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The Port of Cork will welcome MV Boudicca, the final cruise liner of the 2015 season to Cobh tomorrow following another very successful cruise season for the Port of Cork.

2015 has been the most significant year to date for the Port of Cork, not in the number of ships but in their increased passenger carrying capacity. In total, 55 cruise liners called to the Port of Cork, home to Ireland’s only dedicated cruise berth, carrying a record 145,000 passengers and crew. These visitors bring a much needed boost to the local economy for eight months of the year.

In 2015, 10 liners made their maiden call to the Port of Cork and 20 vessels called which were greater than 330 metres in length and carried in excess of 3,000 passengers.

The continuing trend with the major cruise lines is for bigger vessels of 300-350 metre lengths and a capacity of 3,000 – 5,000 passengers. Captain Michael McCarthy, Commercial Manager of the Port of Cork commented: “if Ireland aspires to grow its cruise sector and capitalise on this continuing expansion, the main cruise regions of Dublin, Cork and Belfast will need to review their cruise strategy and upgrade their berthing options. The cruise companies has confidence in the sector as is evident from their investment so it is now time for the EU, Irish Government, regional authorities, chambers and tourism bodies to have equal confidence in the sector and back the necessary infrastructure. The cruise sector is unique in that the cities and regions are the main beneficiaries of cruise calls with an estimated spend of €15m in the south of Ireland alone this year from vessels visiting Cork Harbour”.

Earlier this year, the Port of Cork invested over €1.5 million in upgrading facilities at Cobh Cruise Terminal, with the installation of a number of high load 150 tonne mooring bollards which will enable even larger ships to berth into the future. Construction was complete by mid-April 2015, in time for the start of the 2015 cruise season which got underway with the berthing of the “Regal Princess” on the 25th April. The Port of Cork Company is committed to developing the cruise business into Cork and this upgrade of the cruise berth will ensure that Cobh and Cork Harbour can accommodate the largest vessels visiting Europe for the foreseeable future. The Port of Cork’s dedicated cruise berth offers a genuine unrestricted berthing at any stage of the tide on a 24/7 schedule. The booking schedule for 2016 looks very promising and the Port expects to considerably increase the number of calls and passengers to the region.

Following this excellent cruise season, the Port of Cork would like to express their thanks to all their Cork Cruise members, Irish Rail, tourist ambassador volunteers, Cobh Tidy Towns, tour operators, bus companies, travel agents and the many different attractions around the region for their continued support and cooperation with the cruise business.

Published in Cruise Liners

Ireland is a country of seaways, and waterways which are dominated by the majestic River Shannon. On our island, you can never be more than sixty miles from the nearest navigable bit of sea. Add in the myriad of inland waterways – whether canals, rivers, or lakes – and you have an enthusiastically watery country where it is possible for everyone to have a floating boat berth of some kind within an hour’s journey – and usually much less – from their home.

Afloat.ie’s W M Nixon has been cruising our inland waterways in detail for longer than he cares to admit, though he will concede his first venture on fresh water was in command of a 14ft clinker-built sailing dinghy with a tent, a cruise which took place well back into the depths of the previous millennium. But it’s an experience you’ll always wish to repeat as often as possible, and just last week he found himself going again to the waters and the wild, with a family cruise of three generations on the River Shannon’s great inland sea of Lough Derg.

Journeying westward to join the good ship Slaney Shannon Star at Portumna on the frontiers of Connacht, the car radio was warbling on about the poor weather, and wondering why in England they persist in having their final summer Bank Holiday on the very last weekend of August, instead of having it earlier when the chances of good weather must be better.

As it happens, we know that the chances of good weather at any time in the summer of 2015 were slim enough, though it was briefly present just now and again. Be that as it may, the reasons for taking your “summer holiday” as late as possible in the season seem obvious. Even in this era of flexi-time and working from home and project outsourcing or whatever, the idea of clearly-defined work time and holiday time are still ingrained in us. And of all our traditional holidays, surely it is the summer holiday which is the most avidly anticipated?

Anticipation is usually the keenest and often the best part of any supposedly enjoyable experience. And it’s an altogether more positive and youthful emotion than nostalgia, which soon reeks of sweet decay. Thus the later in the summer you can locate your summer holiday, the longer is the enthusiastic anticipation. So when we got an invitation early in the Spring for some days of family cruising on a fine big Shannon hire cruiser on the magnificent inland sea of Lough Derg in the last week of August, we leapt at it.

Yet let’s face it, it’s something of which you’d be very chary were the planned cruise on the sea, even down in our own lovely West Cork. They may have started the Fastnet Race this year as late in the season as 16th August but, as the late great Tom Crosbie of Cork Harbour was wont to observe, no prudent navigator would really want to have his beloved boat west of the Old Head of Kinsale after August 15th.

However, thanks to Ireland’s wonderful inland waterways, and the mighty Shannon and Erne river systems in particular, we have an all-seasons cruising ground sufficiently varied for even the saltiest sea sailor when summer is gone. And in that last precious week of August – when just one balmy moment of a late summer’s evening is worth ten such in June – you get the perfect combination for a refreshing break from routine and a thoroughly good time with it, with the country looking its lushest best, a marked contrast to spring when it is raw and bare.

Lough Derg Map

At first glance, Lough Derg may seem to be no more than a widening of the River Shannon, but once on it you realise it’s a proper inland sea

Not least of the attractions of a three generations cruise is that the duties of the grandparents and grandchildren are simply to have a good time. It’s the middle generation who are there to provide planning and management. So apart from simply turning up in Portumna at the required time on a Tuesday afternoon, our only task was to get a proper lifejacket for Pippa the Pup, who isn’t really a pup, she’s a three-year-old miniature Jack Russell terrier, but there’s still a lot of the puppy in her. As it was the only job we’d to do, it got huge attention, but thanks to CH Marine’s crisp online service, Pippa had her new outfit many weeks before joining the boat, and almost immediately she realized that wearing the lifejacket was all about having a good time, so no problem there.

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Our little skipper - Pippa with her new lifejacket. Photo: W M Nixon

We eased ourselves gently into the Shannon pace by stopping off from the journey westward in Nenagh for lunch at Country Choice, Peter & Mary Ward’s wonderful little food emporium. They don’t so describe it themselves, but “emporium” is the only word to describe a miniature Aladdin’s cave of goodies and wonderful food. This energetic couple were in something of a state of excitement, as the entire Ward operation had just received the word that they were short-listed for an award in the “Best Shops in Ireland” competition, the announcements to be made that weekend.

So it gave us something more to anticipate as we cruised Lough Derg during the following five days, for although much of our mini-voyaging was done along the luxuriant “Tipperary Riviera”, the fact that Tipperary provides some of the best agricultural produce in Ireland does not necessarily mean that it’s a county of foodies. On the contrary, at times the Tip cuisine is very basic indeed, ignoring some of the region’s finest specialities. So Country Choice in Nenagh and the Wards’ famous and enormous stall at the weekly display on Saturdays in the Milk Market in Limerick are beacons of hope and places of cheerful pilgrimage for those who think we Irish could make better use of our wonderful natural local produce.

Portumna at the north end of Lough Derg is a strategically vital crossing of the Shannon – the next bridge is well to the north at Banagher – so inevitably Portumna is a workaday, strung out sort of town with a decidedly utilitarian air to its hire cruiser base at the evocatively-named Connaught Harbour. But the word is that Waterways Ireland have some worthwhile plans to upgrade the entire Portumna-Shannon-Lough Derg interface, though it won’t include replacing the swing bridge which takes the main road across the wide river. Our skipper was already devising a cunning scheme to deal with the dictatorship of the bridge’s opening times even as we were arriving aboard and exchanging a hurried hullo and goodbye with the previous generation on the distaff side, who had cruised with son-in-law, daughter and grandchildren up to Lough Ree.

The vessel at the centre of this hectic multi-family interchange was the 42ft Slaney Shannon Star, a fine old workhorse which has been giving sterling service to Emerald Star Line clients for more than two decades. In fact, the Shannon Star Class is quintessential Emerald Star, as just 15 of them were built by Broom’s of Norfolk, and they were exclusively for the Irish company, which worked closely on the design and specification to produce the perfect boat for Shannon cruising. This creative combination produced a comfortable and practical non-nonsense layout, with a straightforward finish which doesn’t pretend to be anything unnecessarily fancy, and a useful big Perkins 76hp diesel which gives the very able and “lakeworthy” hull a cruising speed of 7 knots.

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Slaney Shannon Star in the Castle Harbour at Portumna, ensign up and ready to go. Photo: W M Nixon

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This layout plan gives the broad outline of the Shannon Star’s very effective accommodation, but the forward cabin is roomier than shown, with proper gap to open the door fully.

