Whether by cruising from port to port or dinghy sailing on the lakes, many regions of Ireland can best be experienced from the water. The craggy and indented coastline has plenty of safe havens for overnight stops -- there are more than 140 between Cork Harbor and the Dingle Peninsula alone. This region of West Cork and Kerry is the most popular coastline for cruising, and several companies offer yacht charters.
Some of the harbors in the southwest that are most popular with sailors include Cork, Kinsale, Glandore, Baltimore, and Bantry. On the west coast, Killary Harbour, Westport, and Sligo have sailing clubs and are in areas of great beauty. There are also several sailing clubs and yacht-charter companies in the Dublin area.
Sailing schools hold courses for sailors at all levels of experience, and sometimes offer day sailing as well. Ireland also has more than 120 yacht and sailing clubs along the coast and lakes. The best sources for information are Tourism Ireland; the Irish Sailing Association, 3 Park Rd., Dún Laoghaire, County Dublin (tel. 01/280-0239; www.sailing.ie); and East and North Coasts of Ireland Sailing Directions and South and West Coasts of Ireland Sailing Directions (both published by Imray, Laurie, Norie & Wilson Ltd. of Wych House) from the Irish Cruising Club (www.irishcruisingclub.com). The guides give information on harbors, port facilities, tides, and other topics of interest. They are available in bookshops in Ireland or online at www.imray.com.
The International Sailing Schools Association is an excellent resource for finding a sailing school; you can find links to members at www.sailingschools.org. Sailing Ireland (tel. 053/913-9163; www.sailingireland.ie) runs a variety of sailing courses, and also offers yacht charters from its base in Bridgetown, County Wexford.
Kinsale Yacht Charters, 2 Castlepark Marina Centre, Kinsale, County Cork (tel. 087/271-0371; www.kinsaleyachtcharter.com), is one of the largest charter firms in Ireland and also offers package deals. A full range of yacht sailing options is available from Sovereign Sailing (tel. 021/477-4145; www.sovereignsailing.com). They also offer racing charter packages if money is no object. Yacht charters are also available from Shannon Sailing Ltd., New Harbour, Dromineer, Nenagh, County Tipperary (tel. 067/24499; www.shannonsailing.com).
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.