Irish Ferries

Irish Ferries Ltd
Industry Tourism & Transportation
Predecessor B&I Line; Irish Continental Line
Founded 1992
Headquarters Dublin, Ireland, Dublin, Ireland
Number of locations
Dublin Port, Holyhead, Rosslare, Pembroke, Cherbourg & Roscoff
Area served
Ireland, United Kingdom & France
Key people
Eamonn Rothwell, MD
Services Passenger transportation, Freight transportation;
Parent Irish Continental Group (ICG) plc.
Divisions Irish Ferries; Eucon;
Subsidiaries Irish Ferries Freight;; Dublin Ferryport Terminals; Belfast Container Terminal

Irish Ferries route map
HSC Jonathan Swift
Oscar Wilde
Isle of Inishmore

Irish Ferries is a division of Irish Continental Group (ICG) plc, an Irish maritime group.

The company operates passenger and freight routes between Ireland, the United Kingdom and Continental Europe, particularly: Dublin PortHolyhead; Rosslare Europort to Pembroke and Roscoff, Cherbourg in France. In 2014 Irish Ferries introduced a new weekly service from Dublin Port to Cherbourg.

The company's flagship, MS Ulysses, is currently the largest ROPAX ferry operating on the Irish Sea and when launched (2001) was the world's largest car ferry in terms of car-carrying capacity. Other ships in the fleet include MS Isle of Inishmore, MS Oscar Wilde and the fast ferry HSC Jonathan Swift (aka Dublin Swift as she is currently promoted). The company also charters out a vessel, MV Kaitaki to Interisland Line, and charters in a ro-pax vessel, MS Epsilon. The company used to charter Pride of Bilbao, but sold her to St. Peter Line in 2013, who renamed her MS SPL Princess Anastasia (1986).

Irish Ferries is part of the Irish Continental Group (ICG) which trades on the Irish Stock Exchange and the London Stock Exchange. ICG also owns the Eucon container line which operates vessels on routes between Ireland and the continent.


Irish Continental Line was formed in 1973 as a joint venture between Irish Shipping Limited, Fearnley & Eger and Swedish company Lion Ferry. It originally operated on the Rosslare–Le Havre route with the 547 berth, 210 car ferry Saint Patrick.[1] When Irish Shipping Ltd. went into liquidation in 1984, Irish Continental Line was sold off in a management buyout and emerged as Irish Continental Group.

In 1992, Irish Continental Group took over the British and Irish Steam Packet Company Limited, a nationalised company which traded under the name B + I Line and operated ferry services between Dublin and Holyhead and between Rosslare and Pembroke Dock.


As part of its offer to buy B&I Line, management at Irish Continental Group undertook to invest in replacing what was an ageing fleet. Over the following decade, a programme of fleet renewal was undertaken involving investment of €500 million to create what was described as the most modern ferry fleet in western Europe (1).

New vessels were built such as Ulysses, Isle of Innisfree (now on charter in New Zealand as Kaitaki), Isle of Inishmore and a fast ferry Jonathan Swift, all for service on its Ireland–UK routes. As a result, the company put itself in a position to attract increased passenger and freight business, influenced by the modern facilities and improved reliability of each vessel and the extra capacity that was available on board.


Irish Ferries has won awards from consumer, travel trade and logistics industry groups. In 2001, the newly completed vessel Ulysses was awarded the title 'Most Significant Newbuild – Ferry' by Lloyds List Cruise & Ferry.[2] In 2014, at two separate award ceremonies, the Irish travel trade voted Irish Ferries 'Best Ferry Company'.


Ship Built Entered Service Route Crossing Times Gross Tonnage Notes
Ulysses 2001 2001 Dublin PortHolyhead 3 hours 15 minutes 50,938 GT The largest ro-pax ferry currently (2014) operating on the Irish Sea, carrying up to 1,875 passengers and 1,342 cars.
Isle of Inishmore 1997 1997 Rosslare Europort - Pembroke Dock 4 hours 34,031 GT Carrying up to 2,200 passengers and 855 cars.
Jonathan Swift 1999 1999 Dublin Port - Holyhead 1 hour 49 minutes 5,989 GT Carrying up to 800 passengers and 200 cars, and with an average speed of 39 knots.
Oscar Wilde 1987 2007 Rosslare - Cherbourg/Roscoff 16–17 hours 31,914 GT Carrying up to 1,458 passengers, 580 cars and with 1,376 beds.
Epsilon 2011 2014 Dublin PortCherbourg
19 hours
3 hrs 25 minutes
26,375 GT Operating Dublin - Holyhead (mid-week) & Dublin - Cherbourg (week-ends).

Ships under charter to other companies

Ship Under charter to Built Purchased by Irish Ferries Route Tonnage1 Notes
Kaitaki Interisland Line 1995 1995 PictonWellington 22,365 GT Sailed for Irish Ferries as 'Isle of Innisfree' 1995–2001
1May be specified in gross tonnage (GT) or gross register tons (GRT).

Former ships

This transport-related list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it.
Ship Years in service Gross Register Tonnage Status as of 2008
Saint Patrick 1972–1982 7,819 GRT [3] In 1982 renamed the St. Colum 1 and transferred to Belfast Car Ferries.[4] Scrapped as EXPRESS P at Alang, India in August 2005
Saint Killian
Saint Killian II
7,125 GRT
10,256 GRT
Scrapped in Alang, 2007
Saint Patrick II 1982–1997 7,984 GRT Since 2002 sailing as MS C.T.M.A. Vacancier for Coopérative de transport maritime et aérien
Isle of Inishmore
Isle of Inishturk
6,807 GRT Since 1997 sailing as Madeleine for Coopérative de transport maritime et aérien.
Normandy 1998–2007 17,043 GRT sold to Equinox Offshore Accommodation and chartered to the Morocco-based Ferrimaroc. Scrapped in Alang, 2012
Pride of Bilbao 1993–2010
37,799 GRT Sailed under charter to P&O Ferries. Sold to St. Peter Line in 2014.
Thomas Wehr 1992 7,628 GRT



  1. "Irish Ferries". Irish Ferries Enthusiasts Group. Retrieved 2012-11-16.
  2. ‘Irish Ferries – An Ambitious Voyage’ by Miles Cowsill and Justin Merrigan


  • Cowsill, Miles; Merrigan, Justin (2013). Irish Ferries: An Ambitious Voyage. Ramsey, Isle of Man: Ferry Publications. ISBN 9781906608606. 
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