New venture to offer daily crossings from Galway Port to the Burren

Lophelia docked in Kinvara pier

Lophelia docked in Kinvara pier

A Kinvara-based entrepreneur has fulfilled his lifelong dream to offer an exciting new way to travel between Galway city and the Burren,

MacMara, a marine and ecotourism business, will operate daily bay crossings from Galway Port to the coastal villages of Kinvara and Ballyvaughan. The company was established by Michael McArdle, a civil and environmental engineer who has worked on a number of marine projects on the Aran Islands and on Inishbofin.

A native of Salthill, Mr McArdle is now living in Kinvara. He noticed there were few boats on the local waters and resolved to address this. “I was privileged to spend a year on Inishbofin, constructing coastal protection works and improving its piers. I spent a further year on Inis Meain, constructing the new harbour and breakwaters at An Caladh Mór. With all my travelling to the islands, by ferry and plane, it struck me how few boats there were on the magnificent waters off our west coast. Few people could experience the beauty of our land from the sea. I loved leaning over the rail, taking in the beauty, on the ferry from Cleggan to Inishbofin.”

Determined to share the beauty of the Atlantic coastal waters, he worked in the Middle East for the past number of years to help fund the initiative. Grant assistance and support from Galway Rural Development Ltd, via the LEADER programme, led to the purchase of Lophelia. The state-of-the-art passenger boat is designed for comfort and safety and has a fully enclosed cabin to protect passengers from the elements. The boat is licensed to carry 12 passengers and two crew and it can cross from Galway city to Kinvara or Ballyvaughan in less than 30 minutes.

The vessel is also licensed to operate from Galway Bay to Clew Bay, including all the islands along the Galway, Clare, and Mayo coastline. This is certainly an exciting opportunity for people to experience and enjoy The Wild Atlantic Way by sea as well as by land.

MacMara will help increase the accessibility of the Burren, Connemara, the islands, and coastlines of Galway, Clare, and Mayo to independent travellers.

This new enterprise will be working in partnership with local tour guides, slow food providers, bicycle hire companies, restaurants etc, so that other land based activities, such as food tours, biking and walking will complement the marine and coastal tours. Michael McArdle says this will mean there will be far reaching economic benefits for many areas. “Not only will this marine and coastal ecotourism company share our world with small groups of people, but it will also bring some prosperity, to the small, coastal communities dotted around our coastline.”

Sailings to Kinvara will be offered on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. Sailings to Ballyvaughan will operate on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

Visit for sailing schedules and to book seats.


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