Tourists visiting the Aran Islands will have their journey time cut by more than half from April, as Doolin Ferry Company has announced that it is to launch a new boat, reducing the journey time from Doolin to Inis Oírr from 35 minutes to 15 minutes.
The €2 million investment comes on the back of the redevelopment of Doolin Pier and is expected to generate up to 10 seasonal jobs at the ferry company.
Liam O’Brien, who is the son of Bill O’Brien, the director of Doolin Ferry Company, said the new 200-passenger ferry, which will be called the Doolin Express, will be in place from April, offering the fastest crossing time to the Aran Islands.
“It’s a new boat and we soft-launched it at the Holiday World Show this week. It will take 200 passengers and you will get to Inis Oírr in 15 minutes. It has an electronic stabilising system to counteract the waves and it is the only boat domestically in Ireland that has one. We are hoping it will be a vast improvement on what we have at the moment because it’s twice the size of what we currently operate,” Mr O’Brien said.
He explained that tourist numbers are up and it is the right time to make the investment.
“The tourist numbers are increasing all the time with the Wild Atlantic Way. We were waiting for the new pier and we wanted to see what that was like. It is a credit to Clare County Council. They invested €6m and we are probably going to make around €2m of an investment in terms of the boat and staff. We are hoping to employ between eight and 10 more staff related to the vessel,” he said.
Mr O’Brien added, “I don’t think speed is a big thing anyway for people but, for us, we can provide a better service and provide more trips. Again if the sea is exposed and is quite rough, people don’t want to be on the boat for long, so at least we will be able to get across quicker.”
The Doolin Express will be launched in April and will be in operation throughout the normal seasonal schedule, until October 31.