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Displaying items by tag: Dun Laoghaire

Royal St George Yacht Club members are invited to join Peter Pearson as he takes a journey back in time with an engaging talk about the history of the Dun Laoghaire Waterfront club.

Peter is a native of Dun Laoghaire and has had a long association with the town and harbour, producing well-known local history books such as Dun Laoghaire: Kingstown and The Forty Foot: A Monument to Sea Bathing.

The special online talk will be hosted on the Zoom platform this Thursday evening 18 June from 7.30pm. Club members can register via the link on the Facebook post HERE.

Published in RStGYC

Dun Laoghaire's heritage harbour has not escaped the vandalism of graffiti 'artists' this summer. Unoccupied cut-stone buildings on the town's West Pier are the latest to be blighted by the spray can.

A number of vacant harbour buildings including those on the West Pier will be part of the upcoming new plan for the harbour as Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council attempts to breathe new life into the victorian structures.

Expert advice on strategic advice and an economic plan for the harbour on Dublin Bay is being sought by the Council.

As Afloat previously reported, a leading maritime figure at Ireland's biggest boating centre has called on the Council to plan for the appropriate development of the harbour as a maritime leisure centre.

The council says graffiti poses a significant problem throughout the Dun Laoghaire area. To report graffiti, contact 01 2054817 or email [email protected]

Dun Laoghaire RNLI launched the station’s inshore lifeboat to assist two people onboard a small rowing boat on Dalkey Sound yesterday afternoon (Sunday 7 June).

The volunteer crew of three immediately launched the lifeboat at 1pm after a report from the Irish Coast Guard of two people onboard a small rowing boat having difficulty getting back to shore.

The crew — consisting of helm Nathan Burke, Laura Jackson, and Jack Shanahan — arrived at the scene 15 minutes later and took the rowing boat under town and back to shore at Coliemore Harbour.

Jackson, who is also Dun Laoghaire RNLI’s community safety officer, said: “It is important to highlight the RNLI and Irish Coast Guard’s message at the moment asking people to take extra care when using the sea.

“Please make sure you have a plan of action in case you get into difficulty, always check the tide times and weather conditions along with having a method of communication to call for help if needed.

“Dun Laoghaire RNLI remains on call and is fully operational during the coronavirus pandemic. While there is no crew training or exercises taking place, our volunteers are here, ready to respond to those in need.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

On the same day that Dun Laoghaire Coast Guard assisted the local RNLI in aiding a boat in distress in Dublin Bay, the crew were also takes to investigate a mystery RIB on Killiney Beach.

It was quickly confirmed with locals, however, that the vessel had been beached the previous evening (Wednesday 27 May) and that the owner was aware and planned to reflect it at high tide.

More recently (Friday 29 May) Dun Laoghaire Coast Guard was tasked to get eyes on a jet ski reportedly broken down and adrift in Scotsman’s Bay.

A team was despatched to the area with RNLI Dun Laoghaire already en route. On arrival, the jet ski was located with the casualties taken aboard the RNLI offshore boat and the jet ski towed back to Dun Laoghaire Harbour to awaiting coastguard members.

With warm and sunny weather set to continue throughout the June Bank Holiday weekend, the coastguard appeals to the public to adhere to the safety advice and act responsibly in or near the water.

Seapoint, Sandycove and Killiney beach within the Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council area now have active lifeguards in place which the coastguard welcomes.

“With the weather staying warm and dry over the Bank Holiday this weekend, we remind everyone to keep within your 5km distance from home, keep two metres from others and dial 112 or use VHF Channel 16 if someone is in difficulty in or near water.”

Published in Coastguard

Kilrush RNLI’s inshore lifeboat aided in the rescue of a child swept out to sea on an inflatable lilo.

The incident yesterday afternoon (Thursday 28 May) occurred shortly after 3pm off Beal Strand on the Kerry shore of the Shannon Esturary.

It’s understood the casualty, a young girl, had been swept out to sea due to strong winds and tides in the area.

