IRELAND’S largest boat hire company is to open a new base in Coleraine next month.
Carrickcraft already operates more than 90 vessels on Lough Erne and the Shannon.
Now the firm wants to open up the Lower Bann to more extensive crusing for the 2012 season.
Working in close cooperation with Coleraine Harbour Commissioners and Waterways Ireland, the company will initially operate three Kilkenny Class cruisers (four and two berth) and three Carlow Class cruisers (two and two berth) from the new pontoons at Coleraine Marina with the first boats arrivintg next year.
Running from Toomebridge on the shores of Lough Neagh to Coleraine, the Bann is a beautifully scenic river with an excellent navigation system and an unspoilt environment.
The largest boat-hire company in Ireland, Carrickcraft’s existing client base is from mainland Europe and it is hoped that many of them will want to try out the new route.
John Morton, Managing Director of Carrickcraft said “We are delighted to be able to open a fourth Irish base and to bring more tourists to the region. We are fully committed to the project and hope to increase the fleet size in the future. Having travelled along the Lower Bann myself, it is great to be able to open up such a wonderful waterway to a larger public.”
Pat McKeegan, Harbour Master at Coleraine Harbour added “This is good news for Coleraine harbour and shows that the recent investment by the commissioners in providing pontoon and slipway facilities in the centre of the town has attracted a premium company such as Carrickcraft”.
Martin Dennany Director of Marketing & Communications, Waterways Ireland said “The Lower Bann links Lough Neagh to the sea through a varied and interesting landscape which has been relatively undiscovered up to now.
“This new initiative by Carrickcraft of putting hire boats on the Lower Bann is warmly welcomed and is to be commended. Waterways Ireland has for many years sought to open up the Lower Bann to a wider audience and has invested significantly in the navigational infrastructure.
“This new development will now give many more people the opportunity to view the area from the unique perspective of a boating holiday on the wonderful Lower Bann. I wish John Morton and Carrickcraft every success in this exciting development”
The first boats will arrive early in the New Year and the season will start in March 2012 and run through to October. The official launch of the project will be on September 14.