Within this package, as the layout plan shows there is comfortable accommodation for six without using the settee berths in the saloon, there’s also an extra berth in its own little cabin just under the in-saloon steering position (it became Pippa’s cabin when we were ashore to dine), and while steering from the inside position is very comfortable with good visibility, the flybridge offers splendid views and is sufficiently large to be sociable with it.

Those who sailed with our son David when he was campaigning the likes of the Corby 36 Rosie (now Rockall III) and other offshore racing machines a decade ago will know that he thrives on planning and execution, while his wife Karen is more than a match for him. Thus for Georgina and Pippa and me and Matthew (aged 6) and Julia (aka The Diva) age 3, it was just case of being here and going with the flow and being prepared for enjoyment, for there was a lot of that.

David’s plan for the first evening in Portumna was typical of the man. They’d spent a fair bit of the day completing the final stage of the long passage down-Shannon from Lough Ree, so time ashore in a hospitable environment with food available was the target. He came up with the scheme that we’d go for supper at the very characterful Ferry Inn just across the river. But before that, we’d take the boat through the swing bridge at the 7.45pm opening, and berth her at the pontoon immediately below the bridge, which would shorten the walk to the inn, and also make it free choice for departure time in the morning.

But this was only the beginning of the man’s ingenuity. Supper was well under way in the pub when he suggested that if the senior men didn’t linger too long over the puddings, they could use the last of the daylight to take the boat the mile or so to the little harbour at Portumna Castle, while the women and children – by now immersed in various electronic games and slow eating – could follow when ready by taxi.

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We wanted a characterful pub with good food to start the cruise, and we found it at the Ferry Inn beside Portumna Bridge. Photo: W M Nixon

Sounds crazy, but it was a move of genius, for the berth beside the bridge is noisy with the road traffic and doesn’t give a sense of being away from it all, whereas the tiny harbour at the castle is pure holiday setting. The only fly in the ointment of this perfect plan was that as we approached the little harbour in the very last of the daylight, it was to find the entrance well-filled with a Shannon barge, but somehow we squeezed our 4.1 m (13ft 6ins) beam in past, and then there was just one space left in the most sheltered corner of this attractive mini-port to provide Slaney Shannon Star with a sweet berth for the first night of the cruise, and a warm wecome for the rest of the crew when they arrived in their own good time.

We’re no strangers to three-generational family holidays, but have less experience of three-generational lake cruising, and of course as the kids are growing up so quickly, the requirements vary from year to year. So in the morning sunshine, while the senior adults with an energetic little dog might have felt like no more than a walk in Portumna Forest Park, the parents with children had to seek out a proper children’s playground, but a skillful combination of plans saw all wishes in the walkies department being well met.

It has to be said that Portumna is definitely tops in at least one department. The Children’s Playground - it’s between the castle and the town - is world class, a creation of Cavanagh’s of Roscrea. They were established way back in 1806. But I doubt if their metal-working skills were being deployed for children’s playgrounds when the company came into being while Napoleon was still strutting his stuff around Europe, so all power to Cavanagh’s of Roscrea for adaptability.

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The children’s playground at Portumna. Built by a company founded in 1806, it’s a wonder to behold. Photo: W M Nixon

As for Portumna Castle…..well, if you find your household heating bills depressing, cheer yourself up with the thought of the effort it seems to have taken to heat Portumna Castle. You’ll seldom see chimneys on this scale – it must have taken all the turf out of an entire raised bog eevry winter to heat this massive pile.

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Portumna Castle – the mighty chimneys suggest even mightier heating bills. Photo: W M Nixon

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Home sweet home, but far from the Baltic Sea – Triskel and her live-aboard skipper. Photo: W M Nixon

By complete contrast, back at the Castle Harbour we met up with a Polish sailor who had cruised the Baltic before he set off to start life anew in Ireland eleven years ago, and when he discovered the Shannon and all its attractions he moved aboard a little sailing cruiser eight years ago. He has lived on her ever since, in and around the Shannon lakes, and is well content, though when I guessed his boat might be an Anderson of some sort, he was very positive in making sure that I realized his beloved Triskel was an Anderson 22 Mark 2, and not one of the inferior original Mark 1 versions.

Having been bemused by contemplating the heating bills for Portumna Castle, I didn’t find out his name before he headed out of port, but by this time our skipper also reckoned it was time to go. David had an app which gave weather predictions so accurately that he could tell you exactly when the rain would fall on different parts of the lake, precisely how big the rain-drops would be, how long they’d be falling, and how much wind would be in the midst of them. Or so it seemed to the rest of us. But somehow he got us all moving together aboard ship out of Portumna Castle Harbour at morning coffee time, and we proceeded southwards down the splendid lake almost entirely in sunshine as big dark rain squalls ran north along the Atlantic seaboard to the west, while over to the east it was pitch black over mid-Tipperary and they’d some flooding. Yet aboard Slaney Shannon Star, this helmsman on the flybridge managed to get a bit of a suntan during the two hours plus passage down to Mountshannon.

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From the lake, you get glimpses of other’s people’s little bits of paradise – this mini-port is one of the East Clare shore north of Mountshannon. Photo: W M Nixon

Lough Derg is 40 kilometres long (it’s 23 land miles in old money from Killaloe Bridge to Portumna Bridge) and around 20 kilometres across its widest part, but it follows the contours as befits a developing river valley to provide a handsome convoluted lake. While the coastal scenery is fairly flat up about Portumna, as you get south past Dromineer the land is rising to port and particularly to starboard, with the final approaches to Killaloe between the Arra Mountains and Slieve Bernagh becoming quite spectacular.

In classic cruising style, our skipper had decided the best way to deal with the lake was to get down to Killaloe on the first day, and then cruise back to Portumna at a much more leisurely pace. But even when you’re trying to log the miles, Lough Derg offers ample choices for quick stops, and as the weather app was talking about some decidedly lively southwest to west breezes later in the afternoon, the logical place for a stopover was Mountshannon.

This would mean that if the top did come off conditions for a while, we’d be located so that we could hold round a weather shore to get a smooth passage into the long “reverse estuary” down to Killaloe. But first, we’d to enjoy Mountshannon. It’s headquarters of the Iniscealtra Sailing Club (Iniscealtra is the neighbouring holy island, complete with Round Tower and a place of pilgrimage), but Mountshannon has the additional advantage of being serenely south-facing over a fine but sheltered bay, and it is home to an impressive fleet of yachts lying in a classic anchorage. There are the likes of Hallberg Rassys among them, and if you wondered what on earth a Hallberg Rassy ocean cruiser is doing on a lake, we suggest you get to Mountshannon and understanding will come.

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An anchorage for proper yachts – some impressive craft are lying to moorings in Mountshannon. Photo: W M Nixon

We meanwhile understood that rain was coming, and fast, so after a neat bit of berthing even if I do say so myself, we nipped up to the village inn and took aboard broth and stews while the rain battered the street outside, and German and English visitors supped their pints of Guinness with that happily bemused little smile you’ll see on the faces of tourists who have discovered an Irish inn exactly as they hoped it would be, including the rain outside.

But even that cleared on cue, and we needs must visit Mountshannon’s unique attraction, the combined labyrinth and maze. A perfect opportunity for junior scouts to guide the oldies about. However, the wind had come through as expected, so much so that Mountshannon’s famous white-tailed sea eagles appeared to be grounded for the afternoon. But though Slaney Shannon Star was sitting serenely in a wellnigh perfect berth for a stormy night, the menfolk were just too interested in seeing how she’d perform in a real breeze of wind, with a bit of a sea running, to stay on in the same place.

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Slaney Shannon Star snugly berthed at Mountshannon. The front is going through, and the wind has veered, but there’s enough of it to keep the sea eagles of Mountshannon grounded. Photo: W M Nixon

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There really is a maze at labyrinth at Mountshannon, but it takes an aerial photo to show them properly

“It’ll only be slightly lumpy for a few minutes” was the mantra. And it has to be said the old girl coped superbly, though fortunately all warps had been lashed in place, as for a little while -until we were feeling the shelter of the Clare coast in under the delightfully-named Ogonnelloe – some quite substantial quantities of Lough Derg were sweeping at speed over the Slaney Shannon Star.

