trade links and good communication network, and although latterly this has declined it remains an important centre of trade for the peninsulas of Fanad and Rosquill. It has the usual facilities for a town with a population of over 1500, including supermarkets and a variety of shops, a health centre and pharmacy, post office, service station for fuel, hotels, bars and restaurants, and many craft and local heritage outlets, and freshwater is available by the quay.
Located north of Letterkenny the town of Milford was founded in the 18th-Century by the Clement family. The Irish Baile na Galloglach literally means 'town of the galloglach'. The 'Galloglaigh' were an elite class of mercenary warriors who came from Gaelic Norse clans in Scotland between the mid 13th and late 16th-Century. A battle between the Irish, helped by the 'Galloglaigh', and the English took place on a hill in the townland, and this is where the name comes from.
What facilities are available?One mile over the peninsula from Fanny's Bay anchorage is Downings village which has a post office and shop, and at Rosapenna 0.75 miles away there is an excellent hotel. About eight miles from the Fanny's Bay anchorage the town of Milford has most other facilities including Supermarkets, Butchers, Hotel, Bars & Restaurants, Post Office, Doctors and a Pharmacy.
With thanks to:eOceanic site research. Photography with thanks to © Artur.
Sailing from Lough Swilly to Mulroy Bay
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