A former CIÉ transport ship that serviced the Aran Islands will become home to luxury five-star accommodation, and its owners are hoping to berth at Dublin’s Custom House Quay as its owners plan a significant investment.
The Naomh Eanna, acquired by Sam Field Corbett of Irish Ship & Barge Fabrication for €1 in 2015, is seeking a licence for berth on the river Liffey.
The ferry built in Dublin in 1956 will now see preliminary work commencing its restoration following Dublin City Council’s decision to offer it a berth once completed.
Private funding of €6.6 million has been secured to restore the ship and refit it as a 28-cabin hotel, to a five-star standard complete with a glazed restaurant on the boat deck.
Once complete the Naomh Eanna will have glass decks and all cabins will be 15-20sq m themed in a classic 1920s style of hardwood and brass.
Mr Corbett has been involved in a number of high-profile maritime restoration projects in recent years. In 1998, he commissioned the MV Riasc barge as a sailing restaurant based on the Grand Canal.
His most well-known project was the two-year, €3.2 million restoration of the MV Cillairne, which now operates as a restaurant and bar on North Wall Quay.
This was followed by the 2009 purchase of a large harbour in Galway city, where a “national maritime quarter” is being developed. Three cruise boats berthed there are available for letting on Airbnb.
The conversion of the Naomh Eanna follows the acquisition of a tall-ship hotel by Paddywagon founder Cathal O'Connell. Mr O'Connell, a business partner of Mr Corbett in this venture, acquired the Antwerp-based Anna Marjorie tall ship for €2.5 million. The 14-bedroom ship will in September arrive in Dublin, where it hopes to dock on the Liffey, although Dublin City Council said any plans for this ship have yet to be finalised.
It is expected that leases for any dockings will last only five years, and with no confirmation of permissions from the City Council, the investment represents a significant risk for the owners. Mr Corbett said: “It does represent quite a risk on our part. You could be told to sling your hook in five years’ time."
Mr Corbett expects to begin restoration of the Naomh Eanna after the National Asset Management Agency, which has a lease on the dock where the ship currently resides, give the go-ahead.
* This story was amended on Friday, July 6th.