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Sea test – Slaney Shannon Star finds a bit of a sea running on the lake. Photo: W M Nixon

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For a while, quite a lot of Lough Derg was sweeping over Slaney Shannon Star on passage from Mountshannon to Killaloe, but it didn’t take a feather out of this able boat – those towels are laid out to dry, not to cope with leaks. Photo: W M Nixon

But in the Killaloe estuary, relative peace returned, the black clouds raced away to the east, the sun came out with a rainbow, and there was this sense of approaching somewhere important, heightened by the quality and variety of the lakeside and hillside houses. Some people find this Irish scattering of houses, each in its own little world, to be something of an irritation among some rather fine scenery. But I like it. There’s more than enough empty uninhabitable wilderness in the world, and except for the most spectacular mountains, Irish scenery is enlivened by houses dotted here and there in such a way that you think pleasantly of the agreeable way of life that might be found in them.

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The storm squall has passed, and the lush country of the Tipperary shore is seen at its best with a rainbow in the approaches to Killaloe. Photo: W M Nixon

Once we were into the smooth water, Madam got on the phone to suss out the possibilities of an “Objective Achieved” supper at the renowned Cherry Tree on the Ballina side of Killaloe, and of course chef patron Harry McKeown himself answered the phone and recognized her voice immediately. But he went through the formality of booking a table for six in impersonal style before letting her know her cover was blown.

Whatever about Georgina’s problems in dining anonymously, for the rest of us it made for a idyllic evening, with the boat berthed as conveniently as possible at the berth generously provided by the Lakeside Hotel, the shortest walk imaginable to the Cherry Tree, a riverside window table to admire a sister-ship berthed directly across the water on the Killaloe side, and food glorious food while the light lingered in a fair approximation of a summer’s evening.

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Our first berth at Killaloe was at the hospitable Lakeside Hotel on the Ballina shore. Photo: W M Nixon

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Mission accomplished – the team have reached The Cherry Tree for dinner in Killaloe. Photo: W M Nixon

An interest in visiting Killaloe Cathedral in the morning had been expressed, so lo and behold our thoughtful skipper moved the boat across river in the morning on his own while the rest of us were still bestirring ourselves, thereby removing the need to walk across Killaloe’s ancient but much overworked bridge. It suffers from ludicrously excessive traffic – the lovely little riverside town does really urgently need a by-pass and the long-planned new bridge to the south. But St Flannan’s Cathedral well exceeded expectations. It’s of very modest size for anyone expecting a Shannonside version of Chartres or York Minster. But we knew it well from the outside, yet going in was a revelation, a haven of total peace in this Cathedral of the Waterways.

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The Cathedral of the Shannon – St Flannan’s at Killaloe is on the banks of the old canal to Limerick which pre-dated the Ardnacrusha development. Photo: W M Nixon

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A soothing place - Killaloe Cathedral. Photo: W M Nixon

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Busy place - Killaloe is very much the southern capital of the Shannon waterway. Photo: W M Nixon

There seemed to be an unspoken agreement that we weren’t going to break the spell of peace by walking across the bridge, but as this meant the kids couldn’t avail of the playground on the Ballina side, it was a case of up sticks and away from the impressive new Waterways Ireland pontoons on the Killaloe side, and off we went north and east to Garrykennedy with its handy playground, on the way passing learner sailors in action off the University of Limerick’s Activity Centre on the Clare shore, and then – for it was a pleasant sunny sailing day after Wednesday’s weather kerfuffle – we passed a real live sailing cruiser going on her merry way, plus several powercruisers.

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With lighter winds, sailing can resume at the University of Limerick Activity Centre near Killaloe. Photo: W M Nixon

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Waterside paradise - lakeshore house near Killaloe. Photo: W M Nixonder24

The guess is it’s a Halcyon 23 enjoying the breeze on Lough Derg – and taking in one’s fenders is optional on the lakes. Photo: W M Nixon

All the little ports about Lough Derg have their own individual character, and Garrykennedy is about as different as possible from Killaloe, which in turn is very different from Mountshannon, while Dromineer – where we were to spend the night – is different again.

But most of the ports popular with today’s sailors on Lough Derg have it in common that once they were part of a busy waterways transport system, each with its own little mini-harbour which could accommodate the barges which might have come all the way from Dublin via the Grand Canal. The cream of the fleet were engaged in the sacred task of conveying Guinness’s Porter from St James’s Gate Brewery all the way to the connoisseurs of Limerick, whose tastes were and are so pernickety that when any variant in any product is contemplated in the Guinness organisation, somebody always wonders how it will do in Limerick…

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Garrykennedy’s little harbour was created inshore of the 15th Century castle of the O’Kennedys. Photo: W M Nixon

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Larkins of Garrykennedy is one of the most popular food pubs on Ireland’s inland waterways. Photo: W M Nixon

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The décor in Larkin’s of Garrykennedy includes this superb half model of a Shannon One Design OD made by Reggie Goodbody of Dromineer. Photo: W M Nixon

So keen is Limerick to get its Guinness that in a storm one winter a canal boat (they were never called barges in their working days) headed out after sheltering in Garrykennedy and sank off Parker Point taking some of her crew down with her, but that’s a sad story for another day. For we got into Garrykenedy on a sunny day to find a handy berth in the old harbour, a good lunch in Larkins, and a classic Children’s Playground with real old-fashioned swings where Matthew and Julia proved fearless.

By the time you’re a day or three into your Waterways holiday, you lose track of time, but I think it was later that afternoon when the Slaney Shannon Star headed in the sunshine across to Dromineer. There, we found the most-sheltered spot at the quayside in the harbour was entirely taken up by a slovenly-berthed J/24 which, if it had been secured in a more thoughtful manner, would have left plenty of room for other boats.

However, the nearest handy berth put us right beside the playground, so bonus points for Dromineer. And then, as we had access to sheltered water, it was time for a bit of fun with the outboard dinghy, which was a winner with the kids, who were soon helming it with skill. You’d expect that of Matthew – he has helmed a Howth Seventeen – but Julia at just three years old was a very cool and quick learner.

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The berth at Dromineer was ideal for family cruising, being right beside the children’s playground. Photo: W M Nixon

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Outboard dinghy sport at Dromineer. Photo: W M Nixon

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Matthew in charge, and The Diva not too pleased. Photo: W M Nixon

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The Whiskey Still at Dromineer is a Lough Derg institution. Photo: W M Nixon

An overnight in Dromineer means supper at The Whiskey Still, and very good it was too, a real local which comes pleasantly to life as the evening draws on, and lots of folk to talk to about this intriguing place, which in the great days of Waterways transport, was by way of being the main port for North Tipperary. But since 1835 it has also been the home of Lough Derg YC, whose fine clubhouse was taking a brief rest between the excitements of the annual Lough Derg week and the imminent arrival tomorrow of the international fleet of cruising-racing Wayfarer dinghies.

The last walk of the day for Pippa discovered an energetic game of kayak polo under way off Dromineer’s little beach (yes, they really do have a beach, the immaculately-kept Dromineer has everything) but later that night the breeze freshened again and our fenders were squeaking a bit. We couldn’t be having that at all, so the skipper found us enough room along the other quay for us to warp into a berth where the breeze held us noiselessly off the wall for a night of peace.

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Kayak polo at Dromineer. Photo: W M Nixon

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Dennis Noonan of Round Ireland race fame on his Pegasus 800 Photo: W M Nixon

By this time we were so totally into Waterways time that I haven’t a clue when we left Dromineer next day, but we seem to have crowded several days of living into a morning. The playground had to be given a thorough work-over, the dinghy had to be taken out for a spin at least twice, then Pippa had her morning walk along to Shannon Sailing’s secluded marina where of all people we met up with the great Dennis Noonan of Wicklow and Round Ireland Race fame. He was aboard his able little Pegasus 800 which is for sale, and is a fine sailing cruiser if you’re interested in a proper yacht with full standing headroom. But there was little enough time to discuss boat sales, for in real life Dennis is a market gardener of long experience, so he and Georgina were immediately at it yakking away about genuine local produce and how to get people to appreciate what their neighbourhood can produce in season.

I meanwhile wandered off meet up with Robbie the Main Man in the workshop, and soon discovered he was the owner of an enormous 95ft boat – the Spera In Deo - which was lying in Dromineer harbour, a former Dutch mussel dredger which he had discovered in a ruinous state in Donegal after a fire. He was able to make her sufficiently seaworthy to bring her south along the Atlantic seaboard and into the Shannon crewed by all the usual gallant suspects, and while he still has much cosmetic work to do to the exterior, he has fitted out the interior in the most extraordinary way to make her the biggest four berth motor-cruiser in the world, as there are two enormous en suite double cabins - one with a Jacuzzi - while the headroom in the vast main saloon is theatrical in scale.

