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#HarbourTours – Following the recent visit of President Michael D Higgins to launch the Dun Laoghaire Bicentenary Celebrations, guided walking tours of the harbour continue to mid-June. 

The free guided walking tours will delve into the magnificent engineering of the historic harbour that began construction 200 years ago in 1817. Four years later the harbour works were inspected by King George IV and following the visit the town was renamed Kingstown in his honour. 

In 1823 along the harbour waterfront, the King George IV Obelisk monument was erected and this is where President Higgins on Wednesday last had attended the commemorative ceremony. 

The talks will also explain about the earlier harbour and how the present harbour was built using granite from Dalkey.

Also the tour highlights some of the lesser-known features of this wonderful harbour, that was originally planned as a 'Port of Refuge' with just a single pier, the East Pier. It was decided however to add a second pier, that been the West Pier. In total the harbour took 25 years to construct with completion finally taking place in 1842.

Tours are held every Tuesday and Thursday until 15 June and are wheelchair accessible.

Meeting point: Bridge over the Dun Laoghaire DART Line at Crofton Road.
Time: 11.00am (1 tour per day)
Duration: 1 hour
Max Capacity: 30 people

The talks are part of the Spring into Heritage (28 April-18 June) programme organised by Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council. For further website information including other events (click to download brochure) that are mostly free, it is advisable to arrive early.

Published in Dublin Bay

#DLHarbour - Here’s a reminder for your calendar that President Michael D Higgins will officiate the opening ceremony of Dun Laoghaire Harbour’s bicentenary celebration.

President Higgins will formally launch the programme of events celebrating the harbour’s 200 years — which includes July’s Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta — from 2.30pm this Wednesday 31 May at Carlisle Pier.

The commemoration will be followed at 3pm by a 21-gun salute from the East Battery as well as a fly-past by two Air Corps aircraft from the direction of Killiney Hill, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Dublin Bay

#Notorious - MMA superstar Conor McGregor swapped the UFC Octagon for a sleek motor yacht to make the most of Ireland’s recent sunny spell, as his Instagram account indicates.

McGregor drove out to Dun Laoghaire Harbour a few days ago with a pair of jet skis hitched behind his “custom built” SUV to mess about on his latest extravagant purchase, a motorboat he’s named The 188 in a wry reference to the weekly Jobseekers Benefit.

True to his cheeky form, McGregor dismissed his new vessels as “summer toys” and jokingly offered: “Anyone wanna buy a yacht and a few skis hahaha [sic]”.

While the sun might be hidden again for a few days, Ireland is bound to get another mini-heatwave that will surely bring the ‘Notorious’ one back to Dun Laoghaire for more cruising in his inimitable style.

 

Living comfortable on the 188.

A post shared by Conor McGregor Official (@thenotoriousmma) on

Published in Dublin Bay

Two hundred years after the foundation stone was laid to build Dun Laoghaire Harbour, the President Michael D Higgins, accompanied by his wife Sabina, will officiate at the Bicentenary opening ceremony at 14:30 on Wed 31st May 2017, at the King George IV monument in Dun Laoghaire harbour.

In May 1817, the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Earl Whitworth, laid the foundation stone, the first stone from the quarry at Dalkey, on the site where the King George IV monument on Queens Road was subsequently built. On that day, Lord Whitworth, included with the foundation stone, a time capsule which included a coin of the realm and ten newspapers.

In the Bicentenary opening ceremony, to mark this special occasion two hundred years later, His Excellency, President Michael D Higgins, will place a new time capsule at the King George IV monument. This time capsule will include drawings from local school children, a newspaper of the day, recent photographs of the harbour, and letters from the RNLI, Coast Guard, Coal Harbour Users Group and An Cathaoirleach.

As part of the ceremony on May 31st next, the Air Corps will undertake a “Fly By”, ceremonial cannons will be fired, and a 21 Gun Salute will be accorded by the Irish Defence Forces to mark the occasion. Volunteers from the RNLI and the Coast Guard will create a guard of Honour to welcome the President.

