€4.6 million Rathmullan Pier project begins

The commencement of the €4.6 million Rathmullan Pier Refurbishment Project has been hailed as a momentous development for Donegal and the North-West by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue.
Speaking during a visit to Rathmullan, where he met Donegal County Council officials overseeing the project and the contractors who secured the tender for the works, the Donegal minister said: “Upgrading local piers and harbours was a key priority for me when I was appointed minister in 2020, so to see this project getting underway is fantastic. The refurbishment of Rathmullan Pier was first sounded 30 years ago, so I am delighted to see it starting.”
“Up until now, the functionality of Rathmullan Pier has been limited. But when this overhaul is finished, it will allow Rathmullan to realise and enjoy its full potential. Small cruise boats used the pier back in the sixties and seventies and when Rathmullan Pier reopens after the refurbishment works, more development can happen because the pier will be structurally safe.
“There’s always a great vibe about Rathmullan and having spoken to local traders and business owners, they enjoyed a busy Easter. The local people and community groups are fully behind the project and the contractors are working extremely well with them and facilitating them as much as possible,” the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine commented.
“When completed, the revamped pier will attract a larger volume of tourists to the famous seaside town and to surrounding towns and villages. The start of the project is a momentous development, not only for Rathmullan, but also for Donegal and the North-West region,” Minister McConalogue added.
Rathmullan port is the only facility that can provide a sheltered berth for vessels up to 5,000 tonnes and up to 100 metres in length with draught up to eight metres. Rathmullan is a pelagic species landing port and is also used by the nearby salmon aquaculture industry for harvesting salmon and for transfer of smolt from Scotland and Norway. A seasonal ferry service operates from Rathmullan to Buncrana and the viaduct also provides access to a seasonal marina facility where angling charters depart throughout summer months.
The original pier at Rathmullan dates to the early 1800’s while the existing pierhead was re-constructed in 1957 by the Office of Public Works at a cost of £100,000 for the import and export of goods to Donegal. This was followed by construction of the potato store on the site of the existing car park in 1958. The pier is accessed by a 120-metre-long viaduct that was built in 1934 so it certainly due for renewal now. Reports going back as far as 1995 confirmed that the pier and particularly the approach viaduct were found to need repair. It is now proposed to completely refurbish the access viaduct and remove the existing weight limit that currently applies. This will involve the replacement of the existing viaduct deck and deck beams as well as other structural elements. It is not expected that any of the skeletal support structure will require replacement.
Nicholas O’Dwyer Ltd. Consulting Engineers completed the previous condition reports and have been employed again by Donegal County Council to re-assess the condition of the existing pier and viaduct, and to design a solution for the refurbishment of the viaduct, while Cunningham Civil & Marine Ltd. have been contracted to complete the refurbishment works.
The refurbishment works are being funded by the Brexit Adjustment Local Authority Marine Infrastructure Scheme 2022-2023, administered by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to the value of €3.8 million, with the remainder being provided by Donegal County Council. The tendered cost of the works is €4.6 million, and a condition of the funding requires all the works to be completed by the end of October 2024.
While this is an ambitious target, Donegal County Council is satisfied with the team employed that this will be achieved. Donegal County Council says it is delighted to have received the opportunity to refurbish the iconic piece of infrastructure and safeguard it for future generations. Donegal County Council’s team is headed by Cliodhna Campbell, who together with Cathal Sweeney, Eugene Allen and Noel Breslin, have been responsible for the delivery of projects to the value of €26.5 million that were funded by the Brexit Adjustment Local Authority Marine Infrastructure Scheme 2022-2023.
The allocation of €3.8 million for the Rathmullan Pier Refurbishment Project was part of an overall investment of €8.276 million approved for six Donegal marine infrastructure projects by Minister McConalogue earlier this year.

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