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Ramelton

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Overview





Ramelton is a small town on the Fanad Peninsula, nearly twenty miles from the entrance and on a river that has its estuary on the western shore of Lough Swilly in the north of Ireland. It provides a drying berth alongside historic town quays for boats that can take-to-the-bottom.

Being so far inland and drying for large periods of the tidal cycle the attractive historic town offers complete protection from all conditions. Attentive navigation is required for the final approaches, up the river and its estuary, which requires daylight and a suitable rise of the tide.



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Keyfacts for Ramelton
Facilities
Water available via tapGas availableTop up fuel available in the area via jerry cansShop with basic provisions availableMini-supermarket or supermarket availableLaundry facilities availableHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationPost Office in the areaDoctor or hospital in the areaPharmacy in the areaBus service available in the area


Nature
Berth alongside a deep water pier or raft up to other vesselsUrban nature,  anything from a small town of more 5,000 inhabitants  to a large cityScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinityHistoric, geographic or culturally significant location; or in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Restriction: shallow, drying or partially drying pierRestriction: rising tide required for accessNote: fish farming activity in the vicinity of this locationNote: could be two hours or more from the main waterways

Protected sectors

Current wind over the protected quadrants
Minimum depth
-1.5 metres (-4.92 feet).

Approaches
3 stars: Attentive navigation; daylight access with dangers that need attention.
Shelter
5 stars: Complete protection; all-round shelter in all reasonable conditions.



Last modified
October 24th 2018

Summary* Restrictions apply

A completely protected location with attentive navigation required for access.

Facilities
Water available via tapGas availableTop up fuel available in the area via jerry cansShop with basic provisions availableMini-supermarket or supermarket availableLaundry facilities availableHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationPost Office in the areaDoctor or hospital in the areaPharmacy in the areaBus service available in the area


Nature
Berth alongside a deep water pier or raft up to other vesselsUrban nature,  anything from a small town of more 5,000 inhabitants  to a large cityScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinityHistoric, geographic or culturally significant location; or in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Restriction: shallow, drying or partially drying pierRestriction: rising tide required for accessNote: fish farming activity in the vicinity of this locationNote: could be two hours or more from the main waterways



Position and approaches
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Haven position

55° 2.336' N, 007° 38.640' W

This is the position of Ramelton Town Quay.

What is the initial fix?

The following Lough Swilly Initial Fix will set up a final approach:
55° 17.800' N, 007° 35.030' W
This is an approach position for the lough that keeps a vessel clear of Fanad and Dunaff Heads where there can be some confused seas. It is also close south of the first waypoint of the Lough Swilly Route.


What are the key points of the approach?

Offshore details are available in northwestern Ireland’s coastal overview for Erris Head to Malin Head Route location. A set of waypoints to assist when running up lough can be found in the Lough Swilly route Route location.


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 Ramelton for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Rathmullan - 3.2 miles NE
  2. The Lough Swilly Marina - 3.9 miles ENE
  3. Macamish Bay - 4.5 miles NE
  4. Buncrana - 5 miles NE
  5. Scraggy Bay - 5.2 miles NNE
  6. Dunree Bay - 6.1 miles NNE
  7. Portsalon - 6.2 miles N
  8. Crummie's Bay - 6.5 miles NNE
  9. Sheep Haven - 7 miles NW
  10. Mulroy Bay - 7 miles NNW
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Rathmullan - 3.2 miles NE
  2. The Lough Swilly Marina - 3.9 miles ENE
  3. Macamish Bay - 4.5 miles NE
  4. Buncrana - 5 miles NE
  5. Scraggy Bay - 5.2 miles NNE
  6. Dunree Bay - 6.1 miles NNE
  7. Portsalon - 6.2 miles N
  8. Crummie's Bay - 6.5 miles NNE
  9. Sheep Haven - 7 miles NW
  10. Mulroy Bay - 7 miles NNW
To find locations with the specific attributes you need try:

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Chart
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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How to get in?
Ramelton Wharf
Image: Neil Carey Photography


Ramelton is a small town and historic port at the mouth of the River Lennon, 11 km north of Letterkenny and 4 km east of Milford, that is mostly situated on the south bank of the river. It is entered via the Ramelton Channel that winds its way for more than 3 miles through extensive banks of sand and mud of the estuary of the Lennon River.