Lifeboat volunteers arrived on scene as the Shannon-based Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 115 had located the casualty some distance from shore and winched a crew member to the water to assist her.

The girl — who was found to be distressed and had swallowed water — was assessed on board the lifeboat before being taken back to Beal Strand, from where she was transferred to Rescue 115 and flown to University Hospital Kerry in Tralee as a precaution.

Press officer Charlie Glynn said: “Thankfully this rescue had a successful outcome and the young girl was reunited with her family.”

He added: “As the current Covid-19 restrictions continue to apply, the RNLI are fully operational and on call 24/7. We ask everyone to follow Government travel instructions.”

Dun Laoghaire RNLI crew on the inshore lifeboat Realt Na Mara (Photo: RNLI/Liam Mullan)Dun Laoghaire RNLI crew on the inshore lifeboat Realt Na Mara | Photo: RNLI/Liam Mullan

Elsewhere yesterday, Dun Laoghaire RNLI launched its inshore lifeboat to a vessel with four on board believed to be sinking in Dublin Bay.

On arrival at the scene it was found the boat was not taking on water but had mechanical issues, and the lifeboat took it under tow to the safety of Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

Edward Totterdell, Dun Laoghaire RNLI’s deputy launching authority, said: “It has been a busy week for our station and volunteer crew having responded to four callouts from the Irish Coast Guard so far.

“It is important to highlight the RNLI and Irish Coast Guard’s message this week asking people to take extra care when using the sea.

“Dun Laoghaire RNLI remains on call and is fully operational during the coronavirus pandemic. While there is no crew training or exercises taking place, our volunteers are here if people need us.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Proposals for a ‘food court’ at Dun Laoghaire Harbour’s currently vacant ferry terminal have been welcomed by one leading local stakeholder.

In a written submission seen by Afloat.ie, Alistair Rumball of the Irish National Sailing & Powerboat School supports the new plans as “the harbour area badly needs year-round footfall, employment, visitors and economic activity, that this change of use both facilitates and drives”.

As reported last month on Afloat.ie, the change is being sought on behalf of Lapetus Investments Ltd to replace the proposed ground floor restaurant and drink vending elements of planning permission approved last year for a mixed-used co-working development at the St Michael’s Pier site.

Rumball adds that, from the standpoint of his more than 40 years of experience in the marine industry, he believes this change of use “will not impinge on the use of berths alongside the former ferry terminal building for commercial vessels, nor restrict a future ferry service”.

The final date for observations on this planning application is this coming Monday 20 January.

Published in INSS
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Planning permission is being sought to convert the ground floor of Dun Laoghaire’s ferry terminal building into a ‘food court’.

A site notice posted Tuesday 3 December on behalf of Lapetus Investments Ltd announces the intention to replace the proposed ground floor restaurant and food and drink vending elements of planning permission approved last year for a mixed-use co-working development at the St Michael’s Pier site.

Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council has confirmed that there are no charges to view current planning applications that are online or if you visit County Hall on Marine Road.

A submission or observation may be made in writing to the planning authority on payment of a fee of €20 within five weeks of receipt of the application by the authority.

Update: A previous version of this article stated that the planning application may be inspected or purchased “for a fee not exceeding a reasonable cost of making a copy” at the offices of Dun Laoughaire-Rathdown County Council’s planning department during public hours (weekdays 10am to 4pm). This has since been corrected by DLRCoCo.

Tagged under

Two scuba divers were rescued on Dublin Bay this afternoon by Dun Laoghaire RNLI after the pair became separated from their boat.

The incident occurred shortly before 3 pm when the divemaster on the surface reported the overdue divers to the Irish Coast Guard.

Dun Laoghaire RNLI All-Weather lifeboat was requested to launch immediately along with the Irish Coast Guard Rescue 116 helicopter based at Dublin Airport. The Dublin Port Pilot boat also responded to the ‘Pan-Pan’ alert and joined in the search close to Dalkey Island. The Dun Laoghaire RNLI Inshore lifeboat was also preparing to launch.

