Build up of sand strands passengers

The Rathmullan to Buncrana ferry.
The Rathmullan to Buncrana ferry.

The new operators of the Buncrana to Rathmullan ferry didn’t have a complete weekend of ‘plain sailing’ after a build up of sand in Buncrana forced some services to stop, and left customers stranded.

On Saturday six cars and 30 passengers found themselves stuck just 20 meters from the pier when the sand forced the ferry to a halt.

Speaking to the ‘Journal’, Dominic Sweemey, operator of the new service said, “We had a successful weekend, but unfortunately a build-up of sand at the Buncrana pier left us stuck. It’s a very frustrating situation for us but Donegal County Council have said they will not dredge the area until September 6th.

“September is too late for us and unfortunately means we will continue to have no other choice but cancel four sailings a day until it’s sorted.

“On Saturday the ferry got stuck just 20 metres from the pier which left all of our customers stranded. Thankfully, they were all very accommodating and with our new seating and television area we were able to put on a DVD for the children and hand out some sweets. But they were stuck on-board for close to two hours.

“The dredging needs completed by a specialist boat and it’s not a task we could undertake ourselves as well as operating a full ferry service.

“We are hoping the sense prevails and the dredging is completed as soon as possible.”

Yet, despite the mishap Dominic is still upbeat. “The response to the ferry returning has been great and the local communities have shown great support.”

A spokesperson for Donegal County Council’s marine section said: “Lough Swilly was affected by extremely low tides and we were currently coming off one such period and disruptions of this nature were inevitable.”

He pointed out that a major dredging campaign would be required but this would only be feasible if the service was to run full-time.

The spokesman added that it was envisaged four sailings would be disrupted on Wednesday and two more on Thursday but after that there should be no further disruptions.