06 Oct 2022

Trip Through Time: The whirlpool in Dundalk Bay

Looking back at Dundalk's past, with former Democrat editor Peter Kavanagh

Trip Through Time: The whirlpool at the Loakers in Dundalk Bay

Charlie McCarthy, in his email to me about The Loakers makes reference to a spot in Dundalk Bay which he refers to as a 'turn hole', in the stream flowing out from the Loakers which was always considered a dangerous place to bathe.

This was in reply to a query I made about a place where I had been told the was a 'whirlpool' where at least one schoolboy had been drowned.

Charlie writes - "There is a very dangerous, deep hole in McKeown's River about 800 yards or more further out (near the Carrapunta Rock), where it exits into the Fane Estuary.

"It is, or was, known as a “turn-hole”.

"It is caused by an eddy or whirlpool at the end of McKeown's River when the tide ebbs or flows.

"There are also other deep holes formed beside the two rocks along the river that are dangerous.

"These are areas that have claimed lives, over the years, of folk who not aware of their danger.

"Locals knew and avoided swimming in them; but then very few, if any Blackrock folk ever thought of swimming (out of their depth).

"That is something only visitors or holidaymakers did!"

This last remark is interesting because I do not recall much swimming at Blackrock, my family, mostly, used to just 'paddle' as we called walking in the sea up to our knees.

My father was a very good swimmer but he was careful to warn us to avoid the 'whirlpool' near Carrapunta.

Maybe because he had investigated several drownings during the course of his duties as a Garda!

I recall that, when I was older, this rock island was a favourite place for young men to sunbathe in fine weather; girls were seldom seen there and sunbathed on a small beach near the Priest's House, known as 'The Ladies' Bay'.

That, of course was before the Swimming Pool was opened --- which changed many customs!

Charlie has many more interesting observations about the area between the Castletown and the Fane Rivers, which I hope to come back at a later date.

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