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95ft of the biggest four berth motor cruiser on the Shannon – the Spera In Deo at Dromineer. Photo: W M Nixon

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To grasp the scale of the Spera In Deo’s interior, you have to realize those are full-height interior doors for a house. Photo: W M Nixon

Eventually I was reunited with my brood in the Lake Café right on the harbour. It’s open from 8.30am until 5.0pm, which makes for a very civilised little village arrangement as The Whiskey Still then opens up for food. Declan & Fiona Collison, who run the Lake Café, used to run The Whiskey Still, so they know the Lough Derg hospitality scene inside out. But like everyone along this ancient waterway, they are as keen to talk about its fascinating past are they are interested in its present and future, and the Lake Café’s walls are adorned with aerial photos of Dromineer from around 1967 which really do bring home to you how much Ireland has moved on during the past half century.

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Breakfast in Dromineer – Georgina, Matthew and Julia have the first of the day’s five meals….. Photo: W M Nixon

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Dromineer as it was in 1967 – photo courtesy Lake Café.

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Heading up-lough in “vivid sunshine”. Photo: W M Nixon

Not everything has come through intact or improved, however. Heading up-lough later that day in vivid sunshine, we went close past Illaunmore, Derg’s biggest island, where very many years ago we discerned what looked like a tiny creek leading to a little harbour. Though it was obviously private, our curiosity got the better of us, and we negotiated our motor-cruiser through the narrow gap to find a harbour. There was a small waterside chalet and a man out for a walk with his very tame golden pheasant, which we later learned was called Sammy. This was the late Martin Winston, and Illaunmore was the love of his life. He was never happier than when on his own island. But that was a long time ago. Martin Winston is long gone. And as far as we could see, the lovely little harbour where we were made so welcome with a fantastic spontaneous party generated within minutes, it now all seems completely overgrown.

But while the harbour in Illaunmore may have disappeared in the undergrowth, the other port of that day’s cruising so long ago, Terryglass, has come on with leaps and bounds. Indeed, when we visited Illaunmore with its fine little harbour, there was virtually no harbour at all at Terryglass, you berthed in a sort of creek where cattle came to drink lake-water. And the first time we were there being Hallowe’en night, the track up to the village where a friend had just bought the pub was quite a spooky experience.

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Terryglass has become a busy port in the past three decades. Photo: W M Nixon

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It’s always an irresistible challenge to try and disappear into the reeds. Photo: W M Nixon

But today Terryglass is one of Lough Derg’s more glamorous ports, while it’s a special place for David and Karen, as they were married in the lovely church in the village, that church whose spire is “Conspic” from all parts of the north end of the lake. But when you’ve a couple of lively kids, there’s no time to be sad or serious about the old days and disappeared harbours or new harbours and whatnot. They’ve splendid reed beds at Terryglass, and disappearing completely into the reeds is a natural challenge for youngsters with an outboard dinghy, so that was on the agenda before we ambled up to the village and supper in the Derg Inn.

It wasn’t a restaurant crawl we were on by any means, but brisk days on the lake are great for the appetite. That last day was typical. We’d the usual good breakfast on board, then after everyone went off on their various pursuits, we’d one of those light “Meals-without-a-Name” with the Collisons at the Lake Café, as their baking is superb. Then when we berthed in Terryglass, somehow Karen had another meal-without-a-name ready on the saloon table, followed by more reed-bashing-by-boat, and then with the kids needing an early meal followed by a reasonable bedtime, we fed well but early in the Derg Inn.

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Not for the faint-hearted (1): The Pineapple Boat in the Derg Inn. Phot: W M Nixon

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Not for the faint-hearted (2): On the swings at Terryglass. Photo: W M Nixon

There, I fearlessly rounded out the feast with a Pineapple Boat with strawberry ice-cream, raspberry coulis and cream – definitely not a nibble for the faint-hearted. Then back at the harbour where the kids went to the limit and beyond on old-style swings in the playground, with people arriving down to join their Terryglass-based cruisers for the weekend we could admire an extraordinary selection of dogs even unto an Irish wolfhound, and not a lifejacket among them except for Pippa. And after all that, the little people went willingly to bed, and in truth the rest were soon headed the same way.

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Canine old mates of Terryglass harbour. Photo: W M Nixon

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The end of a busy week – Mattthew, Julia, David and Karen on the final morning. Photo: W M Nixon

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The bridge opening at Portumna is both a beginning and an end. Photo: W M Nixon

Changeover Saturday at a hireboat base is so busy there’s not time to be sad that it’s all ending. We were perfectly on time across from Terryglass for the 0945 bridge opening at Portumna, there was a berth stern-to right beside the cars, there was the usual final check round to make sure we’d left nothing behind, and then we were gone, only pausing briefly to hope that whoever next took the gallant Slaney Shannon Star down the short channel to the river and the lake was going to have at least half as good a time as we’d had.

But now the grandparents weren’t too tied to time. We could go home at leisure, ambling by road on up the Shannon, stopping here and there at river ports which are very different in character from lake harbours. Yet all have their special charms, so it was after dark when we finally got home. It wasn’t until Sunday that we finally opened Saturday’s Irish Times. And there was the announcement that Peter & Mary Ward’s fantastic weekly display of everything good in the Milk Market in Limerick had won the prize for the Best Market Stall in Ireland.

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Winners! Peter & Mary Ward of Country Choice in Nenagh. Photo: W M Nixon

Published in W M Nixon

#cruiseberth – Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company on behalf of the Dun Laoghaire Cruise Stakeholder Group will submit its planning application for a new cruise berth facility at Dun Laoghaire Harbour to An Bord Pleanála on Friday, 3rd July.

The planning application is being submitted as a strategic infrastructure project, and members of the public can review the planning application and associated environmental impact report – free of charge - from 9th July in the offices of An Board Pleanála on Marlborough Street, Dublin 1 or at the civic offices of Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council. In addition, a dedicated website, www.dlcruiseplan.ie, will contain all the relevant documentation. Once the documentation becomes available for public review, members of the public will also have an opportunity to submit their observations on the plans to An Bord Pleanála.

Plans for the new cruise berth facility have been developed so that Dun Laoghaire Harbour can accommodate next generation cruise ships. More on this here from W M Nixon.

The Dún Laoghaire Cruise Stakeholder Group is made up of Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company; Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council; and the Dún Laoghaire Bid Company. Ahead of finalising its plans, the Stakeholder Group carried out a pre-planning public consultation in April. Since then, the plans have been modified to reflect the consultation with harbour users, and the general public.

Speaking ahead of submitting the planning application, CEO of Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company, Gerry Dunne said: "The cruise industry is an important and growing sector of the tourism market. Cruise ships are getting bigger in size, offering more facilities to passengers, but requiring deeper water and longer berths to accommodate them. Over 50% of new ships currently on order are over 300m in length. At present Cobh is the only port in Ireland that can accommodate these vessels at any time. This means that Ireland, as a whole, is losing out on a growing and lucrative tourism market.

"At present, Dun Laoghaire must provide tendering services to large cruise ships in order to bring passengers to land. This is a cumbersome approach, and is a negative factor for many cruise operators. Indeed, in recent weeks, Dun Laoghaire has lost a number of cruise calls to Dublin Port; these large cruise ships can now reverse up the Liffey during high tide. In changing their berthing plans to Dublin Port, cruise operators have been very clear that their only reason for the change rests with the convenience of bringing passengers right on to a berth, both from a safety and efficiency point of view.

"The plans for a suitable berthing facility will put Dun Laoghaire in a prime position to attract cruise business. As a harbour, Dun Laoghaire has been mandated by the Government to exploit its potential as a marine leisure facility, and winning and developing cruise business is a central part of our work in this regard," added Mr Dunne.

Under the plans submitted to An Bord Pleanála, the following will be among the features that will be considered:

· A 435 metre pier, with an underpass to cater for the passage of club launches.

· Dredging of an access channel from outside the Harbour to St Michael's Pier, including a 500m diameter turning circle outside the Harbour mouth.

· A shared-use public and pedestrian zone adjacent to the existing Marina and connecting to the Marina Eastern Breakwater.

· A new high-quality footpath along Harbour Road.

· Ancillary site and landscape works.

Published in Dublin Bay
Tagged under

#dharbour – RESPONSE TO PUBLIC COMMENTARY ARISING FROM STAKEHOLDER/PUBLIC CONSULTATION EXERCISE HELD IN MARCH/APRIL 2015 CRUISE BERTH PROJECT AT DUN LAOGHAIRE HARBOUR For DUN LAOGHAIRE HARBOUR COMPANY ON BEHALF OF THE DUN LAOGHAIRE CRUISE STAKEHOLDER GROUP

The Dun Laoghaire Cruise Stakeholder Group has responded to concerns raised in a number of submissions made as part of an informal pre-planning consultation process in connection with the proposed development of a new cruise berth facility in Dún Laoghaire Harbour.

It is expected that a formal planning application for the proposed development will be submitted to An Board Pleanala in the coming weeks.