The ceremony will also announce the packed summer schedule of events marking the Bicentenary of Dun Laoghaire harbour, taking place around Dun Laoghaire throughout the rest of the year.

Published in Dublin Bay

Yesterday evening the Water Wags raced for the Buckingham Cup & Wigham Trophy with handicaps applied at the start, resulting in some boats starting five and a half minutes ahead of others. The handicaps were allocated on the basis of average finishing places in the three championship races held to date. At the time when the first boats started, there was almost no wind in that part of the harbour, and the course was laid for the expected wind from the east, and there was much congestion and dirty wind in the starting line area. The start guns sounded at approximately one minute intervals, but due to lack of wind many boats failed to start on their allocated times.

At the first mark, Paul & Anne Smith in Sara led from Ben McCormack in Marcia and Nandor with Brian Mc Bride and Stuart McBean sailing in 5 knots of wind. These three managed to escape the wallowing at the start area, and built up a huge lead. On the downwind legs, there was much effective blanketing in the following fleet caused by spinnakers of the following boats.
On the final beat, a large black cloud was building up over Dublin City. Eventually, the wind caused by this cloud revealed itself as a strong southerly wind of about 12 knots which hit some of the fleet with such a surprise, that a few boats nearly capsized.

At the finish the order was:

1st – 30, Sara, Paul & Anne Smith.
2nd - 45, Mariposa.
Cathy MacAleavey & Con Murphy
3rd.-33, Eva,
Orla Fitzgerald & Katie Tingle.
4th. 38, Swift, Guy & Jackie Kilroy
5th. - 44, Scallywag. Dan O’Connor & David Williams
6th. -15, Moosmie, David MacFarland.
7th. - Skee, Jonathan & Carol O’Rourke.
8th. - 31, Polly. Richard Mossop and Henry Rooke.
9th. – 46, Mademoiselle.
10th. –37, Marcia.
11th- 36, Little Tern.
12th. – 41, Mollie.
13th. -42, Tortoise,
14th. – 16, Penelope.
15th. - 18, Good Hope.
16th. -3, Pansy,
17th. – 4, Vela.
18th. – 40, Swallow.
19th. -43, Freddie.
20th. -47, Peggy.
21st. -20, Badger.
22nd. –26, Nandor.
23rd. -17, Coquette,
24th. -10, Sprite,
25th. - 34, Chloe,.
26th. -6, Mary Kate

Published in Water Wag

The arrival of the five star luxury cruise ship Serenissima into Dun Laoghaire this morning kicks off the town's summer cruise-liner visits this morning.

Weighing in at over 2,500 tonnes, the Serenissima is the length of a soccer pitch, has 59 cabins and a passenger and crew complement of 160 people, will call today, allowing its passengers and crew take in the sights of Dun Laoghaire and surrounds.

Welcoming the ship into Dun Laoghaire, Carolyn Hanaphy of Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company said today that “the Serenissima is the first of 8 cruise ship visits scheduled for Dun Laoghaire this summer, bringing with them nearly 3,000 passengers and crew into the town. We are always delighted to see these ships come to our town and spend some time here. Each of these ships is welcomed alongside the historic Carlisle Pier leaving disembarking passengers and crew just 500 metres from the town centre where they can enjoy all that Dun Laoghaire offers in terms of hospitality, shopping and good restaurants and pubs all within a short stroll from the ship.”

Cruise ship dun LaoghaireCruise ship 'Serenissima' berthed at the Carlisle Pier in Dun Laoghaire

Dun Laoghaire Harbour Master Capt. Simon Coate today said that “Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company work hard to secure luxury ships of this kind to come and visit our harbour. The Serenissima which will stop off on her way around the “Gardens of the British Isles” is a charming vessel with a unique style. During a major refit the owners commissioned Swedish interior designers to create an 18th century influenced Gustavian style interior. The unique style and grandeur of this vessel certainly is in keeping with the unique aesthetics of our 200-year-old harbour, making Dun Laoghaire a sought-after port of call on her voyage.”

