Arranmore Fast Ferries

Arranmore Fast Ferries was set up in June 2007 by Seamus and Louise Boyle, both natives of Arranmore Island.
The service commeneced with ‘Realt Na Maidne’, a Redbay stormforce 11 fully cabined vessel which dramatically reduced the crossing time from island to mainland.

Seamus then introduced a back up vessel ‘The Girl Gray’ to the fleet, which is a 43ft aquastar. He uses this vessel for angling trips and tours as well as ferrying passengers to and from the island at peak periods.

In 2010, he added MV Morvern to the fleet. This boat originally came from Scotland and was once owned by the well know scottish firm ‘Calmac’. This is a passenger and freight ferry which serves Arranmore island and freight only to Tory Island


Arranmore Island Ferry Services

The service originally set up by the semi-state gealtacht development authority is now run by a private company based at Leabgarrow, Arranmore. The route was founded in 1978 by Maoin-na-Farraige with the now loading four car vessel Misneach, which was custom built for the service. She was later sold to Bere Island ferries after the acquiring of Kilbrannan from Caledonian MacBrayne in 1992 , and renamed Arainn Mhor.

Soon after the new vessel was acquired, the operations were transferred to the private company Arranmore Island Ferry Services. The new company went on to purchase Morvern in 1995 and Rhum and Coll in 1998 (all from Cal Mac) which are the two main vessels with Arainn Mhor as a relief ship.



Bere Island

Bere island is served by two ferry operators. The oldest established vehicular route to the island is operated by Bere Island Ferries, a private Company based on the island at West End from where it serves the town of Castletownbare on the mainland. The service was inaugurated by Misneach in 1993, a bow loading vessel built for Arranmore Island Ferry Services in 1978.

The next addition was the bow and stern loading D. F. B. Dunbrody which was acquired from Passage East Ferries in 1998 where she had served for almost 20 years. She was the flagship for the service until 2000 when she broke from her moorings in a storm and was damages. She remains on a beach near the slipway.

The accident put pressure on Misneach until another vessel, the Morvern, was acquired from Arranmore in 2001. She was originally built for Caledonian MacBrayne operating mainly on Iona services until being acquired by Arranmore in 1995.

In summer 2003 another vessel was acquired, the Eilean Na H-Iige, originally built or the Scottish Western Isles council in 1980. Misneach was sold in 2003 which now leaves the two ship operation of Morvern and Oilean Na H-Oige with a carring capacity of six and four cars respectively and both bow loading.

An alternative route to the Island is provided from Castletownbere to Lawrence Cove on the Island, by Murphy’s Ferry Services. The Ikom K was built in Arklow especially for the route in 1999 (the Murphy’s provided passenger and charter services on the route prior to this.



Cross River Ferries

In 1993 Cork County Council and the newly formed Cross River Ferries Ltd (owned by Marine Transport Services of Cobh and Arklow Shipping Ltd), started a lower river crossing, linking Carrigaloe, on Great Island with Glenbrook on the opposite side of the River Lee. The two former ferries Kyleakin and Lochalsh were purchased from Caledoian McBrayne who operated the ferries on Scotland’s west coast.

The ships were renamed the Carrigaloe and Glenbrook respectively and the service commenced in March 1993. The two ships can carry 200 passengers and 27 cars. The crossing of the Lee takes 4 minutes. In the spring of 1993 it was announced that the service would be suspended for five weeks as the landing strips on both sides of the Lee had been undermined.

With the opening of the Jack Linch tunnel in May 1999, the service now has to compete with the free tunnel. From Summer 2002 to Spring 2003, Carrigaloe was chartered to the Lough Foyle Ferry Company for the summer seasion, and in Janurary 2005 it was announced that the service would resume to a two ship service at rush hour.



Island Ferries

Formed in 1982 by Paddy and Sally O’Brien, Island Ferries provides a year round passenger only service to all three of the Aran Islands with four vessles of various size. Two of the largest are Ceol na Farraige and Draiocht na Farraige, both of which can accommodate 294 passengers on the 35 minute crossing.



