Work will commence this week on a new long-awaited pier at Doolin in Co Clare after contracts for the €6m project were signed yesterday.
Before putting pen to paper Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Mr Brendan Howlin TD visited the west Clare village to meet with the contractor, ferry operators and other business people.
Minister Howlin’s visit coincided with the signing by Clare County Council of the contract for the project which, it is hoped, will be completed by the middle of next year.
The successful tender, L&M Keating, has already started to move equipment onto the site where ground clearing works have commenced.
Minister Howlin said: “This is hugely important for the area and the people of Clare who will now have a world class facility. You can see the inadequacies of the current facilities and this new pier will ensure that tourism will be able to thrive.”
“This will be hugely beneficial to the Aran Island because they also need an access point and this is an important one because it will be a first class facility that will allow people commute out to the islands and come back here and enjoy the wonderful tourism product that is Clare,” the Minister added.
Bill O’Brien, who established the first ferry service in Doolin in 1970, said: “For years we’ve waited for this. I’ve been here 44 years and year in – year out we’ve been promised new facilities but now it’s happening. It’s a momentous day and it’s incredible that it’s finally going ahead.”
“It will hugely enhance this area and the wider area of Clare, Galway, Kerry and the entire west coast. It will mean a huge boost in bed nights not alone in this area but also for the people of the Aran Islands where the two smaller islands have suffered as a result of the poor facilities here and people had been going just to Inis Mór,” Mr O’Brien.
Mayor of Clare Cllr Joe Arkins said: “This project has been long sought after by ferry operators, fishermen and tourists who use the pier. The new pier development will boost visitor numbers in Clare considering access to the Aran Islands from the County will be greatly enhanced once the project is completed.”
Clare County Manager Mr Tom Coughlan said: “The Local Authority has invested considerable time and resources into ensuring that the Doolin Pier project is one that benefits all users of the existing pier.
Once completed, this project will have significant, positive economic and social consequences for the people of North Clare and the wider region. For example, the construction phase of the project will create jobs as will the increase in business that will arise as a result of the Pier’s completion,” Mr Coughlan added.
The construction of the new pier will allow local fishermen continue to use the old facility.
Matty Shannon of Doolin Coast Guard said: “During the summer there could be several boats at the old pier but the new pier will use the new pier and the Coast Guard will continue to use the existing facility making it far easier for use to launch in an emergency.
Video: © Pat Flynn/Clare Herald, 2014