Modern fleet of multi-purpose ferries and LoLo container vessels operating between the Republic of Ireland and United Kingdom and Continental Europe, and on charter.
Container and Terminal Division
Container shipping services between Ireland and Continental Europe, operating modern fleet and equipment, as well as stevedoring and related services for container traffic at Dublin and Belfast Ports.
Group Financial Performance Highlights YE2019
We are a customer focussed business facilitating Ireland’s international trade and tourism.
Strategic short sea routes provide a seamless connection from Ireland to the UK and Continental motorway network for the 313,200 RoRo units carried in 2019.
Reliability underpinned by major investment in quality assets ensuring the high levels of schedule integrity demanded by our customers.
Strategically located terminals in Dublin and Belfast handled 320,800 container units during 2019 for shipping operators providing access to global markets.
Connected container transport services, transporting 343,400 TEU in 2019 between Ireland and 20 countries throughout Europe by sea, road, rail and barge.
Our services operate 24/7, assisted by modern booking and tracking systems operating over a variety of platforms.
Fastest crossing on the Irish sea with a sailing time of 2 hours between Dublin and Holyhead at speeds of up to 65 kph.
Key contributor to regional tourism in Ireland, Irish Ferries carried 1.5 million passengers and 401,300 cars during 2019.
High standard onboard experience including quality food and beverage, entertainment, accommodation services and free WiFi.
Irish Continental Group was formed (as Irish Continental Line) as an Irish/Scandinavian joint venture in 1972 in order to provide a direct ferry link from Ireland to Continental Europe. This link was inaugurated in 1973 with the then newly-built St. Patrick on the route between Rosslare and Le Havre.
In 1987 following the receivership of the Irish Government owned Irish Shipping, Irish Continental Line was acquired by a group of investors and in 1988 was listed on the Irish Stock Exchange, smaller companies market changing its name to Irish Continental Group plc. The Company at that time operated three vessels, the Saint Patrick II and Saint Killian on the Rosslare to Cherbourg and Le Havre routes under the Irish Ferries brand and the St. Colum on the Belfast to Liverpool route under the Belfast Ferries brand. Due to unsustainable operating losses the Belfast Ferries operations ceased in 1991 and the St. Colum was sold.
In 1992 the Group further increased the scale of its operations through the acquisition of B&I Line, then owned by the Irish Government. B&I Line itself had a history extending back to 1836. This broadened the Group’s activities to include the short sea links with the United Kingdom, Ireland’s largest trading partner, and also extended the Group’s operations into container transport and port operations. The Group divided its operations into two divisions, the Ferries Division and Container and Terminal Division.
The acquisition of B&I Line, rebranded as Irish Ferries, was the impetus for the commencement of a €500 million investment on Irish Sea services in the period up to 2001 comprising 4 new vessels and underwriting port infrastructure upgrades through long term agreements. Commencing with the delivery of the cruise ferry Isle of Innisfree in 1995, this was followed by the Isle of Inishmore in 1997, the fastcraft Jonathan Swift in 1999 and finally the Ulysses in 2001. The fastcraft offers a six month passenger service on the Dublin Holyhead route in tandem with the year-round service offered by Ulysses. The division also acquired the Pride of Bilbao in 1993 a night ferry which was chartered externally. The Isle of Innisfree was retired from Irish Ferries service on delivery of the Ulysses and chartered externally, being eventually sold to the charterer in 2017.These vessels substantially increased the freight carrying capacity of the Division and brought economies of scale with each vessel at time of delivery being the largest of its type in North West Europe.
The Division also invested in the Ireland France ferry services, rationalising the two vessel service between Ireland and France into a one vessel service with the acquisition of the Normandy in 1998, it being replaced with the Oscar Wilde in 2008.
The Division added an additional vessel to the Dublin-Holyhead service in 2013, the chartered vessel Epsilon, to service Ireland’s growing external trade. This vessel is due for replacement by a newly constructed cruise ferry which will be the largest of its type in the world.
In 2018, the Group replaced the fastcraft Jonathan Swift with the Dublin Swift, a sister vessel acquired in 2016, but with increased car carrying capacity and capacity for small commercial vehicles.
During 2019 the Group replaced the Oscar Wilde with the newly constructed W.B. Yeats representing an investment of over €150 million.
The Ferries Division also undertakes chartering operations where it has surplus ferries in its fleet. In addition since 2017 the Division has acquired six container vessels three of which it charters intra-group and three externally.
Container and Terminal Division
With the acquisition of B&I Line, the Group acquired container shipping and terminal stevedoring operations based at Dublin Port.
The container shipping operations, which offers intermodal container shipping services between Ireland and continental Europe, was rationalised moving from an owned vessel operation to a chartered in operation providing flexibility to adjust capacity to customer demand. In 1993, the Division commenced a container shipping operation in the Baltic which following a number of years of profitable operation was sold in 2012.
The Division has also invested significantly in modernising and expanding the stevedoring operation at Dublin Port. The existing ship to shore gantry crane was replaced with three new units and wharf berthage increased from two to three vessels. The shore side storage has also been modernised utilising a six high storage cell arrangement utilising ten rubber tyred gantries, most recently with the addition of remotely operated units in 2019.
In 2006, the Division was successful in being awarded a contract to operate a container stevedoring operation at Belfast Port. In 2015 the Division successfully tendered for the sole concession to operate the consolidated stevedoring operation at Belfast, a contract which extends to 2026.