‘Brexit-busting’ ferry launched from Dublin Port

Hundreds attend christening of world’s largest short sea roll-on roll-off vessel

The absolutely enormous cargo ship that was christened by Leo Varadkar and other luminaries in Dublin Port on Friday morning is officially to be called Celine but over the course of a long and lavish ceremony marking its birth it was more commonly referred to by its shiny new nickname, Brexit Buster.

By any measure, the vertigo inducing ship moored at a specially built quay at the heart of the sprawling port is massive.

It can accommodate more than 600 lorries and is almost twice the size of any ferry currently operating out of Dublin Port. If all the parking lanes on the 235m long boat were laid end to end, it would stretch to almost 8 kilometres, making it the world’s largest short sea roll-on roll-off vessel.

It is hoped its size will allow hundreds of thousands of additional tonnes of freight go to and from the Continent each year, bypassing Britain and the border controls and paperwork that may be inevitable if a hard Brexit becomes a reality.


Addressing a crowd of several hundred people, largely from the shipping and business communities in Ireland, Belgium and the Netherlands, the Taoiseach stressed the importance of shipping routes and investment in the infrastructure needed for their expansion.

It was music to the chief executive of Dublin Port Eamonn O’Reilly’s ears who was looking pleased as punch even before Mr Varadkar got up to speak.

As invited guests milled around in the ship's hold ahead of a midday concert featuring specially commissioned work by Colm Mac Con Iomaire of Kila and the Frames and "the last surviving Dubliner" John Sheahan, he pronounced it a "magnificent day."

The christening of the big boat was worth marking in such a fashion because vessels like it were crucial to justify the expansion of Dublin Port and to reduce the negative impact of "the B word," he told The Irish Times.

He said that post-Brexit, Celine and ships like it would create more direct routes into mainland Europe and allow Irish exporters to completely circumvent the UK land bridge.

He was even more upbeat when asked how business was at the port generally. “Booming, it is just booming,” he said. “We are seeing growth year after year after year.”

Christian Cigranc, the scion of the Antwerp shipping family that owns the Cobelfret shipping line which gave birth to Celine also addressed Brexit. Speaking directly to the Taoiseach on the stage next to him he said the British decision to leave the EU had "caused many, many headaches but let me take one away from you. In terms of maritime access, we have got this. Shipping will provide, it always does."

He was generous in his praise of Dublin Port and its boss. By choosing the chief executive’s wife Geraldine as the boat’s godmother “we honour your husband,” Mr Cigranc gallantly declared.

Standing in the shadows after smashing the champagne on the ship’s hull, the Godmother O’Reilly said she had been honoured to be asked to be asked to fill the roll: “I just want all the crew to be safe.”

Lisa Hannigan was in the crowd watching. Earlier the crowd was inside the boat watching her as she sang a haunting reimagining of The Ship Song by Nick Cave.

She stared up at the ship. “The size of it,” she marvelled.“It’s quite unfathomable really. But I like how it looks. There is something Scandinavian and very cool about it.”

Conor Pope

Conor Pope

Conor Pope is Consumer Affairs Correspondent, Pricewatch Editor