Killary is one of the few places on the west of Ireland that has the ingredients to host a successful diving trip as winter sets in. Sheltered by the Mweelrea Mountains (highest mountain in Connacht) to the north and the MaumturkMountains and Twelve Ben mountains to the south this glacial fjord forms a natural border between Galway/Mayo. It is located 5km west from Leenaun towards Letterfrack and can be dived in most weather conditions except in strong westerly gales.
Eoin Kearney and Paul Hickey took a trip in 2010. Julia O’Rourke organised trips to Killary over the October Bank Holiday in 2008 and 2009 and the Novice Trip went here in 2012. Ciara Corcoran organised a trip in 2015. Sid Gupta organised the trip in 2019.
We generally launch from Rosroe pier (follow signposts for Youth Hostel). From K2 take a left exiting and then follow the road. Take the second right will be signposted Tullycross again follow the road until you come to a fork with a sign for scubadive west on the left fork but make sure to take the right fork follow road and you will reach the pier. Rocks are located 30m off the corner of the pier and obey the keep west directional buoy. At low tide, the boats will become beached if placed inside the inner walled pier. However the bottom is sand so no damage will occur if boats are properly moored. Have independent ropes ashore rather than tying onto the mussel tenders. Rossroe as a sheltered base, particularly if mooring boats overnight.
It is also possible to launch at the slip at Leenaun and bring the boats down through the Fjord to Rosroe. We did this for the NT. The slip is fantastic and usable at all states of the tide. It saves a very painful tow over awful roads to Rosroe and is the better option. Ask permission from ferry office if using the slip (they have always been very obliging)
The fjord is 16km long and over 45m deep. Diving is usually limited to the Mouth of Killary. However there is very little to see at depths greater than 25m. The more interesting way to dive Killary is by boat with several good sites within 10-15 minutes from the pier.
The Red Pole/Mast
There is a red pole/mast north of the pier directly under this pole there is a stunning wall with drop offs to depths for all 6m 12m 20m 24m and 30m this site is particularly handy for running waves as its so close to the pier. Loads of fan worms, dogfish, crabs and flatfish on the sand and gobies and nudibranchs on the walls.
The North Shore
The dive is directly opposite the Pier under Mweelrea. It starts at Rusheen Point where a spit of land runs into the water. Follow the rock face underwater to depth of 15m and continue along the rock face. Keep off the bottom as the silt will very quickly limit visibility! There are many drop-off’s to 30M on this steeper side and walls here are home to an abundance of life.
On the southern shore but upfjord of the green nav tower. Sheltered sight in lee of the island offers 6m for training and getting bearings with novice divers. For more experienced divers there is a slope all the way down to 40+ metres with an abundance of life. Lots and lots of very large congers but also lobsters, flatfish, wrasse and a host of other things. On NT 2012 15m viz made this a cracking site and well worth the marginally longer additional spin.
The Shore Dive
There are two ways of approaching the shore dive. You can walk over the hill, east of the harbour following the track, and begin the dive at the little natural harbour about 100 metres east of Rossroe point. The bottom drops away immediately from the shore, so you can head north to attain required depth (25m is easily attainable). Diving North from the pier leads to the centre of a V-shaped valley with depths in excess of 40m.
You can then head west parallel to the shore, ending at the harbour. There are some nice reefs at various depths along here. If you don’t fancy the walk, you can start and finish in the harbour. Shore diving is usually done in a West-East direction at a depth of 15-25m. In this direction there are several small reefs with a variety of flora and fauna. There are exit points East of the pier, if required, walking back to the pier over the hills.
Unkonwn Wreck Shore Dive
There is a trawler just off the shore near two boats that are normally moored in 13m on low water to 18m on high. To get to the wreck it is a decent fin out and there are two possible ways to find it (in May 2011) as its not shotted. The easiest is if there is a lobster pot on a white bouy just south east of the two boats. Going down the bouy and heading west and you will come across a big boulder which has a conger underneath that can be seen from both sides continue on heading on a west bearing but slightly north and you will find the wreck should take no more than 4mins after the boulder. The second way is to follow the anchor of the furthest boat down once at the bottom head west until you find a wall then follow the wall and you should be near the wreck (you will see bits of wreckage and fish follow them). The wreck is full of life and very intact, though on one side and well worth doing if boat space unavaliable.
The Island Dives
There are several islands at the mouth, Inis Barna being the largest. The islands can be dived on either side depending on the prevailing weather. Inisbearna can be dived on the North and Eastern sides. There are steep drop-offs on the North side, with depths in excess of 40M. The Eastern side is probably the nicest, with depths around 20-25M, and home to some large conger eels.
Doonee and Inisdegil Mor are easily reachable with nice diving between 20M and 30M. Depths of 30m+ are easily achievable.
Wreck – The Julia T
The Julia T is a 30M former island supply vessel that sank while under tow on its way to be decommissioned, it is 3M tall and sits bolt upright in 27M of water. It is located in the middle of a vast silt bed (off Lettergesh and Tullycross. No co-ordinates available from www.Irishwrecksonline.net so may need to contact ScubadiveWest who regularly dive it). Limited penetration is possible at the bow and at the crew quarters but a careful approach is required due to the potential for the visibility to deteriorate very quickly with one sloppy fin kick.
