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Monday 5 June 2023 Dublin: 7°C
# floats amaze
This €1.86m hostel/restaurant/micro-brewery could be sitting in Galway Harbour by next spring...
Heritage vessel the Naomh Éanna was used as an Aran Islands ferry from the 1950s. She was due to be destroyed next month, but a plan’s been put together to save her….

THE TEAM HOPING to restore and relaunch heritage vessel the Naomh Éanna meet with Arts & Heritage Minister Jimmy Deenihan today to put their proposals forward.

Businessman Sam Field Corbett, whose company also restored Dublin landmark the Cill Áirne, has been scrambling to put together a business plan since the Minister announced a temporary stay-of-execution for the ship last month.

She had been due to be scrapped by Waterways Ireland, after safety concerns were raised in a hull inspection.

Once used to carry passengers and supplies between Galway and the Aran Islands, the Dublin-built ferry had been berthed in the city’s Grand Canal Dock since 1989.

Various businesses operated out of it, but following a hull survey Waterways Ireland — which manages the dock — announced the vessel was no longer safe and would have to be destroyed.

The Naomh Éanna Trust — a campaign group established in 2005 aimed at saving the vessel — had wanted a longer reprieve period so a proper business plan for the revamp could be arranged.

However, the Trust — in co-operation with Field Corbett’s company the Irish Ship & Barge Fabrication Company — now contend they’re ready to move ahead to the next stage of the proposed restoration process, having put together a ‘comprehensive’ plan.

The proposed €1.86 million revamp would include…

  • An 82 bed boutique hostel
  • A 46 seat restaurant
  • An interactive museum
  • A micro brewery
  • A 60 seat  café

However, Field Corbett contends a proper inspection of the ship needs to be carried out before the plan can move to the next phase.

Here’s how the ship looked in the late 198os…


[Image: Naomh Éanna Trust]

More recently…


[Image: Naomh Éanna Trust]

And here’s what the proposed revamp would look like…


[Irish Ship & Barge Fabrication Company]

“None of the investors would be willing to put their hands in their pocket unless the ship is properly surveyed,” Field Corbett said, noting that he would be putting that very point to the Minister at today’s meeting.

He said that €1.86 million was the maximum budget his team had been able to secure, and warned that if the vessel turned out to be in a worse state than expected, the proposals would have to be abandoned.

Field Corbett said he had contacted experts from Harland and Wolff, and that whey were ready to carry out a full inspection of the ship should Waterways Ireland and the Minister give their go ahead.

“Engineers are confident the antique machinery in the ship can be returned to service and the ship will return to Galway under her own steam,” Field Corbett said.

The vessel was moved to the NAMA-controlled ‘Graving Docks’ by Waterways Ireland last month. However, Field Corbett contends a specialist would need to be commissioned to dry-dock the ship properly in-situ before any further assessment could take place.

“These actions would have to be taken as part of the scrapping method, and would not put additional costs on the state,” the businessman said.

If all goes to plan, the restored ship could be fully operational in Galway by December at the earliest, but “realistically, this time next year”.

It’s planned 45 people would be employed aboard the new business. Galway Port Company have already offered a berth for the heritage vessel.

Read: Scramble to save heritage ship after Minister grants stay-of-execution

Read: Groups outraged at exclusion from ‘relevant stakeholders’ meeting on ship destruction

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