Time was when Dunmore East was known among the cruising fraternity as The Glue Pot writes W M Nixon. In a time now barely within living memory, it was a picturesque little port which was at its busiest with the fishing during the winter, while in summer it was a very popular staging post for east coast cruisers headed for the delights of West Cork.
But often they would have had such a struggle rounding Ireland’s notoriously-challenging southeast corner – as did the competitors in last week’s Volvo Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race – that they’d be so relieved to get to Dunmore East that, somehow or other, they’d go no further (again see D2D-2017).
Of course, Dunmore East was in any case a most attractive cruise destination in its own right, notably generous in its hospitality to visiting sailors. But as places like Kilmore Quay and Waterford City itself began to provide marina berthing facilities in the area, cruisers with modern tastes preferred to go there, rather than try to make do with Dunmore East’s makeshift arrangements, which often involved having to change berths when lying alongside fishing boats, and clambering ashore up tricky quay wall ladders.
As for the fishermen, with many of their boats getting bigger, there was increasing frustration with the fact that the harbour – massively re-developed in the 1960s – was slowly silting up.
But now, after enduring the usual disruption involved in having the dredgers in, Dunmore East is back on its feet and better than ever. The place has cleaned up a treat. And the crisp new Visitors Pontoon down at the end of the East Pier is already turning over six to seven visiting cruising yachts every night, even though we’re still not into the peak cruising season.
As for the busy and successful Waterford Harbour Sailing Club, it has – as recently reported in Afloat.ie – re-furbished much of its interior, while its sailors are increasingly cutting a swathe through all levels of Irish and international sailing.
At the head of the harbour, the affable Harbour Master Harry McLoughlin is able to keep an eye on every aspect of his domain from his glass-walled eagle’s nest-style office atop the new multi-functional Harbour Services building. It was so new when we called by there recently that although the harbour and its many services are being run from here, for another few weeks they’re making do with temporary desks while the purpose-built office-furniture is being prepared to be fitted in, after which plans can be made for an Official Opening.
As it is, the building is already hugely impressive, with quality-finished visitors washroom and shower facilities – including a launderette – which could rival any fully-furnished yacht harbour elsewhere.
But there’s much more to Dumore East than that. It’s an intense, active community with a strong sense of itself both as somewhere with a very maritime attitude, while at the same time providing a unique hospitality package for visitors by land and sea alike.
Although the way has been left clear for further development of the outer harbour - perhaps in a way which could provide marina berths with more direct access to the village - for the moment Dunmore East has reached a welcome new plateau of development. And it feels good. We can be reasonably sure that Dunmore East has re-achieved the Full Gluepot Status.