A temporary ferry service to restore access to Dursey Island will begin operating this week, Cork County Council has confirmed.
The service will operate while the famous cable-car service, used to access the Co. Cork island since 1969, is closed for essential repairs.
An inspection report deemed the remedial works necessary on the cable car, due to the impact of Storm Barra last December combined with increased corrosion to the structure because of age and weather exposure.
The cable car ceased operations on April 1, and the works are due to be completed in November.
In a statement, Cork County Council confirmed that Cork-based company LCF Marine will commence a ferry service to Dursey Island this Friday (May 20).
The service is being operated on behalf of the local authority and the Department of Community and Rural Development.
LCF Marine will be provided with an interim licence issued by the Department of Transport to run the service.
The ferry will operate for one hour each side of high tide three days per week – currently Friday, Saturday and Monday.
Dursey Island farmers
Although he welcomed the announcement, the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) chair for Cork west, Donal O’Donovan was critical of the length of time it took for the service to be secured.
He acknowledged that safety is paramount but added that farmers were told in January that the cable car service would stop in April. O’Donovan said that there are around 70 cattle and 700 ewes on the island.
“Our big complaint with Cork County Council is that they had all that time to get this service in place before April 1.
“In fairness, all councillors, from every party and none, were involved in trying to negotiate on behalf of the farmers. But it is just the whole system within the council is so slow,” the IFA chair said.
The delay in securing a ferry service made life difficult for the farmers and led to some animal welfare issues, he added.
O’Donovan also raised concerns about the limited nature of the temporary service and asked if the frequency will increase when the tourism season begins.
The IFA chair said that the farmers have played their part in maintaining the island, which is a popular destination for visitors.