The RNLI All-Weather lifeboat located the casualties south-east of the Muglins Rock fifteen minutes after launching. The two divers had drifted approximately three-quarters of a nautical mile from their dive site. Conditions on scene included a difficult swell left-over from the tide flowing against a fresh northerly wind.

Both casualties were taken on board the lifeboat and taken back to Dun Laoghaire to a waiting HSE ambulance for precautionary checks. Both had been in the water for more than one hour when rescued.

‘This is the outcome that we always hope for and comes from co-operation and training between all the agencies involved,’ commented Stephen Wynne, Lifeboat Operations Manager at Dun Laoghaire RNLI. ‘The casualties remained calm, followed procedure and linked together to ensure they could be spotted.’

Published in Dublin Bay

Plastic fibres released during construction on the Dun Laoghaire baths site last year have again washed up on nearby beaches, as The Irish Times reports.

The plastic shards were washed into the water during a concrete pour at the development last November, prompting a safety advisory for swimmers and beach-goers between the West Pier and the Forty Foot.

A clean-up operation was launched at the time which recovered 50kg of the 70kg of plastic strands released.

Now a volunteer clean-up group says some of the unrecovered plastic reappeared at Sandycove on Thursday ahead of Storm Lorenzo.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Mark Twain used to say that you should never get into a row with anyone who buys ink by the barrel. But last weekend The Irish Times, our national Paper of Record, ran a Weekend Review feature about the problematical relationship of Dun Laoghaire with its harbour, a two-article feature which concentrated largely on the town’s urban blight of shuttered shops and commercial dereliction at its centre, while giving only scant attention to the waterfront and the harbour, with their problems and potentials for development and better interaction with the town.

It all initially sounded well-meaning and timely, in view of the fact that the 17th September is the closing date for €200,000 worth of contracts – two of them – for tenders for surveys providing expert economic and strategic advice about how the blighted parts of the town might be revived, and how the harbour might be more usefully developed.

dun laoghaire aerial over town2A town and its harbour – in Dun Laoghaire, inter-community attitudes are shaped by many other elements in addition to the fact that road and railway create a physical divide for part of the waterfront. Photo Barrow Coakley/Simon Coate

Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Council took over control of the harbour only as recently as late last year, so it will take time for an attitude of joined-up thinking regarding the relationship of town and harbour to develop properly. As it is, the very framing of these tenders shows that the attitude of seeing town and harbour as separate entities still persists, as one set of expert advice is sought for the regeneration of “Dun Laoghaire’s town centre adjacent to the harbour”, while the other is one is “seeking expert advice for the development of the harbour for the benefit of its citizens”.

But however they go about it, the situation is a matter of some urgency, as they’re immediately faced with a major problem. Since the Dun Laoghaire ferry port ceased functioning in 2015, the harbour has an increasingly significant deficit in its maintenance budget.

It’s a serious situation, involving everyone. In view of that, somebody has to say that The Irish Times feature was a travesty of what such an overview should be. While a succession of traders and politicians in the town were interviewed about its problems of urban blight, and the problems of its high-maintenance harbour, not one interview was conducted with anyone who is active in any way around the harbour, whether as a marine trader or sailor or boat or watersports enthusiast in any form whatsoever.

Yet it was a research mission and ensuing feature which seemed at first to merit serious attention. The articles - given considerable prominence - were by two of the paper’s most distinguished contributors: journalist Jennifer O’Connell and economist David McWilliams. It must have been given some thought. But even on ploughing through it a second time, we still couldn’t find any suggestion that either had talked to anyone other than local business people or politicians. There wasn’t so much as the tiniest cheep - neither from the Dun Laoghaire boating and sailing community nor from the businesses which specifically serve their needs - about what their hopes for harbour and waterfront development and relationships with the town might be.

