No kidding! Dublin friends making waves with new Goat Boat Tours

No kidding! Dublin friends making waves with new Goat Boat Tours


Business partners and sea lovers, Conor Battigan and Ed Ruane, always dreamed of being able to combine work with showcasing the stunning beauty of Dun Laoghaire Harbour and Dublin Bay.

“We are both from Dun Laoghaire and were born with a passion and absolute obsession with the sea. We have saltwater running through our veins! To be able to launch a new business that taps into our love of marine life is really a dream come through,” said Conor.

Conor and Ed launched Goat Boat Tours in September, offering passengers an exciting opportunity to explore the rich diversity and culture of Dublin Bay, and to soak up stunning views, in a state-of-the-art rib boat. The tours include getting up close to Dalkey Island, which has famously been home to a herd of goats since the early 1800’s.

“That was the inspiration for the title of the business,” said Conor. “Along with the fact one of my children told me that in the urban dictionary goat stands for “greatest of all time”. And we had to name the boat Billy Goat!”

A gold standard rib boat and associated equipment, capable of taking up to 10 passengers, was commissioned at a cost of €170,000, of which more than €58,000 was grant aided under the Brexit Blue Economy Enterprise Development Scheme, recommended by the Seafood Taskforce established by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D. and implemented by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM). The scheme is funded by the European Union under the Brexit Adjustment Reserve.

“The support of BIM has been immense. Securing the grant aid has been a game changer for us and has allowed us to go ahead to follow our dream.”

The chance to set up Dublin Bay’s first dedicated boat tour business presented itself last year when Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council offered an exciting opportunity for waters ports providers to take premises in Dun Laoghaire Harbour. The move is part of an effort to grow water sports along the coastline and within the harbour in what’s widely renowned as a centre for sailing in Ireland.

“We saw the potential and applied and were successful. Goat Boat Tours is building on the County Council’s strategy of developing the Dun Laoghaire coastline economic activity.”

Conor said the opportunity came at a time when there was an explosion in interest in outdoor activities due to the pandemic. Another factor that helped was the increase in the number of cruise ships visiting Dun Laoghaire, with an estimated 150,000 passengers and crew visiting between April and October.  Projections for 2024 are similar.

Each tour, with a maximum of 10 passengers, lasts one and a half hours and includes a safety briefing where all-weather clothing, lifejackets and a set of binoculars are supplied to all on board.

During the tour, passengers experience some of the incredible biodiversity that the area has to offer, from jellyfish to grey and harbour seals, sea birds, and if lucky, harbour porpoises and dolphins.

In addition to the biodiversity, passengers learn about the history of Dun Laoghaire Harbour, the various Martello Towers, Dalkey Island, local legends and the get a commentary on some of the famous locals who live in some of the jaw dropping houses dotted along the stunning coastline.

While Conor said it wasn’t ideal launching a business near the end of the tourist season it will give them a chance to iron out any issues. The business hopes to take on two more staff for the start of the 2024 tourist season.

“We are both proud locals and over the years we have developed considerable knowledge of Dublin Bay. We have been in or on the water for most of our lives and have backgrounds in the marine industry. The dream for Goat Boat Tours has been a long journey and it took many turns along the way.  But thankfully, and with the help of many people and BIM, we have developed a business that we are very proud of.” said Conor.