New Rathlin ferry operator reflects on successful first year

Dunaverty Ltd took over the ferry crossing in early 2023 after the previous operator hit hard times

Three people standing in front of the Spirit of Rathlin ferry. They are (left to right): Charles Stewart and Dawn Hynes of Dunaverty Ltd with Danske Bank's Robert Lynn.
L-R: Charles Stewart and Dawn Hynes of Dunaverty Ltd with Danske Bank's Robert Lynn. (DARREN KIDD)

The company appointed last year to run ferry services to Rathlin Island has now expanded its operation to 18 staff and two vessels.

Dunaverty Limited was awarded the contract for the island crossing in January 2023, just two days after the former operator Rathlin Island Ferry Limited ceased trading due to financial difficulties.

Backed by Danske Bank, Charles Stewart’s new company initially launched a passenger vessel for Rathlin’s 150 residents and visitors to the island.

Dunaverty Ltd later added a second vessel to restore vehicle access to the island.

Reflecting on the 15 months since launching his operation, Mr Stewart said: “The ferry service to Rathlin Island is a vital link for the people of our local community and we had to act quickly to take over the service last year.

“Danske Bank was instrumental in helping us achieve that, and they continue to support us as we develop our business plan and as we look to improve the sustainability of our business.”

“We are now focusing on futureproofing the at sea service and investing in our operations to implement further staff training, develop a tailored ticketing system and engaging with the island community through community association forums.”

Danske Bank business manager, Robert Lynn, added: “A service such as the Rathlin Island Ferry is simply not one that we can do without in Northern Ireland and so we were pleased to work with the Dunaverty Ltd team in keeping this vital connection between the island and the mainland.”