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Dublin Bay Boating News and Information

Dublin is Sinking

1st May 2022
Dublin Bay in all its eccentric high tide glory. Yet with the greater city area actually sinking at about 3 millimetres a year relative to much of the rest of Ireland, we could be in for some interesting times on the tidal front
Dublin Bay in all its eccentric high tide glory. Yet with the greater city area actually sinking at about 3 millimetres a year relative to much of the rest of Ireland, we could be in for some interesting times on the tidal front

If you’re a coastal Dub doing a Marie Kondo on the shoe cupboard, and you’re thinking of heaving out the Cuban heels and the platform soles, just hang on a minute. Despite their exotic fashion origins, that fancy footwear might have a practical application in the near future.

For according to an authoritative report in last Thursday’s Irish Times here, sea levels in Dublin have been rising at twice the global rate for the past eight decades.

This clearly bothered some readers, so yesterday (Saturday) the paper carried a reassurance from “Dublin City Council’s most senior flooding expert” that Dublin’s flood defences are designed to protect the capital “to the end of the Century”.

But neither report seemed to make anything of the fact that the accumulated Dublin rise of 130ml over the past 20 years, when set against the global average of sea level rise of 70ml, can only mean that the Fair City and its surrounding area is sinking – or subsiding if you prefer - at about 3.5ml per year. For any notion of “localized sea level rises” flies in the face of the fact that water always finds its own level.

“It’s no more than they deserve” is probably the robust response of citizens elsewhere on the island. But for Dubs in the coastal lowlands, it means more than finally learning what the accountancy term Sinking Fund means in all those incomprehensible balance sheets presented at club AGMs.

For the fact is that barometric pressure and regional wind direction can have a very real effect on day-to-day tidal levels, something which is exacerbated at times of extreme high Spring tides with the excessive rains of a period of bad weather

Thus in present circumstances, despite the precautions and defences in place, all that is needed is very low pressure and much rain over Ireland with the cyclonic centre to the westward, a Spring tide imminent, and a prolonged period of southwesterly gales persisting in the Celtic Sea and St George’s Channel to push the surging water towards Dublin Bay to meet the extra rainwater coming down to Dodder, Liffey and Tolka valleys.

Then we’ll really learn about water finding its own level. And maybe we’ll also learn why the Dutch have evolved into being the tallest people in Europe……

WM Nixon

About The Author

WM Nixon

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland for many years in print and online, and his work has appeared internationally in magazines and books. His own experience ranges from club sailing to international offshore events, and he has cruised extensively under sail, often in his own boats which have ranged in size from an 11ft dinghy to a 35ft cruiser-racer. He has also been involved in the administration of several sailing organisations.

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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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