Maiden voyage of new Carlingford ferry service to set sail today
THE first car and passenger ferry service across Carlingford Lough is set to make its maiden voyage today.
The new ferry route linking Greencastle in Co Down with Greenore in Co Louth will disembark for the first time, following years of opposition from campaigners.
The first crossing of the 'Scenic Carlingford Ferry' will set sail from Greencastle at noon.
In a statement, Paul O'Sullivan of operator Frazer Ferries Group, Limerick, said the launch of the service had come after a "long and exhaustive permitting process in two jurisdictions".
It also comes after the first sailing of the ferry, which had been due to take place last month, was postponed.
Frazer Ferries Group said at the time that there had been an "unforeseen delay" in taking delivery of specialised technical products which needed to be installed before operations could begin.
Boats have been ferrying passengers across the lough for years, but this will be the first vehicular service, with the 44-car vessel taking just 15 to 20 minutes to traverse the lough.
Commuters will be able to cut out a 35-mile route drive around the lough, taking 90 minutes off their journey by road. A car return journey, including car passenger, is currently £12.71
The project has been in development for nearly a decade and is the result of a £8.8 million investment by Frazer Ferries Group, which has included the construction of terminals at Greencastle and Greenore. It creates 18 new full-time jobs in the local areas serviced by the ferry.
But it has faced opposition from campaigners. Just 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.
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."