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Displaying items by tag: Holyhead Ferry 1

#Kish50HSSgone - An exhibition in Dun Laoghaire celebrating the Kish Lighthouse 50th anniversary on Dublin Bay is currently on display, however the Stena Line HSS service to Holyhead which was withdrawn only last year has been outlived by the iconic lighthouse, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The venue for the Kish Lighthouse exhibition (until 21 November) is at the National Maritime Museum of Ireland located almost directly opposite of the present day iconic landmark of the LexIcon Library that overlooks the East Pier.

In addition the LexIcon as a new civic building has commanding sweeping views of the harbour, Dublin Bay and to the Baily Lighthouse on Howth Peninsula. Further offshore on the horizon stands the Kish Lighthouse all 31 metres high. The lighthouse replaced a lightship that likewise of the new lighthouse was manned until automated in 1992. The current character of the light exhibited has a range of 22 nautical miles.

Back onshore, Ireland’s most popular pedestrian pier, the East Pier is featured as part of the historic Pathé news footage (see above) as the Kish Lighthouse is ‘floated’ out of Dun Loghaire harbour from where the uniquely constructed structure was built. The design for the Commissioners of Irish Lights was of that of a concentric circular concrete tower based from similar yet smaller models in Sweden, and was towed from the harbour some seven nautical miles offshore to the Kish Bank.

The departing lighthouse structure under tow from the harbour even now looks futuristic and likewise to when I recall witnessing the first arrival of the Swedish owned yet Finnish built HSS Stena Explorer. She made her debut just over three decades later after the lighthouse began service. The fast-ferry was sold this Autumn and is currently under tow while bound for a new career in Turkey, which as previously reported leads to query her future role? given that her owners operate 'floating' generating powerships!

Returning to the Pathé news reel, (some 30 seconds in) on the left side of the screen can be seen white buildings on the East Pier. They belonged to the harbour's first albeit temporary car-ferry terminal (another controversary! of the time). The facility was completed a year before the installation of the Kish Lighthouse in 1965. The terminal's appearance comprised of metal constructed halls more akin to factory warehouses! In fact the terminal building extended almost the entire width of the East Pier!... click for Photo.

It was during that year's summer that the introduction of the first roll-on roll-off 'carferry' on the Dun Laoghaire-Holyhead route begin service with a resounding success. The traditional 'mail-boats' maintained a year-round service based out of the Carlisle Pier. From there cars were crane-hoisted on board for many years, however tourism interests lobbied for a carferry service from the early 1960's.

This led to Dun Laoghaire Harbour’s first ferry terminal with a ro-ro linkspan that protruded from the East Pier Jetty. The facility was inaugurated by the Irish-Walsh route’s first purpose built car-ferry, the unimaginatively named but pioneering Holyhead Ferry 1. The new carferry was delayed entering service from her builders and instread the English Channel based Normannia opened the seasonal 'car' service. 

Normannia originally a passenger-ferry had been converted to carry cars was eventually replaced by Holyhead Ferry 1 that season. The Scottish built stern-only carferry loaded and offloaded vehicles while berthed at the East Pier linkspan, though this structure located off the jetty has long since been demolished.

The berth at this East Pier Jetty until recent years has long been associated with the customary visits of Irish Naval Service patrol ships, however this part of the pier is to undergo a reincarnation. That been as previously reported on Afloat, the Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company’s ‘Urban Beach’, a €2.5 million heated floating swimming pool inspired by the 'Badeschiff' in Berlin.

The project will involve a converted river barge at the East Pier following last year’s planning permission granted by An Bord Pleanála. The planning authority is to make a decision (see SOS protest) following oral hearings into DLHC’s single €18m cruise-berth in January 2016. DLHC cited should a suitable ferry operator be found it would not be until 2016 and that the Ireland-Wales service like the HSS service would be run on a season-only basis.

Seven operators responded earlier this year following an invite from DLHC for those expressing an interest to operate such a service, however this would not involve the idle Stena HSS berth at the terminal on St. Michaels Wharf. The same site dates back to the original purpose-built terminal dating from 1969 that replaced the facility on the East Pier.

Dun Laoghaire Harbour's only remaining ferry berth (last used several years ago by a smaller Stena 'Lynx' fast -ferry) is also located on the Wharf. This linkspan facility adapted from a conventional carferry berth was also in use by Stena tonnage until the early 1990's.

The future role of the St. Michaels Wharf ferry terminal is now centre stage given DLHC's proposed cruise-berth is to connect to the terminal's former HSS vehicle marshalling bays where cruise passengers would use awaiting coaches and taxi's. At the same time, there are plans at the same site put forward by the Dun Laoghaire Combined Clubs for a National Watersports Centre. 

Remnants of another ro-ro linkspan on Carlisle Pier still visible, ceased use in 1996 when Stena Adventurer (ex. Stena Hibernia / St. Columba of Sealink British Rail ) was replaced by the Stena HSS. The revolutionary fast-ferry was also a pioneering venture on the route for almost two decades.

The old ro-ro's concrete berth's structure with operations hut can be seen from the Royal St. George Yacht Club albeit the corresponding linkspan is gone should you peer through the railings that bound the pier's car-park.

This part of the Carlisle Pier is the closest the public can access when small sized cruiseships have berthed since the trade returned to the harbour in recent years. While larger deeper draft cruiseships anchor offshore, notably the last caller of this season was the newbuild Mein Schiff 4.


Published in Dublin Bay
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