I guess it was just a matter of time … Stena Line, which operated ferries to Wales from both Dublin and Dun Laoghaire harbours, has finally pulled the plug on the latter operation. The ferry between Dun Laoghaire and Holyhead had been running since 1835, but the 180th birthday celebrations will now be, er, rather muted.
But was it a surprise? Not really, as the Dun Laoghaire service was already on a “seasonal basis” for some time. And it made sense, I assume. I remember taking the car over on that route in early 2000, and the boat was about as lively as the Marie Celeste. Great if you need elbow space as a passenger, not so great if you need to generate a profit as a provider.
Add to that the fact that Dun Laoghaire was used by the massive HSS …
… and have a wild guess which ferries were the first to stop running in bad weather? Exactly, the fast ones. For passengers booked on Irish Ferries this meant the inconvenience of spending extra time at Dublin, waiting for the slow boat. The passengers booked on Stena Line usually were also accommodated on the normal ferries. But they had to make their way from Dun Laoghaire to Dublin. Which can be a trying experience.
So, what will happen to Dun Laoghaire Harbour now?
The Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company (DHLR) is seeking an alternative service provider for the route (or, to be honest, any route, I guess) and has issued a call for “expressions of interest” on the eTenders website. They hope that a passenger service will be in place for 2016 – while at the same time the port’s facilities for cruise ships will be further enhanced.
We’ll see, but for now, the ferry has sailed from Dun Laoghaire. Never to return?