VOLUMES of travel between England and Ireland, the Ferry Companies have developed spectacular offers, with new state-ofthe-art ships, superb onboard amenities and attractive price packages. On the Holyhead Dublin Route, Irish Ferries are justly proud tithe enormous £46 million Isle of Innisfree, which takes 600 passenger cars and travels at a fast 21.5 knots.
The luxuriously appointed vessel boasts comfort and traditional hospitality as top priorities. She has an old fashioned Irish pub, duty free shops, restaurants, lounges, a prom deck; everything to make the trip pleasant, safe and very comfortable. There are 14 sailings a week, and a holiday brochure for a complete package.
For travelling between Swansea and Cork, Swansea Cork Ferries have operated since 1987, opening up the West Coast of Ireland and saving 400 driving miles from other ferry ports. The company expects 12,000 Continental passengers in 1995. "Superferry" is a 7,454 tonne vessel. Taking 1,400 passengers and 330 cars, she had a £22 million refit in 1992-93. The vessel has an "Agora Square" with restaurants, cafes, shops, duty-free, and an Irish bar. Their brochure supplies plenty of ideas for holidays. Two very special places to visit in Ireland are St Patrick's Purgatory, Lough Derg, and the Marian Shrine of Knock.
St Patrick's Purgatory is on an island, on a lake in a remote part of County Donegal, with a daily coach service from Dublin. The Purgatory dates back to Medieval times and was probably a centre for Pilgrimage in pre-Christian Ireland, certainly as early as 1050. It offers the very demanding Three-day Pilgrimage between 1 June and 15 August (20,000 pilgrims annually), as well as Days of Retreat, MaySeptember and Silent Retreats, October-March.
In the West is 116 yearold Knock Shrine. The Apparition, in 1879, lasted two hours. Our Lady appeared with St Joseph and St John, an altar, a large Cross and a lamb. Commentators believe these represent the Mass and the Eucharist. Many pilgrims visit from all over the world. Knock Shrine is also a Shrine of Reconciliation; 60 priests can hear confession simultaneously and during May-October there are 7000 confessions weekly. Knock is beautiful, prayerful and peaceful and offers a unique experience.
Irish Ferries: 0151 2273131 Swansea Cork Ferries 0171 437 1792 St Patrick's Purgatory: The Prior :(00) 353-72-61518 The Marian Shrine of Knock: (00) 353-95-88100