Ships weigh anchor as city counts the booty

Mon, Aug 27, 2012, 01:00

THE ORGANISERS, market traders and spectators at the Tall Ships Festival couldn’t have wished for a better day yesterday for the ships to set sail from Dublin’s river Liffey quays.

On a rare day of summer sunshine tens of thousands lined the quays from early morning to bid farewell to the ships following the festival which organisers say attracted crowds of more than 1.15 million over its four-day run.

Some of the best views of the ships were to be had yesterday afternoon, not from Dublin city, but from the Dublin Bay coastline as the ships let the wind into their sails on the open sea.

The East Link Bridge was raised to allow the 40-strong fleet begin its journey from Dublin Port led by the Naval Service LE Emer at 11am.

The Parade of Sail, which marks the official end of the festival, travelled to Dún Laoghaire harbour and, after a 21-gun salute, sailed to Howth.

Visitors to the festival have since last Thursday toured the ships and attended free outdoor music events with acts including Ash, Ryan Sheridan and Cathy Davey. There were also walking tours, water sports, skateboarding displays and street theatre.

However one event was cancelled yesterday following a request by an Garda Síochána. The youth charity Foróige had hoped to break the record for the largest number of people performing the actions to 1970s Hues Corporation number Rock the Boat.

The event would have involved more than 1,600 people sitting in a line on the ground at Sir John Rogerson’s Quay. It was stopped by gardaí for safety reasons related to the large crowds in the area, organisers said.

Speaking at the event yesterday morning Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar said the festival had been a great boost for tourism in the city.

“It has been an amazing couple of days for Dublin. Probably more than a million people have been to see the ships. The sun is shining and it has really helped with the Government’s policy of building tourism and building the city. It really is fabulous.”

The festival was the “biggest event in Ireland this year”, Mr Varadkar said, and would have produced huge revenues for businesses in the city.

“It looks like the economic benefit to the city will be over €30 million. The hotels are full and the restaurants and bars are full too, and that’s really important. It is the sort of event we’re going to need to support in the future if the numbers add up.”

However several market traders said they expected takings to be down over the four days.

Justin Costello of O’Flynn’s Gourmet Sausage Company said the crowds seemed smaller than expected. “Today is good, because of the weather, but we’ve to finish up at 2pm. Friday was very poor, yesterday was good, but the Waterford Tall Ships Festival was much busier,” he said.

Andrew Haydu of DownEast American Style barbecue stall said it was tough to make a profit, but he hoped the last few hours yesterday would increase his takings. “Friday was grim, but Saturday was pretty good.”

Niall Nevin of Olhausen Vintage Sausage Van said that, while crowds were large, people were spending less: “People are very conscious of spending anything.”

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