The estimated €350,000 structure was installed at Nealon’s Quay, close to the town centre, by LCF Marine of Bere Island.
The pontoon consists of hot-dipped galvanised steel, anchored by three tubular steel piles. It replaces a smaller facility in place in recent years.
Measuring 5m by 2.5m, the pontoon is floated by polystyrene blocks encased in glass fibre, with reinforced concrete skins beneath non-slip decking.
The project has been “substantially funded” by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and the Marine, with input from Cork County Council, says East Cork Municipal District officer Helen Mulcahy.
The installation follows several years of lobbying, which saw the then-marine minister Simon Coveney, through the offices of Junior Minister David Stanton, visit Youghal to listen to representations first-hand.
Crediting both politicians’ efforts, Ms Mulcahy says the pontoon will “ensure a safe and reliable means for maritime visitors to access the beautiful harbour and Blackwater”.
Chairman of Youghal Maritime Development Group Martin Finn says the pontoon is “a wonderful acquirement and another step towards rectifying the under-appreciation of the river”.
The chairman says it marks stage two of a six-point plan towards the ‘holy grail’ of a full-scale Youghal marina, while also envisaging “dredging Market Dock, a new slipway and a storage/parking centre upriver”.
The installation boosts Youghal’s rapidly improving status as a family-friendly, leisure and heritage resort.
Emerging from the doldrums of post-industrial collapse, in recent times the town has restored the iconic Clock Gate; concluded stage one of the beachside eco-boardwalk; acquired the lighthouse as a visitor attraction; and enhanced the town centre public realm.
The pontoon will be officially opened in June and will remain in the water annually from May to October 1.