David McWilliams now has skin in the game. As anyone who reads his usually stimulating columns will be aware, having for some time been a pillar of Dalkey intellectual society, he and his family have recently moved to a substantial waterfront house beside Dun Laoghaire harbour. So he must see some future in the place. And who knows, but maybe some time he might take an active interest in boats beyond seeing them as some sort of ornaments which help to remind him that he is in the desirable position of living beside the sea.

high summer dun laoghaire3Summer in Dun Laoghaire – in such a setting, harmony between land and sea should come naturally. Photo Peter Barrow

As for Jennifer O’Connell, she seems to live somewhere beyond The Pale, but in terms of working as an Irish Times columnist and reporter, she makes the Duracell Bunny look like a complete and utter layabout, with her lengthy article on Dun Laoghaire making our usual Sailing on Saturday long-form story look like a quick post-it message.

But even she – in her long and detailed piece – has managed to avoid the boat folk. Now admittedly in her sprint through a couple of those sadder Dun Laoghaire shopping streets that you find as you move inland from the increasingly chic waterfront, she did chat with Australian sailor Bruce Du Ve, who has settled in Dun Laoghaire, and some of you will know him. But it emerged that the reason for the interview is because Bruce is running an acupuncture clinic in Dun Laoghaire, and thus is seen as a representative local businessman.

The nearest he was allowed to talk about sailing was in making the point that when a breeze blows through Dun Laoghaire’s granite-hard streets, regardless of its suitability or otherwise for sailing such a breeze inevitably seems to carry an indecent amount of litter with it, and Bruce wonders why it is so difficult to clean the streets. Reasonable enough, perhaps. But what Bruce thinks about sailing in Dun Laoghaire is left as a matter for speculation.

water wags dun laoghaire4The Water Wags have been racing in Dun Laoghaire since 1887, with the present class dating to 1900. The magnificently-built 200-year-old granite harbour seems so much a part of the seascape and the land beside it that the locals tend to see it as a natural feature of Dublin Bay. Photo: W M Nixon
Maybe that’s a very subtle technique of High Journalism for keeping us interested. Whatever, we’ve been here before on the conundrum of the Dun Laoghaire and its harbour situation, and God knows, we’ll be here again. But its approaching wave of new attention thanks to that tendering date of just ten days hence brings it top of the bill right now.

Thus for journalists and others seriously hoping to find out how Dun Laoghaire is currently inter-acting positively with the sea and sailing and boating, a logical first stop would be a discussion with Kenneth Rumball of the Irish National Sailing and Powerboat School, which is located in a hyper-busy little building on the quayside in the somewhat hidden southwest corner of the Inner Harbour. Size-for-size since its establishment by Kenneth’s father Alistair in 1974, the INSS has done more to introduce complete newcomers to sailing and boating in Ireland than any other comparable organisation.

alistair muriel kenneth rumball5Alistair Rumball (left) founder in 1974 of the Irish National Sailing School in Dun Laoghaire, with his wife Muriel and son Kenneth, current School Director. Photo: W M Nixon
The figures run into the tens of thousands and have included crews who have been taken right to the top for competition in both the Round Ireland and Fastnet Races, in both of which the INSS boat has won her class.

As for the school, while it is of course a private enterprise business extremely efficiently run, it is almost like a classic mutual society company in many ways, and within its setup is a proper sailing club, complete with committee and flag officers, such that those who start from scratch as beginner sailors with the INSS can go all the way to recognised sailing competition at local, national and international level, all under the INSS umbrella.

Thus the breadth and depth of experience at the INSS about what people new to sailing expect from Dun Laoghaire Harbour now and in the future is unrivalled. Yet did either of the journalists creating The Irish Times feature of a week ago contact Kenneth Rumball or one of his colleagues? No, they did not.

At a different level of interaction with the sailing community of Dun Laoghaire is the marine store of Viking Marine in Marine Road, plumb in the middle of the relatively new Pavilion Development. Viking Marine reflects the growing vitality and style of Dun Laoghaire’s classic waterfront as the years of the harbour being a ferryport recede into history.