Lough Foyle Ferry Company

In 2002 a new ferry service linking northern and southern Ireland and cutting 50 miles off the road journey was inaugurated across the mouth of the Lough Foyle. The service runs from the busy fishing port of Greencastle (south) to Magilligan slip (north). The berth at either side consists of a slip the only difference being the waiting room and car impound on the Magilligan side. The first vessel to operate the route was the Carrigaloe of Cross River Ferries, Cobh. In 2003 the service was temporarily suspended pending an investigation when during a rough crossing one of the seal on the ramp failed and water started entering the car deck. This did not however put passengers off – during 2003 she could no longer cope with the volume of traffic on the route so she was sent back to her owners. She was replaced by Shannon car ferries vessel spare vessel and renamed Foyle Venture which brought increased capacity to the route. With residents from the north going south to take advantage of the cheaper fuel and residents in the south jumping at the chance to save on shopping bills the service continues to boom.

So successful is it that in the summer, 2004 a new service began across the adjacent Lough Swilly in Lough Swilly where the same company started a summer only service in May 2004 from Rathmullen (Donegal) to Buncrana (also in Inishowen, Donegal). For the service, Lough Foyle Ferry Co. purchased Stedingen, built in Germany in 1972 for use on the River Weser, and laid up after the opening of a tunnel on her route. She was renamed Foyle Rambler, and is capable of carrying 20 cars and 200 passengers. Both services running together have effectively created a road across the Inishowen peninsula saving drivers hours on journeys.



Passage East

One of Irelands oldest established domestic ferry crossing is provided by F. B. D. Dunbrody. The service crosses a wide stretch of the Waterford Harbour estuary between Ballyhake (Co. Wexford) and Passage East (Co. Waterford).

The service was inaugurated on July 1st, 1982 after Derek Donolly acquired the Berne-Farge, a vessel built in 1960 which had been operating on the River Weser in Germany between Berne and Farge. She opened the route as the F.B.D. Dunbrody (named after a near by abbey) and could carry 18 cars loaded via her bow and stern ramps.

Before the arrival of the car ferry, small passenger boats operated between the two villages for centuries and the last operator gave up his small open boat to become the Dunbrody’s first skipper. She was later sold to Bere Island Ferries in 1998.

The current vessel was acquired from Shannon Ferries by Passage East in 1997. The Shannon Heather was renamed the Tintern (after another abbey) but was renamed Edmund D after the passing of Derek Donolly’s father. The new vessel also has bow and stern loading ramps and increased capacity to 30 cars as the service continues to grow.



Shannon Ferries

The country’s busiest vehicle service is provided by Shannon Ferries Ltd, who link Tarbert (Co. Kerry) and Killmer (Co. Clare). The company was formed by six families on either side of the river who wanted to avoid the 137km road journey through Limerick city to the other side of the river and introduced this 20 minute ferry crossing.

The service was inaugurated in 1969 by Shannon Heather which was specially built in Dartmouth (England) for the company, and with a space for 30 cars and 250 passengers it was obviously believed there would be good demand from the outset.

Ten years later a second ferry was introduced when a larger vessel with capacity for 44 cars and 300 passengers was ordered from Bowling and was named Shannon Willow.

The service continued to grow and in 1995 the company took delivery of the Shannon Dolphin, built in Appledore with space for 52 cars and 350 people. The service remained a two ship route with the three vessels remaining at the Killmer base until Shannon Heather was sold to Passage East Ferries in 1997.

Soon after another ship was ordered from Appledore and in 2000 Shannon Breeze came into service with space for 60 cars. Shannon Willow was then laid up until purchase by Lough Foyle Ferries in 2003. Shannon Dolphin and Shannon Breeze operated side by side most of the day, and at off peek periods one vessel provides a shuttle service.