North Channel (Great Britain and Ireland)

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Map of the North Channel
Relief map of the Irish Sea. The North Channel lies to the north of the Irish Sea, and the St George's Channel to the south. (Major ports shown as red dots. Freight-only ports as blue dots)

The North Channel (known in Irish and Scottish Gaelic as Sruth na Maoile, and alternatively in English as the Straits of Moyle or Sea of Moyle) is the strait between north-eastern Ireland and south-western Scotland.[1] It connects the Irish Sea with the Atlantic Ocean, and is part of the marine area officially classified as the "Inner Seas off the West Coast of Scotland" by the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO).[2]

The southern boundary of the strait is a line joining the Mull of Galloway and Ballyquintin Point. The northern boundary is a line joining Portnahaven and Benbane Head. The narrowest part of the strait is between the Mull of Kintyre and Torr Head where its width is 21 kilometres (13 mi; 11 nmi).[3] The deepest part is called Beaufort's Dyke.

The Channel was a favourite haunt of privateers preying on British merchant shipping in wars until the 19th century; in 1778, during the American Revolutionary War it was also the site of a naval duel between American captain John Paul Jones's Ranger and the Royal Navy's Drake. It is crossed by a large number of ferry services. In 1953, it was the scene of a serious maritime disaster, the sinking of the ferry Princess Victoria.

In Northern Ireland, Unionist political leaders for decades lobbied the British government to construct a railway tunnel under the Channel, to better link Northern Ireland with the rest of the United Kingdom. In August 2007 the Centre for Cross-Border Studies proposed the construction of a 34-kilometre (21 mi) long rail bridge or tunnel, estimating that it might cost about £3.5 billion.[4] In the Victorian era, engineers proposed a rail tunnel between Stranraer and Belfast.[5]

This strait was formerly known as the Irish Channel.[6][7][8] In the 19th century, Alexander Keith Johnston's suggested name St Patrick's Channel had currency, but it was rejected by the hydrographic department[who?].[9]


The Irish Long Distance Swimming Association (ILDSA) has provided authentication observers for swimmers attempting to cross the approximately 35-kilometre (22 mi) span between Northern Ireland and the Mull of Galloway. According to the ILDSA, this was first accomplished in 1947 by Tom Blower.[10] The first two-way crossing was completed by a six-person relay team on 28 July 2015.[11]


Date Name From Direction Duration
28 July 1947 Tom Blower England Ireland to Scotland 15 hrs 26 mins
11 September 1970 Kevin Murphy England Ireland to Scotland 11 hrs 21 mins
29 August 1971 Kevin Murphy England Ireland to Scotland 14 hrs 27 mins
11 August 1973 Ted Keenan Ireland Ireland to Scotland 18 hrs 27 mins
22 August 1988 Alison Streeter England Ireland to Scotland 09 hrs 53 mins 42 secs
23 August 1988 Margaret Kidd Scotland Ireland to Scotland 15 hrs 26 mins 03 secs
25 August 1989 Alison Streeter England Scotland to Ireland 10 hrs 04 mins
7 September 1989 Kevin Murphy England Scotland to Ireland 17 hrs 17 mins 48 secs
18 August 1997 Alison Streeter England Scotland to Ireland 10 hrs 02 mins12 secs
27 July 1999 Paul Lewis England Scotland to Ireland 14 hrs 28 mins
21 July 2000 Stephen Price England Scotland to Ireland 16 hrs 56 mins
31 July 2004 Colm O Neill Ireland Scotland to Ireland 11 hrs 25 mins 05 secs
12 September 2008 Colleen Blair Scotland Ireland to Scotland 15 hrs 23 mins 59 secs
31 August 2010 Stephen Redmond Ireland Scotland to Ireland 17 hrs 17 mins 01 sec
1 September 2010 Ann Marie Ward Ireland Ireland to Scotland 18 hrs 59 mins 26 secs
27 July 2011 Craig Lenning USA Ireland to Scotland 14 hrs 44 mins 50 secs
2 August 2011 Howard Keech England Ireland to Scotland 13 hrs 25 mins
16 June 2013 Fergal Somerville Ireland Ireland to Scotland 12 hrs 21 mins
30 July 2013 Milko van Gool Netherlands Ireland to Scotland 10 hrs 34 mins
29 August 2013 Darren Miller USA Ireland to Scotland 11 hrs 16 mins
22 July 2014 Guy Moar Australia Ireland to Scotland 11 hrs 10 mins
6 August 2014 Adam Walker England Ireland to Scotland 10 hrs 45 mins
2 September 2014 Kimberley Chambers New Zealand Ireland to Scotland 13 hrs 6 mins
9 September 2015 Tom Pembroke[12] Australia Ireland to Scotland 12 hrs

Relay teams

Date Team Name Direction Duration
27 August 1990 Ireland One Ireland to Scotland 12 hrs 03 mns 01 sec
14 August 1993 City of Liverpool Ireland to Scotland 10 hrs 39 mins 42 secs
23 June 1996 City of Dublin Ireland to Scotland 12 hrs 44 mins 56 secs
20 August 1999 The All American Scotland to Ireland 13 hrs 11 mins 39 secs
26 August 2002 City of Liverpool Scotland to Ireland 12 hrs and 2x banana pies[13]
6 July 2004 The Swilly Trio Scotland to Ireland 14 hrs 41 mins 14 secs
22 August 2011 Team Camlough Ireland to Scotland 12 hrs 21 mins 12 secs


  1. 2007 annual report Tourism Ireland. Retrieved 9 August 2012.
  2. "Limits of Oceans and Seas, 3rd edition" (PDF). International Hydrographic Organization. 1953. Retrieved 7 February 2010. 
  3. North Channel, Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2016-05-02.
  4. "Bridge to Northern Ireland mooted". BBC News. BBC. 22 August 2007. Retrieved 9 October 2011. 
  5. McKenzie, Steven (9 October 2011). "Scotland-Ireland undersea rail link plan 'a surprise'". BBC News. BBC. Retrieved 9 October 2011. 
  6. A Friend (1824). Glympses Across the Irish Channel. 
  7. Old Sailor (1820). A view of the British and Irish fisheries:. p. 74. 
  8. Rooke, John (1838). Geology as a science applied to the reclamation of land from the sea. p. 41. 
  9. Andrews, John Harwood (January 1997). Shapes of Ireland: maps and their makers 1564–1839. Geography Publications. p. 88. ISBN 978-0-906602-95-9. Retrieved 18 September 2010. 
  10. "North Channel". Irish Long Distance Swimming Association. 
  11. Cowie, Jonathan (16 August 2015). "Two relay records set in the North Channel". H2Open. 
  12. "Old Boy’s epic North Channel swim for charity". St. Joseph's College. 9 September 2015. 
  13. ?

See also

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