Mini Regional Rally Success

Sep 17 2015 Posted by Office Administraton

Sheephaven Divers (Donegal)


travelled to Quilty in Co. Clare last weekend for a series of dives hosted by Aughnish, Burren, Ennis and Limerick Sub Aqua Club’s.

The 13 Donegal divers were led by John Joe Rowland and they conducted their first dive on Saturday morning as part of a 3 boat dive party of 25 divers to Brendans Reef, just out from Quilty Pier.

This site runs between Mutton Island and Seal Rock, two of the three islands within 5 minutes of Quilty pier, the third island being Lime Rock.

The site starts at around 17 metres and goes to a maximum depth of nearly 40 metres in a generally north east, south west direction.

The limestone substrate consists mainly of a rock wall and large boulders and in the upper reaches is covered in a kelp field.

Marine life was plentiful, with Pollock and Wrasse observed on site, along with Edible Crabs and Lobsters. Other notable marine life includes rare Sea Fens, looking much like a tropical Coral.

Surface to surface times of over 40 minutes were recorded with water temperature at a cosy at 14 degrees Celsius, while in-water visibility at 20 metres was simply quite outstanding.

On Saturday the mandatory surface interval of at least two hours between dives was back at Quilty Pier, where the hosts kindly put on a barbeque that kept the divers sustained for the next dive at the Gorge near Seal Island.

This site consists of a narrow gorge at around 1 metre wide starting at a depth of 6 metres that runs out past the island, widening as it goes to a depth of around 25 metres.

Seal Island is well named as the divers were entertained to a show of diving agility by a group of five young seals, who were clearly very curious of the bubbling newly arrivals.

Once again the excellent in-water visibility was no less than 20 metres horizontally and a surface to surface time of over 50 minutes were recorded by some of the divers.

Sunday morning’s dive party consisted of a total of 37 divers when all the clubs joined in force. The dive site was the Curragh Rock on the west side of Mutton Island on a beautifully calm sea and slack winds.

The ideal diving surface conditions were matched underwater by 20 metres visibility and the continuation of warm waters.

The reef commences at nearly 20 metres and falls off then to 40 metres, with peaks and pinnacles interspersed with overhangs carved out of the limestone rock wall looking to all intends like a wave, very spectacular indeed.

Marine life observed at this site included Pollock, shoals of Coaly and the very rare sighting of a Trigger Fish, just to round things off.

Around Quilty are a number of historical watch towers, part of the ring of towers built in early 1800’s after the successive French attempts to land invasion forces on Ireland. Over 80 of these towers were built around the Irish coast and each in sight of at least two other towers; they were capable of reporting a hostile force off the coast and communicating that message to the authorities of the day.

In the vicinity of Quilty there was a tower on Mutton Island, near Quilty itself and to the north at Hags Head, which is near to the Cliffs of Moher that dominates the northern horizon.

The area was also heavily involved in 1588 when ships of the Spanish Armada were wrecked around the Irish coast. In particular the San Marcos, a Portuguese galleon of 790 tons, is reputed to have been wrecked near Mutton Island.

Up to 450 crew were report lost, with only 4 survivors making it ashore, they were subsequently executed along with the survivors of another Armada ship, the San Eseban, at Cnoc na Crocaire near Spanish Point.

Today the search continues for the last resting place of the San Marcos, near to where the Sheephaven divers conducted their dives last weekend.

Sheephaven SAC would like to thank all who led over the weekend, to the clubs who provided dive boats and refreshments and especially to Sean Staunton and James Mc Mahon of Ennis and Burren SAC’s respectively who made us feel welcome at Quilty, truly a dive trip to remember.