Admittedly Dun Laoghaire ferryport was never a seriously unpleasant place like Dover, or the scruffily spread-out ferryport area that we find in Holyhead. But even so, the regular throughput of shiploads of cars and trucks was detrimental to the style and atmosphere of the waterfront, and now that the heavy trucks are no longer blighting the narrow roads, the area is being re-born.

ian omeara6Work or play? Ian O’Meara of Viking Marine in Dun Laoghaire at his favourite sport off his favourite town. Photo Afloat.ie/David O’Brien

Consequently Viking Marine is at the very heart of what Dun Laoghaire’s future might be. But did The Irish Times make any contact whatever with Ian O’Meara, Managing Director of Viking Marine. No, they did not.

Yet with Ian O’Meara they would have found in one notably savvy person a very complete and thoughtful projection of how the relationship of Dun Laoghaire and its harbour could usefully be developed. Not only does he run one of the most successful shops in the town, but he’s an active sailor himself, very much part of the front-line sailing community - so much so, in fact, that he was a key crewmember on the winning boat in 2019’s biennial staging of the rugged Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race.

But despite Ian O’Meara’s very special position in the centre of the marine leisure retail/customer dynamic in Dun Laoghaire, The Irish Times didn’t see fit to draw on his unique knowledge and experience. Nor did they chat with Paal Janson, manager of the extensive and award-winning Dun Laoghaire Marina.

Paal Janson 7Paal Janson of Dun Laoghaire Marina. Photo: Afloat.ie/David O’Brien
No contact seems to have been made either with any of the four waterfront yacht clubs, despite the fact that they make an exemplary job of utilizing and running their very limited spaces while providing the sailing and training programmes which give Dun Laoghaire Harbour its favourable international image, even if parts of the town behind it seeming to be unable to keep up with the new pace and style. And even Irish Sailing, the National Authority which is headquartered in Dun Laoghaire, seems to have been unaware that The Irish Times were in town on this research project.

So why has Dun Laoghaire town never really interacted comfortably in modern times with its massive 200 years old harbour, which is such a magnificent piece of granite construction that most folk think of it as a natural feature, whereas it is just about artificial as it can get – its brilliant use of granite simply deludes us.

It was never built to be a port. It was built as a harbour of shelter primarily to meet the needs of the ships of British imperial power. Thus there is a totally inadequate landward space to serve the needs of a port in the trading and commercial sense. And though the use of it as a ferryport worked fine in the great days of rail travel when Carlisle Pier – a railway station and ship quay on stilts operational from 1859 - was ingeniously inserted in a piece of design brilliance such that it looked to be an integral part of the whole thing, when railways were superseded by road transport, Dun Laoghaire began to become a disaster area.

carlisle pier ferries8The glory days of Dun Laoghaire as a ferry port, when Victorian engineering ingenuity inserted the Carlisle Pier into the harbour in 1859 as though it had always been there, in order to bring Ireland’s growing railway system into direct contact with the cross-channel ferry service. It was neat and economical of space, with no need for huge car and truck marshalling yards.

Cynics may point out that Dun Laoghaire’s years of administrative malfunction roughly coincide with the inauguration of the new Irish state. That’s probably too simplistic, but it is a fact that all efforts to modify the harbour for the accommodation of Ro-Ro ferries have ended with environmental messes which sometimes didn’t even get properly cleared away when their usefulness has ceased.

When Carlisle Pier was irretrievably cut off from the main rail network because rail transport was rapidy declining in the face of road growth while the Dun Laoghaire line itself was becoming a significant part of the new DART commuter system, the pier was gradually reduced in its usefulness. For a while, a now mercifully forgotten Ro-Ro berth was spatch-cocked on to the East Pier just north of the National Yacht Club. In this case, its detritus was cleared away when British rail introduced a new much larger ship which required a real cat’s cradle of ramp facilities right in front of the Royal St George Yacht Club, leading to a ramp attached to the west side of the now-decaying Carlisle Pier.