The historic town quay at Ramelton dries to 1.5 metres and provides alongside berthing for vessels that can take-to-the-bottom. The shallowest depth in the approaches is 0.2 metres but with MHWS 4.3m and MHWN 3.2m, ample water should be available for moderate draft vessels.

Ramelton quay at low water
Image: Proinsias Carr

Convergance Point Approaches to the Lough Swilly can be found in northwestern Ireland’s coastal overview for Erris Head to Malin Head Route location. A set of waypoints to assist with the run up the lough, as far as Fanad, can be found in the Lough Swilly route Route location. The entire length of Lough Swilly is marked with various easily identified navigation lights along the main deepwater shipping channel.

Break off the Lough Swilly route Route location by passing the 'Inch Spit' buoy on its correct side, to port, and then continue past the 'Inch Flat' buoy and the western extremity of Inch Island. The fairway of the lough continues south from the 'Inch Spit' buoy with depths of more than 9 metres to Ballylin Point, 5 miles above and close south of the entrance to Ramelton.

Ramelton and its approaches at half tide
Image: Proinsias Carr


Ramelton is approached on the opposite shore to Inch Island, close north of Whale Head on the west shore of the Letterkenny Channel. The approach and channel is best seen on Admiralty Chart No. 2697. Pass about 300 metres north of Whale Head and 200 metres north of Aughnish Island after which it shallows and favours the north shore before turning southward as it winds its way to the drying town quays. Feel your way forward using the depth sounder all the way.

Fishing boat alongside Ramelton Quay at high water
Image: Brian Deeney of Donegal Cottage Holidays


Haven location Come alongside the quay and find a place to dry on hard mud.


Why visit here?
Ramelton derives its name from the Irish 'Ráth Mealtain, which means 'The fort of Mealtain'. Mealtan was an early Gaelic chieftain and the fort is said to lie under the ruins of a medieval castle of a later O'Donnells castle.


Ramelton above the quay
Image: Greg Clarke via CC BY-SA 2.00


Archaeological evidence has shown that the area has been settled since the early Stone Age. From the 12th-century the area was the homeland of the O’Donnell’s, the ruling clan of west Donegal before their exile to Spain during the 'Flight of the Earls' from Rathmullen in 1607. In the 15th-century the heir to the chieftaincy, Calvagh O’Donnell, resided in his stronghold at Rossreagh, which was on an island, now the site of the present quay. The castle was burnt down in the 1640’s during the Irish rebellion. Today there are no visible remains of the old castle.

1608 London news pamphlet entitled "The Overthrow of an Irish Rebell'
Image: Public Domain
In June 1608, Captain William Stewart was dispatched by the government to Ireland in command of 100-foot soldiers to quell the rebellion of Sir Cahir O'Doherty. Originally from Wigtownshire, Stewart was a soldier of fortune who had served under the kings of Sweden and Denmark before arriving in Ireland. In recognition of his military service to King James I, he received 1,000 acres of land at Ramelton in 1610. After he was knighted, he established the first town here as well as Letterkenny and lived in the O’Donnell castle for a short time. He brought in families from Scotland to live in the new towns. Between 1609 and 1622 Sir William built a fort on the Lough Swilly shore and the first Reformation church, which still stands until this day as the oldest Presbyterian church in Ireland. The Old Meeting House in Ramelton still exists and today houses the local library. The Stewarts continued as resident landlords well into the 20th-century and the surname has been associated with Ramelton for over 400 years.

