Cill Airne

Cill Airne, now a surf and dive shop
Cill Airne, now a restaurant and bar

by Dr Edward Bourke

The Cill Airne was built at the Liffey Dockyard in 1961 along with her sister ship Blarna. The government commissioned the vessels to serve the liners calling at Cork Harbour .  They could carry 1000 passengers and the immense quantity of baggage from the quay at Cobh out to the transatlantic liners anchored in the deep water harbour. Their career was short lived because they coincided with the commencement of transatlantic flights by Aer Lingus.   Liners ceased calling at Cobh around 1965. The Cilla Airne was fitted with advanced equipment and used by cork Nautical College for training cruises and weekend  pleasure trips down the harbour.

In 2003 the vessel became obsolete when the college built shore based simulator equipment. 


The two ships were the last significant rived ships built in Europe . Welding had taken over from the 1930s and the technique was obsolete and wasteful.  The decision had been a work creation measure to employ the riveting crews available at the dockyard.    Obviously it was more costly, wasteful of materials (it was said that eth 1930s Graf Spee was 30% lighter because of welding)   and 30 years out of date. Such was the Union stranglehold of Dublin Docks – the legacy of Larkin, that riveters stuck to their trade instead of retraining as welders.


In January  2006 she had been purchased by Dublin investors and was refurbished at Hegarty’s boatyard as the current restaurant and bar.