Then came the advent of the even bigger cross-channel HSS (High Speed Ship). A giant and expensive-to-run object which floated and went fast (you would hardly call it a ship), it provided much entertainment for kids learning sailing in the new Laser class, as they challenged each other to sail under the length of it between the hulls. But whether or not it made money was always a moot point, and it didn’t do to be on the last sailing cross-channel of the day, as they could sometimes run at slow speed to save fuel costs, and you’d invariably arrive late.

st michaels wharf9The enormous but unused car marshalling yards and ferry terminal buildings installed at St Michael’s Wharf, with the Royal St George YC and the National YC beyond. At present, it seems that the legal situation regarding the very existence of the St Michael’s Wharf installations may be a matter of debate. Photo Barrow Coakley/Simon Coate
Regardless of that, the Irish authorities had rolled over and collaborated in the building of an enormous terminal complex, complete with huge offices and reception halls and whatever, right in the middle of the Dun Laoghaire waterfront at St Michael’s Wharf, while Carlisle Pier to the southeastward was more or less abandoned.

But, challenged by newer and more nimble ferries operating out of the cost-cutting and rapidly-developing Dublin Port which offered quicker access via the Port Tunnel to the fast-growing Irish motorway system, Dun Laoghaire as a ferryport was commercially doomed. In today’s circumstances, you would need a motorway-standard dual carriageway direct from the St Michael’s Wharf ferry terminal complex to the nearest part of the M50 in order for the Dun Laoghaire route to be successful. It would probably cost as much as the HS2 rail-link looks like costing in England (if the HS2 is ever built), but the Dun Laoghaire Harbour to M50 superlink is definitely a non-starter.

As for the brief flirtation with creating a cruise-liner berth, fortunately that was stopped by community action and an increasing awareness that big cruise liners are a high-pollution snare and a delusion. Most of their passengers don’t bother to go ashore, so the main benefit is only in berthing charges, while the few who do go ashore are on bus tours to the nearest internationally-recognised tourism magnets, with the fees for the buses paid as part of the all-up cruise package back in Minneapolis or Beijing or wherever, so only the bus operators benefit, and not the local traders.

Thus now we have Dun Laoghaire, more popular than ever as a sailing centre of international repute, the lungs of the city for those thousands who are just gasping for a bit of sea air, and an increasingly fashionable place to live on the waterfront as environment-harming commercial transport activity reduces.

dun laoghaire sailing10Classic Dun Laoghaire sailing – more popular today than ever. Photo Afloat.ie/David O’Brien
It would seem the most natural thing in the world for town and harbour to move harmoniously together. Yet it is faced with the double problem of how to bring the town behind it up to the level of vitality which the harbour and its waterfront is increasingly manifesting, and how to pay for the maintenance of that harbour which ultimately is the making of the town.

The basic vitality of the harbour manifests itself that despite the fact that, over the years, the authorities officially charged with its administration of it have left behind areas of abandoned dereliction. Looking at the waterfront and its many “units” from seaward provides a clear message which speaks volumes about which sector – public or semi-private - provides the better administration.

dun laoghaire waterfront east11The most visible section of Dun Laoghaire’s waterfront, with the National Yacht Club, the Royal St George Yacht Club, and the Royal Irish Yacht Club very much alive and active, while between them are the “dead” areas of Carlisle Pier and St Michael’s Wharf. Photo: Barrow Coakley/Simon Coate
The waterfront premises in this category directly interacting with the sea are (going from east to west):

  • National Yacht Club: overall voluntary administrators with professional management - very well run.
  • RNLI: professionally managed with volunteers – excellent.
  • Carlisle Pier: officially managed, a neglected disgrace.
  • Royal St George Yacht Club: overall voluntary administraors, professionally managed, very well run.
  • St Michael’s Wharf Ferry Terminal: Officially run large unused space with extensive Ferry Terminal Buildings, currently in limbo as official status and existence of Foreshore Licence has not been clarified.
  • Dun Laoghaire Marina: Commercial marina with 830 berths, professionally run to an award-winning standard.
  • Royal Irish Yacht Club: overall voluntary administrators, professional management, very well run.
  • Irish Lights Main Shore Facility and HQ: professionally run National Lights Authority.
  • Irish Sailing’s Performance Sailing Base: professionally managed, well run.
  • MGM Boats: Boat sales and boatyard services with Travel Hoist: A vital commercial facility which is well run despite being in premises which are limited by the intrusion of some original features of the 200-year-old harbour
  • Coal Harbour (aka Inner Harbour): Mainly under official management, limited by presence of features from original harbour and location of under-utilised former Coastguard Building, entire setup too ready to avail of income from car-parking for nearby railway station.
  • St Michael’s Rowing Club: Hugely effective voluntary organisation which functions very successfully despite its shoreside premises being in a cave-like space under one of the raised roadways which remain as part of the original harbour.
  • Irish National Sailing School: Commercial operation which very effectively introduces hundreds to sailing and boating each year, yet manages to create a club-like atmosphere in rather restricted premises.
  • Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club: Friendly voluntarily-run club with some professional input which makes the very best of restricted quayside premises.

