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naomh eanna

Another twist in battle to save heritage ship: NAMA only potential stumbling block

Heritage vessel the Naomh Éanna was used as an Aran Islands ferry from the 1950s. She was due to be destroyed earlier this year.


The Naomh Éanna today [Naomh Éanna Trust]

THE GROUP CAMPAIGNING to save former CIE ferry the Naomh Éanna from being scrapped appears to be making progress, having reached a deal to take over responsibility for the vessel with a number of other stakeholders or potential stakeholders involved in deciding her fate.

As of this morning, only the question of whether NAMA will allow the group to carry out repairs on the heritage vessel remains a potential stumbling block. However, a meeting with the agency is being arranged for the coming days, at which the issue will be discussed.

Built in the Liffey Dock in 1956 and once used to carry passengers and supplies between Galway and the Aran Islands, the ferry has been berthed in Dublin’s Grand Canal Dock since the late 1980s — where she has since fallen into disrepair.

Waterways Ireland, which manages the docks, had been planning to scrap the vessel; safety concerns were raised in a hull inspection, and the ship could not be moved from the waterway under her own power.

Campaigners had asked for the plan to scrap the vessel to be delayed — but such a move seemed unlikely, until Minister Jimmy Deenihan announced a last-minute stay of execution earlier this year, following questioning in the Seanad from Senator David Norris.


Businessman Sam Field Corbett, whose company also restored Dublin landmark the Cill Áirne (‘The Boat’), began work on a business plan to restore the ferry to her former glory, in co-operation with campaign group the Naomh Éanna Trust. This resulted in a proposal to turn the disused craft into a floating hostel/restaurant/micro-brewery, to be docked in Galway Harbour.

However, their subsequent scramble to save the former ferry has been beset with problems and obstacles in the months since the official window of opportunity was announced.

The planned revamp… [Irish Ship & Barge Fabrication Company]

The group had been planning to carry out a survey of the ship’s hull at the NAMA-controlled ‘Graving Dock’ where she’s currently moored — but that inspection was not allowed to go ahead last month, due to safety concerns.

Field Corbett said that he was later told by Waterways Ireland that the group could take over responsibility for the vessel and therefore proceed with the project, if it got the go ahead from a list of stakeholder groups set out by the organisation, including Dublin City Council, the Dublin Port Company and (previous owners) the Irish Nautical Trust.

“They all signed off, leaving us just awaiting word from NAMA,” Field Corbett said.

They need to issue our group with a licence to use their dock for the repairs.

However, Field Corbett confirmed he received word yesterday that a meeting with NAMA was being arranged, and said he hoped to have it scheduled within the coming days.

“It’s been such a long-drawn out affair, we had thought it had lost its impetus — but it now looks like the plan is coming together finally.”

If the repairs are allowed to go ahead in Dublin, it’s hoped the Naomh Éanna will be sailed to Galway under her own steam for the remainder of the work to be completed there.

It’s planned 45 people would be employed aboard the new business, which could be up and running by next spring.

Photos: This man’s been documenting life on Ireland’s Wild Western Islands for over 50 years… 

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


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