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Dublin Bay Boating News and Information

Dalkey Island Ferry Not Operating Due to Collapse at Cliff-Face Within South Dublin Bay Harbour

14th August 2020
The passenger ferryboat service to Dalkey Island in south Dublin Bay is not operating following the partial collapse of the cliff within Coliemore Harbour resulting in the closure of the harbour' s access walkway path to the ferry-pier and the Dalkey Rowing Club boathouse (also above) due to health and safety grounds. On the right can be seen the gap where a large rock became dislodged, dropped directly into the water below. The passenger ferryboat service to Dalkey Island in south Dublin Bay is not operating following the partial collapse of the cliff within Coliemore Harbour resulting in the closure of the harbour' s access walkway path to the ferry-pier and the Dalkey Rowing Club boathouse (also above) due to health and safety grounds. On the right can be seen the gap where a large rock became dislodged, dropped directly into the water below. Photo: Jehan Ashmore

The popular Dalkey Island seasonal ferryboat has stopped service due to a partial collapse of a cliff-face underneath a footpath leading to the pier at Coliemore Harbour, Co. Dublin, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The ferry operator, Ken Cunningham said "unfortunately due to an incident in the harbour I cannot operate the ferry this weekend, its under investigation right now with DLRCoCo because part of the wall fell out where the walkway is and it is unsafe for anyone too walk down"

He added "I'm sorry for any inconvenience caused to anyone who was planning a trip over to the island this weekend. Hopefully, I won't be out of action for too long".

Directly below the footpath wall that provides access from Coliemore Road, is where the jagged chunk of cliff-face sheared off below into the harbour which during medieval times acted as the Port of Dublin. The only commercial operation using the beautiful stone-cut harbour now is the 'Ken The Ferryman' service until this week's rock-fall incident (see: facebook's close up photo).

A close up of the affected cliff-face at Coliemore HarbourA close up of the affected cliff-face at Coliemore Harbour

The stretch of water across Dalkey Sound is a mere 300m between the mainland harbour and the landing slipway on the island which together in 2014 were upgraded by Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council (DLRCoCo). For more details of these works (see p.23) of 'Maritime' Dalkey coverage in the Dalkey Community Council newsletters, also features the resumption of the ferry service after three years absence.  

Due to Covid-19 restrictions the service was delayed from beginning earlier this season using instead of the Lilly Rose a new larger replacement passenger boat, Gemma but now currently off-service due to cliff rock-fall.

The ferryboat service at Coliemore Harbour is located less than a mile from Dalkey which is a designated 'Heritage Town' with its scenic coastline along the Dublin Riviera.

It is also along the harbour's footpath wall where local youths have been gathering and jumping off directly into the water below, however the fallen rock is now in this same area posing a danger to such activity. In addition the rock is a danger to nearby timber and fibreglass built moored boats.

DLRCoCo has blocked of Coliemore Harbour's walkway leading to the ferry pier with signs stating no unauthorised access and danger warnings of 'falling rocks' and 'closed due to repair works needed'. Access remains open but only to the slip and adjoining second pier with anglers given the mackeral season is underway.

The stretch of water between Coliemore and the island is named Dalkey Sound which is a mere 300m wide and is linked by the traditional ferryboat service.

In addition the affected walkway has also led to no access to Dalkey Rowing Club's premises and so coastal rowing of 'skiff' boats have been cancelled. 

Ken the Ferryman is the sole operator providing exclusively the Department of Marine inspected and licensed passenger-boat service off the south Dublin suburb which has become more famous as it is host to the annual Dalkey Book Festival. This year's 10th festival, however was postponed due to Covid-19 public health restrictions.

Published in Dublin Bay
Jehan Ashmore

About The Author

Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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Dublin Bay

Dublin Bay on the east coast of Ireland stretches over seven kilometres, from Howth Head on its northern tip to Dalkey Island in the south. It's a place most Dubliners simply take for granted, and one of the capital's least visited places. But there's more going on out there than you'd imagine.

The biggest boating centre is at Dun Laoghaire Harbour on the Bay's south shore that is home to over 1,500 pleasure craft, four waterfront yacht clubs and Ireland's largest marina.

