LIMERICK is to get a new €1m 100-seater river bus which will showcase the “spectacular” stretch of water from the city out to the ESB power station in Ardnacrusha.
The exciting new tourism project aims to attract hundreds of additional tourists into the city when it starts operation next May, creating ten jobs in the process.
The venture will see the river bus depart Guinness Pier - across from Athlunkard Boat Club at O’Dwyer Bridge - every two hours, bound for the power station, showcasing “one of the finest water attractions in Europe”, according to Seamus Flynn, spokesperson for the project.
“This will add a new dimension to tourism in the city,” said Mr Flynn. “There is nothing else like this in the region. This is a spectacular product. You go out to Ardnacrusha, which towers over you as you approach it and it is close to 100 feet in the air. The boat holds 100 passengers, so you could carry two coach loads at a time. It is a lovely trip.”
The boat will follow the route taken by barges of old - both passenger and commercial - some of which historically transported Guinness to the city up until the mid-1960s.
“It is a tried and tested route,” said Mr Flynn, stressing the viability and safety of the route, which passes Long Pavement - the edges of which have been repaired and grassed over - and finishes at the hydro-electric plant.
“Every passenger and commercial barge that came to Limerick for 50 years used that stretch of water. It is very safe. It was navigated by all the barges,” he said.
The boat, which was made in England and represents the €1m investment on part of the group behind the project, was originally designed as sea-going ferry and is currently being adapted to suit its use on the river.
“We have the boat already and it is being redesigned by an architect and the work has started on it,” said Mr Flynn.
“The exciting thing is the product, it has been lying there for donkeys’ years with nothing being done with it. It is a short, safe trip up to Ardnacrusha, on a beautiful section of the river. We would hope to start definitely by May, but we would hope to have a few trial runs before the tourist season starts,” he added.
The Limerick businessman said he hoped that the project would get the support of local bodies such as Shannon Development, Limerick City Council and possibly ESB, in order to maximise its potential.
“Naturally you have to the support of local bodies and the more support you get, the better the product is,” he said.
“They all have to put the oar in the water, hopefully in a positive way, because there is a lot in it for Limerick. If we can attract 300 or 400 new tourists a day into the city, that is a lot of action for Limerick.”