Galway Bay water taxi begins trial run

Fast ferry will cut commuter times between north Clare and Galway city

The 12-passenger rigid inflatable boat being used for the twice-daily water taxi service linking Ballyvaughan, Co Clare, to Galway.

The 12-passenger rigid inflatable boat being used for the twice-daily water taxi service linking Ballyvaughan, Co Clare, to Galway.


Weather permitting, a new water taxi service linking Clare to Galway will leave Ballyvaughan pier this morning on the first day of its two-week trial run.

On board will be some happy commuters who look forward to an exhilarating – rather than exhausting – journey into work in Galway city.

The Ballyvaughan Bay Hop, as it is known, was established by Gwen Ryan, a Ballyvaughan resident who works in NUI Galway (NUIG) and has direct experience of the city’s notorious traffic tail-backs.

The project has secured funding for the fortnight’s pilot service from the Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark and the EU’s TransTourism partnership, which aims to provide transport “solutions” in rural areas in the northern periphery.

A 12-passenger hard-cabin rib will cut an hour-long commute by road to half an hour by sea, linking Ballyvaughan’s new pier slipway to a pontoon beside Galway Harbour office and RNLI lifeboat station twice daily.

The rib was selected due to its flexibility with tides and weather, and is being provided by Liam O’Brien of O’Brien Line.

Orla McGuinness, who works in a counselling service in the city, aims to be one of the first passengers on board.

“My husband lectures in Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology and my eldest daughter is doing a masters’ at NUIG,”she said. “We live between Ballyvaughan and Fanore, and we normally require two cars as we have different working hours,”she says. “We will be able to cut this down to one, and use a bike as there’s room on the ribs for bike carriage.”

McGuinness had participated in a trail run on the craft during last summer’s Volvo Ocean Race. “The rib planes across the top of the waves, so it isn’t rolling like a conventional ferry in bad weather, and it’s just wonderful. I came into work on a high, as a result.”

Ryan says the morning and evening crossings may suit tourists, and the project has linked up with a bicycle hire company in Ballyvaughan. “It will be another way to see the Burren, and one that offers a better experience than being on a tour bus perhaps,”she says.

The initiative has been welcomed by Capt Brian Sheridan of the Galway Harbour Office, and by NUIG’s Prof Kevin Leyden, a champion of combining old and new forms of transport into a sustainable model.

The Ballyvaughan Bay Hop’s first sailing leaves Ballyvaughan at 7.45am today, arriving in to Galway at 8.15am. Tickets are €12 single, 20 euro return, €45 for a family and a 10-journey commuter ticket costs €80.

Bookings can be made on www.ballyvaughanbayhop .com