The ship is on a 12-day cruise of the “Gardens of the British Isles”. She left Portsmouth 7 days ago and has already made numerous stops along the English coast, has stopped off in Bantry Bay to visit Garnish Island and Waterford and now she is calling to Dun Laoghaire to visit Powerscourt Gardens. The ship will continue onto Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland on route to her final destination in Oban in Scotland.

Published in Cruise Liners

For the second week in a row, the wind in Dun Laoghaire blew from the north. This time the wind of 12 -15 knots kicked up quite a chop within the harbour, which some competitors found challenging. In the130th season for the class, twenty-three Water Wags turned up for the second of three matches for The Newsom Memorial Cup (div. 1A), Hilpotsteiner Tankard (div 1B), and Phyllis Cup (div. 2).

At the start, many Wags found themselves behind the committee boat at the starboard end of the start line. No so, Barbara, Pansy, Moosmie and Mary Kate who hit the line perfectly. It turned out that tide would not be a significant factor in the race, but due to a small bias in the start line, it did pay to start at the starboard end of the line. Start video courtesy of Jenifer Hudson below:

Due to the size of the waves coming through the harbour mouth, crews had to work had to keep momentum in their Water Wags, and to minimise heeling. At the second windward mark, close to the harbour mouth the order was Moosmie, Barbara, Swift, and Tortoise. However, when Tortoise gybed soon afterwards, the helmsman slipped, and the inevitable result was water pouring over the leeward gunwale. Once spinnakers were hoisted and set they provided additional stability to the Wags, and the ability to surf the waves. On the following round the order had changed to Moosmie, Swift, and Barbara. Competitors were getting more used to the conditions after that with fewer place changes.

Water wag MoosmieDavid MacFarlane in Moosmie, is the winner of both races of the series

At the finish the order was:

1st – 15, Moosmie, David MacFarlane.
2nd - 38, Swift, Guy & Jackie Kilroy.
3rd. - 41, Mollie, Annalise Murphy.
4th. -33, Eva, Dermot O’Flynn
5th - 8, Barbara, Ian and Judith Malcolm
6th. - 3, Pansy, Vincent Delany & Charles Pearson.
7th. – 6, Mary Kate, Ian & Jenny Magowan. (Winner div 2).
8th. – 4, Vela, Philip & Katie Mayne.
9th. - 40, Swallow, David & Anne Clarke. (Winner div 1B).
10th. - 46, Mademoiselle.
11th. – 18, Good Hope.
12th. - 47, Peggy.
13th. - 34, Chloe.
14th. – 32, Skee.
15th. - 10, Sprite.
16th. - 31, Polly.
17th. – 26, Nandor.
18th. - 44, Scallywag.
19th. -16, Penelope.
20th. - 43, Freddie.
21st. - 45, Mariposa.
RET. – 36, Little Tern.
RET. – 42, Tortoise.

Overall Moosmie is in first place with Swift in second place with only one more race in the series.  Link to the overall results here

Published in Water Wag

#DLRHeritage - Easter is over but there’s plenty more to do with this year’s Spring into Heritage (28 April-18 June) programme organised by Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council.

Beginning next Monday, the DLR Heritage programme offers a variety of events and free guided walking tours. Among them are those with direct maritime themes connected with Dun Laoghaire Harbour which this year celebrates its Bicentenary.

Given this special 200th anniversary, guided walking tours will prove to be particularly apt as they delve into the magnificent engineering of the historic harbour built using granite from nearby Dalkey. The harbour originally began with construction in 1817 of a single pier, the East Pier.

Nearby to the popular East Pier, there will be also be guided tours of the National Maritime Museum housed in the former Mariners Church located next to the DLR Lexicon Library.

On the other side of the harbour, just beyond the West Pier, there will also be tours of Seapoint Martello Tower built to defend a possible Napoleonic invasion. The stone-cut structure affords a wonderful panorama with views sweeping across Dublin Bay.

Why not take a visit to the Dalkey Castle & Heritage Centre. Tours explore and explain the 15th century medieval fortified towerhouse, where cargoes were once stored from ships that anchored in Dalkey Sound which then acted as the main port for Dublin.

Other none coastal venues including tours of historic houses set in parkland throughout the borough are available. Noting some events require pre-booking. For more details including downloadable leaflet click here.

