BETTER late than never. Three weeks behind schedule, a passenger ferry was finally lifted on board a giant cargo ship to be taken to its new home.
Hundreds of people yesterday witnessed the successful lifting of the former Aran Island ferry onto the 'Thor Gitta' cargo ship in Galway Harbour.
However, the second ferry, the 'Pantanal', is still waiting to be loaded before the cargo ship leaves these shores to take them to the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius.
The project looked almost dead in the water after two aborted lifting attempts in the past week, damage to the 'Pantanal', which ran aground on March 31, and a harbour arrest of the 'Thor Gitta'.
But yesterday afternoon the 'Clann na nOileain' was sitting snugly on board the Danish registered 4,900 tonne ship, ready to be joined this morning by the 'Clan Eagle 1'.
One man who will be happy to see the back of the 'Thor Gitta' is Galway Harbourmaster, Captain Brian Sheridan, who has played a pivotal role in seeing the project through to a successful conclusion.
"It has been a difficult few weeks for us," said Captain Sheridan. "Because the 'Thor Gitta' is such a large ship, we have had to do a lot of manoeuvring around the harbour to accommodate our everyday traffic.
Once the second ferry is onboard, the 'Thor Gitta' should be in a position to set sail and we can return to normal levels of operation."
New hoisting gear meant the primary lift could be fast forwarded to yesterday.