MAYO BAYS

From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837

The coast is indented by numerous bays. The mouth of the Moy forms its north-eastern extremity: this river is inaccessible to large vessels on account of its bar, on which there is but three feet of water. Killala bay admits vessels of ten feet draught only at spring tides, but small vessels can proceed as far as the abbey of Moyne. Two miles north from Killala is the low peninsula called Kilcummin head, on which the French effected their landing in 1798. On the western side is the village of Inniscroan, the best fishing-place on the coast; and near it is a peninsula called Ross, between the inlets of Killala and Rathbran, which is curiously indented by the sea at high water. Dunfeeny bay is of little importance for nautical purposes, but is remarkable for an insulated rock called Downpatrick head, the perpendicular cliff of which affords five distinct sections of the horizontal strata of its formation.

From this bay westward the coast is a precipitous cliff for many miles, confining within its interior an extensive uncultivated bog; this lofty formation continues to Broadhaven, a bay seven miles in breadth at its mouth, by four or five in depth: it has two principal arms, the eastern of which receives two considerable rivers: the best entrance to the haven is less than half a mile in width, and the inlet within it winds for nearly seven miles to the isthmus which connects the flat and sandy, yet fertile, peninsula of the Mullet with the main land. Broadhaven is merely a fishing station, where open boats only are used: flat fish is abundant. The northern end of the peninsula is precipitous and rugged; and near it is the narrow and rocky cove of Portnafranka.

Its south terminates with the point of Saddle head, a considerable hill of red granite, which opens into Blacksod bay, a spacious haven with good shelter and water sufficient for any number of ships, which penetrates inland for several miles, until it meets the isthmus of Bellmullet, by which it is separated from Broadhaven. Clew bay forms a noble and well-sheltered expanse of inland water, fifteen miles long and seven broad: its entrance is screened through one-third of its breadth by Clare island; and the inner or eastern extremity is occupied by a vast multitude of small islets, which, with the adjoining creeks and inlets, form a variety of safe road-steads and harbours capable of admitting vessels of every class. These islands are composed of a deep loamy soil on a limestone substratum; many of them are accessible by foot passengers at low water.

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