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Loughshinny is a small cove on the east coast of Ireland, on the north coast of County Dublin and situated a mile and a half north of Rush Point and a similar distance south of Shenick Island, the southernmost of the Skerries Islands. Within the cove, there is a small boat fishing pier that dries at low water. Mooring possibilities include anchoring in the middle of the cove, drying out alongside the pier or a short stay alongside the head of the pier at high water.

Loughshinny is a small cove on the east coast of Ireland, on the north coast of County Dublin and situated a mile and a half north of Rush Point and a similar distance south of Shenick Island, the southernmost of the Skerries Islands. Within the cove, there is a small boat fishing pier that dries at low water. Mooring possibilities include anchoring in the middle of the cove, drying out alongside the pier or a short stay alongside the head of the pier at high water.

The cove provides good anchorage in winds from south round through west to northwest. A ledge of rock extending from the pier provides the cove with partial shelter to the north but vessels typically roll in northerlies. The cove is completely open to anything from the northeast round to the south-southeast. Access is straightforward as there are no off-lying dangers and the cove has marks. But none of the coves marks are lit so all approaches must be in daylight.
Please note

A particular issue with Loughshinny is the number of established moorings in the cove plus an abundance of crab and lobster pots both in the harbour and in the surrounding area. This makes it challenging to anchor without fouling lines. In established heavy weather Howth Harbour would be a better option.

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Keyfacts for Loughshinny
Top up fuel available in the area via jerry cansShop with basic provisions availableMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationBus service available in the areaRegional or international airport within 25 kilometres

No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationAnchoring locationSet near a village or with a village in the immediate vicinity

Restriction: shallow, drying or partially drying pierNote: fish farming activity in the vicinity of this location

Protected sectors

Current wind over the protected quadrants
Minimum depth
2.4 metres (7.87 feet).

4 stars: Straightforward; when unaffected by weather from difficult quadrants or tidal consideration, no overly complex dangers.
4 stars: Good; assured night's sleep except from specific quarters.

Last modified
November 19th 2020

Summary* Restrictions apply

A good location with straightforward access.

Top up fuel available in the area via jerry cansShop with basic provisions availableMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationBus service available in the areaRegional or international airport within 25 kilometres

No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationAnchoring locationSet near a village or with a village in the immediate vicinity

Restriction: shallow, drying or partially drying pierNote: fish farming activity in the vicinity of this location

Position and approaches
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Haven position

53° 32.730' N, 006° 4.765' W

At the southernmost end of Loughshinny pier.

What is the initial fix?

The following Loughshinny initial fix will set up a final approach:
53° 32.605' N, 006° 4.258' W
This waypoint is 600 metres east of the centre of the bay.

What are the key points of the approach?

Offshore details are available in eastern Ireland’s Coastal Overview for Strangford Lough to Dublin Bay Route location.

  • Situated just 1.6 miles south of Shenick Island, the southernmost of the Skerries Islands, the directions provided for Skerries Bay Click to view haven provides approach details.

  • Align for the centre of the bay, between the Martello Tower and the bent perch mark off the pier.

  • Proceed into the centre of the cove where a new channel marker will be found.

  • Anchor according to draft and conditions

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 Loughshinny for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Rush Harbour - 1.3 nautical miles S
  2. Rogerstown Inlet - 2.6 nautical miles SSW
  3. Skerries Bay and Harbour - 2.6 nautical miles NNW
  4. The Boat Harbour - 3.5 nautical miles SSE
  5. Saltpan Bay - 3.6 nautical miles SE
  6. Talbot’s Bay - 3.9 nautical miles SSE
  7. Seal Hole Bay - 4.3 nautical miles SE
  8. Balbriggan Harbour - 5.3 nautical miles NW
  9. Malahide - 6.1 nautical miles SSW
  10. Carrigeen Bay - 8.5 nautical miles S
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Rush Harbour - 1.3 miles S
  2. Rogerstown Inlet - 2.6 miles SSW
  3. Skerries Bay and Harbour - 2.6 miles NNW
  4. The Boat Harbour - 3.5 miles SSE
  5. Saltpan Bay - 3.6 miles SE
  6. Talbot’s Bay - 3.9 miles SSE
  7. Seal Hole Bay - 4.3 miles SE
  8. Balbriggan Harbour - 5.3 miles NW
  9. Malahide - 6.1 miles SSW
  10. Carrigeen Bay - 8.5 miles S
To find locations with the specific attributes you need try:

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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.

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What's the story here?
Loughshinny as seen from its southern shore
Image: Michael Harpur

Loughshinny is a small mainland cove with a mid-19th century granite harbour pier that stands along the inner face of a rocky ledge that extends from the north shore. The cove is 2½ miles to the south of the Skerries Islands and 1½ mile and a half to the north of Rush Point. The L-plan pier is set perpendicular to the coast and extending southwards with a slight bend.