The Julia T shipwreck has been named as one of the ‘100 Essential Wreck Dives’ in the Ultimate Dive Destinations Magazine: “It positively groans under the weight of colourful plumose anenomes and pulsates with fish, both large and small.”
We ran waves to sites in the Fjord and had a rota for compressing duty. Everyone came down with bottles filled. Sufficient bottles were compressed each evening to start the morning dive and the remainder of the bottles compressed while wave 1 was out.
Local Facilities – Dive centres
- Scubadive West: http://www.scubadivewest.com/
There are three options available to choose from within the locality.
Killary Harbour Hostel
The 2015 trip stayed in a house just on Rosroe Pier. http://www.killaryharbourhostel.com
Julia is the contact, you can email her at email@example.com or give her a call on 0872079480. She’s lovely! Mention you’re from the club & there should be no bother.
The house sleeps 14, and we paid €30 per person for the two nights. Tea & showers within minutes of a dive – sure what else could you ask for?
The first year we stayed in the self-catered cottages in the village of Tullycross in Renyvle, Connemara. Renvyle Thatched Cottages (as they are known by) were cosy, quaint with a pub across the road. It was a good 25min drive to the pier each day from the cottages.
We hired 3 Type B cottages at 250euros each. A deposit of 200euros was payable in advance. Oil and ESB were calculated upon check-out.
The second year we stayed in K2 Hostel (aka Killary Adventure Centre), Leenane, Connemara. Located closer to Rosroe pier with a 10-15mins drive. Very good choice, comfortable and reasonably priced, breakfast and evening meal included but, most importantly no wash up afterwards, less fuss all-round!
K2 offers dry room for gear, a welcome relief to the semi-dry divers.
We stayed here for the NT in 2012 and they looked after us really well. No hassle with a large group and it worked seamlessly.
Choice of 6bed dorms, 4bed dorms, twins and doubles, all en-suite.
- 19 euro pp for Dorm bed en-suite with breakfast inc
- 24 euro pp for twin/double room en-suite with breakfast inc
- Dinner €10 per head per night
- 50% deposit payable in advance
- 18 euro pp for Dorm bed en-suite with breakfast inc
- 25 euro pp for twin/double room en-suite with breakfast inc
- Dinner €10 per head per night
- 50% deposit payable in advance
To make the calculations easier I asked everyone to give me 50euros deposit in advance.
Continental breakfast and evening meal at 6:30/7:00pm can be supplied by K2.
Space is available (in the main dining hall) for storing and preparing lunch but no facility for cooking your own food.
Lunch is eaten on the pier each day. You must bring your own ingredients for lunch. As K2 is in an isolated spot it is recommended to buy your lunch pieces either in Dublin or en route. Bring a thermos.
Beverages: There is a small bar at K2, in the main dining room. We were allowed to bring our own drinks last year provided we cleaned up after ourselves.
The third accommodation option is Sleepzone Hostel, Connemara. We have never stayed here but by all accounts it seems like a reasonable option to consider. Built in 1800’s the former hunting lodge is now an eco hostel. It overlooks the fjord but I don’t know if meals are included. Tel 091-566999 e-mail i…@sleepzone.ie
On the second night we hired a bus to nearby village of Leanane, we installed ourselves in the warm and atmospheric Gaynors Pub – scene of the Quiet Man and an ideal spot to enjoy a post diving pint and mingle with the local sheep farmers or other scuba clubs as may be present. A local bus (contact details from K2 reception) €5 return or €2.50 each way – excellent value.
The third night was fancy dress night, with much imagination and in true team spirit pretty much everyone dressed up – it’s amazing what can be conjured out of one box of facepaints. A mint chocolate surprise cocktail for all who embraced the fun. We hired a bus to Tullycross, €5 each way. After a bashful start we braved the suspicious glares from the locals and met with UCD in pub (across from the cottages – the name escapes me). Once again we proved to be victorious at the boat race.
Getting There/ Directions
294km from Dublin, 4hours (bit faster now with improvements to N4 finalised)
If driving from Galway follow signs for N59 “Clifden” and after passing through villages of Moycullen and Oughterard you will arrive at Maam Cross (easily spotted by the Peacock’s Hotel Complex on your right). At this crossroads turn RIGHT and follow signs for “Leenane”. At the next T-Junction at Keane’s Pub, turn LEFT. After about 11km this road will bring you into the village of Leenaun. Go through the village and out on to the Clifden Road (keep water on your right hand side) after another 5km you will see the sign for Killary Adventure Centre aka K2, the building is on the LEFT hand side of the road as you come from Leenane.
Rosroe Pier is further on up the road and off a road to the right. Follow signposts for Youth Hostel and stay on road until it ends at the pier.
- Irish O.S. Map: Discovery Series No. 37
- Admiralty Chart No: 1820 and/or 2707