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Dublin’s ‘London’ Landings: Post-Brexit Banks Be ‘Capital’ Boost to Liffey Scene?

20th November 2016
SLEEK CITY TRADER: Spirit of Docklands is the only Liffey based craft that operates 'excursion' trips between the iconic Ha’penny Bridge and the 3Arena (former O2 and Point Theatre). Berthed behind is the ultra-luxury small cruiseship Hebridean Princess which was chartered twice by the Royal Family in Scottish waters. On a related note the Royal Mail Ship, RMS St. Helena made a unique charter-cruise call to Dublin in 1995 and by coincidence also berthed at the above Sir John Rogersons Quay. Afloat previously reported that the cargo-passenger ship that serves the remote island of St. Helena in the South Atlantic finally in June this year for the first time visited London, her homeport of registry. SLEEK CITY TRADER: Spirit of Docklands is the only Liffey based craft that operates 'excursion' trips between the iconic Ha’penny Bridge and the 3Arena (former O2 and Point Theatre). Berthed behind is the ultra-luxury small cruiseship Hebridean Princess which was chartered twice by the Royal Family in Scottish waters. On a related note the Royal Mail Ship, RMS St. Helena made a unique charter-cruise call to Dublin in 1995 and by coincidence also berthed at the above Sir John Rogersons Quay. Afloat previously reported that the cargo-passenger ship that serves the remote island of St. Helena in the South Atlantic finally in June this year for the first time visited London, her homeport of registry. Photo: Photo: JEHAN ASHMORE

#LiffeyPotential – Post-Brexit potentially poses an exodus of UK banks relocating from London to the EU and notably Dublin’s financial Docklands, where the Liffey flows through with barely any river-traffic compared to the Thames, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Since the Brexit vote on the EU referendum, property agents in Dublin have had a 30% increase on inquiries from UK firms looking to relocate. This is according to a joint report by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland. Potentially such an influx of thousands of financial services employees could further boost the Docklands quarter with spin offs leading to new river-based operations / floating businesses. The increased financial flight of capital could also favour related corporate sponsorship of tallships and powerboating races.

Among the major high-rise Docklands developments underway is Dublin Landings, an impressive 1 million sq foot central north riverside project also at Spenser Dock. This is a mixed development of offices, apartments and retails space includes the new headquarters of the Central Bank originally destined to be that for Anglo Irish Bank no less!

There are also plans at Spenser Dock for the DART Underground, this would be something of a Dublin version of London’s Canary Wharf Docklands. Passing this major financial district in June was RMS St. Helena heading to the UK capital, the first visit ever visit to her homeport of registry, yet notably having taken place after the 'RMS' made a unique call to Dublin Port 21 years previously on the River Liffey. 

As reported previously, Thames commuter-river bus operator MNBA Thames Clippers whose 15 catamarans will carry four million customers by the end of 2016. The operator MNBA do a lot more as they are also one of the UK's largest credit card issuers. Obviously there is considerably less demand for a Liffey commuter service, given the bridges built and since the Celtic Tiger and the extension of the LUAS Red Line to the Point. A commuter service however did exist in the form of the far more humble Liffey Ferry operation when compared to the busy Thames scene.

It was during the credit crunch crash that Liffey Ferry with the support of the then Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA) ran a river-taxi shuttle service between bank to bank… pardon the pun. The river-taxi RIB named Liffey Flyer was aptly yellow in colour like its New York land-based counterpart. The three-minute hop between Sir John Rogersons Quay and the North Wall. The DDDA was transferred to Dublin City Council and Afloat at another stage will be examining DCC’s North Lotts and Grand Canal Dock Strategic Development Zone (SDZ) and its relationship with the River Liffey. The underutilised water thoroughfare and Grand Canal Basin is in stark contrast to some other EU capitals as echoed by Docklands Business Forum.

Outside of peak times, Liffey Ferry attracted tourists as it was a short-cut in which having personally availed to reach the working port of Dublin beyond the East-Link Lift Toll Bridge now named the Tom Clarke Bridge. There are currently plans at the river crossing to ‘reorder’ this area of waterfront where small vessels among them cruiseships transit through the lift-bridge to reach city-centre quays. The ‘old’ Liffey ferry whose origins date to the 14th century, was operated by Dublin Corporation’s own fleet that mostly served dockers until the ferry was made redundant in 1984 with the opening of the East-Link Bridge.

In regard to the Liffey Ferry of the DDDA this only operated for about two years and was always a stop-gap measure in advance of the opening in 2009 of the new Samuel Beckett Bridge, part of the Docklands regeneration vision. The swing-bridge was ‘imported’ having already been completed in the Netherlands from where the structure was towed on a barge and ‘sailed’ through the East-Link bridge as it was known then.

At present the Liffey has only one operator, albeit the ‘tourist-excursion’ year-round service of Dublin Discovered Boat Tours. They operate a 48 seat sight-seeing craft, Spirit of Docklands, custom-built for the DDDA when launched in Finland for Liffey River Cruises. The ‘Spirit’ plies between Bachelors Walk upriver to the Old Ha’penny Bridge and downriver to the 3Arena, formerly the O2 and before that the Point Theatre. As previously covered, the Liffey Line ran during the mid-1990’s a similar shuttle river-bus and night-time service for theatre patrons from City Quay using a former Shannon based water-bus craft.

On the North Wall is berthed the Dublin 1962 built veteran M.V. Cill Airne, a former transatlantic liner tender based in Cobh which has been a ‘resident’ of the Dublin Docklands for almost a decade. The static venue with restaurants and bars on board the 500grt vessel is located at a prime position close to the Convention Centre, host of a historic reception for Queen Elizabeth II in 2011.

Also gracing the northside is the Jeanie Johnston, a replica of a 19th century barque which tells the story of Irish emigrants fleeing the famine to start a new life in America. The floating museum tallship is undergoing maintenance but is scheduled to reopen to visitors next month.

Not strictly a Liffey operator, Dublin Bay Cruises in recent years began seasonal ‘summer’ excursions also from City Quay on a network linking Howth and Dun Laoghaire Harbours. St. Bridget is to resume duties also next month albeit in the context of ‘festive’ river party cruises.

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