Fishing boats dried out alongside Loughshinny pier
Image: Michael Harpur

Although much of the cove is shallow, there are depths of more than 2 metres in the middle which affords good sheltered in winds from the northwest, through west, to south. A ledge of rock partially shelters the bay from the north but vessels typically roll here in northerlies.

Loughshinny pier dries out almost to its head where 0.3 metres remains at LWS. It presents a flat sandy bottom that is suitable for bilge keel vessels. Local fishermen rarely use the outer part of the quay wall, making it good for visitors. It is however uncomfortable in a southern swell and also gets challenging at high water when the rise almost reaches the level of the wall making fendering difficult.

The outer extreme of the harbour wall can be used for a brief stay at high water by medium draft vessels. If coming alongside in a keelboat it is advisable to come in astern to the end of the pier which makes it easier to set off.

How to get in?
Loughshinny as seen from the west
Image: JH2020

Convergance Point Ireland’s Coastal Overview from Strangford Lough to Dublin Bay Route location provide approach details. Those working their way along the coast should give Portrane Point, the southern arm of the Rogerstown Inlet, a berth of at least 500 metres to avoid the visible Cable Rock. Likewise, off Rush Point, there is a patch with 2 metres, 400 metres offshore at the Martello tower.

Vessels approaching from the north should pass a ½ mile outside the Skerries Island Group that consists of three islets; Colt, St. Patrick’s and Shenick Islands. It is possible to cut through the sounds of the island group but this requires some involved navigation. Details are available in the Navigating through the Skerries Islands Route location route. As a rule, newcomers are better off staying well outside of the Skerries Group.

Loughshinny perch and buoy as seen from seaward
Image: Brian Lennon

Initial fix location From the Loughshinny initial fix align the approach so that it is midway between the bent-over perch, off the harbour wall, and the southern point of the bay, situated beyond a conspicuous Martello Tower.

The perch and the reef running out to it as seen from the head of the pier
Image: Michael Harpur

The harbours starboard mark will be seen on this track and this takes a vessel well south of the bent perch that has some southern outliers. The perch marks the southeastern extremity of a drying reef that extends about 200 metres to the southeast of the pierhead providing the cove with partial protection to northerly conditions.

Perch near the head of the reef as seen from the pier
Image: Michael Harpur

Once aligned come in on a line to the south of the perch. Those anchoring out should do so just outside the green starboard mark when the inner side of the quay begins to show.

Passing Loughshinny's bent perch
Image: Brian Lennon

Vessels coming alongside the pier should pass close to the green channel mark immediately to starboard. Do not stray from the buoy as any distance further south will bring the vessel into a tangle of lobster storage containers situated immediately south of the mark.

Loughshinny pier as seen from the buoy
Image: Brian Lennon

Haven location Much of the cove is shallow but there is a small area close outside the green channel marker buoy in the middle where depths of up to 2.5 metres may be found to anchor. The difficulty here will be finding an area clear of the crab, lobster pots and moorings to anchor.
Please note

With so much fishing gear, moorings and centuries-old objects of the ancient harbour a tripping line is highly advisable.

Buoy with lobster pot markers close by
Image: Michael Harpur

If approaching/departing the pier in shallow water it is best not to track straight south from the wall. Just south of the inner side of the pier there is a shallow rocky ridge that has about a 0.3 of a metre less water than is available at the quay wall.

Why visit here?
Loughshinny, in Irish Loch Sionnaigh, means 'lake of the foxes'. The foxes the name refers to were never really there as the name stems from ancient folklore and the foxes were in fact fairies. Legend has it they had a desire to talk to people which was terrifying for those who experienced it. Nevertheless, the small quiet and out of the way village is steeped in very real historical and geological interest.

Loughshinny' folded sedimentary rocks
Image: Siim Sepp via ASA 4.0

The geology of Loughshinny is most remarkable and consists of exposed layers of folded sedimentary rock formations dating from the carboniferous age. The layers of grey limestones and black shales formed about 33 million, years ago and the visible folding of the rocks happened later, about 290 million years ago. This could only have happened by gradual action of a great force, when the beds, already consolidated, were deep down in the earth and the super-incumbent pressure of the beds above them prevented the layers from breaking open. The process resulted in chevron or zig-zag folds that are visible in what is called the 'Loughshinny Formation'. A short walk south from the harbour area at low tide will take a visitor to the rock formation. The cliff will be seen to be made up of contorted layered beds of dark limestone, with thin black shale layers between them, crumpled and bent at every angle.

