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- Newsletter December '09

2009 - the year that Christmas came early!

For many of us, we had a very welcome 'early' Christmas present on 25th September - as the beautiful Julia sailed proudly up the River Lee, to dock at Horgans Quay in the centre of Cork City. It's near impossible to put into words the sense of pride that we all felt, seeing this hugely 'physical' symbol of people-power finally arriving in Cork. In a year when the media focus has been on negative things - it's reassuring to know that we can still create something truly positive, when we all work together.

Looking forwards...

As children all round the world tick off the days in the countdown to Christmas - this project has a different calendar - in which 1st March 2010 is the red-letter day!

Since September, things have moved ahead at a frantic pace. There's now an organisation in place to turn this great ship into a fully-functioning ferry service, and mechanisms online and office-based to accept travel bookings. The Fastnet Line website has grown from a single page in September to a fully functioning information site with details of sailing schedules & pricing, group travel, location maps, a comprehensive FAQ and the all-important online booking system. The engineering team on-board the ship have embarked on an exhaustive maintenance schedule - to make sure that, once she is sailing, she doesn't need any 'sick days'.

You can follow week-by-week developments in Pat O'Neill's blog and bookings for the new service can now be made online and by telephone (UK  +44 (0) 844 576 8831   -   Ireland & Shareholders +353 (0) 21 453 0440 ).


Welcome aboard!

Although we owe an immense debt of gratitude to all of you who have been with us since the start of this 'voyage' - it's always great to welcome new faces and organisations on-board. One of the most recent 'welcomes' goes out to Cork County Council - who voted unanimously to invest €200,000 in the project - and we hope that this show of confidence will encourage other corporate investors (including Cork City Council and Kerry County Council to follow suit). We are also hearing encouraging noises from organisations across the water in Swansea....


Don't miss the Boat!

Just in time for Christmas, there's a new 'Business Expansion Scheme' which gives generous tax breaks to Irish tax payers at the top rate of tax. Take a look at the Investment pages on the Fastnet Line website for more info - but don't delay as the scheme closes on 31st December 2009.  There's a variety of other investment opportunities on the website...


Take a bow!

In true Christmas Pantomime style - there's always the final curtain-call - and it seems only fair to pay tribute to the many great people who have played their part in making this fairytale come true. Just as with any production - the overall result is the sum of the players and supporting staff - so if I have forgotten anybody then my apologies and please consider yourselves included...

First and foremost - a grand and general 'thank you' to all of YOU!
Yes - you - the people who have supported our mad campaign since April 2008, by signing e-petitions, sending us comments, filling in surveys, raising nearly €3m in 5 weeks, displaying car-stickers, wearing badges, spreading the word both online and in the 'real world', by giving us publicity and just by being involved - thanks a million!

There's also one or two individuals and organisations who deserve credit - including Conor, Paul and the amazing team at the West Cork Tourism Co-op, and Michael from the Port of Cork, who have put in thousands of man-hours of organisation, negotiation and perspiration in order to turn the dream of a restored Cork-Swansea ferry link into the reality of a 21,000 tonne, 153-metre cruise-ferry tied up alongside Horgans Quay ...... you're all amazing!

To continue with this 'Roll of Honour' would only guarantee that I inadvertently left somebody out - but you all know who you are, both in Cork and over the sea in Swansea - thanks!

Finally - we mustn't forget my good friend and co-conspirator John Hosford (aka Mr Positivity!), who has not only run a one-man diplomatic mission to Wales, contacted everybody he knows in West Cork, appeared in countless TV and radio interviews and generally done an enormous amount to push the campaign ahead despite all opposition and apathy - John - you're a star!


Oh, I nearly forgot! - and very Happy Christmas to all of you, and may good things come to us all in the New Year. If things should sometimes look a little bleak - just remember what amazing things we can do if we all work together!


Good luck - and thanks!


www.bringbacktheswanseacorkferry.com / www.fastnetline.com