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Displaying items by tag: Decade since Liffey arrival

#10yearArrival – The unique venue of Dublin’s only floating bar and restaurant located on the Liffey in the form of MV Cill Airne arrived to the capital a decade ago as of last Thursday, writes Jehan Ashmore.

At that stage Cill Airne was about to embark a new career during the flagging tail-end of the Celtic Tiger era. The economic tide however has begun to float some boats in Dublin, following a visit made last week. Patrons crammed the bars and spilled out onto the sun soaked deck with views of the Liffey landmarks while a deck below diners enjoyed the environs of the timber panelled restaurant.

The former Cork Harbour Commissioners (Cobh) based trans-Atlantic ‘liner’ tender dating to 1962 was according to publicity material accommodated 1,000 passengers, mail and even cars. Among the rich and famous conveyed were Hollywood stars Laurel & Hardy and President Eisenhower. The 501 gross tonnage tender along with elder sister Blarna were built by the Liffey Dockyard. This yard no longer exists nor the business that ran from the nearby graving drydock (No.2) in Alexandra Basin that finally closed this year.

The pair were the last riveted ships to be built in Europe and to a design based on the Mersey ferry still served by fellow veterans, Snowdrop and Royal Iris of the Mersey. As far as the Cork tenders are concerned they had two saloons in which one incorporated a tea-bar served by crew that totalled 10. Such trade was put to an end when jet aircraft took over the regular ‘liner’ era trade between England and the United States.

It was the Cork Institute of Technology that acquired the Cill Airne as a nautical training ship on the River Lee and lower Cork Harbour where in 1996 the ship participated at the Naval Service Jubilee fleet review. This was led by the last ever Verolme Cork Dockyard ship, the flagship L.E. Eithne with President Mary Robinson on board during the ceremony attended by several foreign navies.

Cill Airne became obsolete following the opening in Ringaskiddy of the National Maritime College of Ireland that is equipped with a computer bridge simulator. She was sold to new owners that involved a major restoration project by the Irish Barge & Fabrication Company. However firstly Cill Airne called to Cork Dockyard to iinclude work to remove ugly training equipment followed by internal design work at the Hegarty Boatyard, Oldcourt outside of Skibbereen.

It was upon Cill Airne’s call to Dublin that took place on 25 May 2007 that it was noted that new steel work was added to the upper deck. This in-completed area would become what is now the upper bar that affords wonderful view overlooking the Liffey.

This additional superstructure along with see-through wind-shelter screens has benefitted patrons but in design terms these features have to purist’s diminished the ship’s original aesthetics. The tender originally had only the funnel abaft of the wheelhouse and a pair of lifeboats near the stern.

To those who have a keen interest in rare surviving Irish built ships, there is a photo of Cill Airne depicting the veteran vessel during its incomplete state when covered for a piece contributed to the Ships Monthly issue of August 2007.

In addition to stories covering the restoration project with both exterior and interior shots of the luxurious fit-out appearing in Inshore-Ireland February 2006, and following the veteran venue’s opening captured in issues February and April 2008.

Published in Historic Boats

Ferry & Car Ferry News The ferry industry on the Irish Sea, is just like any other sector of the shipping industry, in that it is made up of a myriad of ship operators, owners, managers, charterers all contributing to providing a network of routes carried out by a variety of ships designed for different albeit similar purposes.

All this ferry activity involves conventional ferry tonnage, 'ro-pax', where the vessel's primary design is to carry more freight capacity rather than passengers. This is in some cases though, is in complete variance to the fast ferry craft where they carry many more passengers and charging a premium.

In reporting the ferry scene, we examine the constantly changing trends of this sector, as rival ferry operators are competing in an intensive environment, battling out for market share following the fallout of the economic crisis. All this has consequences some immediately felt, while at times, the effects can be drawn out over time, leading to the expense of others, through reduced competition or takeover or even face complete removal from the marketplace, as witnessed in recent years.

Arising from these challenging times, there are of course winners and losers, as exemplified in the trend to run high-speed ferry craft only during the peak-season summer months and on shorter distance routes. In addition, where fastcraft had once dominated the ferry scene, during the heady days from the mid-90's onwards, they have been replaced by recent newcomers in the form of the 'fast ferry' and with increased levels of luxury, yet seeming to form as a cost-effective alternative.

Irish Sea Ferry Routes

Irrespective of the type of vessel deployed on Irish Sea routes (between 2-9 hours), it is the ferry companies that keep the wheels of industry moving as freight vehicles literally (roll-on and roll-off) ships coupled with motoring tourists and the humble 'foot' passenger transported 363 days a year.

As such the exclusive freight-only operators provide important trading routes between Ireland and the UK, where the freight haulage customer is 'king' to generating year-round revenue to the ferry operator. However, custom built tonnage entering service in recent years has exceeded the level of capacity of the Irish Sea in certain quarters of the freight market.

A prime example of the necessity for trade in which we consumers often expect daily, though arguably question how it reached our shores, is the delivery of just in time perishable products to fill our supermarket shelves.

A visual manifestation of this is the arrival every morning and evening into our main ports, where a combination of ferries, ro-pax vessels and fast-craft all descend at the same time. In essence this a marine version to our road-based rush hour traffic going in and out along the commuter belts.

Across the Celtic Sea, the ferry scene coverage is also about those overnight direct ferry routes from Ireland connecting the north-western French ports in Brittany and Normandy.

Due to the seasonality of these routes to Europe, the ferry scene may be in the majority running between February to November, however by no means does this lessen operator competition.

Noting there have been plans over the years to run a direct Irish –Iberian ferry service, which would open up existing and develop new freight markets. Should a direct service open, it would bring new opportunities also for holidaymakers, where Spain is the most visited country in the EU visited by Irish holidaymakers ... heading for the sun!

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