As part of the consultation process the Cruise Stakeholder Group met and briefed local public representatives and stakeholder groups. Full details of the proposal were posted on the Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company website and all those on the company's database were written to. Posters were also erected in the harbour area inviting members of the public to submit their views.

A total of 139 submissions were received. The submissions offered a variety of views, including positive support for the project. A large number of submissions expressed some concerns, and indeed opposition to the project. In some cases opposition / concern was based on a misunderstanding of what was actually proposed or had misplaced concerns about the implications for harbour users.

The Dún Laoghaire Cruise Stakeholder Group is committed to taking into account all submissions made before the planning application to An Bord Pleanála is finalised.

However, in order to address concerns that were raised, the Stakeholder Group has now published a short document summarising the main issues which arose during the informal pre-planning consultation process, along with a succinct response to each issue. A summary of the issues and responses will also available on the Harbour Company's website. This document is now being issued to all those who made submissions, to public representatives and to stakeholder groups. [Scroll down to read this document]

The Dun Laoghaire Harbour Masterplan, published in 2011, identified the need to develop strategies to ensure the long term future of the harbour, in view of the declining importance of ferry traffic. Development of cruise business was identified as one of the opportunities to be pursued. In addition, Dún Laoghaire is designated as a marine tourism port under the Government's National Ports Policy and the development of the cruise business fits into this framework.

Dún Laoghaire will have its most successful cruise season ever in 2015, with 100,000 passengers and crew expected. However the development of the cruise berth facility is essential to allowing up to build on the success to date and to bring even more vessels and passengers to our town.

The expansion and development of the cruise business offers significant economic benefits to Dún Laoghaire and the surrounding areas. These would include expenditure by disembarked passenger and crew; payments to tour operators by cruise companies and purchases by cruise ships from local supplies while in harbour.

The Dún Laoghaire Cruise Stakeholder Group is confident that the cruise berth development can be delivered while preserving the unique heritage of the harbour and without impacting unduly on sailing and marine leisure activities which are such significant parts of the harbour's activities.

 

Introduction
The Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company on behalf of the Dun Laoghaire Stakeholder Group in the process of compiling a planning application to be submitted to An Bord Pleanala under the Strategic Infrastructure (SID) provisions of the Planning & Development Act 2000, as
amended.
As part of that process it was decided to canvass the views of local people prior to making the planning application in order to seek to accommodate or ameliorate any issues that may arise as part of the application. This was referred to as a 'Phase 1 Consultation'.

The undertaking of this exercise and any involvement in same would not affect people's rights to participate in the planning application process in the normal way.

Phase 1 Consultation
A presentation was prepared in order to provide an over view of the project in terms of what it involves (both during construction and operation), the work undertaken to date and an explanation of the application process that would follow.

A set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's) and responses was prepared in anticipation of the typical queries that would arise.

A page on the Harbour Company web site was set up which included the above presentation, together with accompanying maps of the harbour, along with the FAQ's. This information was available for download.

It was intended to have a two week period in which members of the public could make their views known. The Harbour Company used its database of stakeholders to send a letter inviting participation in this Public Consultation phase. In addition, posters were erected around the Harbour so that Harbour Users would see the consultation was on-going and could participate.

Prior to commencing this Consultation, meetings were arranged with key stakeholders/Harbour Users. These meetings took place in the last week of March 2015.

Overall, the Stakeholder/ public consultation process occurred over a three week period. There have also been a series of meetings both with Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council and An Bord Pleanala relating to this project. Those consultations occurred separately to this public consultation process.

Who did we meet?
The following is a schedule of the meetings held prior to the Public Consultation process
commencing:-
Monday, 23rd March:
• Dun Laoghaire Area Committee, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council
Tuesday, 24th March:
• St Michael's Rowing Club
• Sea Scouts/ Kyron O'Gorman
• Irish National Sailing School
• Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club
Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI)
Wednesday, 25th March:
Coal Harbour Users Group
• Marina Company
• Dun Laoghaire Business Investment District Company
• Commissioners of Irish Lights
Thursday, 26th March:
National Yacht Club
Dublin Bay Sailing Club
Friday, 27th March:
Royal Saint George Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht Club
Wednesday 1st May 2015
• The Water Wags

Number of responses
In total 139 responses were received during this Phase 1 Consultation phase. Of these, 13 were in favour of the project, 22 made observations or raised queries and the remainder were against, with a variety of issues raised.

In general only a minority of submissions were supportive, some simply raised questions of made broad comment, but the majority expressed opposition to the proposal; in some cases these were based upon a misunderstanding of what was in fact proposed, or misplaced about the implications for harbour users.
What were the issues raised?

In seeking to provide a response at this stage, we have attempted to group common issues under particular headings. This avoids too much repetition in the responses provided below.

From a review of the Submissions made, the following issues arose:-
1. Impact on dingy sailing/youth sailing
2. The cruise berth cuts the harbour in two.
3. Impact on sailing competitions in the harbour
4. Impact on ability to attract International sailing competitions
5. "Wind shadow" effect of cruise ship in harbour
6. Impact on Heritage of the harbour
7. Suitability (or otherwise) for a Victorian harbour
8. Potential for environmental damage and negative impact on bird and marine life
9. Safety/emergency incident plan
10. Rocky nature of harbour bed making dredging difficult
11. Disturbance to mercury in the harbour bed caused by dredging
12. No economic benefit to the town
13. Impact on traffic
14. Legal advice that project is not Strategic Infrastructure Development
15. Too little detail provided about the scheme
16. Consultation period too short
17. Replacement ferry service for Stena
18. Leave cruise business to Dublin Port.
19. Continue with existing cruise tendering operation (ships anchoring in Dublin Bay)
20. DLHC should not be allowed embark on a new venture like this, while a merger with DLRCoCo is pending

Dinghy sailing/youth sailing
It is evident from a review of the comments received that the issue which arose the most often was the impact the proposal would have on Dinghy Sailing/Youth Sailing. In particular, the following activities were raised:-
• Junior Summer Sailing Courses
• Sailability Dun Laoghaire
• Friday Night Racing
• September Series
• Regional and National Optimist Class Championships
• Junior Sailing Regatta's
• ISA National and Regional squad clinics
• Team Racing
• Winter Frostbite Racing
• Summer Tuesday Night Racing
• Winter Coaching
Dun Laoghaire Regatta

We will have regard to the aspects associated with each of these within the planning application.

Preliminary response to issues

The issues raised through the public consultation exercise will be addressed in a full and comprehensive way as part of the plans and particulars to be lodged with An Bord Pleanala.
At the outset, it is worth recalling that Dun Laoghaire Harbour is first and foremost a working harbour. It also happens to accommodate a marine leisure component which it is recognised and acknowledged contributes to its charm and character. It is also recognized that the marine leisure component of the harbour is a significant part of the harbour activity. This marine leisure activity must and does function in a manner that does not detract from the primary function of the harbour.

To that end, it is worth highlighting that activities within the Harbour are carefully managed and controlled in line with long established rules, referred to as the Notices to Mariners and the Harbour Bye-Laws.

With that in mind, the following provides an initial response to the principal issues raised by members of the public and harbour users generally.

1 Impact on dingy sailing/youth sailing
At present, most harbour users ultilise the harbour as a transit zone between the shore and the bay, where the vast majority of sailing activities occur. This occurs in line with the normal restrictions applying within the Harbour. It is acknowledged that traditionally junior training has taken place in the harbour. All such activity requires the approval of the Harbour Master.

The Notice to Mariners No. 4 defines the Training Area for junior sail training. It states:- "Harbour Recreational Area for Small Craft is the triangular area of the North Bightwestwards of a line from West Pier Lighthouse to the marina west breakwater". Use of the remainder of the harbour by small craft is otherwise restricted, unless and until 'permission' has been obtained. With the removal of swing moorings in 2014, the North Bight area available for raining has been considerably enlarged which has benefitted junior training in the harbour. This will be unaffected by the proposed cruise project

Notwithstanding the Notice to Mariners No. 4, it is recognized that the very junior sailors/beginners associated with the NYC and RSGYC have utilized the sheltered water space immediately around the Carlisle Pier and St. Michael's Pier to learn to sail. Both the IYSC and the INSS use the designated training area at the North Bight.

When competent, the junior training regime then moves from around the piers, to the formal training area and then out to the bay. The INSS use both the Coal Harbour and Seapoint Beach, as well as using the designated training area.

The tradition over the past 15 years or so has been that the more senior/experienced juniors use Dublin Bay itself to train.

It is Dublin Bay that is the 'Major Area of Excellence for Sailing' and the sailing areas that are available now will be available after any cruise berth project has been installed. The designated training area in the North Bight has recently (2014) been extended and will continue to be available.

