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Old Maps Show A Very Different Dublin Bay Before The Walls

29th April 2015
Old Maps Show A Very Different Dublin Bay Before The Walls

#DublinBay - Dublin Bay was we know it today looked very different three centuries ago, as TheJournal.ie highlights with a selection of enlightening historical maps.

As reported yesterday on Afloat.ie, this week marks the 300th anniversary of the decision to build the Great South Wall in an effort to solve the centuries-old problem of silting in the main channels to Dublin Port.

At that time, the area north of Townsend Street that today is the south Docklands did not exist, as the Liffey flowed right up to what was then called Lazar's Hill or Lazy Hill – while Ringsend was a sandpit that extended into the bay at the river's mouth.

The wall changed all that, as the land between was reclaimed and the Liffey's course straightened and strengthened over the 80 years of its construction.

Later change came to the Northside, too, with the construction of the Bull Wall – surveyed by Captain Bligh of 'Mutiny on the Bounty' infamy – as Marino, Fairview and the North Strand, so named for their then coastal locations, lost their sea views to land reclamation, and Bull Island was formed from the sand and silt that once claimed any number of ships on approach to the city.

The maps have been shared by the Dublin Port Company to coincide with the Dublin Bay Conference that takes place today (Wednesday 29 April) with a programme of lectures lined up to celebrate the construction of what was then the longest sea wall in the world.

Published in Dublin Bay
MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy is a contributor covering all things on the water, from boating and wildlife to science and business

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Dublin Bay on the east coast of Ireland stretches over seven kilometres, from Howth Head on its northern tip to Dalkey Island in the south. It's a place most Dubliners simply take for granted, and one of the capital's least visited places. But there's more going on out there than you'd imagine.

The biggest boating centre is at Dun Laoghaire on the Bay's south shore that is home to over 1,500 pleasure craft, four waterfront yacht clubs and Ireland's largest marina.

The bay is rather shallow with many sandbanks and rocky outcrops, and was notorious in the past for shipwrecks, especially when the wind was from the east. Until modern times, many ships and their passengers were lost along the treacherous coastline from Howth to Dun Laoghaire, less than a kilometre from shore. 

The Bay is a C-shaped inlet of the Irish Sea and is about 10 kilometres wide along its north-south base, and 7 km in length to its apex at the centre of the city of Dublin; stretching from Howth Head in the north to Dalkey Point in the south. North Bull Island is situated in the northwest part of the bay, where one of two major inshore sandbanks lie, and features a 5 km long sandy beach, Dollymount Strand, fronting an internationally recognised wildfowl reserve. Many of the rivers of Dublin reach the Irish Sea at Dublin Bay: the River Liffey, with the River Dodder flow received less than 1 km inland, River Tolka, and various smaller rivers and streams.

At A Glance – Dublin Bay

The Bay is a C-shaped inlet of the Irish Sea and is about 10 kilometres wide along its north-south base, and 7 km in length to its apex at the centre of the city of Dublin; stretching from Howth Head in the north to Dalkey Point in the south

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