Archive for the ‘Ireland’ Category

The Jedward Phenomenon

Friday, May 13th, 2011 by Paul
John and Edward Grimes



It is extremely difficult to be cynical about John and Edward Grimes the teenage pop sensations from Lucan outisde Dublin. The identical teenage twins, known collectively as Jedward and their iconic hair first burst into the limelight in 2009 as contestants on the X Factor in which they finished sixth. Incidentally Joe McElderry won that series. Joe who?

Today Ireland is in the gip of “Jedmania” and it seems every schoolchild in Ireland dreams of being a “Jedhead” all due to the phenomenal interest they have generated in the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest. Jedward seem to attract love an devotion from their teenybopper followers in equal measure with the approbation heaped upon them by the seemingly more mature (if only in years) critics they attract. A frequent complaint being that they “can’t sing”.

Now as someone with a propensity for cynicism beyond my tender years and being somewhat of a musical snob I should be exactly the kind of person to whom Jedward should be anathema. And yet. And yet. I find their artless charm totally winning me over. They are an “entertainment” in its purest form and bring a smile to my lips every time I see or hear them. I find it utterly beside the point whether or not they can sing in tune or at all and I believe they are completely of their time in this depressed country of ours.

That old hackneyed phrase comes to mind and for the first time it seems totally believable, “If Jedward did not exist, we would have to invent them”.  I hope they captivate Europe tomorrow night in Dusseldorf and win the Eurovision Song Contest 2011 for Ireland. From all of us here at Fastnet Line we wish you good luck, Jedward. We are very much part of “Team Jedward”. Your country has need of you now.

Tourist Information Office Opens on board

Friday, November 19th, 2010 by Paul
Ian Dempsey, Jean O'Sullivan and Robert Walsh

Ian Dempsey, Jean O'Sullivan and Robert Walsh

Fastnet Line continues to be one of the most progressive ferry companies on the Irish sea. On Monday, its owners the West Cork tourism Co-Op will open their Tourist Information Office on board the MV Julia. The large space located on deck five is dedicated to giving passengers as much information as possible about the destinations on both sides of the Irish sea.

The shareholders who have invested €3m of their own money to purchase the ferry and establish Fastnet Line will now be able to display information about their businesses to the tourists travelling on board in what is believed to be a unique venture on any ferry to southern Ireland. Only businesses which have invested to become members of the Co-Op are allowed to display on board the ship.

Shareholders also benefit from joint marketing opportunities with Fastnet Line which should enhance their opportunities to gain additional tourist traffic. The tourist information office consists of large scale grpahic representations of Wales and Ireland as well as a central information desk and leaflet display racks. the office will be manned by trained staff in high season who will be able to give detailed information about the two destinations as well as advice regarding shareholders offerings.

West Cork Tourism Co-Op membership is still open to businesses in Ireland and Wales.

Adverse Weather Conditions on the Irish Sea

Thursday, November 11th, 2010 by Fastnet Line

Due to the current adverse weather conditions  on the Irish Sea Fastnet Line regret to inform passengers that tonight’s sailing November 11th, from Cork to Swansea and tomorrow’s sailing, November 12th, from Swansea to Cork, are now cancelled.

The next scheduled sailing will be Saturday November 13th from Cork to Swansea at 2000hrs.

Please contact our reservations team in order to rebook or for a refund.

We apologise for any inconvenience caused.

Reaching the parts of rugby that other ferries cannot…

Friday, October 29th, 2010 by Paul




For some years now, The Heineken Cup has had pride of place in European rugby union and our own Irish province of Munster has excelled in the competition: French teams have dominated recent events but Munster won the cup in 2006 and 2008. The Munster club prize the cup very highly among the silverware available to them each season.