st michael rowing club11aTough training with one of the coastal rowing skiffs of St Michael’s Rowing Club. Photo: W M Nixon

That is only a very basic list. There are many workers in the marine industry who manage to function all along Dun Laoghaire currently disjointed waterfront, but who know that it could all be so much better if only the town and harbour had a more cohesive sense of themselves together, and if in turn the waterfront could itself be allowed to function in a more concerted way.

But now that the council finally has control of Dun Laoghaire Harbour, ideas which have been bubbling beneath the surface for some time are beginning to emerge, and with a certain logic it looks as though the first steps will be taken to re-purpose the Carisle Pier, that part of the waterfront which has been the longest neglected.

A specialist group from Irish Sailing and Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Council have been exploring and developing ideas for a National Watersports Campus with a new building on the east side of the inner end of the Carlisle Pier with sea access on the west side. “Access” is the key to it all – the National Watersports Campus would be very much a public facility which would provide a user-friendly route to interaction with boats and Dun Laoghaire Harbour and Dublin Bay and the sea beyond.

Carlise pierThe proposed National Watersports Campus and Municipal Sailing Centre will bring the Carlisle Pier back to lifeproposed site campus13The location of the proposed Municipal Sailing Centre and National Watersports Campus is at the head of the Carlisle Pier between the Royal St George YC and the National YC
Clearly the loss of the car-parking currently provided for want of anything better to do with Carlisle Pier is going to be something of a problem. But it should be said that car-parking is something which deserves much more attention nationally and internationally than it currently receives. They should have university departments specializing in it, for it affects most of us, and taking the easiest options of open space parking now means, for instance, that the USA has enough designated car-parks to cover the entire state of Connecticut. This may seem only tangential to the problems of Dun Laoghaire, but already elsewhere in the harbour the soft option of “making it a car park” has been too readily used.

Anyway, with the new National Watersports Campus brought into being on Carlisle Pier, we move next to St Michaels Wharf and the vast expanses of the former ferryport. It cries out for a built development. If they could only sort out whether or not its very existence is legal in the first place, there’s still enormous potential in the option of developing some of the Terminal Buildings as a growing tech hub, but equally I don’t see why it shouldn’t be seen in terms of residential development.

michaels wharf14An area of enormous potential. By developing all of the St Michael’s Wharf space for residential use and as a tech hub, a significant part of Dun Laoghaire town would in effect be moved into the middle of the harbour, thereby strengthening the links between the two. Photo: Barrow Coakley/Simon Coate

It wouldn’t be the kind of place where you could comfortably raise a typical Irish family, but it would be ideal for more senior residents who enjoy being beside the sea and in the midst of living activity, yet can no longer be an active part of all of it.

David McWilliam rightly makes the point that developing Dun Laoghaire properly will lead to an interface between the public and private sector, but frankly if the St Michael’s Wharf spaces are going to be attractively developed for some residential use, it will need the inspired input of the private sector, though perhaps under reasonably strict controls.

By making St Michael’s Wharf partly residential, we strengthen the links between town and harbour by literally creating a new part of the town into the middle of the harbour. You would be surprised by how well such new developments can work.

