Kinsale has recently become popular with divers after the rediscovery in 2010 of a First World War German U-boat sunk in 1917.
2018: Neil Moran
2019: Maria McGuinness
Historical: Joe McCauley and Trevor Woods organised trips here in 2011 to dive the U-boat UC-42 and the Aud, and John Hickie ran a sneaky day trip to the UC-42 in 2012. Eoin Kearney also went on a sneaky weekend in August 2012.
There is a good slip at the pier in Kinsale next to the RNLI station and just before the Trident Hotel. However, this slip is very busy and in previous years we have instead launched and retrieved from Crosshaven and Oysterhaven (beside the coastguard station) instead. Crosshaven is far closer to the UC42 as well, it’s still a busy slip though. The slip at Crosshaven is very gentle. In 2019 pretty much on springs with a non-4×4 car it was difficult to launch the boat 2hrs before LW without getting the car wheels wet. We left the trailer at the top of the slip which wasn’t ideal but there are car spaces nearby. Oysterhaven is closer if you’re diving the Ling rocks.
UC42 (WW1 German mine-laying U-boat)
This is a largely intact German minelaying type UC II submarine from the First World War. The UC42 was launched in 1917 and sunk in the same year, possibly after an explosion of one of its own mines. The wreck was depth charged at the time and identified by British Royal Navy divers. The wreck was rediscovered in 2010, and was subsequently designated as a war grave out of respect for the 27 crew who died on board.
The wreck lies in around 30m of water and is tilted onto its starboard side, with the remains of the conning tower lying just off the wreck. Towards the bow, you come to the mine chutes, still containing the remains of contact mines. A torpedo tube lies off the port bow, with the twisted frame of a hydroplane sticking up in front. The bow itself has disappeared forward of the internal pressure hull. Along the length of the wreck are holes and hatches in which you can see machinery and batteries. At the stern, the starboard prop is buried in sand but the port side propeller is visible, and is stamped with details identifying the boat. A memorial plaque for the UC-42’s crew is attached to the drive shaft.
The wreck is home to a lot of enormous congers, so beware of poking around. You’ll also see shoals of bib and other fish.
In 2019 we dived at LW and HW (Cobh) and except for a current at about 6m and possibly also on the surface it was slack on the wreck both times.
The Aud played a role in the events of the Easter Rising in 1916. She was a British motor vessel captured by the German navy and used in a plan to ship weapons for the uprising against British rule in Ireland. The plan was discovered, and the Aud was intercepted by the British navy, whereon the Aud’s captain scuttled the ship.
The Clifton was a 242 ton Steam fishing trawler, 126ft in length. She was built in 1906 by Cochrane and Sons, in Selby. After a career fishing the North Sea she was taken into service by the British Admiralty in 1915 and sent to Queenstown, now Cobh, in Cork Harbour.
It was sweeping for mines at the entrance to Cork harbour when there was a massive explosion and the ship disappeared in seconds. It had struck a mine. With no watertight compartments and cemented bulkheads she would have sunk very quickly. There was only one survivor
The wreck lies in 38M and is a compact wreck dive. It now is home to a number of large conger and is constituently patrolled by Pouting. In August 2012 the wreck was extremely dark, much like the guide me in dublin bay due to a large plankton bloom. You dont need slack to dive the clifton in neap anyway. Slack would be an hour after hw.
Ling Rock (N51 36.847 W08 19.191)
The Ling Rocks are some 9km South-South East of Oysterhaven. The rocks are not exposed on the surface, rising from the sea bed the shallowest point is at about 22M at Low Water . The Depths around the rocks go down to 70M.
This is probably one of the best dives in Ireland. Not really a rock but more of a pinacle gulley wall, this site is extremly tidal and should only be dived on slack. It is however a brilliant dive with congers, lobsters, ling. anemones and other large quantites of life. In August 2012 slack was about an hour after hw.
A shot is advisable as the tides can be very fast and in big waves it can be very difficult to see an smb.
The local coastguard working VHF channel is 26. The coastguard can also be contacted on the standard national working channel, 67, and the primary calling channel, 16.
There is a dive centre and charter operator here called Ocean Addicts. We’ve dived with them a few times and found them to be excellent.
In 2011 a club trip used the Ocean Addicts liveaboard boat for accommodation. It is usually moored in Kinsale harbour, and so is very convenient for the local dive sites.
The Trident Hotel is right next to the slip, and handy for good lunches. In the middle of the town, there are lots of places doing good food. The Shack, on Main Street, is one that’s worth a visit.
Things to see
If blown out, there are a couple of forts from the 17th Century to pass the time. The bigger is Charles Fort, sited on the east side of the sea inlet to Kinsale.
From Dublin take the M7 and M8 to Cork. Then go through the Jack Lynch tunnel and take the N25 South ring road. At the Kinsale roundabout, turn left onto the N27 (signposted Airport). At the Airport roundabout, continue straight on (2nd exit) on the R600 and keep on this road until you reach Kinsale. On arrival in the town, take the first left (round a car park) and then go left again to get onto the waterfront, heading for the pier.