In the 17th-century and well into the 18th-century Ramelton grew and prospered and was at the height of its prestige. The old Plantation Houses were replaced by elegant Georgian homes for the new wealthy merchants whose fortunes had been made from linen, as Ramelton had Donegal's biggest linen bleaching works. Ships from the Caribbean anchored in Lough Swilly and unloaded their exotic cargoes at Ramelton in exchange for linen, as well as corn, meat and fish.

During these times Ramelton established deep links with America. It was the birthplace of Francis Makemie, 1658—1708, known as the father of American Presbyterianism, who worshipped at the old meeting house before being sent to America as a missionary in 1683. He founded the first Presbyterian community in America at Snow Hill in Maryland, where there is now a Makemie Memorial Presbyterian Church. When arrested in colonial New York for preaching without a license, he successfully invoked Britain’s Toleration Act to defend the principle of religious freedom. Later, Makemie founded a church at Rehobeth in Maryland, which stands to this day as America's oldest Presbyterian Church. James Buchanan, father of the 15th and only bachelor, president of the United States of America, James Buchanan, was born in Ramelton in 1761. President Buchanan is famously quoted for saying, “My Ulster blood is a priceless heritage.


Statue of Francis Makemie
Image: Public Domain


In the late 19th-century and early 20th-century, Ramelton rivalled Letterkenny as the most important town in the north of the county, but this rivalry came to an end in 1909 when the railway came to Letterkenny but not to Ramelton. Nevertheless, this friendly town will always be referred to as 'The Jewel in Donegal's Crown'.

Today the town contains some fascinating buildings including the ruins of a group of warehouses and their yards on the Quay that serves as one of the town's most enduring landmarks. To anyone making their way along the shores of Lough Swilly, it comes as a surprise to find such an elegant Georgian streetscape in a county that is better known for its natural attractions. In recognition of this Tourism Ireland has designated Ramelton a Heritage Town.

Warehouses on the quay serve as one of the town's most enduring landmarks
Image: Brian Deeney of Donegal Cottage Holidays


The River Lennon itself has a long tradition of being a valuable fishing river and has brought many tourists to the town. The Lennon Festival, which began in 1970, is a tradition that takes place every July with a variety of events including a Carnival Parade, the crowning of the Queen of the Lennon, and lots of live music both in the streets and the pubs and bars. Ramelton Country Market takes place every Saturday from 11 am until 12.30 pm at Ramelton Town Hall and also every second Friday beside Greene's Shoe Shop in Letterkenny from 10.30am-2.30pm, County Donegal. Along with fresh local produce, visitors will find knitwear, crafts, specialised photography and much more. For those who enjoy stretching their legs, the town has numerous walks to explore, alongside beaches, through woods, around lakes and rivers, and climbs up the local hills.

For the visiting boater point of view, Ramelton Wharf offers perfect security from any and all weather conditions with supermarkets, restaurants, pubs, butchers, laundrette, and a pharmacy all within a short walk. There is also a local bus service with connections to Letterkenny and Londonderry.


What facilities are available?
For the visiting yachtsman the small town has good facilities including a choice of supermarkets,
including (Kernan's Spar Supermarket, Whoriskey's Eurospar and McFadden's Supermarket) a laundrette, butchers, doctors and a pharmacy, a post office but no bank, the nearest being at Letterkenny, and several restaurants, pubs and bars.

Freshwater is available, Kosgas, and deisel and petrol available by cans. The town has a small boatyard.

Allan Stewart
Rossreagh Boat Yard
Ramelton, Co. Donegal
P: +353 74 915 1082

The town is served by Patrick Gallagher Travel Buses which provide Ramelton with a regular 6 day a week bus service Mondays to Saturdays to and from Letterkenny, the largest town in County Donegal. Three buses leave Ramelton for Letterkenny each day Monday to Saturday with two buses leaving Letterkenny for Ramelton.


With thanks to:
Graham Wilkinson, Kevin Flanagan, George O'Hagan and Ciaran Bradley.


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Please zoom out to see the 'initial fix' for this location.
The above plots are not precise and indicative only.















Ramelton aerial overview 1



Ramelton aerial overview 2



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