I must admit that when the Cup pool draw was announced this summer, it was hard to contain feelings of amazement and pleasure at the draw: The tournament organisers appear to have had a central role in mind for Fastnet Line to play in connecting three teams from England, Wales and Ireland. The rugby clubs of London Irish (Reading), Ospreys (Swansea) and Munster (Limerick via Cork) seemed to all have been strung along an East-West axis from the UK’s M4 Motorway – over the Irish sea to the Munster ground. The French team, Toulon, is the exception – but also boast a host of international stars not least World Cup winner, with England, Johnny Wilkinson.

Munster of course comprises much more than Cork. The rugby team play out of Thomond Park, Limerick in a revamped stadium and the Munster following are numerous,  loyal, and travel extensively. Games involving Munster hold several Heineken Cup records for attendance in every stage of the competition, including the finals.

To say the least, this first part of the competition will be extremely feisty on the field and very enjoyable off it.

Needless to say, all of us at Fastnet Line are really looking forward to catering to the rugby crowd – and encouraging them to make full use of us around the Cup fixtures. Anyone who knows the rugby scene well, appreciates that rugby people generally bring colour, vitality and commerce to every occasion and city that they visit and this will certainly be the case when Munster travel to Ospreys in Swansea on the 18th December. We expect a bumper crowd to travel on a rugby special to Swansea on Friday 17th December and to travel back with on Saturday night 18th December after the game. What is sure is that win or lose, the atmosphere will be terrific and the singing mighty! We can’t wait!

Paul O’Brien

Cork City and all that jazz

Thursday, October 21st, 2010 by Paul





“What we play is life” Louis Armstrong – Jazz Musician

There must be something about cities on water that works really well with jazz festivals. Lakeside Montreux in Switzerland has been attracting artists and audiences since 1967 – New York City on the Hudson – Paris on the Seine, New Orleans on the Mississippi – all of these are centres for the music – and in a few days time Cork City confirms its reputation as Europe’s friendliest jazz festival, Patrick Street and other places providing the backdrop for the worldwide jazz groove.

 Truth be told – Ireland and jazz music are sometimes strange bedfellows – but the Cork City Festival has been running strong since the first event in 1978. This year’s programme sees luminaries from all corners of that world, including leading US pianist Herbie Hancock, the UK’s Steve Winwood, Ireland’s own Louis Stewart, Norway’s Tord Gustaven and hundreds of other performers. 

Significant numbers from the UK are intending to travel – with their equipment – by the most relaxing and failsafe method available, courtesy of Fastnet Line: We expect our own MV Julia will be loaded with its share of drum kits, double basses, saxophones and other instruments. Not wishing to cock a snook, but taking a musical instrument onto a plane these days can be an extremely nerve-wracking and hazardous experience for a musician – especially if the item is of value. Fewer and fewer musical instruments are being allowed into aircraft cabins these days and the handling of instruments in the hold can be risky, to say the least.

No such worries with our ferry service – either for foot passengers or those driving themselves to and from the festival. To help the mood of the City along and at the same time as the Jazz Festival, Cork will be holding its own October Fest beer festival. The original Munich-based Oktoberfest for some reason got itself underway in mid September. As well as the many craft brews provided by the city’s own Franciscan Well, the October Fest looks at European brews, with draught beers not available in Ireland imported especially for the event. We hope that you make it over with Fastnet Line for one of Ireland’s most cosmopolitan annual events.

See (other part of website) for times and return packages to the UK. Jazz is largely an urban art-form and the the Cork cityscapes will grow and change in time with the music for many decades to come.

Paul O’Brien – Fastnetline

Ivor Callely and Dylan Thomas

Friday, August 13th, 2010 by Paul

Recent news stories in Ireland have been dominated by Senator Ivor Callely’s expenses claims a subject which our UK neighbours know very well given their recent well aired investigation into their politicians’ claims expenses. Chief amongst the most damaging aspect of the uproar was the idea that the Senator had been claiming travelling expenses from his holiday home in West Cork rather than from his family home in Dublin thus hugely increasing the amount of the claim.

