Calls for deep water investment to attract cruise ships

Joe Folan at Rossaveal Harbour

Tourists from across the world could be flocking into Connemara – if a proposal to carry out multi-million euro works at Rossaveal Harbour is adopted.

But funding, to the tune of around €80 million, would first need to be allocated to provide a deep sea port at Rossaveal so that it can accommodate cruise liners.

A committee has been in place for several years to try and progress this initiative – and while facilities at the harbour have improved considerably over the past ten or 15 years, it still cannot accommodate big ships.

The matter came before a meeting of Galway County Council during where Councillors heard that last summer alone saw up to 7,500 passengers arrived on cruise ships into Killybegs in Donegal which has the capacity to accommodate the liners.

The matter was raised by Cllr Joe Folan from Rosmuc as he called on the Government to provide a deep sea port so that bigger ships, such as cruise liners, could dock and bring even more tourists to the region.

The independent councillor explained that the deep sea harbour at Killybegs was now proving a success story and the same could be repeated at Rossaveal, which located on the far side of Inverin out of Galway city.

“If the harbour was deepened, then we could also accommodate similar size vessels and it would provide a huge boost to the whole region. At the moment the vast majority of tourists to this country come through Dublin Airport.

“But the provision of a deep sea port in Rossaveal Harbour would have huge potential and even if we got a small fraction of the potential that is out there from the cruise ship business, it would be phenomenal,” Cllr Folan added.

In effect, it would mean that thousands of passengers would disembark from a cruise ship and be taken to various parts of Connemara or Galway city on bus tours. It would present the whole region with a new element of tourism.

“So if they come into Rossaveal, Galway city becomes an attractive destination as does the rest of Connemara. It would be a case of simply marketing what both have to offer.

“There is a committee in place that is trying to actively promote the harbour and have done so successfully. The next big step would be the capacity to attract some of the bigger ships. That would be huge for the whole of Connemara and the county, indeed,” Cllr Folan added.

He pointed to Killybegs and Dingle as examples of fishery harbours that diversified in time.

Dingle has become a magnet for yachts, expanding its marina several times – and Killybegs used its €50 million deepwater development to target offshore oil and gas. Now it is attracting cruise liners, to provide a huge economic success for the area.