But in taking an overview of possible re-development of the Dun Laoghaire waterfront’s under-utilised spaces, we should remember that one of the shop-keepers to whom Jennifer O’Connell talked spoke of the need to make Dun Laoghaire a tourist magnet “like Howth”.

west pier howth15Just three of the unplanned mix of buildings on the West Pier in Howth include (left to right) the former Customs House (it may be needed again with Brexit), the Harbour Masters Office, and Aqua Restaurant in the former Howth Yacht Club building

You should be careful what you wish for, Madam. Howth is sometimes over-run. Nevertheless, all the Dun Laoghaire waterfront developments we’ve referred to thus far will be carefully-planned and inevitably modern-looking buildings. In contrast, the quaint charm of Howth’s West Pier with its many restaurants, fish shop and whatever is that it was not planned in any way at all. In fact, once the modern harbour had emerged in its current shape in the mid-1980s, the OPW – the Office of Public Works - saw itself still as the OPW, but this time it was as the Office of Public Wrecking.

They wanted to knock every bockety little building along the West Pier in order to create more room for fish lorries and other industrial traffic, and the plan was to move any still existing highly-individualistic little businesses into a nearby and ever so modern Business Park.

Fortunately, official inertia and probably a convenient national financial crisis prevented anything further happening in the destruction department, and after the empty buildings had remained so for some time, private enterprise finally got its way and took them over for the present cheerful visitor-attracting selection of retail outlets of all kinds.

It all happened by happy accident. But you can’t plan happy accidents. Nevertheless I would suggest that as the east end pf the Dun Laoghaire Harbour waterfront right along as far westward as the Irish Lights premises is going to be under a formalized look, as a bit of welcome contrast we should take a radical overview of the entire Inner Harbour – the Coal Harbour area if you prefer – to see how it could be allowed to become a characterful Dun Laoghaire version of the vieux port which you’ll find in any half decent French harbour of character.

There’s far more space down towards the Coal Harbour than you’d think – it only seems limited because that great big ramp road down to Trader’s Wharf or whatever it’s called cuts the area in two. Immediately east of the ramp, there’s the old coastguard station, which is surely ripe for multiple craft and character uses and could be the centre of a new/old harbourside village if only that big ramp thing could be done away with altogether, for there are already two other ways of accessing the inner harbour.

inner harbour site16The hidden site with potential for the Old Dunleary Harbour Village. At present divided by the large ramp road - half of which is used for parking - the area between Irish Lights and the Coal Harbour includes the old Coastguard Station which could be the central focus for a characterful small-scale development. Photo: Barrow Coakley/Simon Coate

The potential is enormous. But in the first instance, Dun Laoghaire town has to get its act together regarding the changeover from retail to residential, for the narrow streets in the heart of the old town are really only capable of supporting about a third of the shop premises – many already boarded up – which give the place such a sad air.

So the “old town” becomes much more residential, but with a growth in the proportion of service-providing retail outlets, while new life is given to the waterfront with the National Watersports Campus on the Carlisle Pier and an impressive residential and tech hub on the St Michael’s Wharf site.

Along to the west we’ll have the new yet characterful Old Dunleary Harbour Village gathered around the old Coastguard Building, a place with a variety of eating places including some so new and trendy that they’ll be discovered for the rest of the world by the Restaurant Critic of The Irish Times, and so the Paper of Record can make friends again with people who actually live and work in the Dun Laoghaire waterfront area.

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland and internationally for many years, with his work appearing in leading sailing publications on both sides of the Atlantic. He has been a regular sailing columnist for four decades with national newspapers in Dublin, and has had several sailing books published in Ireland, the UK, and the US. An active sailor, he has owned a number of boats ranging from a Mirror dinghy to a Contessa 35 cruiser-racer, and has been directly involved in building and campaigning two offshore racers. His cruising experience ranges from Iceland to Spain as well as the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, and he has raced three times in both the Fastnet and Round Ireland Races, in addition to sailing on two round Ireland records. A member for ten years of the Council of the Irish Yachting Association (now the Irish Sailing Association), he has been writing for, and at times editing, Ireland's national sailing magazine since its earliest version more than forty years ago

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