Ireland’s only cable car service, the only transportation of its type in Europe that crosses open seawater, has been reopened following a €1.6m upgrade.
The Dursey Island cable car was originally opened on December 5th 1969 by then Taoiseach Jack Lynch. It is located on the Beara Peninsula, West Cork, linking the mainland with the scenic Dursey Island.
The service was established to support islanders who often faced isolation during inclement weather conditions due to the hazardous tidal race in the Dursey Sound.
Traditionally accommodating both passengers and livestock, the transportation of livestock ceased in January 2012. Although continuing to serve a small number of islanders, it is now predominantly used by tourists and farmers.
The cable car service has witnessed significant growth over the last number of years, increasing from 12,000 visitors in 2015 to over 20,000 in the subsequent years.
The car can accommodate six passengers with the trip of 374 metres taking seven and a half minutes each way.
Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr Danny Collins, said that the Dursey Island cable car is truly unique and holds immense historical and cultural significant
“I am delighted to reopen the cable car which ensures the safety and accessibility of this iconic landmark,” he said. “This service is not only an important transport link but also a cherished attraction that adds to the natural beauty and tourism potential of our region. Thanks to this investment, Cork County Council has now safeguarded it for future generations.”
Operated and managed by Cork County Council, a structural assessment of the Dursey Island Cable Car in 2016 revealed that the support towers would reach the end of their operational life in the early 2020s.
Annual inspections were conducted to comply with safety regulations, but the severe strain experienced during Storm Barra in December 2021, combined with the metal towers reaching end of life, necessitated immediate remediation works.
Cork County Council decided to undertake a full replacement of the support towers. In early 2022, Roughan O’Donovan Consulting Engineers and contractor TLI Group were appointed to oversee the project, which involved the full replacement of the tower structures and the island anchor frame. During the decommissioning phase, a magnetic scan revealed degeneration of the track and haul ropes which have all now been replaced.
Chief Executive of Cork County Council Tim Lucey said that the completion of the Dursey Island cable car upgrade is a testament to the commitment and dedication of their team and project partners.
“The newly upgraded Dursey Island cable car service maintains the character and vision of the original, while ensuring resilient and secure access to the island for years to come. This achievement marks an important milestone in the preservation of our cultural heritage together with the enhancement of our tourism offering.”