DURSEY Island will have been cut off from the mainland for a year by the time the ropes for its cable car arrive.
An order for the essential parts from Sweden will delay the re-opening of the cable car to Easter 2023, a meeting heard this week.
Following independent tests by the Commission for Railways Regulation, Cork County Council closed the service on March 31st last and said Ireland’s only cable car would reopen in mid-November.
In mid-November, The Southern Star exclusively reported that the deadline had been moved to January.
However, at a West Cork Municipal District meeting on Monday, the county engineer Kevin Morey confirmed that track ropes, which support the cable car, will need to be replaced and that the new date for opening is now Easter – which falls on April 9th, 2023.
In a memo to councillors, the engineer said the track ropes were due for replacement by the end of 2024 and the Council investigated the possibility of replacing them as part of the contract.
‘However,’ he said, ‘our suppliers indicated very long delivery times for replacement ropes and it was decided to re-use the existing ropes, subject to a scan, in light of the severe weather impacts which had been experienced late in 2021.
‘When the ropes had been taken down in early August, a visual inspection showed no external signs of damage. A specialist test was arranged for the beginning of September but was weather-delayed until September 28th,’ said Mr Morey.
‘Initial word from the site was that the track ropes had passed inspection. However, subsequently, the testing company advised that water had entered testing equipment and that the test needed to be repeated,’ he added.
Following a second test, a report was issued on October 21st recommending that the ropes be replaced due to internal damage.
A subsequent meeting with the test specialist on October 28th confirmed that the ropes could not be re-used.
Acknowledging the very long delivery times for replacement ropes, Mr Morey said the Council had engaged with nine rope suppliers internationally.
‘We have now confirmed an order with a Swiss supplier who will supply new ropes in March 2023 and our contractor TLI will be on standby to install the new ropes as soon as they arrive,’ he said.
Mr Morey said the Council will also liaise with the Commission for Railways Regulation to arrange the necessary statutory inspections and approvals at that time.
County mayor Cllr Danny Collins (Ind) said it is imperative that the rib ‘ferry’ service – which is being provided with the support of the Department of Community and Rural Development -– would continue to serve the 20 island stakeholders on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
Senior executive officer MacDara O h-Icí confirmed that it would continue to operate, as well as a barge service, but he did acknowledge that it is weather-dependent. Cllr Ross O’Connell (SD) and Cllr Paul Hayes (Ind) expressed concern for the welfare of the livestock owned by the five people farming on the island.
Islander Martin Sheehan said he had a real concern that the island could be abandoned because it is getting too difficult to access. Even when they use their own boats, he said, it takes ‘half a dozen men trying to haul it out of the water.’ He said the sheep could graze the headlands over winter, but he expressed concern about the 60 cattle on Dursey, which are likely to start calving in the spring and will be ‘on their own.’