Cú Chulainn, also called Cuchulain, in battle
Image: Image by Joseph Christian Leyendecker (1874 - 1951) Public Domain
An early Mesolithic microlith has been found at Knocklea near Loughshinny and evidence of early human habitation is well evident in the large (200,000 m²) Iron Age promontory fort that is located on the Drumanagh headland. It is surrounded on three sides by cliffs and a large rampart encloses the fourth side. The site has not been excavated, but it is thought that it dates back to the Bronze or Iron age.

Mythology has it that the fort belonged to the trader Forgall Monach, or Manach and known as 'the dexterous or wily'. He was a character in the Ulster Cycle of Irish mythology and father to Emer who became the wife of the great Ulster and national hero Cú Chulainn. Although the young couple had a complete meeting of hearts, the marriage was very much against the will of Forgall who had bigger plans. Vehemently opposed the match Forgall resorted to deception at every turn to thwart it. His most elaborate length was to visit Ulster pretending to be the king of the Gauls. There he encouraged Cú Chulainn to go to Alba, Scotland as it was then known, to train in arms under the legendary warrior-woman Scáthach. He believed Scáthach would certainly kill Cú Chulainn and immediately set about his grander plan to offer Emer to the king of Munster Lugaid mac Nóis. But his plan fell apart at every point and, upon discovering Emer loved Cú Chulainn, Lugaid refused her hand. Worse Cú Chulainn conquered Scáthach and returns triumphantly from Scotland for Emer. When Forgall still refused to let him marry Emer, ostensibly because her elder sisters were still unwed, it was too much for Cú Chulainn. He stormed Forgall's fortress, killed twenty-four of Forgall's men, abducts Emer and takes Forgall's treasure for good measure. In the midst of the malee Forgall falls from the ramparts to his death.

Publius Cornelius Tacitus
Image: Public Domain
Rich discoveries of Roman pottery, coins and other material on the promontory suggest that this site was an important settlement for Romano-British merchants with strong links to Roman Britain. It is believed that it was a trading and manufacturing base of the period and one which figured prominently in the trading networks of the time. With the fine natural harbour and use of copper mines to the north, it is thought that it was an emporium of some sort, where the manufacture of high-status objects occurred. It is believed that these including the production of native Irish Iron Age snaffle-bits of bronze and iron. It is now believed that Ptolemy, the Greek astronomer and cartographer, noted Loughshinny, on account of its proximity to Drumanagh, as Eblana (Greek: Έβλανα) in the 140 AD Geographia of Claudius Ptolemaeus. The ancient Irish settlement called Eblana was traditionally believed by scholars to refer to the site of the modern city of Dublin. This would deprive Dublin of a claim to nearly two thousand years of antiquity, as the settlement he noted, most likely a trading outpost, must have existed here a considerable time before Ptolemy became aware of it.

Again, speculatively, archaeologists suggested Loughshinny was thought to have been a bridgehead for Roman military campaigns, possibly even for a Roman invasion. This is evidenced by first-century Samian pottery, a symbol of wealth and status in Roman times, along with other important Roman artefacts found on the Drumanagh promontory. More first-to second-century A.D. objects were recovered from Lambay Island, immediately offshore. The Lambay Island discoveries were found in burial sites and included a number of metal brooches or fibula, a beaded necklace known then as a torc, bronze discs, and many other objects. The Loughshinny fort could then have been used by Gnaeus Julius Agricola, then Roman governor of Britain, for an invasion of Ireland in AD 82. The Roman historian Tacitus mentions that Agricola entertained an exiled Irish prince, thinking to use him as a pretext for a possible conquest of Ireland. Agricola, says Tacitus, "crossed in the first ship" and defeated peoples unknown to the Romans until then. He does not specify which body of water he crossed, although many scholars believe it was the Clyde or Forth; but the rest of the chapter exclusively concerns Ireland. Agricola fortified the coast facing Ireland, and Tacitus recalls that his father-in-law often claimed the island could be conquered with a single legion and auxiliaries. This conquest never happened, but some historians believe that the crossing referred to was in fact a military expedition to Ireland.

The Drumanagh Martello
Image: Michael Harpur

This claim of a significant Roman beachhead, built to support military campaigns in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD is however broadly disputed. The artefacts were unfortunately illegally excavated after being discovered with metal detectors, so they have not been available for further study. Legal disputes with the landowner have meant that further excavations have not been carried out to be able to settle the debate. Certainly, at the very least, a commercial connection existed here with a trading colony, or a native Irish settlement, and the Brigantes tribe across the Irish Sea in Britain. It was probably populated with a mixture of Irish, Romano-British, Gallo-Roman, and others, doubtless including a few genuine Romans as well. Brigantes refuges may also have come here after their crushing defeat by the Romans in A.D. 74.

