While some operators felt the brunt of coronavirus restrictions in the spring as they lost a lucrative international market, come summer the tide turned and now the industry as a whole says it is enjoying its most successful period in eight years.
Demand has been driven by a hungry domestic market grounded by lockdowns on foreign getaways — with RTÉ News highlighting Banagher in particular at its busiest this month.
And it’s hoped many of those who may be new to a cruising holiday, or other aquatic activities on Ireland’s inland waterways, will be hooked enough to return next season.
?️ It has been a bumper season for the cruiser market on the River Shannon, as people continue to holiday at home during the pandemic. Traffic on the river is up by over 30%, and Waterways Ireland says the new business will help secure jobs. | Read more: https://t.co/oSmOi9XSUV pic.twitter.com/bqV6DZhI4G— RTÉ News (@rtenews) September 6, 2020
Most recently the inshore lifeboat Jean Spicer was called to a 36ft cruiser with four on board which ran aground in Youghal Bay on Thursday evening (10 September).
This followed rescues for a 20ft vessel with engine failure at the lough’s northeastern end on Wednesday; a 35ft cruiser aground by the Silver Islands on Monday evening; and a vessel with engine failure near Mountshannon Harbour last Sunday.
Also on Sunday, four people were rescued from a Shannon cruiser that caught fire and sank after difficulties in the Jamestown Canal.
The RNLI has repeated its call for all boat users, many of whom may be new to cruising or boating, to study their charts and stay on the navigation route.
Boaters should also ensure their engines are fully serviced, and that they have sufficient fuel for any journey — while lifejackets must be worn by everyone on board.