#NaomÉanna – Following last week's meeting between Irish Ship & Barge Fabrication Co and Minister for Heritage, over a €1.85m plan to restore former Aran Islands ferry Naom Éanna, in which campaigners described the meeting "as not constructive" however a fundraiser appeal is underway so to survey the vessels-riveted hull, writes Jehan Ashmore.
According to the Naomh Éanna Trust's Save Our Ship (SOS) campaign, both Waterways Ireland and Department of Heritage are reluctant to have any relationship with the restoration of the historic vessel, which has been berthed in Dublin Port's Grand Canal Basin for a quarter century and faces potential scrapping.
Both parties were at pains to point out they will not support the restoration project financially and as to breaking up the ship, this does not involve dry-docking.
As for the campaigners, the costs to survey the vessel in dry dock amounts to €15,000 and no funds would not be met by the minister.
The Trust's ship-survey fundraiser appeal seeks a minimum donation of €10, which would include names of contributors listed on an appeal plaque placed on board.
The campaigners cite without a hull survey to ascertain how much work is involved, they would not be in a posiiton to approach an investor or institution regarding the proposed plans to convert the Liffey Dockyard 1958 built vessel.
The plans consist of a restaurant, hostel, micro-brewery, café and museum ship and relocation to her old homeport of Galway Harbour, in which the port company have given their support of a permanment berth.
Naom Éanna (without the letter 'h') as she is spelt on her 137ft riveted hull, makes this vessel historically significant in terms of her been the oldest surviving Irish built ship constructed of this technique and is said to be one of the last surviving examples in the world.
The survey would not only require an inspection of the hull's keel and ballast tanks that can only be carried out while the ship remains in dry dock but the process also requires timbers and renting machinery.
In addition to removing rubble from the 200 year-old NAMA owned dry-dock in which she currently occupies in the Grand Canal Dock Basin close to her old berth along Charlotte Quay.
The Naomh Éanna Trust are also appealing to any group that might provide diving assistance? in the dry-dock so to survey the blocks and put the timbers in place.
As mentioned, the trust are seeking donations (see their Facebook link to donate) as a first step of progressing plans to restore the vessel through dry-docking. The facebook campaign page includes updates and comments following the story.
In addiiton the trust in recent weeks launched an online petition campaign (to date 600 signatures) to raise public awareness of the vessels heritage value and primarily to prevent the vessel broken-up.