To and From Ireland
The ferry is a convenient way to travel between Ireland and elsewhere in Europe, particularly the United Kingdom. There are five main ferry ports to Ireland; four in the republic at Dublin Port, Dun Laoghaire, Rosslare, and Cork, and two in Northern Ireland at Belfast and Larne. The cost of your trip can vary substantially, so spend time with a travel agent and compare prices carefully. Bear in mind, too, that flying can be cheaper, so look into all types of transportation before booking.
Irish Ferries operates the Ulysses, the world's largest car ferry, on its Dublin to Holyhead, Wales, route (3 hrs, 15 mins); there's also a swift service (1 hr, 50 mins) between these two ports. There are several trips daily. The company also runs between Rosslare and Pembroke, Wales (3 hrs, 45 mins), and has service to France. Stena Line sails several times a day between Dublin and Holyhead (3 hrs, 15 mins) and has swift service to Dun Laoghaire (2 hrs). The company also runs a fast craft (2 hrs) and a superferry (3 hrs) between Belfast and Stranraer, Scotland, as well as a fast craft (2 hrs) between Rosslare and Fishguard, Wales. There are several trips daily on both routes.
Norfolk Line offers a Dublin and Belfast to Liverpool service (8 hrs). P&O Irish Sea vessels run between Larne and Troon, Scotland (2 hrs), a couple of times a day. The company also sails from Dublin to Liverpool twice daily (8 hrs) with a choice of daytime or overnight sailings.
There are regular services to the Aran Islands from Ros an Mhil (Rossaveal) in County Galway, and Doolin in County Clare. Ferries also sail to Inishbofin off the Galway coast and Arranmore off the Donegal coast, and to Bere, Whiddy, Sherkin, and Cape Clear Islands off the coast of County Cork. Bere and Whiddy have a car ferry, but the other islands are all small enough to explore on foot, so the ferries are for foot passengers and bicycles only. Other islands—the Blaskets and the Skelligs in Kerry, Rathlin in Antrim, and Tory, off the Donegal coast—have seasonal ferry services running daily between May and September, less frequently outside these months. Failte Ireland publishes a free guide and map with ferry details, Ireland's Islands, or see www.irelandsislands.com. Alternatively, check with the nearest Tourist Information Office near the time of your visit, or see www.discoverireland.ie. Boating the Shannon River system is an appealing alternative to traveling overland. In some places bicycles can be rented so you can drop anchor and explore.
Fares and Schedules
You can get schedules and purchase tickets, with a credit card if you like, directly from the ferry lines. You can also pick up tickets at Dublin tourism offices and at any major travel agent in Ireland or the United Kingdom. Payment must be made in the currency of the country of the port of departure. Bad weather can delay or cancel ferry sailings so it's always a good idea to call before departing for the port.
Irish Ferries (0818/300–400 in Ireland; 0871/730-0400 in U.K. www.irishferries.com.)
P&O Ferries (01/407–3434 in Ireland; 0871/702–3477 in U.K. www.poferries.com.)
Stena Line (01/204–7777 in Ireland; 028/9074–7747 in Northern Ireland; 0844/770–7070 in U.K. www.stenaline.co.uk.)
Boat Travel on the Shannon
Carrickcraft (Lurgan. 028/3834–4993. www.carrickcraft.com.)
Emerald Star (Connaught Harbor, Portumna. 071/962–7633. www.emeraldstar.ie.)
Riversdale Barge Holidays (Ballinamore. 071/964–4122. www.riversdalebargeholidays.com.)
Shannon Castle Line (Williamstown Harbor, Whitegate. 061/927–042. www.shannoncruisers.com.)
Silver Line Cruisers (The Marina, Banagher. 057/915–1112. www.silverlinecruisers.com.)
Waveline Cruisers (Quigley's Marina, Killinure Point, Glasson. 0906/485–716. www.waveline.ie.)
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