It has been suggested in a number of submissions that the provision of the cruise berth will prevent the harbour being used for sailing and other marine activity. This argument does not stand up to closer scrutiny. Whilst it is fully acknowledged that the facility will result in some change to the existing patterns of activities for some users, others will see little or no change.

Traditionally, there has been very little 'racing' inside the harbour, other than by the Water Wags, DBSC and the DMYC Winter Series and this has been 'by permission' only.

2 The cruise berth will cut the harbour in two The cruise berth will extend northwards from the existing marina breakwater, from a location to the west of the existing HSS berth.

Even though the berth structures are significant, to allow the berth to accommodate the type of large cruise ship that the cruise lines now favour, there will be a considerable expanse of water within the harbour, north of the northernmost extremity of the proposed berth, which will allow unimpeded travel for boats between the eastern and western areas of the harbour. The total distance from the marina breakwater to the West Pier roundhead is about 0.66 kilometers (660m). The berth will extend northwards for just under two thirds of this distance, leaving just over one third remaining for cross harbour activity.

In addition to the above, the proposed berth will include an underpass which will allow passage between the marina and the areas to the east of the harbour without the need to go around the berth. This underpass will be suitable for use by ribs, launches and other small non-masted craft.

3 Impact on sailing competitions in the harbour There are in fact only a very small number of sailing competitions in the harbour and these occur at particular times of the year only. 

As previously noted, all activities within the harbour are subject to an approval process. It is considered that with the adjustments made to the swing moorings at the East and North Bights in recent years that it should be possible for these limited competitions to continue to use the harbour. The Harbour Company is committed to working with the race organisers to find a viable solution within the Harbour.

4 Impact on ability to attract international sailing competitions At the outset we would comment that when international sailing competitions have occurred in Dun Laoghaire in the past, this has imposed severe restrictions on other harbour users. 

Appropriate restrictions and safeguards were put in place by the Harbour Master and harbour users adjusted their activities accordingly with little or no fuss for those periods. As regards the loss of such competitions due to the cruise berth project being implemented, it is respectfully submitted that this would not be the case. The continued use of the harbour as a transit zone and holding area as occurred with such events in the past could continue to occur when the cruise berth is in place.

5 Wind shadow effect of cruise ship in harbour Large cruise ships at berth will have an effect on the wind patterns locally, and will result in "wind shadow" downwind of the ship.

The affected area will vary depending on a number of factors, including the size of the ship, the direction of the wind and the speed of the wind. No matter what direction the wind is blowing, there will always an area of the harbour that will be windward of ships at berth and therefore unaffected. This unaffected area of the harbour will always be available for dinghy/youth sailing. It will also be possible to sail in the area affected by "wind shadow" on the leeward (sheltered) side of the ship, with the exception possibly of up close to the ship. Winds blowing roughly parallel to the ship will have little or no "wind shadow" effect. Experienced sailors are familiar with the "wind shadow" effect as their sails create "wind shadow" and a knowledge of this effect is used to gain competitive advantage in racing by manoeuvring to put their competitors in the bad wind caused by the "wind shadow" of their boats.

6 Impact on heritage of the harbour
The development being proposed does not impact on any protected structures, nor does it involve the removal of any heritage structures. The proposal involves the provision of a new berth within an existing harbour and is entirely appropriate as a result. It is acknowledged that part of the Harbour's heritage is its use for marine recreational purposes. This aspect of the Harbour use will not be destroyed by the cruise berth.

7 Suitability of proposal for a Victorian Harbour 

There have been quite a number of changes to the activities that occur within the harbour since the days it was first built. The harbour has evolved many times as a result. As already highlighted, it is a working harbour. It is a simple fact that it costs a significant
amount of money annually to just maintain the quality and infrastructure of the harbour. Much of the harbour is old and needs on-going maintenance. The Harbour Company is self financing and needs to generate the required income to sustain the harbour in to the future. For clarity, the Harbour Company receives no funding from Government. The cruise berth is precisely the type of facility one would expect to find in a harbour. With the impending demise of the HSS (which has now occurred), the Harbour Company is looking to attract cruise ships to the harbour. The berth will go some way towards ensuring the viability of the harbour in to the future.

8 Potential for environmental damage and negative impact on bird and marine life This particular issue has been extensively assessed as part of the Environmental Impact Statement being finalized at present.

The preparation of this assessment involved extensive discussions with the National Parks and Wildlife Service, including the Marine Department in Galway and has been conducted by a firm of specialist ecologists. We have been concerned from the outset to minimize any impact the proposal might have on birds or marine life generally and have devised a construction methodology specifically intended to address this.

9 Safety/Emergency Incident Plan
As a working harbour, we can confirm that Dun Laoghaire Harbour has an Emergency Management Plan in place at present in line with the tenets of "A Framework for Major Emergency Management". The current Emergency Plan can be adjusted to take account of the cruise berth facility. The Plan already caters for cruise ship tendering. A Risk Assessment and SOP are in operation for present cruise visits and will be adapted for berth usage.

10 Rocky nature of harbour bed making dredging difficult

As part of the preparatory investigation and survey work undertaken for the project, a programme of ground investigation work was undertaken which included the drilling of boreholes into the seabed in the areas where the proposed berth would be constructed and in the areas to be dredged. It was found that rock was generally located well below the existing seabed and the proposed dredge level. It is therefore not envisaged that any rock or hard material will need to be dredged for the project. This is consistent with the findings of previous investigations in this area of the harbour.

11 Disturbance to mercury in the harbour bed caused by dredging
The area which will require dredging has been the subject of extensive ground investigations as part of the scheme design and Environmental Impact Statement process relating to the project. No elevated levels of mercury have been identified We are aware that mercury has historically been found in other parts of the Harbour near the Coal Harbour. No dredging or marine works are planned for the Coal Harbour as part of this project and as a result no disturbance to the ground conditions will arise.

12 No economic benefit to the town 

The Stakeholder Group has commissioned a firm of economic consultants to look in to the economic impacts of the project. Their findings show that there is the very real potential for the town to benefit directly and significantly from the arrival of cruise visits to Dun Laoghaire.
It is estimated that the net economic impact of doing the project for Dun Laoghaire town will lie between €16m and €41m after twenty years, depending on the number of vessels coming into Dublin Bay. The lower number assumes a continuation of historical growth trends in the Dublin Bay market, while the upper limit represents a replication of the success of Copenhagen.
It is recognized that the businesses of the town need to embrace the potential for additional revenue arising from the visiting cruise passengers for this process to be a success. The Cruise Stakeholder Group are confident that Dun Laoghaire will maximize this potential in the years to come.

13 Impact on traffic
The traffic associated with the planned cruise project has been assessed as part of the Environmental Impact Statement process. This shows that the surrounding roads and streets are capable of catering for the traffic associated with the project with relative ease. The project will involve a modest number of coach trips at particular peak periods in the day.

Previously when the HSS was operating five sailings per day (arriving and departing), there was significantly more traffic movements in the area of the project.

It is also worth recalling that there was no particular traffic difficulties with the cruise visits to Dun Laoghaire last year and again when the Royal Princess visited Dun Laoghaire on the 12th May 2015 (3,600 passengers and 1,350 crew). Overall, we are confident that the traffic associated with the cruise project can be catered for
on the existing road network with minimal disturbance.

14 Legal advice that project is not Strategic Infrastructure Development
The project contains a new cruise berth that is greater than 100m in length capable of catering for the new generation of cruise vessels. The Seventh Schedule of the Planning & Development Act 2000, as amended includes a project involving a new berth in a harbour of 100m or more in length as being a project for which the provisions known as strategic infrastructure applies. In line with the requirements of the Act a dialogue with An Bord Pleanala to determine whether the project is or is not strategic infrastructure was commenced in May 2013. An Bord Pleanala have now confirmed in writing that the project is strategic infrastructure and have directed the planning application to be made to An Bord Pleanala directly.

15 Too little detail provided about the scheme
We would respectfully suggest that a significant amount of detail regarding the project was provided at pre-consultation and as part of the consultation. The final project design is nearing completion, as is the EIS that is intended to accompany the application. The outcome of this pre-application public consultation will feed in to the final plans. The full and final detail of the scheme will be available for interested members of the public on a dedicated web site and will also be available at the offices of Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council during the seven week consultation period after the planning application is lodged with An Bord Pleanala. The application will also be available in the offices of An Bord Pleanala.

16 Consultation period too short

The stakeholder/public consultation period took place over a three week period. This was considered adequate to obtain the views of people towards the project. It was made clear in the material provided at this stage of the process that a further much lengthier and formal process of consultation would follow once the planning application for the project was lodged.

