- New Garrihy family ferry will halve the journey time of predecessor
- Two high speed ferry snow operate on route
The Doolin to Aran Islands route has gotten a second fast ferry on the western seaboard. Doolin2Aran‘s new vessel, Star of Doolin, sailed into Ireland for the first time following a €3m investment.
It completed the 650 nautical mile journey from La Rochelle in France and sailed into Doolin Pier to the strains of box, fiddle, banjo and pipes. Following regulatory sign-off by Department of Transport officials, the boat was operating to the three Aran Islands and Cliffs of Moher by mid-afternoon on Tuesday.
The ship will cut journey times in half and double capacity of the company’s existing boats. It has also been designed with the environment in mind, with features to lower emissions and state of the art waste water treatment.
Doolin2Aran, which is owned and operated by the Garrihy family, said it’s their biggest ever investment in a single vessel. The one-off designed, 200 seat cruise ship is also tailored for international tourists, with multi-lingual voice commentary.
Hundreds gathered on Doolin Pier to welcome the ship, led by Clare concertina player Chris Droney (93), who gave the boat its name. Chris is father in law of Eugene Garrihy – one of four Garrihy brothers with PJ, Joe and Donie involved in the business.
The 25m ship was sailed back from La Rochelle to Doolin, with an overnight in Dingle, at the weekend by skipper PJ Garrihy and his crew. They spent Monday night at the Aran Islands.
“It’s a great day for Doolin, for West Clare and for the Aran Islands,” said PJ Garrihy. “It was a lovely trip back. It’s such a comfortable ship and will be a great service to West Clare and the islands. We couldn’t wait to get her back and were blown away by the crowds on the pier for us.”
Brother Eugene said: “This is the end of an 18-month journey for us. We took the decision back in late 2016. It was a big move because we’re a small family business and it’s a very big investment for us but now that the ship is back, we’re delighted. It will be a huge boost to tourism in the West of Ireland but particularly here in Doolin and the Aran Islands.
Garrihy’s daughter Aoibhín, who is due her first child with husband John Burke, in three weeks’ time was also on the pier. “I’m very proud of what’s been achieved here. I got my first job here working in the summers and I just love the place. A lot of hard work, including in difficult times, has gone into this by the family, by people employed here and it’s great to seeing it pay off.”
Her grandfather Chris, who danced on the pier, said: “I was here 70 and 80 years ago and there was nothing. Now it’s a thriving pier but it didn’t happen overnight. It’s great to see progress like this.”