#FerryLinks – The Laser Radial World Championships hosted in Dun Laoghaire Harbour, is where participants of the prestigious championships, had use of a rather unusual launch facility, a ferry-linkspan, writes Jehan Ashmore.
Numerous lined-up laser trailers took to the incline of the linkspan on St. Michaels Pier (east) last in commercial use by Stena Lynx III in serving Holyhead. As a ferry correspondent, it was an odd sight to observe, even five years after the small fast-ferry plied the Ireland-Wales link.
The absence of the larger HSS Stena Explorer fast-ferry last year (following closure in late 2014) marks the end of almost 190 years of continuous service to this year. The historic route dates to 1826. This summer work began to dismantle the former Stena HSS berth on St. Micheals Pier (west), including passenger gangway and related infrastructure, though the jetty remains (see; Scrapyard to Beatyard report).
Returning to the recent work to the ‘laser’ related linkspan, this has also included removal of the berth’s pontoon, to increase the length of St. Michaels Pier for commercial ships. However, Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company have this berth allocated for the restoration of a seasonal-only Wales ferry service, when this berth is available from 2017. Secondly, should an operator be successfully secured following an E-tender process.
If required, the linkspan can be adapted to suit the operator (if introducing conventional tonnage) as St. Micheals Pier, is the site of an original terminal completed in 1969. The facility was designed for first generation car-ferries, following a temporary terminal on the East Pier's jetty. This is where Dublin Bay Cruises excursion boat St. Bridget berths.
Over the decades, St. Michael’s double linkspans have asides the harbour’s most famous and familiar last route in operation to Holyhead, have included another second route. That been to Liverpool and in which the service ran until 1990. Predating the Merseyside link, other routes were to Heysham, Lancashire and later Fishguard in Pembrokeshire.
It was the Earl William, of Sealink British Ferries (in which Stena tookover) that operated the Dun Laoghaire-Liverpool (Bootle Docks) service. SBF took over, following B&I Line's closure in 1988 of the route out of Dublin Port. The service however, only lasted for just two years, as final sailings took place in early 1990.
As an avid ferry enthusiast and having taken a round-trip, it was odd to have a Dun Laoghaire ferry take a passage across Dublin Bay, in that the course set was straight towards Baily Lighthouse on Howth Peninsula and via the North Burford buoy. As distinct to the departure of Holyhead bound ferries that having rounding the East Pier Lighthouse headed for the South Burford buoy off Dalkey Island.
Asides, Earl William, a succession of conventional ferries and freight ferries, have berthed at St. Michaels Pier. The Holyhead’s routes largest and longest serving ferry, St. Columba, that became Stena’s Hibernia / Stena Adventurer exclusively berthed at Carlisle Pier. These ferries would arrive closely together into Dun Laoghaire at dawn, one from England, the other Wales.
Carlisle Pier, which was had a rail-connected terminal is where the older ‘mailboats’ berthed on both pier sides. On the east berth, is where in recent years, small cruiseships have called alongside, most recently, the impressive sail-assisted Wind Surf.
Currently, only large deep draft cruiseships anchor offshore, however there are controversial plans for a new cruise-berth jetty (awaiting An Bord Pleanala decision). The proposed €18m single-berth facility, if granted planning permission would almost occupy the centre of the harbour.
Against this backdrop is the already granted Dublin Port €30m two-berth cruise terminal.