Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Carlingford Ferry makes maiden voyage

A new cross border ferry service linking Co Louth and Co Down finally made its maiden voyage on Friday after severe weather conditions threatened to scupper any hopes of it setting sail.   The Scenic Carlingford Ferry had been due to set off at 12 noon on Friday however operators, Frazer Ferries, called it off with less than 40 minutes notice due to gale force weather.  Improved weather conditions saw the first one mile journey from Greenore to Greencastle finally take place shortly after lunchtime. 

The project – which has been discussed for the last 50 years – has been beset by setbacks and has faced years of opposition from campaigners. Last month Appeal judges in Belfast upheld a High Court dismissal of a case challenging the granting of planning permission and a marine licence for the new service. 

The ferry’s inaugural sailing had been due to take place last month but was postponed due to an “unforeseen delay” in taking delivery of specialised technical products which needed to be installed before operations could begin.

Locals hope the €10 million project – entirely privately financed and operated by Shannon-based company Frazer Ferries Group – will boost tourism and the economy on both sides of the border.  Whilst boats have been ferrying passengers across the lough for several years, the new ferry is the first vehicular service, with the 44-car vessel taking just 15 to 20 minutes to traverse the lough, meaning commuters will be able to cut out a 35-mile route drive around the lough, taking 90 minutes off their journey by road.

Paul O’Sullivan, founder and managing director of Scenic Carlingford Ferry said he hoped that the service would “act as a catalyst for economic development in the south Down north Louth region”.

In a statement, Mr O’Sullivan added: “We are delighted to announce the ferry’s first passenger sailing today and look forward to welcoming visitors on board to experience everything that this service has to offer.

“Carlingford Lough is located midway between the two major population centres of Dublin and Belfast.

“This corridor encompasses a resident population of almost 2.2 million people.

“Scenic Carlingford Ferry will act as a catalyst for economic development in the south Down/north Louth region and will become an essential infrastructural link which will stimulate economic growth in a range of sectors, including the tourism industry.”

Prices for the cross border crossing are starting at €2.25 for a single foot passenger journey when booked online (€3 normally). A single car journey (including passengers) currently costs €11.25 one way when booked online (€15 normally).

The service will run from 7am to 9.30pm during the summer, and from 7am to 7pm from October to March.