Ireland’s largest domestic ferry, Saoirse na Farraige to be operated by Aran Island Ferries, is on its way to Galway from Hong Kong, becoming the sixth ferry in their fleet.
Commissioned in January 2019, the 40-metre vessel with a capacity of 400 is expected to arrive in Galway Bay from Hong Kong in October, bringing great excitement and anticipation to the area.
Sales and Marketing Manager, Aine McLoughlin said that with increased capacity, accessibility, and safety features, they are looking forward to seeing visitors enjoy their journey to the Aran Islands on Saoirse na Farraige.
Owned by the O’Briens of Connemara, this family has an enduring relationship with the Aran Islands since they began to trade turf there in the early 1900s.
Aran Island Ferries co-founder, Paddy O’Brien, worked on the deck of his father Michael’s Galway Hooker, An Tónaí’ and when the turf trade started to decline, they began carrying passengers to the Aran Islands.
Paddy recalls the 4am departures when arrival time was unknown. However, travel time to the islands shortened when Michael installed the boat’s first engine in 1969 for £830 (Irish pounds ).
Inspired by his father’s work and committed to improving their passengers’ travel experience, Paddy and his wife Sally, bought the Dún Aengus, a 48-seater in 1983, and the first domestic ferry with a passenger licence on the west coast.
Today, Paddy and Sally’s family: Susan, Sharon, Cian and Niall, continue to deliver on their parents’ commitment, by introducing ferries with advanced technology to the fleet, ensuring a safe, comfortable journey for passengers.
Aran Island Ferries General Manager, Susan O’Brien said resilience, tenacity and an enduring optimism has enabled the business to grow from carrying passengers on a Galway Hooker to Ireland’s largest domestic ferry.
“We will continue to exercise these qualities regardless of the environment we operate in and are looking forward to welcoming Saoirse na Farraige,” she said.
The longest running passenger ferry business from Galway to the Aran Islands, would like to see their new ferry positively impact tourism in the west of Ireland.
It will serve all three islands from Rossaveel. The journey time to each island:
Inis Mór – 40-minutes
Inis Meáin – 50-minutes
Inis Oírr – 55-minutes
Partnering with Cheoy Lee Shipyards, a world-leading ship building company in Hong Kong, the 40-metre vessel with a capacity of 400 was first commissioned in January 2019.
The vessel is embarking on a 2.5-thousand mile journey from Hong Kong towards Galway Bay. The ferry is traveling inside the hold of a heavy lift ship called Svenja, belonging to Sal Heavy Lift.
Saoirse na Farraige has at least three more stops to make before arriving in Galway Bay at the end of October. The ferry will not enter service until next spring.
Head to the Aran Islands this autumn and get a 20% discount on your return ferry journey online when you enter the promo code: makeabreakforgalway (valid until Oct. 22 )