50,000 fans get ready for French adventure as big kick-off nears
Published 07/06/2016 | 02:30
By boat, train and plane, as many as 50,000 Irish soccer fans are making final preparations for the trip to France.
The vanguard are booked on ferries and flights over the coming days, with thousands planning to hit Paris for Friday night's opening.
Paris, Bordeaux and Lille are on the destination list for Martin O'Neill and his 23-man squad, with the Green Army following.
Ireland open their campaign in the 80,000-capacity Stade de France in Paris next Monday with a 5pm kick-off.
Then it's off to Bordeaux the following Saturday to take on one of the tournament favourites, Belgium.
The final group game sees the Irish fans make their way north again to Lille to take on the Italians on June 22.
Security is going to be tight throughout France, as an estimated eight million soccer fans follow 24 national teams for 51 matches between Friday and the final on July 10.
Diane Poole, from Stena Line, said: "Our direct route from Rosslare to Cherbourg sold out in a matter of hours, with approximately 1,000 fans booking their trips immediately. And had we the capacity on that route, I'm sure we could have sold a lot more.
"We've also noticed an increase in volumes year on year across all of our routes from fans travelling to Britain, then heading onwards to France, with Landbridge bookings for June up 60pc on our Rosslare to Fishguard route and 20pc on our Dublin to Holyhead route."
Former players Ray Houghton and Stephen Hunt will be in Rosslare on Thursday evening when most fans depart for France.
Ryanair said it added 90 special Euro 2016 flights for fans travelling from Ireland and five other countries.