Don O’Neill Island (Dunnyneal Island) Strangford Lough – a sailing landmark

Don O’Neill Island (Dunnyneal Island)


Lying within the area in which we normally sail is the island referred to as Don O’Neill Island, (or Dunnyneal Island) – perhaps it should be referenced as islands as there are two – separated by an inter- tidal peninsula. The name may involve the term “Dun” meaning fort with the rest of the name involving a reference to hostages. Currently there are no constructions or ruins relating to the conception of a fort on the island. The tree/bush covered island along with the Shrigley chimney form some of the more distinctive navigation focal points of frequent use.


The main island is in fact a drumlin of boulder clay and is facing erosion as is evident by the bareness of a south facing bank of clay. The smaller island is sand and gravel in the main topped by “bird poo” decomposition which supports the grass and fauna. This smaller island is also subject to erosion and has moved / been moved over the years.


Racing & Sailing Mark 5 used to be positioned at the NE corner, however due to the strong tide and the anchoring and mooring ban influence, mark 5 is now often further North and West. Now lying in shallow water of less than 10 meters. This mark continues to present some navigation choice in various wind directions. Wind plus the tidal flow both between long rock and Dunyneil and also the flow past the NE corner give the challenges. Interesting and keel adjusting boulders exist on the south side and also a feature referred to as the tennis court at the NE side (Dunnyneil side) of the channel between long rock and Dunnyneil, mean that a depth sounder and care is advisable around the area.


If you want more information – the Belfast Telegraph, Down Recorder, Strangford and Lecale Partnership, plus a report on a QUB series of excavations and other topics would be good sources. Just a few links follow. The main name in prominence / search term is Dunnyneal Island.,180988,en.pdf


Within the club and locally several skippers can assist with more information on navigation and keel related parking spots.

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