The bay is rather shallow with many sandbanks and rocky outcrops, and was notorious in the past for shipwrecks, especially when the wind was from the east. Until modern times, many ships and their passengers were lost along the treacherous coastline from Howth to Dun Laoghaire, less than a kilometre from shore.

The Bay is a C-shaped inlet of the Irish Sea and is about 10 kilometres wide along its north-south base, and 7 km in length to its apex at the centre of the city of Dublin; stretching from Howth Head in the north to Dalkey Point in the south. North Bull Island is situated in the northwest part of the bay, where one of two major inshore sandbanks lie, and features a 5 km long sandy beach, Dollymount Strand, fronting an internationally recognised wildfowl reserve. Many of the rivers of Dublin reach the Irish Sea at Dublin Bay: the River Liffey, with the River Dodder flow received less than 1 km inland, River Tolka, and various smaller rivers and streams.

Dublin Bay FAQs

There are approximately ten beaches and bathing spots around Dublin Bay: Dollymount Strand; Forty Foot Bathing Place; Half Moon bathing spot; Merrion Strand; Bull Wall; Sandycove Beach; Sandymount Strand; Seapoint; Shelley Banks; Sutton, Burrow Beach

There are slipways on the north side of Dublin Bay at Clontarf, Sutton and on the southside at Dun Laoghaire Harbour, and in Dalkey at Coliemore and Bulloch Harbours.

Dublin Bay is administered by a number of Government Departments, three local authorities and several statutory agencies. Dublin Port Company is in charge of navigation on the Bay.

Dublin Bay is approximately 70 sq kilometres or 7,000 hectares. The Bay is about 10 kilometres wide along its north-south base, and seven km in length east-west to its peak at the centre of the city of Dublin; stretching from Howth Head in the north to Dalkey Point in the south.

Dun Laoghaire Harbour on the southside of the Bay has an East and West Pier, each one kilometre long; this is one of the largest human-made harbours in the world. There also piers or walls at the entrance to the River Liffey at Dublin city known as the Great North and South Walls. Other harbours on the Bay include Bulloch Harbour and Coliemore Harbours both at Dalkey.

There are two marinas on Dublin Bay. Ireland's largest marina with over 800 berths is on the southern shore at Dun Laoghaire Harbour. The other is at Poolbeg Yacht and Boat Club on the River Liffey close to Dublin City.

Car and passenger Ferries operate from Dublin Port to the UK, Isle of Man and France. A passenger ferry operates from Dun Laoghaire Harbour to Howth as well as providing tourist voyages around the bay.

Dublin Bay has two Islands. Bull Island at Clontarf and Dalkey Island on the southern shore of the Bay.

The River Liffey flows through Dublin city and into the Bay. Its tributaries include the River Dodder, the River Poddle and the River Camac.

Dollymount, Burrow and Seapoint beaches

Approximately 1,500 boats from small dinghies to motorboats to ocean-going yachts. The vast majority, over 1,000, are moored at Dun Laoghaire Harbour which is Ireland's boating capital.

In 1981, UNESCO recognised the importance of Dublin Bay by designating North Bull Island as a Biosphere because of its rare and internationally important habitats and species of wildlife. To support sustainable development, UNESCO’s concept of a Biosphere has evolved to include not just areas of ecological value but also the areas around them and the communities that live and work within these areas. There have since been additional international and national designations, covering much of Dublin Bay, to ensure the protection of its water quality and biodiversity. To fulfil these broader management aims for the ecosystem, the Biosphere was expanded in 2015. The Biosphere now covers Dublin Bay, reflecting its significant environmental, economic, cultural and tourism importance, and extends to over 300km² to include the bay, the shore and nearby residential areas.

On the Southside at Dun Laoghaire, there is the National Yacht Club, Royal St. George Yacht Club, Royal Irish Yacht Club and Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club as well as Dublin Bay Sailing Club. In the city centre, there is Poolbeg Yacht and Boat Club. On the Northside of Dublin, there is Clontarf Yacht and Boat Club and Sutton Dinghy Club. While not on Dublin Bay, Howth Yacht Club is the major north Dublin Sailing centre.

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