Burren-Galway ferry link proposed


A PROPOSED ferry link between the Burren in Co Clare and Galway city, which could more than halve travel time between the two locations, is being planned for early next year.

A Clare-based company has sought tenders for a feasibility survey to assess the viability of the “Ballyvaughan Bay Hop” ferry. The principal aim of the project is to create a passenger service to Galway from Ballyvaughan servicing north Clare.

The village of Ballyvaughan is a melting pot of locals and “blow- ins” and tourism is the primary industry. However, tourism was seasonal and employment opportunities outside this industry in the locality were scarce, said Ballyvaughan Bay Hop spokeswoman Gwen Ryan.

Many local residents commute to nearby centres of enterprise Shannon, Limerick, and Galway. Galway is the nearest city and can be seen across the bay from Ballyvaughan. However, it is nearly 50km away by road.

Ms Ryan is just one of the many locals who make this commute around Galway Bay every day. She took up her position as a research support librarian at National University of Ireland Galway in late 2008, having moved to Ballyvaughan from Dublin in 2006.

“The road network into Galway is prone to congestion during rush hour and it can take a soul-destroying two hours during rush hour to cross the city for a journey that takes 50 minutes during off-peak times,” she said. “The same journey by sea would take just 30 minutes.”

The idea was developed during a community think-tank in early spring of 2010, organised to stem the erosion of enterprise and community life in Ballyvaughan caused by the recession. Ms Ryan has since talked to several experienced local mariners and providers of similar passenger services in Donegal and Scotland.

Depending on the results of the feasibility survey, it is envisaged that the 12-seater service would become operational in early 2012.