Article By: Seamus Butler
For a description of the waters around Ballycroy the reference is: Admiralty Chart 2667. The sea area from Bellacragher Bay to Innisbiggle Island to Achill Sound provides one of the world's most scenic sailing areas. Sheltered by Achill Island, there is no swell and it is therefore accessible for boating in most conditions. The tidal range is approximately sixteen feet and at two hours before and after high water (-2hrs HW+2hrs) there is generally a minimum of seven to eight feet of water. Although certain bays such as Bellacragher Bay reach depths of thirty five to forty metres, this is a world best explored in a Trailer Sailer of eighteen to twenty two feet with a lift keel or bilge keels. Alternatively one could go for 'real outdoor mode' using a dinghy and camping on the shoreline. There are a number of uninhabited islands and vast stretches of empty coastline.
As with all inshore sailing, the charts are accurate but due to their scale they cannot show every rock outcrop or how sand banks vary through seasons. It is therefore advisable to collect local knowledge of the places you intend to visit. The acquisition of such knowledge, including knowledge of the strange place names and associated stories, is both entertaining and valuable. One also gets in the process an insight into some of the most colourful characters in the Achill, Ballycroy, and Innisbiggle areas. This is something that one would never acquire on the traditional Tourist Trail.
Bellacragher Bay Boat Club was formed in 2003 by Seamus Butler, Claggan and Brian Masterson Owenduff, in response to interest from people in Achill, Mulranny and Ballycroy.
Ballycroy boasts 2 pubs, The N59 and Cleary's pub and shop, and no visit to this area would be complete without sampling some of their wares.
Achill Sound has a number of good pubs and restaurants where the standard of food is excellent. There are supermarkets and hardware stores there that stock some fishing and boating supplies. There is a deepwater anchorage but due to the strong tidal flow two anchors are recommended. The alternative is to dry out close to the shore on sand.
Mulranny is a five-minute walk from Bellacragher Bay and has two supermarkets, three good pubs and two restaurants. Should you have any queries on local legends / translation of place names / ancestry / fishing / cooking, you must visit Kieran Moran, proprietor of Moynish House. For a person less than one century old he has amassed enormous knowledge.
Tonregee is on the north coast of Corraun on the road from Mulranny to Achill Sound. The landmark 'Way Inn' public house and shop is located at the top of a small road that leads straight to the sea. There is a good anchorage and you are guaranteed a friendly welcome from the local people.
During the months of July and August every village has its own festival, providing music, entertainment, and craic. Books could be written on any one of the villages. It is better to experience them than read my inadequate descriptions. Yawl races (the yawl is a traditional local sailing boat) are held throughout the summer and with a fleet of seventeen extremely competitive crews, the standard of sailing is excellent.
Further information on the Sailing/Boating in the area can be obtained from Seamus Butler, Claggan, Ballycroy, Westport, Co Mayo. Telephone (098) 49005 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org