In August 2015 a trip was run to the Aran Islands, staying in Rossaveel and launching from Carraroe. There are loads of interesting dive sites, and plenty of back up ones. Most of the topography is limestone rock, so most of the sites are limestone walls and canyons with lots of fissures and plenty of marine life.
If the trip to the islands gets blown out, you can always dive Kilkieran bay as an alternative. On this trip, both boats were taken, 12 divers in total. At last check, there wasn’t a compressor on the island and no feasible way to get one there, and so launching from the mainland was the way the trip was run. If launching from the mainland, you will need to have both boats as its a long journey out. (9nm to the closest site around Inis Mór itself.) The sites are varied and it probably has something for everyone, however as its that bit further out, its more suitable for SD’s+. The last person in the club to run a trip here was Anna.
It takes about two hours from Dublin to Galway, and Rossaveel is about 40mins past that, but it is a pretty straightforward drive. On this trip, we stayed in “An Ceibh” pub in Rossaveel on the recommendation of the lady from Carrarroe Holiday cottages. It was €35 per person per night B&B with an enormous fry in the morning. Also, the pints in the pub were great, friendly atmosphere in the pub itself. The car park was huge and the owners were happy enough to leave us have two boats and the compressor there. They even suggested the best side to leave trailors & compressors during the day where they would remain in view of the CCTV. There was no problem running the compressor in the car park in the evening. They don’t have kitchen facilities for use by guests, but they do have a small dining area and they were happy to provide crockery when we brought back take away from the Chinese in Carraroe. They only take cash, so its important to remind people to bring cash and collect it on arrival.
There is a petrol station and ATM in Carroroe which is only another 10mins by car, and you pass by it in order to go from Rossaveel to the slip in Carraroe. For those non divers, you can get the ferry out to the Aran islands and rent bikes/hike around the place.
The way we did it was to launch from the mainland and spend all day out around the islands bringing extra Gerry cans of fuel and packed lunches which worked quite well. Its a long spin out, so don’t forget the extra fuel! We did Brockinmore Bank on Saturday morning and then pulled into Kilmurvey harbour for lunch. There’s a nice beach there and there’s a pier to get people on and off. Although, low tide on springs isn’t possible, so we dropped people in at the beach, found a mooring and left the boats there while we had lunch, anchoring the boats by the beach would also have worked. We then went on to dive the Canyon which was good, but not as exciting as we had thought it would be. The plan for Sunday morning was to dive the Wormhole, but due to boat trouble, we ended up doing English Rock which was surprisingly interesting and could make a good OD friendly site.
Kilmurvey harbour lunch stop:
Link to Galway County Council details of Kilmurvey Pier including pictures:
Tidal Constant: Dublin +5 50
Local VHF Station: Clifden Ch. 16, 67, 86
Galway local VHF channel: 4
Defibrilator: Rossaveel Harbour / Kilronan Harbour Inish Mor
Chamber: Galway 091 524222
Lifeboats: Kilronan, Inis Mór
We launched from Sruthan Pier just outside Carraroe. Drive to Carraroe, when you pass the Top Garage on your right, take the next left, the pier is on the left.
This pier has been improved since Google Maps photos were taken, it can now be used to safely moor the boats overnight and it is also possible to launch and retrieve at any state of the tide. We were on Springs, and although coming into the slip took a bit of maouvering, it should still have been fine to retireve at low water. There isn’t massive amounts of parking, cars on the pier need to be kept to a minimum. Although we had no problems with parking, there have been stories about cars being keyed if they were blocking access to the boats for locals. There is a tap on the pier by the slip for washing gear, but it can be in use by fishermen.
We didn’t get to dive all the planned sites due to weather / boat issues, the first three sites described below are the ones we dived, the rest is the information found when researching the trip.
Canyon between Rock island & Brannock Rock:
Co-ordinates: 53 8.695’N / 9 51.073’W
Distance from Sruthan slip: 14Nm
Starting roughly 9m to max depth between 22-30m
Starting point: opposite landing site for light house – this is now very badly damaged to the point where it is difficult to recognise. Better off looking up the local charts and sounding around to shot the shallow side.
Description: Vertical canyon about 30-45m wide, 400m long running east-west with bottom @33m. Limestone area, fissured, can be exposed, can be currenty.
Rock island canyon slack consistent with Galway tides…or thereabouts. No current IN the canyon, just across the top, which is very strong. This was a nice site, but not as good as other sties in the area according to reports from divers. You have to sound around a bit to find where the canyon starts, putting a shot down is a very good idea, expect divers to drift when returning to the surface.
Co-Ordinates: 53 10.449’N / 9 43.503’W
Distance from Slip: 9nm
Underwater ledge on east side of Inish Mor, it runs roughly the length of the island. It is diveable when westerlies don’t allow you behind the island. There is a marker nearby from which it is possible to navigate, however GPS co-ordinates are the most useful. You will have to sound around a bit to find where the wall starts. It is necessary to shot the shallow side of the shelf. It can be a nice drift or a nice potter along underwater wall. It starts around 11m and drops down to 30/40/50m. It’s a limestone shelf, and from descriptions, it is like a series of 5-6m wide steps dropping off.
Brocklin there’s always a surface current, no real slack, but its not noticeable along the wall. Strong drifts are likely on the surface however making a challenge for the drop off, shot the shallow side, seems that this works best.
It was an incredible dive with Crawfish clinging to the walls the whole way along. Also spotted were enormous ling, some cling fish and lobster. This was a pretty spectacular site.
Co-ordinates: 53 12.991’N / 9 39.860’W
Distance from Sruthan Slip: 5nm
This was a back up for a back up site which we hadn’t intended on diving. Most of the way around English rock is a bit of a kelpy mess, however, off the south west side, there is a wall at 20m that wraps around the rock. The wall is about 5m high and home to plenty of lobster, and crawfish. Also spotted was John Dory and a baby conger. Ian even spotted a Sunfish from the boat while waiting for divers.
The best is to go around to the island and sound around, the ledge is roughly in line with the rock and a grey tower on the mainland.
Co-Ordinates: 53 8.967’N / 9 50.047’W
Details: Between Brannock Rock and the main island, it is a series of steps starting at 8m reaching 30m after 60m out. This site is sheltered and exposed only to north/north-easterly winds, winds up to force 4, no current and protected from Atlantic swell.
Worm Hole / Poll na bPeist
Co-Ordinates: 53 7.277’N / 9 45.302’W
Distance from Slip: about 16nm
1.6k south of Dun Aengus, on Blind Sound, rectangular opening in flat foreshore. Entry through underwater cavern 25m long, depth in pool, 15m. Outside pool, boulders slow away to 45m depth after 300m. Good shelter from north easterlies, but not diveable on westerlies above force 2. Not affected by tidal current. According to research, you should look for people on the mainland standing over the edge to find the entry point. Its on the East side of Blind Sound.