Historic No.11 Liffey Ferry makes a welcome return after 35 years

You can now relive a bit of Dublin Dockland history and see the River Liffey, and indeed Dublin, from a fresh perspective with the return of the fondly remembered No.11 Liffey Ferry.

After a 35 year absence, the historic vessel has been wonderfully restored in a joint project by Dublin Port Company and Dublin City Council and will resume its Liffey crossing service this February.

Historic 11 River Liffey Ferry Dublin

New Life on the Liffey Historic No.11 Liffey Ferry makes a return after 35 years

The historic ferry No.11 was a vital link connecting the North and South docks back when the nearest river crossing was Butt Bridge further down past the Customs House. The service dates back more than 300 years to 1665 when it was given a Royal Charter by King Charles II.

The service ended and the No. 11 Ferry, the last boat to work the crossing, was decommissioned in 1984 following the completion of the East Link Bridge. 

The newly-restored No.11 ferry will resume service starting Monday 11th February running Monday to Friday from 7am – 7pm, ferrying passengers between three points – the 3Arena to Sir John Rogerson’s Quay to MV Cill Airne at North Wall Quay and back.

The new service will have the capacity for 18 people at a time, and commuters across Docklands making the trip will pay €2 for each three-minute journey point to point – with the vessel equipped to accept both Leap Card and cash fares.

The boat made its first official trip in 35 years at a ceremony on the Liffey yesterday. Passengers on board included the Lord Mayor of Dublin Nial Ring as well as Richie Saunders, who worked on the No.11 originally as a coxswain and was instrumental in preserving the boat in recent years, Saunders will be returning to the helm to ferry a new generation of passengers.

Lord Mayor of Dublin, Nial Ring, said: “The Liffey Ferry is part of Dublin’s story and to see the No.11 back on the River after all this time is fantastic, and testament to those who had the foresight to preserve this important piece of history. The ferry will be returning to a very different Dublin than the one she left, but I have no doubt that a new generation of Dubliners will enjoy this very welcome addition to the city just the same. I acknowledge Dublin Port for playing its part in securing the return of what was, and I have no doubt will once again be, a much-loved service.  Dublin City Council and Dublin Port are to be commended for their energy, foresight and commitment to bringing back this iconic piece of Dublin history.”

The No. 11 was essential transport for workers at the docks and became affectionately known by Dubliners as ‘the dockers’ taxi’. The boat was bought by Dublin Port Company in 2016, having been preserved by Richie Saunders with the aim of bringing her back to service. Operated by the Irish Nautical Trust, all proceeds from passengers’ fares will be used to help fund the return of a new maritime training programme.

The Irish Nautical Trust’s original maritime training programme, which has been dormant for the past 12 years, is now set to resume in February 2019, and will offer young adults from the inner city and docklands areas the opportunity to gain practical marine experience and a formal qualification accredited by the Irish Sailing Association.

Each course will provide 8-10 people at a time with six months’ hands-on experience of the port, the wider maritime industry, driving, skippering, essential boat maintenance and repairs under the tutelage of experienced and retired seamen. The objective of the programme is to give young people a skill set and future in Ireland’s maritime industry through learning by doing, with the No. 11 Liffey Ferry the new mascot of the programme. In this way, essential maritime skills now in short supply are less at risk of being forgotten or lost if they can be passed on to a new generation through formal training and mentoring.

Eamonn O’Reilly, Chief Executive, Dublin Port Company, said: “Dublin Port is delighted to bring the No. 11 Liffey Ferry back in service with the support of Dublin City Council in the latest initiative to connect both port and city. There are those in nearby Ringsend, Irishtown, East Wall and further afield who will remember catching the ferry to work, and I have no doubt her return will bring back fond memories for many. There is also a new generation living and working in the port and docklands, and I am confident that the No. 11 Liffey Ferry will create new traditions and memories on the river in the years to come. I would encourage everyone in the city to support the service, knowing that this will in turn help the Irish Nautical Trust in its work to train and create employment opportunities for young people in the maritime industry.”

About the Author

Ann Robinson
Has a passion for coastal heritage and maritime history. Loves sharing the best of the Irish coast online. Contact me ann@coastmonkey.ie or follow me on Twitter @AnnRobinson22