Archive for the ‘Wales’ Category

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.

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

Great Summer

Friday, August 27th, 2010 by Paul

I am unfortunately old enough to remember the summer of 1976 very well. The scenes of dry reservoirs with cracked mud bottoms reminiscent of Africa and the mounting hysteria caused by water shortages especially in Britain made it such an unusual time. We in Ireland had our water shortages too but hosepipe bans were unheard of in rural Ireland in the seventies which made what was going on in England all the more exotic.

I’ve been thinking about 1976 and all that because of our excellent summer in Cork this year. We seem to have had sun since late May broken by very few periods of rain and none of them prolonged. Quite a change from last year’s July and August which had day after day of relentless rain showers barely five minutes apart it seemed.

Good weather makes such a difference to ones outlook on a day and makes it more bearable to get on with the mundane everyday tasks knowing that a nice weekend awaits you or a sunny walk at the end of a stressful day. Suddenly the area in which you live takes on a slightly different aspect and one looks at it in a different light, literally in some senses. This summer has been made up of picnics, walks in the woods, days on the beach, barbecues and lots of outdoor time.

I have been to Wales a number of times this summer and never tire of the fabulous scenery on the Gower peninsula although I haven’t had much of a chance to stop and take it in. Next weekend I will spend in Pembrokeshire sailing with friends and am keeping my fingers crossed that the weather will hold out for just a little bit longer.

Its not much to ask for and it makes all the difference.

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
Cardiff Bay

Cardiff Bay

The capital of Wales is an exciting place to visit with a compact city centre containing all you need and being a great place to base yourself for an assault on all things Welsh. The advent of a degree of autonomy for Wales within the United Kingdom, with its own government, elected representatives and legislative assembly has given Wales a self-confidence to face the challenges of the new millennium. The Castle remains an iconic feature of the city as it has for over two thousand years alongside the more modern features such as the Millennium Centre, the visitor centre known as “The Tube” and the stylishly classic National Museum. Many people will come for large sporting occasions such as the biennial Six Nations clash between the Celtic cousins Wales and Ireland but Cardiff Bay boasts an impressive array of watersports to participate in as well as nearby walking, horseriding, rock climbing, kayaking and cycling. Golf of course is the vogue sport with the 2010 Ryder cup taking place at Celtic Manor just twenty minutes from Cardiff and is sure to attract thousands of spectators from Europe and the USA. Don’t forget to unwind with shopping, bars, cafes and restaurants or make a beeline for a concert or opera to keep the culture quotient high.


Thursday, February 18th, 2010 by Fastnet Line

Swansea is the second most populous city in Wales after the capital Cardiff and is situated on the south west coast of Wales an area noted for its sandy beaches. The nearby Gower peninsula is an area of outstanding natural beauty and the seaside village of Mumbles is a must visit collection of art galleries, shops, cafes and restaurants. The city itself has risen from its industrial past to become a vibrant modern city with new developments giving the city a forward looking aspect in the 21st century. In the nearby Afan and Vale of Neath area there is world class mountain biking, walking and the largest forest south of Scotland. There is almost no sport that is uncatered for in the area including fishing, sailing, golfing, wind and kite surfing, golf, canoeing and if that leaves you breathless you can pause to take in the rich heritage of the area including diverse galleries and museums and the Dylan Thomas Centre celebrating the world famous poet and prose writer of “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” and “Under Milk Wood”. The area hosts numerous arts festivals and sporting events throughout the year which means that Swansea has more than enough to occupy several return visits so take the time to get to know the area and you won’t regret it.