Monday 16 September 2019

Nostalgic evening on board first Carlingford Ferry pleasure cruise

John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Around 200 passengers enjoyed a unique voyage on board the MV Frazer last Friday evening as the Carlingford Ferry embarked on its first pleasure cruise since the service was launched two years ago.

On board the ferry, passengers sailed towards the Haulbowline lighthouse which at dusk was externally floodlit, as it will be each night for the remainder of August, in memory of those who have lost their lives in the Lough. Passengers were picked up from both Greencastle on the northern shore and Greenore on the Louth shoreline and were greeted by a glass of sparkling bubbles, as local singer Henry Mac entertained with suitable nautical themed tunes.

'This is this our first such pleasure cruise and we have been delighted by the response', explained Paul O'Sullivan of Carlingford Lough Ferry, adding that they planned to similar sailings in the following days. 'We have been here for two years and the passenger numbers are building all the time', he added explaining that the company also run the Passage East Ferry in Waterford and Louth Foyle Ferry in Derry. Also entertaining the passengers were members of the Greenore Historical Society in period dress with Brian Larkin outlining some of the maritime history and ecology of the Lough, as well as a poignantly recounted tale of the tragic sinking of the passenger ferry SS Connemara just off Greenore following a collision with the collier SS Retriever in November1916, the worst maritime disaster to happen on Carlingford Lough with the loss of 94 lives.

The highlight of the voyage however was the arrival at the lighthouse at dusk as the floodlighting was switched on around the bottom of the 100 year old structure. As the ferry twirled about on the Greenore side of lighthouse, passengers enjoyed the spectacle, cameras flashing and a drone hovering overhead. A real party atmosphere was building on board as Henry Mac took passengers through his song book and more traditional 'wedding' songs had the passengers jiving on the empty cardeck. As the two hour voyage was coming to an end and the ferry returned to shore, Paul O'Sullivan reflected on a very successful evening and considered similar future excursions exploring the Lough's wide ecology and undoubted stunning natural beauty on a glorious summer evening.

The Argus