Published in Dublin Bay

#FreedomShip – At a special public event held in Dun Laoghaire Harbour a conferral of ‘Freedom of Entry’ was presented to crew of LÉ Eithne on behalf of the Irish Naval Service, writes Jehan Ashmore.

In the presence of ambassadors and officials among them representing the UK, Italy and China, An Cathaoirleach of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, Councillor Cormac Devlin presented the honorary conferral to Lt Cdr. Brian Fitzgerald, commander of LÉ Eithne. Cdr Hugh Tully was also in attendance on behalf of Defence Forces Chief of Defence, Vice Admiral Mark Mellett. 

Also at the lunchtime ceremony where members of the public along with local schoolchildren waving the tricolour. The proceedings included a crew party standing to attention with the backdrop of LÉ Eithne berthed behind at St. Michaels Pier. Also sharing the pier was seasonal Dublin Bay excursion boat, St. Bridget.

The ‘Honorary Freedom of Entry to the Council’ was awarded by Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council to the Irish Naval Service in recognition of the humanitarian mission 'Operation Pontus' that was carried out in the Mediterranean on behalf of the people of Ireland and the EU. The conferral was the first ever presented by DLRCC and that of any council.

Master of ceremonies, RTE's Mary Kennedy hightlighted that LÉ Eithne along with fleetmates during Operation Pontus played a significant role in the rescue of 15,000 migrants and refugees. Lt Cdr. Brian Fitzgerald commented LÉ Eithne is to be deployed again to the Mediteranean in a month’s time so to resume humanitarian duties. This he added though is subject to Government approval.

The ceremony also provided an opportunity to mark a more solemn moment as a minutes silence took place to honour those lost in the Irish Coastguard Helicopter tragedy of R116 off Blacksod, Co. Mayo.

Overall command of the search remains with the Coast Guard that had involved LÉ Eithne appointed as On Scene Co-ordinator (OSC) of the operation. This role was transferred to L.É. James Joyce but this OPV has been recently relieved by class leadship L.É. Samuel Beckett in the ongoing operations at Blackrock Island Lighthouse.

On a more joyous note, at the end of proceedings in Dun Laoghaire, the Army No.1 Band led a crew parade from the Harbour Plaza. This saw the parade head up along Marine Road to outside the Town Hall of Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown.

Published in Navy

For the summer of 2017 at least, it looks as though Dun Laoghaire Harbour is going to remain free of the threat of the installation of a new liner berth. W M Nixon reckons this provides a unique opportunity for town and harbour to come together as they may have done once upon a time, but have failed to replicate for many years. He provides the background, and makes some suggestions.

The trouble with Dun Laoghaire is that there’s nowhere else quite like it. There isn’t really a truly comparable totally artificial harbour anywhere else on this scale set on the edge of a city, in the midst of an area of general affluence and recreational expectations. It is arguably unique. Nowhere in the world is there a similar setup from which those who hope to manage Dun Laoghaire Harbour effectively might learn lessons on how to make a viable proposition of their port and its future.

Although the original asylum harbour was built by engineer John Rennie and others in majestic style, at the time it had only one simple purpose – to provide shelter for unwieldy sailing ships when Dublin Bay was storm-beset and Dublin Port with its very shallow bar entrance was inaccessible.

The original plans show a sublime indifference to the existence of the little old harbour of Dunleary immediately to the west of the proposed location of the vast new structure. And the little port there has long since disappeared under high value property development to an extent which the early harbour planners cannot have begun to imagine.

dun laoghaire old plan2The original plan for the new harbour deliberately excluded the little old harbour of Dunleary to the west, as the new harbour was not intended to provide ship to shore access.

For the idea was not that this would be a port. On the contrary, it would only be a place of temporary shelter in which vessels of importance – particularly those on British government business - would be secure until conditions improved. It was not envisaged that there would be any significant shoreside contact during their short time in what very quickly became Kingstown Harbour.

