Ireland, the ancient land of folklore and legend, sits alone in the Northwest Atlantic. The West Coast of this unique country faces headlong into the powerful Atlantic Ocean, while the East Coast overlooks a vast and oft busy Irish Sea. A varied and heavily indented coastline lends itself admirably to a feast of temperate water diving.
The North and Northwest coasts of Ireland feature a wealth of wrecks, sure to delight even the most ardent wreck divers. Moving down along the Eastern seaboard, Dublin Bay presents an unexpected assortment of underwater treats; from oversized lobsters to the famous Dublin Bay Prawn. Shift one’s attention towards the Southwest and the seascapes; both overwater and underwater; start to change dramatically. The rugged coastlines of Cork and Kerry are mirrored underwater; think sheer rock faces and stunning topography. While further up the West Coast, the counties of Clare, Galway and Mayo can hold their own on the world’s diving stage; an illustrious number of offshore islands offer unrivalled Atlantic diving where steep drop offs and colourful walls abound.
The water temperature off the West coast is moderated by the warming Gulf Stream, while nutrient rich water is ideal for a profusion of marine life. Expect an average of 9-10 degrees centigrade in the winter and spring months, and an average of 14-15 degrees centigrade during the summer and autumn. Although the waters off the Northern coast are perhaps subject to a little more severity, this must still be considered temperate and not cold water diving.
A myriad of marine life calls Ireland home. Lobsters, crayfish and conger eels will passively observe from under their rocks, while curious cuckoo wrasse, pipefish and oversized pollack swim about. Indeed, divers lucky enough to dip their fins into Irish waters frequently report close encounters with seals, dolphins and basking shark.
Diving in Ireland is a hugely popular pastime with world-class diving centres dotted around the country’s coastline. PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) is very well represented, while BSAC, CMAS, SSI and other agency qualified divers are also welcome.
[Thanks to Deirdre Galvin, Scubadive West, for this account of diving in Southern Ireland and photograph]
- The Kowloon Bridge, the world's largest wreck - a 300 metre super-carrier lying between 6-36 metres. It is a 300 metre long bulk carrier weighing in at a massive 169,080 tons and is the largest wreck (by tonnage) in the world. It sank with its cargo of iron ore in November 1986 when sailing from Quebec to the River Clyde. The Kowloon Bridge has been bought for salvage of the iron ore and there is the possibility that the wreck could be destroyed, so, see it whilst you can.
The U260 submarine - a German U Boat lying between 36-40 metres is a very popular dive for those certified to dive at this depth. The U260 was scuttled on 12 March 1945 after hitting a mine. The crew all survived after being instructed by the German High Command to scuttle the submarine and were then interned in Ireland. The U boat had done 9 patrols sinking 1 ship.
- The Skelligs which comprise of 2 islands, Skellig Michael, containing the remains of an 11th Century monastery and Little Skellig, home to Europe's largest gannet sanctuary. The water visibility is very good at up to 30 metres. Hard and soft coral is plentiful and there is a mass of sealife.
- Shamrock Pinnacle
- Dry suit or at the absolute minimum a semi dry suit required.
- Hyperbaric chambers in Dublin and Galway.
- Diving season usually March to October but, with lots of sheltered bays, this can be year round.
|Language:||English and Gaelic (spoken mainly in the west)|
|Diving season:||March to October|
|Water temperature:||Winter 7C (45F)|
|Summer 15C (59F)|
|Air temperature:||Winter 6C (43F)|
|Summer 18C (64F)|