Ireland - Diving the Maharees

Whilst many of the club were rolling about on the Harry Slater in July, I chose to check out what Ireland had to offer……

The long journey from Swansea to Cork and on past Tralee and Castle Gregory takes you to a remote and beautiful southwestern point in Ireland.

Here, Pat and Ronnie Fitsgibbon (senior) were our hosts, welcoming yet another set of divers to add to the thousands since they began in 1963, way before I was born. They are so good at making you feel at ease as they extend their home to the guests you soon feel like one of the family. The food is great (full board) and they cater for every possibly dietary need. Meal times become a social occasion when there are 22 in your group.

And the diving?

It couldn't be more convenient and professionally run. The pier/harbour is a few minutes walk from Harbour House and ribs and hardboats take you a short distance to reefs or further afield to more scenic drop-offs and caves. The family run diving centre has a larger than life character in Ronnie Jnr, and he adds to the enthusiasm and ambience of the place. Ronnie loves his diving and underwater photography and, given the chance, joined us underwater.

I went to Ireland with Alan James photography group to focus on (no pun intended) and get used to taking pictures in `green waters'. The weather wasn't great to start with and I experienced handling the camera in all conditions.

A couple of dive sites need special mention, as they are the most prominent in my mind from the week. The first is a site with stone carved into twisting gullies, overhangs and caves for the scenic diver shots and revealed a special home to a friendly seal. I watched as the seal tugged on fellow divers' fins and laughed at their surprised and overjoyed faces when they realised rather than their buddy, a seal was playing with them. As the other divers left the water, the seal must have known my film was out and posed in front of me for that `perfect' shot. It lay on the rocks and invited me to get close. As I stroked its tummy and it nibbled at my hand, I was enchanted with this loveable creature. It pushed its face to mine and I had to leave the seal as the time had come to return to the boat.

At night when most divers sleep, or in this part of the world go down the pub, the harbour becomes alive. Scorpion fish, stickleback, plaice are just a few of the creatures we found. In particular baby cuttlefish dance tantalisingly in front of your lens and just as you focus on them, bury themselves in the sand. Out of the water at around 1 am and back to Harbour House to make toast before catching a few hours sleep until the morning dive.

Yes, pubs and Guinness did feature as Ronnie Jnr sacrificed a few evenings to show us the best local Irish pubs and live music. To top it all I enjoyed good humour amongst a great crowd and had a beach BBQ on our last night.

I would like to add a big personal thank you to Pat, Ronnie, Sandra, Phil and Ronnie Jnr for providing great diving, entertainment and hospitality. If anyone wants to know more or go diving in the area visit for more information, or come and talk to me. If you like to take family or non-divers with you, this is one of the longest beaches in the UK and is full of things to see as well as do.


This page was last updated on : 06 Sep 2011