The Ring of Hook coastal drive takes you past crumbling ruins and the Templar Inn restaurant, famed for its seafood, to many small beaches, including Baginbun Head, with its Martello tower, and Dollar and Booley Bays. Approximately 8km north of Hook Lighthouse, Dollar Bay is signed as a sea-fishing beach. Quiet with high, sandy cliffs that curve around to several rocky outcrops, which give shelter from the prevailing winds, this secluded beach is good for swimming at either high or low tide.
Dollar Bay was named for the hoard of Spanish milled gold that was buried here by mutineers in November 1765. The brutal tale tells of how four crewmen of the Earl of Sandwich attacked and killed their shipmates and captain, all save the cabin boy. They flooded the ship and watched it capsize, ignoring the poor cabin boy’s cries as he scrambled up the mast. The robbers rowed away with 250 sacks of gold, almost two tonnes, coming ashore at Dollar Bay. Only able to carry one bag of gold between them, they buried the rest of the sacks in the sand. As they made their getaway towards Dublin, the sinking ship drifted to shore at Sheep Island with the cabin boy still clinging to the wreck. Rescued, he told his story and the search began for the mutineers. News of four men spending Spanish gold spread quickly and they were soon caught and hanged for their crimes.
No need to rush here with a shovel, though: the gold was all recovered and the beach is now a place where you can swim in tranquillity, with no trace of the underhand dealings of the past.
The neighbouring beach at Booley Bay is similarly sheltered, attracts just a few visitors and has the benefit of a large, flat grassy area, perfect for wild camping above the high-water mark. Check out the nearby Templar Inn for great seafood on the way to Dollar and Booley. Further along this coast road is Duncannon, a popular family beach, with a lifeguard during the summer and popular with kitesurfers.
A sheltered, sandy beach, which shelves gently to beautiful swimming in a shallow cove.
Excerpt from Wild Swimming in Ireland 2016, ISBN 978-1-84889-280-4
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