Crookhaven, a vibrant and strategic stopover
The location of Crookhaven (Irish: An
Cruachán) at the southwesternmost tip of Ireland makes it an ideal point
of departure for rounding Mizzen Head. Its well protected harbour, well stocked
little shop, pubs and restaurants, all make for a pleasant stopover in
preparation for a weather window. A
winter population of about forty swells in the summer to about four hundred
with the arrival of the occupants of the many holiday homes.
The anchorage is spacious and easily
navigable. It is well protected from all directions but North-East. There is
good holding for anchoring and visitor moorings as an alternative, though most
were taken up by day sailors when we were there. Many boats left before
evening, and some cruisers staying overnight adjusted their location to come in
closer to the village for the night. The excellent dinghy dock is strategically
located right in front of the pub and shop, so everything is conveniently
accessed. It was a true pleasure to visit a place that caters to the visiting
yacht, albeit a transient local one.
Due to its location and sheltered harbour, Crookhaven was an
important port of call for shipping between Europe and
the United States. Many inhabitants were in the business of supplying the
ships as they sheltered in Crookhaven before or after a long voyage. In the 19thC
and 20thC, more than 700 people lived and worked here.
Guglielmo Marconi experimented with
wireless and ship-to-shore communication here from 1901 until 1914. Most of his
testing was conducted between the Fastnet lighthouse, Crookhaven, and Cape
Clear Island. This was a great location, not only because it was on the tip of
Ireland and ideally suited to test transatlantic communications, and because of
the shipping passing Fastnet Rock on transatlantic voyages, but also because of
the telegraph line connecting Crookhaven and Cape Clear Island eight miles
away. The station lost importance when shipping widely adopted radio communications
and was destroyed in 1922.
In 1959, Crookhaven was the subject of a film called Irish
Village by English film maker James Clarke. The film recorded the
population of the town and local farms as 69 at that time. It is now
approximately 40 full time residents.
Things to do
In the summer, there is a buzz about Crookhaven with all the
holiday makers that come to play along its shores. The Crookhaven Harbour Sailing
Club provides sailing lessons and gets the children of the holiday home owners
out on the water.
Aside from crawling the three pubs to
sample their fare, a 5-mile walk or ride will bring you to the maritime museum at
Mizzen Head Visitor Centre, from where the views are awe inspiring. Although
the Marconi station is gone, the museum has a good display on his experiments,
as well as a collection of more modern navigational aids such as Racon,
GPS/DGPS, and a ship’s bridge with full navigational aid simulator. There is a
maps room which contains facsimiles of rare charts, maps and pilot books, the
originals of which are housed at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich,
England. It has a café and a shop. From the Visitor Centre, the Signal Station
is a ten minute walk along the path, down the 99 steps and across the Arched
Farther afield, Rock Island off the road from Goleen was the
site of a coast guard station. The station was occupied from 1907
until 1921 during the height of the War of Independence by British Marines.
They were stationed there to protect both it and Brow Head War Signal Station.
During their occupation, the I.R.A. destroyed Brow Head.
There are three pubs in Crookhaven. The
first, O'Sullivan’s Bar faces the harbour, its walls adorned with
historical murals and notes about the area and its seating spilling out onto
the quay. You stumble out of your dinghy and into their midst. They serve bar
food and music nightly. The post office and small shop are next door. (+353-28-35319 email@example.com) It’s a
great place to check out who’s in town, share a pint or two with friends, watch
a game on the telly, and watch the goings on in the harbour. O’Sullivan’s
serves hearty pub food, including their famous crab sandwich! It was
perfection. Their soups and chowders are excellent to counter those Irish
“shades of grey” days. And when in season, don’t pass by the basket of fresh
Nottages, named after the Englishman who owned it and worked
at the Marconi signal station, is open only during the summer and is also known
as The Welcome Inn. Nottages Bar & Restaurant is another part of the
O'Sullivan family business. Nottages is open every night during the summer
season and is a perfect haven for people who just want a quiet pint and a chat
with the locals. Nottages provides an alternative to the more raucous
atmosphere of O'Sullivans, except on Crookhaven Regatta weekend, when Nottages
becomes the centre of attention with a music stage outside the door and a
festive atmosphere guaranteed!
The Crookhaven Inn, once the bottle store for the larger pub
and hotel across the road, is now completely modernized. An experienced
Swedish chef brings together the seafood, for which the region is so well known,
with the international flare of its presentation. Live music can be found in
the bar during the summer. (+353-(0)28-35309)
Unfortunately, we don’t believe that the marine services of
yore are available today. As it’s mostly holiday homes, dinghy sailing (take care
around the youth events in the harbour) and local cruising, the old
transatlantic services are no longer in evidence.