Hawker in May 1919
Image: Public Domain
Later, the military pragmatism the headland provided has left Loughshinny with its more famous landmark; the Drumanagh Martello Tower. The Martello Tower was erected in 1803 as one of a series twelve strategic points along the coast of Fingal to provide a warning and defensive system for the city against a Napoleonic invasion. Based on a standard plan the two-story towers were mounted with cannon which took at least nine men to fire. It was never called upon as a military complex but served as a base for the Preventative Water Guard who fought against smuggling in the 1800's. This was rife in the Harbour of Rush which the tower overlooks southward. The Martello Tower remains very well preserved to this day.

In 1913 a curious event occurred here. In that year the Daily Mail sponsored a great air race around the British Isles. This was a remarkable feat as it was just a decade after the Wright Brothers had achieved the first successful heavier-than-air powered aircraft flight in 1903. The famous aviation pioneer from Australia, Harry George Hawker MBE, AFC, was a contestant in his seaplane and having completed three-quarters of the journey a leak occurred in his fuel pipe near Loughshinny. With no power, the plane dropped very quickly and he and his co-pilot crashed into the middle of Loughshinny Bay. Fortunately, both were quickly rescued by local fishermen. The next day they returned to retrieve the aircraft and found most of it stripped for souvenirs by the locals. Surviving the day Hawker went on to be the chief test pilot for Sopwith and was also involved in the design of many of their aircraft. After the First World War he co-founded Hawker Aircraft, the firm that would later be responsible for a long series of successful military aircraft. These included the famous Hawker Hurricane fighter plane that, along with the Supermarine Spitfire, was instrumental in winning the Battle of Britain.

Traditional cottage in the harbour area
Image: Michael Harpur

Today Loughshinny is an attractive fishing village with a population of eight hundred in the immediate area. The little bay with its picturesque working harbour and safe sandy beach is a popular picnic location in summer. Fishing for crabs and lobsters still forms a big part of the local economy whilst the fertile farmland surrounding the village still supplies vegetables and flowers for the Dublin market. The village retains a uniqueness of its own. Except for some new housing and a new school, the appearance of the village has not changed substantially over the years. Retaining that old-world charm within a stone’s throw of Dublin city is remarkable. Some very modern houses overlook the harbour but they are few. An interesting walk that encompasses the whole area of Loughshinny is easily accessed ashore. It takes in its interesting geological layered limestone and shale cliff features on the south side of the bay, and the buildings of historical interest on the cliffs on the headland of Drumanagh.

One of Loughshinny' modern houses framing its view
Image: Michael Harpur

From a boating perspective, Loughshinny appears the type of place to drop into on high water just for a pint of milk and a paper, but the area has more to offer the visiting boatman than that. It is a very useful harbour along this coast and particularly so at low water which closes off many other key options along this coast that are inaccessible at low water such as Malahide, Rogerstown and Drogheda. This makes it an ideal tide wait location. Likewise, it is the only harbour between Howth and Dundalk Bay, 20 miles north by northwest, in which shelter can be found from the northwest and somewhat from the north for those with a shallow draft who can come well in. Those that venture ashore will find a wonderfully quaint village with unique features that warrant an enjoyable coastal walk and exploration. It is also very well suited to young families for seaside fun as the beach is easy to supervise.

What facilities are available?
Loughshinny is a very quiet small little place. Apart from the landing area there is a small shop, pub and reportedly you can get water from a house.

Loughshinny has good transport links however. It is serviced by Dublin Bus Route 33, which runs between Dublin city centre (Eden Quay) and Balbriggan, and Route 33A which runs between Swords and Balbriggan. There is a also a special commuters bus, the 33X Expresso, which runs between Skerries and Belfield Campus - this bus being targeted at students. A late night service, the 33N, is also available.

A train service is available from nearby Skerries train station. The train runs between Dublin city centre and Drogheda/Dundalk.

Any security concerns?
Never an issue known to have occurred at Loughshinny.

With thanks to:
Charlie Kavanagh - ISA/RYA Yachtmaster Instructor/Examiner and local boatman Brian Lennon. Photography with thanks Carl Ford Colm O hAonghusa, Google, Donal B, Mark Duncan and Brian Lennon.

Loughshinny Harbour, County Dublin
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur

Local fishing boats dried out alongside
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur

Sandy bottom alongside the wall
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur

Stone boathouse in the harbour area
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur

The bays signature Martello Tower
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur

Modern house overlooking the harbour area
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur

The Drumanagh Martello with its corresponding tower on Rush Point
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur

Loughshinny Aerial (i)

Loughshinny Aerial (ii)

Trinity geological field trip explains the Loughshinny

Harry Hawker Centenary Celebrations Loughshinny 2013 with a good history of the man and views of Loughshinny.

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