For of course, no sooner was a harbour under construction, than a town began to develop beside it. It was notoriously un-planned, so much so that fifty years later a critic mocked its name of Kingstown – conferred with a Royal visit in 1821 – by pointing out that far from being a King’s town, it was rather more of a republic of selfish building anarchy.

At the beginning – which we now date to 200 years ago, with the first stone officially laid on May 31st 1817 - significant shoreside development had not been intended. As historian Hal Sisk has pointed out, at no time did the official plans include anything so basic to a proper port town such as warehouses, let alone shipyards or even boatyards. But the basic existence of the harbour in its earliest form by the late 1820s saw the first regatta being staged in 1828. Recreational sailing and the harbour have been intertwined ever since. And the irresistible growth impulse of Kingstown was underlined by the arrival of the railway from Dublin in 1834.

carlisle pier area3The eastern part of Kingstown harbour at its Victorian high point as a ferry port. The area in the centre, immediately east of Carlisle Pier, will be used for berthing Classic and Traditional Vessels in July during the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017.
We take that date of 1834 for granted, but in terms of world railway history, it was very early indeed. And it in turn roped Kingstown into other unplanned developments. As long as the entrance to Dublin port remained dangerously shallow, Kingstown had all the advantages for the rapid development of the cross channel ferry trade. It was all done initially on an ad hoc basis, but it worked for the ferries, while the already proven attractions of the place as an innovative recreational sailing location made it central to world sailing development by the 1860s and 1870s.

So for most of the two hundred years whose history we’ll be celebrating in July, Dun Laoghaire/Kingtown has been struggling with the fact that the basic concept of the harbour - which by its monumental and historic scale still dictates what can be done with it today – was planned with virtually no attention paid to the sea/land interface.

rstgyc regatta 1870s4Despite the restrictions on waterfront space, Kingstown Harbour had become a leading sailing centre by the latter half of the 19th century, as shown in this painting by Richard Brydges Beechey of a Royal St George YC regatta in the 1870s. Courtesy RStGYC

Ideally, when the harbour was being built, at least as large an area ashore should have been set aside on the adjacent land to provide for a proper harbour town. But nothing remotely like this was done, and the railway was brought in by the easiest possible shoreside route, thereby putting another barrier between the growing town and the harbor. As a result, the town/harbour relationship has always been problematic. This is particularly so when allied to the fact that areas of conspicuous affluence are almost cheek by jowl with what seem like semi-deprived areas by comparison.

On top of all this, there’s the eternal problem of paying for the harbour’s maintenance. It was superbly built in the first place, but it would be an insult to those early engineers, and their incredibly industrious workers labouring under dangerous conditions, if we failed to maintain the harbour properly in a manner which respects its original concept, while continuing to give it validity for contemporary life.

viceroy wins5The good old days……..It is the summer of 1901, and the Viceroy Lord Dudley is finishing in-harbour after threading his course through moored yachts to take the win with his new Dublin Bay 25 Fodhla in company with some boats of the new version of the Water Wag class. In second place in the DB 25s is Nepenthe (No 4, Sir H Robinson). Both Dublin Bay 25s were built in Dun Laoghaire by J E Doyle. Photo courtesy Theo Harris

Since the ferries pulled out to re-locate entirely in Dublin Port, taking their guaranteed income stream with them, the struggle has gone on between those who wish to develop any potential the harbour might have for a cruise-liner port of call, and those who feel it should be seen more as a sort of maritime version of the Phoenix Park. They envisage it as a vast breathing space, ultimately maintained by public funds if there’s a shortfall between the income generated by recreational use, and the routine maintenance and administration expenses.

But for the moment, any further development has been postponed awaiting a court case. In it, the point is to be made that making the harbour accessible to functioning liners, with emission-spewing machinery working on a 24/7 basis, will have the effect of polluting the atmosphere in and around the harbour - particularly along the East Pier, the regular promenade for thousands of Dubliners in search of fresh air.

Apparently this point had not been made in the original hearings, so the result is that for the summer of 2017, Dun Laoghaire Harbour will continue as it is at present, with new areas of open sailing space available following the removal of the Stena installations.

dun laoghaire6Dun Laoghaire Harbour as it is at present, offering ample space for finishing races. Photo Peter Barrow

In the circumstances, surely this is a golden opportunity for the organisers of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 to take a look at any section of their enormous and very varied entry list, and select classes which could be given the treat of having at least one of their races finish within the harbour?

