A trip to Sligo in 2003 was very diappointed with the viz and sites but a return trip in 2009, organised by Keith McQuillan was much more successful. The club boats went out, and a tandem trip with Offshore in Mullaghmore ran alongside. Inismurray Island was pretty disappointing (reasonably entertaining kelp, although a John Dory, crayfish and lots of wrasse were spotted) and probably not worth the steam. However the Gullies and Thumb Rock were very successful dives. Divers found canyons leading out to sea (Max Depth of 24m) with very nice viz and lots of life. Many people compared it favourably to Johns Point, and combined with a very short steam around from Mullaghmore meant that it was a very successful Ocean Diver location.
2003: Padraig O’Flynn, (Podge), organised a trip here in February
2009: Keith Mc Quillan organised a trip
2016: Pamela Moorhouse (organised a trip)
2018: Ian O’Gorman (AD’ed trip)
2019: organised by Amy Donlon, AD’ed by Muriel Gallagher – dived Thumb rock 3 times, good vis, lots of life, each time felt completely different.
Launching in Mullaghmore is from the beach inside the harbour. There is a good slip leading down from opposite the Beach Head Hotel. Launching and retrieving can be done at mid to high tide only, as it is extremely difficult at low tide. In 2009, we examined a number of other launching sites, including Moneygold and Ballyconnell, and found that Mullaghmore is really the only place in the area to launch the boats. Loading/unloading can be done from the floating jetty at the outer wall of the harbour.
Car parking is not permitted on the Northern part of the pier that leads to the break water. The running of compressors near the harbour has raised objections from other users, so please locate them well out of ear-shot. We found that placing them on the outer side of the wall at the slip reduced the noise considerably. A stroll along the road around the headland at low tide can show many of the features needed to find the dives and identify some of the features on the map. In good conditions, a 10-minute boat journey will bring you to one of the most distant dive locations.
2019: Could not launch/retrieve at low tide. Jetty beyond the outer wall of the harbour can be used for loading/unloading. Signs are up that pier is strictly for unloading/loading and it was very busy in the evening with sailors coming back in. Good parking close to slip if you get down before 10am. There is trailer parking space beside slip.
The Dive Ireland guide is the best place for site info and a good map of the area. Below are some of our experiences.
A really great trainee dive, this site is located about a 2 minute boat drive from Mullaghmore harbour, before you reach the headland. The top of Thumb rock is visible just above the surface at low tide, and is marked with a buoy. We dived this site on the Sunday as an alternative to the Gullies, and found it to be an excellent dive. Quite similar in ways to the wall at Johns Point, this site is a rock stretching from the bouy diagonally out from the headland. You can pick your depth on this site, as it ranges from 10m near the mainland, down to 25m as you follow the rock out to sea. Plenty of life here too, and definitely one of the best shallow water dives I have done in Ireland. Great dives here in 2019.
This site can be a good alternative to Thumb Rock, but is much more exposed, so requires good weather. Located between two rocky outcrops just around the far side of the head from the slip. As the name suggests, this site consists of a series of gullies between 5 and 20 metres in depth, depending on how close in to the shore you get. A good place to drop divers is just past the first rocky outcrop around the headland. Just sound out the gullies, they are pretty easy to find. We dived this site twice in July 2009 and all divers were keen to dive it again. Lovely scenic dive, like a really ornate sea garden. Entry and exit are by boat only, as it appeared much too dangerous to attempt a shore-entry. Watch out for currents dragging divers away from the mainland.
We entered the water below the lay-by in the road at a small cove on the rocks. Very difficult entry and exit and a long slog down the slope and across the rocks with our gear. It was quite swelly and there was breaking waves at the exit of the cove. Outside the cove there was lots of kelp and the gullies were difficult to find. Max depth was about 10m unless you finned out a long distance. This site can also be dived from a boat, which may have been a better option, as we couldn’t find a suitable spot to enter the water from the rocks.
Shallow, sheltered pool (1-5m). Drive out of village along coast road, past the monumental seat. Park at side of road after sharp left hand bend, walk down sloping grassy bank to rocks below. Sheltered enclosed cove leading out to gullies running N-S.
A few of us attempted this dive. The pool is very small and empties and fills with the tide. Easy entry and exit but very little life. Once outside the pool it was very difficult to find any depth (4-6m). Very swelly and the waves were breaking over a rock just under the surface just off shore. Lots of Kelp and the gullies were nothing spectacular. Not worth getting into your gear for!
To the North of Crumb there is an interesting area of quite broken bottom with small reefs, and one quite large reef with a wall a bit lower than Thumb, and not as long. This area is best accessed by boat. The dominant feature from the boat is a large cave in the cliffs below the road. Enter the water about 75m out from this cave. The depths here tend to be about 10-25m. There is a deep depression a bit further out where depths in excess of 30m can be found.
Max depth 5/6m, Very nice snorkel or shallow dive, Lots of interesting features, Enter at the back of the Pier Head Hotel past the lobster farm and the owners house, and down steps cut in the rock.
We didn’t dive this site but it looked very shallow and kelpy. It would only be possible at high tide.
You need the usual boat safety equipment: O2, 1st Aid Kit, flares, VHF, GPS. Also make note of the following:
- Glen Head Coastguard:
- VHF Channels 24, 10, 16, DSC 70
- Emergency services:
- 112 (or 999) on land
- Recompression chambers:
- Galway, 091 524222
- Dublin (private)
- Weather Dial 1550 123 855 (or 853 for Ulster)
- RTE Radio1 (88-89fm) at 0602, 1253, 1655, 2355
- VHF 0103, 0403, 0703, 1003, 1303, 1603, 1903, 2203
- Warnings on VHF (channel 16) 0033, 0633, 1233, 1833
Diving is by boat only, as entries and exits are made far too difficult by the steep hills, and rocky terrain. The main route for boats between the harbour and the Head passes over the deep end of Thumb and Crumb, so care is required when diving here. dSMBs are a must.
Bundoran is a big tourist town with all necessary amenities, ATMs, supermarkets etc.
If staying in Bunduff it is a good 15 minute walk along the main road to get to the pub. However, Sligo Holiday Homes can arrange for taxis to take you into the busier town of Mullaghmore.
Offshore watersports may not do fills but worth checking by ringing Declan on 087-6100111.
We went to a pub along the main road, just before you reach Sligo Holiday Homes. Nice place, but no name that I can recall.
We stayed with www.sligoholidayhomes.com. They are based in Bunduff, which is only a 5 minute drive from Mullaghmore. The accommodation was excellent and I would highly recommend staying there. They even have a drying room for wet gear!
2019: We stayed in the Benwisken Centre, about a 10 minute drive from Mullaghmore. Really lovely and recently renovated. They have a hall which we used to dry our dive gear. Went to O’Donnell’s pub in Cliffoney which is about a 5 min drive from the hostel.
You can get more information about the area from the following sources:
- Underwater Ireland book
- Chart 2767
- Dive Ireland guide
- Discovery Series Maps 25
The Mullaghmore headland is located just off the main Sligo-Bundoran road(N15). Head up the M4/N4 to Sligo and then take the N15 out of Sligo town north to Bundoran. Turn left at the village of Cliffoney onto the R279, following signs for Mullaghmore. When you reach a T-junction turn left and this road will lead you to the harbour.