Above: the Liffey Ferry leaving Sir John Rogerson's Quay
The new bridge will be officially opened to road and pedestrian traffic that day. During the bridge’s construction phase, the Docklands Authority commissioned Liffey River Cruises to provide a service which operated from 7am–7pm, Monday to Friday, and according to Liffey River Cruises’ Managing Director, Mícheál Ó Cionna, the initiative has been a great success. “Since we began operating in October 2007 we have carried over a quarter of a million passengers. Our early morning and evening services were always particularly busy with people commuting to work on the North or South sides of the Liffey. We had many customers who were regulars, and who our crews got to know really well. Many of our regular customers were people who work in Docklands, but we also carried a lot of local residents, who have already told us that, delighted as they are to see the bridge finally open, they will miss the experience of crossing the river by ferry. It’s something which they, and their families, have a real affinity with, it’s a deeply rooted part of docklands heritage” he stated.
Liffey Ferry passing Spirit of Docklands
Ferries have traditionally operated on the Liffey for centuries, but the last ferry service, which operated from the very end of Sir John Rogerson’s Quay to a landing near the end of the East Wall Road, carried its last passenger in October 1984. Mícheál Ó Cionna recalled that a number of the company’s current passengers have told him they recall crossing the Liffey as children on the previous ferry. “We were shown a ticket by one passenger recalling the trip he took on the last ferry back in 1984 – and the ticket cost 10p one way. We like to think that, even 25 years later, our charge of €2 for a one way journey, and €3 return, still represented very good value. Certainly the quarter of a million passengers we have carried would seem to bear this out!” he said.
Liffey Ferry with the Cill Airne in the background
For the crew of the Liffey Ferry, the final crossing on Friday 11th will be an emotional and historic occasion, but thankfully not one which will signify the end of their association with the famous green waters of Anna Livia. Mícheál Ó Cionna confirmed “some of our ferry crew will transfer to working on the Docklands Authority’s other boat, the Spirit of Docklands, which will continue to offer sightseeing cruises on the river from Bachelors Walk beginning again in March 2010 after the Winter break.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank all our customers for supporting the Liffey Ferry over the past number of years, and to say that we hope to see some of our old passengers, and welcome some new ones, on board when we begin our river cruises again. That way they can enjoy the experience of walking over the Samuel Beckett Bridge, and sailing under it as well!”