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Image: [Naomh Éanna Trust]

Progress at last in battle to save heritage ship from the scrapyard

Campaigners want to turn the former Aran Islands ferry into a plush floating hostel, but they’ve been beset with a series of obstacles.
Sep 13th 2014, 4:00 PM 10,670 10

THE GROUP CAMPAIGNING to save former CIE vessel the Naomh Éanna from being scrapped is now making progress in its bid to turn the former Aran Islands ferry into a plush floating hostel.

Businessman Sam Field Corbett, whose firm also restored Dublin landmark the ‘The Boat’, confirmed that his Irish Ship & Barge Fabrication Company had acquired the craft, which has been berthed in the Grand Canal Dock since the 1980s.

It follows a long dispute involving the campaigners, Waterways Ireland (which manages the docks), the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, and NAMA. (It’s a long story: more here).

Built in the Liffey Dock in 1956 and once used to carry passengers and supplies between Galway and the islands, the ferry has fallen into disrepair in recent decades.

Waterways Ireland had been planning to scrap the vessel; safety concerns were raised in a hull inspection, and the ship couldn’t 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 then-Minister Jimmy Deenihan announced a last-minute stay of execution earlier this year.

The group then planned to carry out a survey of the ship’s hull at the NAMA-controlled ‘Graving Dock’ where she’s currently moored, but ran into a number of obstacles.

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

Field Corbett now hopes to make progress, saying yesterday that the Naomh Éanna, had effectively been secured for the next 3 months.

“IS&BF will complete the in depth survey required to calculate the cost of repairing the hull and machinery to compliment the calculations for her refit as a boutique hostel, restaurant, cafe and museum,” he said in an email.

The final part of the negotiations in facilitating this next step lies with NAMA who seem close to issuing the three month lease on the site which will allow surveyors to access the ship and determine her condition.

He said his company was “intent on approaching a number of venture capitalists to invest in the project”.

How the business plan is received by potential investors will ultimately decide her fate.

He added:

We hope to be able to invite all our supporters to visit the ship when she is being restored and look forward to meeting everyone then.

If the repairs go ahead, 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.

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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Daragh Brophy

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