€3 million 'cruise ship' cuts journey from Doolin to Aran Islands to just 15 minutes
Passengers can travel from Doolin to Inis Oírr in half the time, thanks to the new 'Star of Doolin' ferry
A new, 26-metre 'cruise ship' sailing between Doolin and the Aran Islands is the fastest of its type on the Irish coast, its owners say.
The 'Star of Doolin' can reach Inis Oírr in just 15 minutes, it is claimed.
The €3 million vessel, commissioned by the Garrihy family for Doolin2Aran Ferries, sailed into Co. Clare from a shipyard in La Rochelle, France this week.
The 200-seater will halve journey times to the Aran Islands and double capacity on the route, the family says, as well as providing hour-long Cliffs of Moher cruises.
Hundreds gathered to welcome the ship, led by legendary Clare concertina player Chris Droney (93, below), who gave the boat its name.
Chris is father in law of Eugene Garrihy – one of four Garrihy brothers (along with PJ, Joe and Donie) involved in the business - which also owns and operates 'The Happy Hooker', 'The Rose of Aran', 'The Jack B', 'The Doolin Discovery' and the 'St Bridget', which operates cruises on Dublin Bay.
“This is the end of an 18 month journey for us," Eugene said.
"It was a big move because we’re a small family business and it’s a very big investment for us but now that the ship is back, we’re delighted."
Garrihy’s daughter Aoibhín (below) was also on the pier.
“I’m very proud of what’s been achieved here," she said. "I got my first job here working in the summers and I just love the place.
"A lot of hard work, including in difficult times, has gone into this by the family, by people employed here and it’s great to seeing it pay off.”
Following sign-off by Department of Transport, 'Star of Doolin' services are already underway - with trips to the islands costing from €20 return per adult and €10 for children, while Cliffs of Moher cruises are priced at €15/€10pp.