Monday 23 February 2009

Ireland’s only cable car to be replaced 40 years on

IRELAND’S only cable car is set to be replaced next month — exactly 40 years on from when it was first installed to link an island off the south-west coast to the mainland.

The new e30,000 car will replace one that was set up in 1969 to provide Dursey Island’s population with an alternative to the sometimes treacherous boat crossing of the channel, which has extremely strong and dangerous currents.

Cork County Council had the cable car built by a firm in Limerick.

But as there was no company in this country capable of galvanising such a large object, it had to be sent to England.

It is now back in Dursey waiting to be installed.

Ted Murphy, a senior executive engineer with the county council, said good weather would be needed to complete the project.

"We hope to install it next month. We will be checking with Met Éireann to find a good weather window. It will take about a week because we will have to take the old one down," Mr Murphy said.

When the cable car is out of action, boats will be used to ferry Dursey folk on and off the island.

In the 1800s there were hundreds of people living on the island, but the population has dwindled to less than 10.

However, there are a number of holiday homes on the island — which is 6.5km long and 1.5km wide — and visitors swell the population at weekends and during the summer.

Paul Culleton, the council’s senior technician, has designed a more modern, comfortable and robust cable car.

It’s not just humans who will use it. Islanders have always insisted that the cable car be available to transport animals and since the service began many cattle have crossed over, dangling 219 metres over Dursey Sound.

"It was a dilemma to design a more comfortable cable car which still has to be robust enough to deal with animals," Mr Murphy said.

The cable car operates 365 days a year by local man Paddy Sheehan.

"We have trained up other people to operate the system when he’s away on holidays," Mr Murphy added.

Irish Examiner

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