The response to the request for comments generated 139 submissions. There will be a full seven week consultation period once the planning application is lodged, during which time observations to An Bord Pleanala may be made. This will afford interested parties with a further opportunity to comment on the final proposals.

17 Replacement ferry service for Stena HSS
We can confirm that the Harbour Company is in discussion with potential ferry operators. Were a ferry service to return to Dun Laoghaire, it would only be a small craft service catering for small numbers of cars and foot passengers. It is not envisaged that by the operators that vessels capable of accommodating freight traffic will come to Dun Laoghaire again. Such a small craft ferry could operate in the harbour in tandem with a cruise berth facility.

18 Leave cruise business to Dublin Port
The National Ports Policy (2013) identifies Dun Laoghaire Harbour as follows:- the long-term future of Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company will be in terms of marine leisure, maritime tourism, cultural amenity and urban redevelopment. The cruise industry will have a major part to play in the realization of these national policy
aspirations for the harbour. It is considered entirely consistent with National Ports Policy to encourage cruise visits to Dun Laoghaire Harbour. It is considered that there is scope for both Dun Laoghaire Harbour and Dublin Port to cater for the increasing cruise industry in Dublin Bay.

19 Continue with existing cruise tendering operation (ships anchoring in the Bay)
Cruise lines will always favour direct berthing to tendering, as it offers a better experience for its passengers and is more reliable. Tender berthing requires a long transit from ships anchored a couple of kilometres outside the harbour in small tender boats. The transit time to and from the ship means that the time available for passengers ashore is shorter than would be the case if the cruise ship were able to berth within the harbour. It is also subject to weather conditions, as conditions may be such that the journey in the tenders is uncomfortable due wind and wave conditions, or indeed, weather conditions are such that it is deemed unsafe for passengers to disembark from the cruise ship onto the tenders, so the visit to Dun Laoghaire is cancelled. A smaller proportion of the passengers and crew on board the cruise ships will come ashore if the ships tender in Dublin Bay than if the ships berth in the harbour and passengers can disembark onto a quay. The provision of a direct berth will attract a greater number of cruise ships, and a greater proportion of passengers aboard those ships will come ashore to explore Dun Laoghaire and its surroundings, as it is easier to come ashore and to get back onto the ship, providing a greater benefit to Dun Laoghaire and
the greater Dublin area.

20 DLHC should not be allowed embark on a new venture like this, while a merger with DLRCoCo is pending
The project promoter is the Dun Laoghaire Cruise Stakeholder Group. The three principal members of this Group are; Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council and the Dun Laoghaire BID Company.
The planning application is being made with the approval and assistance of Dun Laoghaire- Rathdown County Council which approved the initial expenditure at a Council Meeting in July 2013. Officials from Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council have attended the majority of the project meetings held with An Bord Pleanala and have expressed their support in principle for the project.

#sdls –  A new group, Save Dun Laoghaire Sailing (SDLS), has come forward with radical proposals for a re-configuration of the harbour in order to accommodate the proposed Cruise Liner Berth in the harbour, (plans of which were revealed on Afloat.ie last Thursday), while at the same time maintaining the town's pre-eminent role as Ireland's greatest sailing centre.

A spokesperson for SDLS said that the new group's proposals were still only at a very preliminary stage, but the extremely short time lapse permitted for objections or modifications to the Harbour Company's plan has meant that they have had to act in great haste. 

However, the spokesperson asserted that the harbour's thousands of recreational sailors are so concerned at some elements of the new plan - such as the rumoured intention to forbid boats manoeuvring under sail only, let alone racing, within the harbour – that they have had no trouble in recruiting supporters, and an ad hoc inaugural meeting in recent days instructed an acting committee to proceed as rapidly as possible.

The underlying thinking behind SDLS's proposals is that the areas of activity for the different interests within the harbour should be clearly delineated. "Good fences make good neighbours" is the group's core philosophy, and with this in mind they have proposed two new in-harbour breakwaters in order that the large area in the centre of the harbour, which is intended for use by the new cruise liner berthing facilities, will be walled off from other areas of the port.

This will be done by a new in-harbour breakwater from St Michael's Pier to the outer end of the present East Pier, and another small in-harbour breakwater closing off the present outer entrance to the marina.

dlhr2.jpg

Dun Laoghaire Harbour with the Harbour Company's proposed Cruise Liner Berth occupying most of the space between St Michael's Pier and the harbour entrance

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Radical proposals from SDLS (Save Dun Laoghaire Sailing) include new Eastern and Western entrances to the harbour, and two new in-harbour breakwaters which will clearly separate the cruise liner areas from the recreational sailing and boating areas. In effect, three new harbours will be created.

 In order to make this feasible, the group has come up with the visionary concept of giving Dun Laoghaire Harbour two additional entrances. The new entrance to the east would be created by making a gap in the existing East Pier, and would inevitably be expensive, as this is exposed to onshore winds, and thus would require a very substantial sheltering breakwater. However, it would still be as cost-effective as possible, as this new Eastern Entrance would not need to be nearly as wide as the current main entrance, as that was created in order to be negotiated by the cumbersome sailing ships of the early 19th Century.

When Afloat.ie pointed out to the spokesperson (who wishes to remain anonymous for the time being) that a gap in the East Pier would result in the ending of the time-honoured tradition of South Dubliners walking the length of the pier on a Sunday, the response was that the demographic is such that an increasing number of South Dubliners are so aged as to be no longer capable of walking the entire length of the East Pier, and thus they would welcome the shorter walk to the lighthouse which will be provided by the new inner breakwater direct from St Michael's Pier.

A further question about the need for manoeuvring space for the cruise liners between their proposed berth and the East Pier elicited the reply that the Harbour Company have already made it clear that they will have to dredge a ten metre channel from the present main entrance to the new berth to serve the deeper drafted liners. Therefore the building of a new pier along the eastern edge of this dredged channel will not impinge on the cruise liners' area of access, and will moreover restrain small craft which might be sailing or racing in the eastern harbour from straying into the liner area.

SDLS is particularly enthused about the possibilities offered by he new western entrance. "For far too long, the West Pier has been more like the Wild West Pier than part of a civilised harbour," we were told. Now, with the new entrance, it will be brought centre stage, and those dinghy sailors from the RIYC, the DMYC, the INSS and the Coal Harbour who were formerly reluctant to venture into the open waters of Dublin Bay will find they have easy access to the relatively sheltered Bay waters between the West Pier and Seapoint.

SDLS conclude their initial policy document by pointing out that their plan would in effect provide the benefit of having three harbours where at present only one exists. And for further diversity, they suggest that the central commercial area for the cruise liners could possibly, in time, also accommodate some working fishing boats, as the colourful activity of hardy fisherfolk is much appreciated by cruise liner passengers 

As to the fact that the creation of two new entrances means in effect that there will now be two completely separate leisure harbours on the south side of Dublin Bay with their entrances one and a half miles apart, SDLS argues that this is one of the most attractive features of their plan.

"Sailing enthusiasts from places blessed with natural advantages and numerous little ports of call, such as Cork Harbour, are always bemoaning the fact that when you sail out of Dun Laoghaire, there is nowhere convenient to go to within easy reach. But thanks to our plan, we can now envisage that a boat which has to go to sea via the new West Entrance could go out for a nice sail in Dublin Bay, and then go visiting in the eastern part of the harbour through the new Eastern Entrance, and vice versa.

Having considered these attractive options, we don't see the proposed new cruise liner berth as a problem. On the contrary, we see it as an opportunity to make Dun Laoghaire a much more interesting place to sail from".

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Dun Laoghaire harbour largely as it is today, although the presence of the HSS ferry in port is now history and the contentious new library has been inserted in the tree-surrounded green space at right foreground. Photo courtesy ICC.

Editor's Note: Normally our April 1st special would be pulled at noon. But as virtually all plans for a totally artificial harbour at Dun Laoghaire, ever since the first ones more than two hundred years ago, have been initially treated as an April Fool joke, we think we'll let this one run. And further comments are welcome, for underlying the tomfoolery, a very serious situation is developing for the harbour's future.

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#cruiseship – Rosslare Europort is to see more cruise business in 2016 with the announcement that the Fred Olsen Lines cruise ship MS Braemar will visit on 16th July next year.

MS Braemar has 485 cabins with capacity for 929 guests, and will include Rosslare as part of a Britain and Ireland cruise.

This follows last year's announcement that the cruise ship MS Albatros, operated by Phoenix Reisen, will visit Rosslare Europort on 5th August 2015.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the call by Albatros will represent the first Cruise Ship to visit Rosslare Europort in over 20 years.