The intricacies of the claim while interesting and frustrating in equal measure for the public are not the subject of this post. What struck me reading the coverage of the story in the press here in Ireland was the number of writers who commented that whatever, the morality or ethics of the expenses claim, Ivor certainly knew a great location to purchase a holiday home. Each journalist who went in search of Ivor in Kilcrohane on the Sheep’s Head Peninsula commented on the beauty of the surroundings, no doubt helped by the great summer weather we have been having.

The Sheep’s Head Way is an award winning rural destination with a series of hiking trails and looped walks created by a huge volunteer effort which showcases the natural beauty and unspoilt environment of this magical place. If it gets some recognition nationally and internationally as a result of Ivor’s story then some good wuill have come out of this unsatisfactory situation.

And the connection with Dylan Thomas? Well it seems Ivor has taken to heart that beloved poem I learned in school by the incomparable Welsh bard, “Do not go gentle into that good night”!

Ferry as a way of travelling

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010 by Paul

I lived in London for many years in the 90s. During that time I travelled frequently to France on the overnight routes from Southampton to Cherbourg or Portsmouth to Caen. I travelled less frequently on the Swansea to Cork route because I mainly flew like everyone else with the advent of lower flight costs.

The reason I used the ferry to France was because my destination in Normandy was not easily accessible by plane and because I stayed in self catering accommodation and brought bicycles and golf clubs and the occasional canoe with me. I always enjoyed the journey itself it seemed very civilised and as a frequent traveller there was a certain comfort to the routine; the pint in the bar, the musical entertainment, the Sunday afternoon table quiz on the return journey, the cinema, the meal.

Life moved on and life changed and there were no more regular ferry trips. I moved back to Cork and discovered the ferry link was no more. They say you never miss something until its gone and suddenly there were many reasons why I would have wanted to use the ferry. Cheap and hassle free air travel became a little less so each year. My friend with the fear of flying was more reluctant to drive all the way to the furthest reaches of  West Wales and down from Wexford to visit me. The convenience was gone.

Since Fastnet Line has re-started the Cork to Swansea route I have been on the ship many times for work and those memories come flooding back to me. What a civilised way to travel in an increasingly less civilised world. Good food, a bit of relaxation, space and comfort, a decent pint the chance to stare out of the window aimlessly and do a bit of thinking. Good things. Comforting things. Things that should remain.


Thursday, February 18th, 2010 by Fastnet Line

The Dingle peninsula is the most westerly part of Ireland with its inhabitants surviving on subsistence farming and fishing for centuries. But for at least a century now it has been recognised as an area of outstanding natural beauty brought to an international audience by Sir David Lean’s 1970 two time Oscar winner Ryan’s Daughter. There is something breathtaking in the conjunction of land, sea and sky and there is a quality of light here quite unlike anywhere else. The town of Dingle is the place to be as it is the centre of tourism on the peninsula and manages to provide all that is needed for the intrepid traveller with a smile and a polite enquiry as to how you are enjoying your time there.


Thursday, February 18th, 2010 by Fastnet Line

Killarney is known the world over for its magnificent scenery with a truly unforgettable mixture of mountain and lake preserved in a National Park which is a national treasure. Killarney has a year long programme of events and in some ways is the Irish equivalent of the “city that never sleeps” with something to do every day as it constantly reinvents itself year after year. There are a myriad of activities here for young and old, singles and families, with accommodation from hostels, to self-catering to hotels and with food and drink and music to hand at almost every turn.

Iveragh Peninsula

Thursday, February 18th, 2010 by Fastnet Line

The Iveragh Peninsula is known the world over as the “Ring of Kerry” a driving experience or day trip for the uninitiated; but this large area encompassing Ireland’s highest mountains, lakes, moorland and spectacular coastline is a destination worth investigating at a more leisurely pace. The towns and villages that lasso the peninsula each have a unique character from Killorglin with its unique annual festival which crowns a goat as King for three days (10th -12th August 2010), to the magnificent beaches of Glenbeigh, to Cahirciveen, Waterville, Caherdaniel and Sneem. The visitor is well catered for with places to eat and stay in comfort at all points along the way.