Trains, boats and planes bring the green armies to France

Tens of thousands of Irish football fans depart for the European Championships

 Seán Mulligan, Seán Evans and Ben Ellard from Nass, Co Kildare settle into French life. Photograph: James Crombie/©INPHO

Seán Mulligan, Seán Evans and Ben Ellard from Nass, Co Kildare settle into French life. Photograph: James Crombie/©INPHO

 

The largest exodus of Irish football fans in history is under way with tens of thousands set to leave for France over the weekend for Euro 2016.

For the first time both Irish teams are involved in the same major championships and it is estimated 100,000 fans from across the island could attend.

Some 30,000 Irish soccer fans are expected to travel from Dublin Airport. Over the weekend 64 flights, including 13 extra services, are scheduled to bring fans to Paris ahead of the Republic’s first game against Sweden on Monday.

Ferry companies are booked out on all routes to France and there is heavy demand for the land bridge through Britain .

Andy Bennett (32), from Malahide, Dublin, has commandeered an old Dublin Bus for the journey. There are two toilets, no showers and spare capacity for a few stragglers who want to get on board. His plan was to round up 11 friends to travel for the Republic’s three games, but many opted to stay only for a couple of games. Seven fans will depart on board this morning.

“A lot of our friends couldn’t get time off work, could only go for one or two games, or could only come for the last game,” he said. “We’re not actively advertising we have space, but we will have spare capacity going to Lille.”

Some 5,000 other fans will be travelling on Irish Ferries’ two sailings from Dublin Port and Rosslare which will arrive in France on Sunday in time for the first match against Sweden.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has issued an emergency number for Irish fans. The number, +33144176780 will be available for as long as the Republic stays in the tournament.

Eight gardaí have been sent to France to help fans and assist the French security forces.