Dursey Island Cable Car, County Cork, Republic of Ireland. It's not a railway and it's not disused, but we hope that you will enjoy this selection of photographs of Ireland's only cable car service, which links the westernmost tip of the Beara Peninsula with remote Dursey Island. Originally opened in 1969, the cable car operates daily and glides quietly over the choppy waters of the Dursey Sound – one of very few cable cars in Europe to cross water. How long the service can survive in the current climate of economic austerity is a moot point – read on for details.

Above: The tickets for the Dursey Island Cable Car are rather bland, as can be seen here, but the same cannot be said of the ten minute journey. The island is approximately 4 miles long by 1 mile wide, and has only a handful of residents. There are no shops, pubs or restaurants, so it is essential to come prepared if one is walking for a day or staying in the self-catering Dursey Cottage. 31st October 2013. (Jeff Vinter)


Above: The cable car approaching the docking station on the mainland side. The vehicle's capacity is only six, with livestock taking precedence over human passengers. Inevitably, long queues develop in high season, and visitoirs to the island need to allow for this. At the time of this visit, there was some doubt as to whether livestock could continue to use the cable car (click here for details) following a structural assessment by consultants acting for Cork County Council; the problem is the cost of infrastructure repairs. A cargo ferry service has been proposed, but for only three days in the period July 2012 to August 2013 – which produced predictable protests from the islanders whose livelihood would be compromised by such an infrequent operation. The underlying difficulty is that the waters of Dursey Sound are very dangerous: they have a powerful tidal race with a reef of rocks in the centre of the channel which is submerged at high tide. 31st October 2013. (Jeff Vinter)

Above: The cable car in flight, just about to pass through the eastern pylon on the mainland side. Dursey Island contains three small villages (Ballynacallagh, Kilmichael and Tilickafinna), and is renowned for its wildlife, which includes seabird colonies, dolphins, whales and the harmless basking sharks. 31st October 2013. (Jeff Vinter)
Above: The road to Ballynacallagh, one of Dursey Island's three villages. There are very few cars on the island, and those that are there must have been taken over by ferry. Some of these vehicles have no number plates since, presumably, they never leave the island. Who repairs them, and where, are other mysteries! 31st October 2013. (Jeff Vinter)
Above: A view from Dursey Island looking across the sound to Crow Head on the County Cork mainland.. Views like this abound from the island, although visitors do need a bit of good luck with the weather. 31st October 2013. (Jeff Vinter)
Above: The view from Dursey Island westwards across the Atlantic. There is a sign on the island which helpfully informs visitors and residents alike that New York is 5,280 kilometres away; Moscow is a lot closer at 3,310 kilometres. 31st October 2013. (Jeff Vinter)
Above: The view from the cable car returning to the mainland. The tell-tale signs of rust, accelerated by the exposed marine environment, can be seen clearly on the pylon, although all this infrastructure passed a recent series of weight and stress tests with flying colours. 31st October 2013. (Jeff Vinter)
Above: The cable car returning to Dursey Island at the end of service for the day. It is left overnight at the docking station on the west side, presumably because that is considered the safest place: it is in the lee of the island, which offers some protection from the prevailing south-westerlies, while perhaps Dursey is considered safer from the risk of vandalism – although it is hard to imagine that vandalism could be a problem in the remote locations either side of Dursey Sound. 31st October 2013. (Jeff Vinter)
Above: The returning cable car nears its western terminus as the sun begins to set over Dursey Island. Ireland is not a country renowned for its clear skies and lack of rain, especially well into autumn, no one could have asked for better weather conditions than attended this visit. 31st October 2013. (Jeff Vinter)