Both visits follow the establishment of a Working Group led by the General Manager Rosslare Europort John Lynch, including representatives of Wexford County Council and Fáilte Ireland and supported by Visit Wexford, which has been working on developing the cruise business at Rosslare. The group has targeted further expansion of cruise ship business at the port.

General Manager of Rosslare Europort John Lynch said: "We are delighted to welcome the MS Braemar to Rosslare in 2016, as well as the MS Albatros to Rosslare this summer. We are fortunate at Rosslare that not only do we have the capacity to operate as a busy commercial port, but we are also situated in an area of outstanding natural beauty and rich cultural heritage and I believe that there will be many more Cruise Ships that will want to explore the wonders of Wexford and the South East."

Published in Cruise Liners

#cruiseliners – Dún Laoghaire Harbour is preparing for a bumper season of cruise–liner visits to the south Dublin Bay port. The biggest caller will be the first arrival in May (calling on May 15th and again on the 21st) and also at the end of August when the cruise ship Splendid arrives with a massive 3,900 passengers and 1346 crew onboard.

If it is assumed that every ship is full to capacity and every passenger goes ashore then Dun Laoghaire can expect an influx of some 63,237 waterborne tourists over the course of the 2015 summer season.

If you add in ships crew numbers this figure is boosted by over 25,000 bringing the potential visitor tot to 88,282. A welcome boost!

Read the full 2015 Dun Laoghaire cruise–liner calendar below: 

11/05/15 – Splendida – 3900 passengers/1313 crew
12/05/15 – Royal Princess – 3600 passengers/1346 crew
20/05/15 – Queen Mary 2 – 3000 passengers / 1328 crew
21/05/15 – Splendida – 3900 passengers / 1313 crew
24/05/15 – Royal Princess – 3600 passengers / 1346 crew
05/06/15 – Royal Princess – 3600 passengers / 1346 crew
14/06/15 – Celebrity Silhouette – 2886 passengers / 1525 crew
19/06/15 – Island Sky – 116 passengers / 66 crew
26/06/15 – Star Legend – 208 passengers / 164 crew
29/06/15 – Royal Princess – 3600 passengers / 1346 crew
29/06/15 – Wind Surf – 312 passengers / 312 crew
12/07/15 – Star Legend – 208 passengers / 164 crew
14/07/15 – Brittania – 3647 passengers / 1350 crew
17/07/15 – Royal Princess – 3600 passengers / 1346 crew
23/07/15 – Royal Princess – 3600 passengers / 1346 crew
23/07/15 – Celebrity Silhouette – 3145 passengers / 1525 crew
04/08/15 – Royal Princess – 3600 passengers / 1346 crew
15/08/15 – Celebrity Silhouette – 3145 passengers / 1525 crew
16/08/15 – Royal Princess – 3600 passengers / 1346 crew
28/08/15 – Royal Princess – 3600 passengers / 1346 crew
29/08/15 – Splendida – 3900 passengers / 1346 crew
18/09/15 – Mein Schiff 4 – 2500 passengers / 1000 crew

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#cruiseliners – The Wind Surf – the largest ship in the Windstar Cruises fleet – will dock at Dun Laoghaire Harbour tomorrow, Thursday, 4th September at 8am.

As previously reported, her arrival marks the final cruise call of the season for Dun Laoghaire after a hugely successful series of cruise dockings at the harbour this spring / summer.

The Wind Surf, one part sailing yacht and one part upscale cruise ship, has seven triangular, self-furling, computer operated sails, making a stunning ship. The ship, known for its luxurious amenities and unique ports of call, carries 312 guests and 191 international staff.

The cruise ship's docking at the harbour coincides with Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company's recent announcement that 2015 will be the most successful year ever for Dun Laoghaire in terms of attracting cruise passengers to the harbour. A total of 23 cruise vessels have already been confirmed to visit Dun Laoghaire in 2015. The size of these ships is such that they will bring a record 66,867 passengers.

Speaking ahead of tomorrow's docking of the Windsurf, Gerry Dunne, CEO of Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company, said: "Since 2012, due to the attractiveness of Dun Laoghaire and its wonderful harbour, the number of cruise bookings has grown exponentially and 2015 will be the most successful year ever for Dun Laoghaire in terms of attracting cruise passengers to the harbour.

"We welcome cruise ships of all shapes and sizes and are delighted that the Windsurf will be docking at Dun Laoghaire Harbour. Cruise passengers provide a valuable source of business for retail outlets and restaurants, which will deliver a huge economic boost for the town and its hinterland," he added.

#dinghycruise – As previewed by Afloat.ie, last Saturday four visiting and five local GP14 dinghies crewed by 21 seafarers and two sea dogs set off from Youghal quay in County Cork at low water on the second annual Y2V Blackwater river cruise writes Norman Lee.

Molly the younger sea dog soon got the hang of scrambling to windward on almost every tack but sometimes preferred to stay to leeward to view the wildlife better and she probably set the tone for the many pre teen crews getting a taste for competitive/fun sailing in their respective dads racing machines.

The youngest boat was a beautiful Duffin built this year for Simon Culley and Libby Tierney of Blessington and the oldest, a lovely Bell Woodworking boat nearly 60–years–old and still in perfect fettle, now owned by 16–year–old Jack Nolan of Youghal.

One Mermaid and one Feva came along for the trip which included forming part of the backdrop for a society wedding in Ballintra House a classic yellow mansion, where a band serenaded us as we sailed by on a wide sweep of the river.

Villierstown Boating & Activities Club members at their brand new three week old facility on the riverbank couldn't do enough to make us welcome with hot soup tea and sambos and home cookies when we arrived and a massive fry on Sunday morning and free run of their facilities for the duration.

The value these guys have got from their sports council grant is unbelievable and great credit to all concerned and the welcome the GP visitors get in both Villierstown and Youghal makes it very possible this will be a well attended new addition to the annual GP circuit where the utility design of our boat comes to the fore.

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GP14s berth on the river bank

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Molly, just one of two seadogs on the cruise keeps a look out

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Getting the tents ready at the new Villierstown clubhouse

 More on dinghy cruising possibilities here:  Is 'Adventure Sailing' a New Tack for Dinghy Sailors?

Published in GP14

#cruiseliners – Tomorrow the Port of Cork will welcome three cruise liners to Cork Harbour, bringing a combined total of 6,500 passengers and crew to the region.

The largest liner, "MSC Magnifica" will be first to arrive, berthing at Cobh Cruise Terminal at 7.30am with over 3,500 passengers on board. She will be followed by the arrival of "AIDACara" at Ringaskiddy Deepwater Berth at 8.30am. Finally, the sails of the unique "Sea Cloud 11" cruise liner will be seen in the lower harbour at 1.30pm when she drops anchor for the afternoon.

"The ability to accommodate multiple cruise calls in one day is testament to the excellent cruise facilities that Cork has to offer cruise line companies. Along with our world class tourism offerings throughout the region, we really have a unique selling point for cruise lines. The Port is committed to investing in the upgrade of our current facilities in Cobh and assessing the requirement of additional facilities as the cruise sector expands."

By the close of the 2014 in early October, the Port of Cork will have welcomed a total of 52 cruise ships to the port. Despite the number of calls being slightly lower than 2013, the cruise vessels calling in 2014 are larger and have higher passenger volumes such as Princess Cruises newest ship "Royal Princess" which will make her maiden call to Cork on 19th September. At 330 metres in length (over 3 times the length of Thomond Park), this is the size and style of ship that the Port of Cork are endeavouring to attract in the future.

The Port of Cork is currently home to Ireland's only dedicated cruise berth in Cobh and all vessels calling to the port are listed at www.portofcork.ie

Published in Cruise Liners
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About boot Düsseldorf: With almost 250,000 visitors, boot Düsseldorf is the world's largest boat and water sports fair and every year in January the “meeting place" for the entire industry. From 18 to 26 January 2020, around 2,000 exhibitors will be presenting their interesting new products, attractive further developments and maritime equipment. This means that the complete market will be on site in Düsseldorf and will be inviting visitors on nine days of the fair to an exciting journey through the entire world of water sports in 17 exhibition halls covering 220,000 square meters. With a focus on boats and yachts, engines and engine technology, equipment and accessories, services, canoes, kayaks, kitesurfing, rowing, diving, surfing, wakeboarding, windsurfing, SUP, fishing, maritime art, marinas, water sports facilities as well as beach resorts and charter, there is something for every water sports enthusiast.

At A Glance – Boot Dusseldorf 

Organiser
Messe Düsseldorf GmbH
Messeplatz
40474 Düsseldorf
Tel: +49 211 4560-01
Fax: +49 211 4560-668
Web: https://www.boot.com/

The first boats and yachts will once again be arriving in December via the Rhine.

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