Increased ferry traffic was just one of the reasons why the racing for larger craft was obliged to take place outside the harbour. For national and international events, the obsession with committee boat starts and finishes further dictated the move seaward. In Dun Laoghaire, it meant that the connection between the town and active highly-visible sailing became more tenuous than ever.

Yet if we look back to old photos of Dun Laoghaire when it was in the full pomp of its years of Kingstown yachting glory, it was the action in the harbour which brought the whole show to life, and gave everyone a sense of involvement. So let’s hope that the powers-that-be realize that the deferring – permanently we hope – of the proposed liner berth offers an opportunity. Liners Out, Sailboats Back In – that could be the slogan for 2017.

national yc7The accessible area off the National YC (photo pre-Lexicon) will provide berthing for Classics and Traditional craft Photo: Peter Barrow

Of course we don’t expect that the really hot classes will agree to finish in-harbour. But there’s something about the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta which attracts a significant segment of participants for whom a bit of fun is central to the sport, and indeed there are many who think that the real sport would be in having to make an in-harbour finish.

The Classics and Traditional Craft will be playing a significant role in this special year. In addition to a dedicated berth with lots of pontoon length being provided for them in the area off the National Yacht Club, the word is that on one day at least, they will have their start in the harbour, highly visible from the East Pier in the area immediately beyond the Carlisle Pier.

temp pontoon8Plan of the proposed pontoon location off the National YC to berth “boats with bowsprits”.

With boat types such as Drascombes coming as a fleet, the notion of the potential accessibility of sailing could be given an enormous boost. What could seem more approachable than the presence of Drascombe man Jack O’Keefe and his mates in friendly competition within the harbour, along with all sorts of other exotic craft such as the Shannon One Designs?

jack okeeffe9Jack O’Keeffe’s Drascombe is usually seen in distant ports of the west… .Photo: Pierce Purcell

Jack OKeeffe10….but in July 2017 he and his fellow enthusiasts are headed for Dun Laoghaire’s Bicentenary. Photo: Pierce PurcellNot least of such exotica will be the Water Wags, more than ever a part of Dun Laoghaire sailing and Dun Laoghaire Harbour. At this week’s launching of Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta ing of Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 in the National Maritime Museum, there was something very touching about the way that the only surviving boat of the original Water Wag class of 1887, the world’s first One Design, had been moved to the centre of the former Mariners Church. The little boat was there in pride of place as the great and the good of Irish sailing networked with each other as plans were revealed of the remarkable amount of behind-the-scenes work that goes into ensuring that this largest of all Irish sailing events runs smoothly.

In the 1890s, there must more than a hundred of these little boats in and around the Greater Dublin area. Even Erskine Childers, with part of the summer of 1894 unfilled in his plans, arranged to have one carted up into the Wicklow Hills to the mountain lake of Lough Dan near the house of his mother’s family, so that he could go sailing when the mood took him.

Yet with the new larger boats introduced in 1900, the little old double-enders just faded away. Fortunately, someone noticed that an odd-looking little canoe-sterned dinghy with a centreplate case on the beach at Malahide was one of the original Water Wags. She was being used for the occasional fishing trip, and it had been a long time since the centreplate had been used for sailing.

She was saved in the nick of time, and is now kept fully rigged in the Maritime Museum. But as the Wag Class historian Vincent Delany assured me at the Volvo reception, she really is absolutely the only surviving original example of a boat which was once so numerous, and fundamental to the global development of sailing.

water wags11The original Water Wags of 1887, the world’s first One Design class. Despite being numerous in the 1890s, the original boat on display in the National Maritime Museum in Dun Laoghaire is now thought to be the only survivor of this historic type.

Wag Mariners churchAt the heart of things. The sole surviving Dublin Bay Water Wag of 1887 in the midst of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 launch reception in the National Maritime Museum on Wednesday night.

Published in W M Nixon
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