St Michael's Pier
On 14 April 1969 a new drive-on/drive-off car ferry terminal, capable of handling 650 cars a day, was officially opened at Dun Laoghaire's St Michael's Wharf by Mr Jim Gibbons, Parliamentary Secretary to Ireland's Minister for Finance.
Built in three years at a cost of IR£850,000 it replaced a temporary terminal at the East Pier, which had been in use since British Rail introduced its first dedicated car ferry service to Ireland in 1965.
The principal feature of the terminal was a pier 575ft long and 70ft wide. A 300ft long three-level passenger building on the pier was capable of accommodating 600 passengers, and its roof was open to the public as a viewing platform, with a snack bar.
The other main building was a vehicle customs hall, which also housed the various administrative offices. A second snack bar was provided there, principally for passengers in outgoing cars. Car loading ramps were sited on each side of the pier and while that enabled two vessels to berth simultaneously, the main purpose was to permit a vessel to lie on the more sheltered side of the pier.
The first ship to use the new pier was the Holyhead Ferry 1 which arrived with 110 cars and 458 passengers. The vessel left for Holyhead again a couple of hours later with 150 cars and several hundred passengers.
The new terminal was to suffer from numerous drawbacks, not least of all the fact that it was designed and built around the Holyhead Ferry 1 with the result that eight years later St Michael's Pier was virtually redundant following the arrival of the St Columba. Only the occasional freight ship and summer sailing with a smaller relief vessel now used the pier.
Between 1981 and 1987 there were no regular services from the terminal, however in March 1987 the freight vessel Stena Sailer sailed into the port and made the west berth her home for the next four years. The following year saw the opening of a service from Liverpool with the Earl Williamusing the east berth - the pier and its terminal was back in business!
1991 saw the arrival of the Stena Cambria onto the run. As her roster saw two Stena ferries in port together some modifications where made to the berth to allow her to use the pier bow-in. A large yokohama fender was placed on the seaward end of the pier to push the stern away from the berth and therefore push the bow in to meet the shore ramp. A new passenger gangway platform was also provided from the building itself.
By the time the fast ferry Stena Sea Lynx arrived in 1993, and with it a significant refurbishment to the terminal's waiting areas and foot passenger subway under the vehicle compound, the terminal's days were numbered. To accommodate the new Stena HSS a major new terminal was planned, construction of which commenced in 1994. Today, only the east berth of the old St Michael's Pier remains adjacent to the massive HSS linkspan.