Tuesday 15 January 2008

Return of barges to Liffey planned

An €8 million plan to raise and restore four sunken Guinness barges from the ocean so they can once more ply the Liffey is at the heart of an ambitious plan to carry tourists from Heuston Station to Dublin Bay.

A planning application has been lodged with Dublin City Council to reintroduce the barges, which carried barrels down the river from Guinness's James's Gate brewery between the 1880s and the late 1960s.

The 80-foot long barges are currently deep beneath the ocean off the coast of Northern Ireland, where they were scuttled after a second life as sand transports.

The refitted, glass-canopied barges would operate two- and four-hour cruises, while a separate fleet of ferries would collect and drop off passengers at 12 points along the river, including Smithfield, Tara Street, the Point, Grand Canal Dock and the planned U2 Experience in the Docklands.

The heart of the scheme is a purpose-built pontoon at Ormond Quay between the Ha'penny and Millennium bridges, says Sam Field Corbett, the project manager with the firm behind the scheme, Irish Ship and Barge Fabrication Company.

The 120-metre "floating street" would be cobbled and sit about one metre off the Liffey boardwalk, said Mr Field Corbett. Visitors would be able to walk a few inches from the surface of the river, as the pontoon would move with the tide, he said. They could brave the elements and sit at outdoor tables on the pontoon, and order coffee from two Guinness barges refitted as a floating cafe and restaurant.

The Irish Times


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