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Top 10 Shipwrecks for Diving off Donegal

By Go Visit Donegal ~ Updated on: 27 January 2021

Ireland may not have glittering coral reefs or a brightly colourful underwater-world, but what it lacks in natural spectacle it more than makes up for in drama. After all, it’s one of the best places in Europe to wreck dive. There are more Ocean Liners and German U-boats and Sherman Tanks sunk off Malin Head than anywhere else in the World and the majority of them were casualties of WW1 & WW2.

The Northern approaches off the Donegal coast represented a bottleneck for convoys in a major shipping route in World War II across the North Atlantic. Significant tonnage in shipping was attacked and sunk in this wartime gauntlet and there are a large numbers of wrecks.

Pic. Wreck diver Pav Smirnoff illuminating the broken bow section on the wreck of SS Laurentic, which lies in 40 m off the North Coast of Donegal, Ireland. Image © Barry McGill

INISTRAHULL ISLAND - Inistrahull Island is one of the many unique islands off the coast of Donegal with a very rich maritime history. There are several wreck and reef diviing sites around the island and due to strong tides and exposed seas, diving here is recommended for those with experience.

SS CASTLE EDEN – The First World War brought many casualties and the SS Castle Eden was one of the first freighters torpedoed. She rests in approximately 32 metres of water off the coast in Culdaff Bay. This wreck is broken up in many pieces but is rich in marine life.

RMS LAURENTIC– The RMS Laurentic was a 15,000 ton White Star liner that was sunk by a mine during the First World War while on route to Canada with a cargo of gold. It is said that all but 2% was recovered. RMS Laurentic now lies in 40 metres of water about 2 miles north of Lough Swilly.

Pic. Wreck divers giving scale of one of the deck guns on the wreck of SS Laurentic, which lies in 40 m off the North Coast of Donegal, Ireland. Image © Barry McGill

MV WILLIAM MANELL - The MV William Manell was a minesweeper whose job it was to discover and give warning on mines in the ocean. Unfortunately during the First World War she was sunk by a mine and now rests in 30 metres of water in Culdaff Bay, Co. Donegal.

EMPIRE HERITAGE – The Empire Heritage was a steam tanker sunk in 1944 during the Second World War that now lies in 65 metres of water. This was a massive ship and now a world class dive site due to the many artifacts that can still be found there.

JUSTICA - The Justica was another vessel from the famous White Star Line and was torpedoed 1918. This vessel is now ideal for diving and rests in around 65 metres of water and weighs approximately 32,000 tonnes shipwreck.

CUMBERLAND – The Cumberland steamer weighs 11,000 tonnes and rests in 50 metres of water and sadly was torpedoed in 1940. Interestingly the steamer was carrying a general cargo of goods, which included lots of Royal Doulton plates.

DUNAFF HEAD, LOUGH SWILLY - Dundaff Head, Lough Swilly is made up of a series of gullies that run in a North South direction between Dunaff Island. Here you will also find an inverted keyhole swim through and the depth is 15-25 metres.

DEVILS CUT, MALIN HEAD – The Devils Cut at Malin Head is famous for its huge caverns that link to from the gully to the Atlantic Ocean on the Wild Atlantic Way. This is a truly amazing diving experience simply not to be missed!

AUDACIOUS - Weighing in at 32,000 tonnes the massive Audacious was a World War One Battle-cruiser that was sadly sunk by mine 1914. A huge wreck, she rests around 65 metres and is teeming with marine life. This is definitely a unique world class diving experience.

Pic. Wreck diver Pav Smirnoff giving scale to one of the massive scotch boils on the wreck of SS Laurentic, which lies in 40 m off the North Coast of Donegal, Ireland.  Wreck divers illuminating the massive scotch boils on the wreck of SS Laurentic, which lies in 40 m off the North Coast of Donegal, Ireland.  Image © Barry McGill

For more information on diving in Donegal check out Mevagh Dive Centre

Mevagh Dive Centre is Donegal’s only Dive Centre and Ireland’s largest all under one roof, with Diving Equipment Sales, Hire, Servicing, Cylinder Testing and our state of the art Swimming Pool.

They offer Diver Training all year round, situated on the North West coast of Ireland between Sheephaven Bay and Mulroy Bay, home to some excellent wreck diving in Ireland in some of the clearest waters for Diving in Ireland.

For details please visit: mevaghdiving.com/wreck-diving

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