Swansea ferry captain’s son plans to resurrect route

A MAN whose father was one of the main movers behind the first Swansea-Cork ferry link is hoping to resurrect the service and use its former name, the B&I (British & Irish) Line.

Captain Frank Allen, who has acquired a loan from a Finnish bank to purchase a new vessel, is the son of Charlie Allen, a former captain and marine superintendent for the old B&I Line, which ran a ferry on the Swansea-Cork route from the late 1960s. The ferry earmarked for the new service is “The Julia”, which ran routes between Norway, Sweden and Denmark.

At 155 metres long, she is far larger than the MV Superferry, which was used by Swansea-Cork Ferries up to the closure of the route three years ago. Port of Cork commercial manager Captain Michael McCarthy said the vessel was ideal for and Captain Allen was an accomplished operator.

“Captain Allen owns and operates three cargo vessels which are trading in northwest Europe. One of his vessels is charted to Associated British Ports, which runs Swansea Port and as such he is well known and respected by them as well,” Capt McCarthy said.

He added The Julia can carry up to 1,800 passengers and 480 cars. It is hoped a shortfall of €3 million needed to get the ferry up and running will be made up by businesses in west Cork.

Capt McCarthy said he applauded the efforts of West Cork Tourism to raise the cash by getting 300 businesses to pledge €10,000 each. The mayor of Co Cork, Councillor Noel Harrington (FG), said he was hopeful businesses in the region would sign up to become shareholders. Conor Buckley, chairman of West Cork Tourism, said yesterday fundraising efforts were going well.

A meeting will be hosted by his organisation in Skibbereen tonight, at which it should be known if the €3m target has been met.

Cork county councillors discussed the situation at a meeting in Clonakilty yesterday.

Assistant county manager Theresa White said the council had indicated it would spend significant sums on marketing the new service. Cllr Dermot Sheehan (FG) said credit unions in west Cork had agreed to meet any businesses which would like to invest, so they could set up a loan facility if that was necessary.

“Maybe the League of Credit Unions in west Cork would come together and buy shares themselves. Local authorities are constrained in investing in the ferry because of lack of money, which is a pity,” he said.

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