If You Go Down Magilligan Way...
Pete Jonno boards the Greencastle Ferry
If you go down Magilligan way, you may be in for a big surprise. At least if you haven’t heard of the Magilligan – Greencastle ferry that is…
Although now established on the route for almost five years, when the notion of a ferry link across Lough Foyle, and across the Irish Border, was first mooted many people thought it was a joke. Visions of cross-channel ferries ploughing their way across the narrow strait at Magilligan just didn’t add up to many locals, who could remember the days when you could cross the lough in rowing boat, provided you could find a boatman willing to take you.
However, all was not quite as was feared and the Lough Foyle Ferry Company pressed on with their plans, commissioning the Foyle Rambler as a full time drive on ferry to service the route. With support from both Donegal and Limavady Councils, the ferry became a reality, with a dedicated slipway constructed at Magilligan point to bring visitors into Limavady from the Inishowen Peninsula and vice versa.
The ferry effectively cuts 50 miles from the road journey between Greencastle in County Donegal and Limavady, creating an easily accessible and interesting link between the tourist hotspots of Inishowen and the Causeway coast.
Added to these tourist benefits the ferry has become a key part of the infrastructural backbone of both areas – with a significant number of commuters using the service to get to work on a daily basis. Large numbers of shoppers from Donegal also head to Coleraine and Limavady at weekends, and a corresponding number of Northerners head to Donegal to take advantage of favourable exchange rates, cheaper petrol and the occasional pint of Guinness or round of Golf that are in plentiful supply around Greencastle.
The route has proven so successful that a new, larger ferry was added to the crossing in 2004 – with the original ferry moving on to a new summer route further around the Inishowen Peninsula, linking the Donegal towns of Buncrana and Rathmullan.