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

20th November 2016

#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.

Published in Dublin Port
Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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About Dublin Port 

Dublin Port Company is currently investing about €277 million on its Alexandra Basin Redevelopment (ABR), which is due to be complete by 2021. The redevelopment will improve the port's capacity for large ships by deepening and lengthening 3km of its 7km of berths. The ABR is part of a €1bn capital programme up to 2028, which will also include initial work on the Dublin Port’s MP2 Project - a major capital development project proposal for works within the existing port lands in the northeastern part of the port.

Dublin Port has also recently secured planning approval for the development of the next phase of its inland port near Dublin Airport. The latest stage of the inland port will include a site with the capacity to store more than 2,000 shipping containers and infrastructures such as an ESB substation, an office building and gantry crane.

Dublin Port Company recently submitted a planning application for a €320 million project that aims to provide significant additional capacity at the facility within the port in order to cope with increases in trade up to 2040. The scheme will see a new roll-on/roll-off jetty built to handle ferries of up to 240 metres in length, as well as the redevelopment of an oil berth into a deep-water container berth.

Dublin Port FAQ

Dublin was little more than a monastic settlement until the Norse invasion in the 8th and 9th centuries when they selected the Liffey Estuary as their point of entry to the country as it provided relatively easy access to the central plains of Ireland. Trading with England and Europe followed which required port facilities, so the development of Dublin Port is inextricably linked to the development of Dublin City, so it is fair to say the origins of the Port go back over one thousand years. As a result, the modern organisation Dublin Port has a long and remarkable history, dating back over 300 years from 1707.

The original Port of Dublin was situated upriver, a few miles from its current location near the modern Civic Offices at Wood Quay and close to Christchurch Cathedral. The Port remained close to that area until the new Custom House opened in the 1790s. In medieval times Dublin shipped cattle hides to Britain and the continent, and the returning ships carried wine, pottery and other goods.

510 acres. The modern Dublin Port is located either side of the River Liffey, out to its mouth. On the north side of the river, the central part (205 hectares or 510 acres) of the Port lies at the end of East Wall and North Wall, from Alexandra Quay.

Dublin Port Company is a State-owned commercial company responsible for operating and developing Dublin Port.

Dublin Port Company is a self-financing, and profitable private limited company wholly-owned by the State, whose business is to manage Dublin Port, Ireland's premier Port. Established as a corporate entity in 1997, Dublin Port Company is responsible for the management, control, operation and development of the Port.

Captain William Bligh (of Mutiny of the Bounty fame) was a visitor to Dublin in 1800, and his visit to the capital had a lasting effect on the Port. Bligh's study of the currents in Dublin Bay provided the basis for the construction of the North Wall. This undertaking led to the growth of Bull Island to its present size.

Yes. Dublin Port is the largest freight and passenger port in Ireland. It handles almost 50% of all trade in the Republic of Ireland.

All cargo handling activities being carried out by private sector companies operating in intensely competitive markets within the Port. Dublin Port Company provides world-class facilities, services, accommodation and lands in the harbour for ships, goods and passengers.

Eamonn O'Reilly is the Dublin Port Chief Executive.

Capt. Michael McKenna is the Dublin Port Harbour Master

In 2019, 1,949,229 people came through the Port.

In 2019, there were 158 cruise liner visits.

In 2019, 9.4 million gross tonnes of exports were handled by Dublin Port.

In 2019, there were 7,898 ship arrivals.

In 2019, there was a gross tonnage of 38.1 million.

In 2019, there were 559,506 tourist vehicles.

There were 98,897 lorries in 2019

Boats can navigate the River Liffey into Dublin by using the navigational guidelines. Find the guidelines on this page here.

VHF channel 12. Commercial vessels using Dublin Port or Dun Laoghaire Port typically have a qualified pilot or certified master with proven local knowledge on board. They "listen out" on VHF channel 12 when in Dublin Port's jurisdiction.

A Dublin Bay webcam showing the south of the Bay at Dun Laoghaire and a distant view of Dublin Port Shipping is here
Dublin Port is creating a distributed museum on its lands in Dublin City.
 A Liffey Tolka Project cycle and pedestrian way is the key to link the elements of this distributed museum together.  The distributed museum starts at the Diving Bell and, over the course of 6.3km, will give Dubliners a real sense of the City, the Port and the Bay.  For visitors, it will be a unique eye-opening stroll and vista through and alongside one of Europe’s busiest ports:  Diving Bell along Sir John Rogerson’s Quay over the Samuel Beckett Bridge, past the Scherzer Bridge and down the North Wall Quay campshire to Berth 18 - 1.2 km.   Liffey Tolka Project - Tree-lined pedestrian and cycle route between the River Liffey and the Tolka Estuary - 1.4 km with a 300-metre spur along Alexandra Road to The Pumphouse (to be completed by Q1 2021) and another 200 metres to The Flour Mill.   Tolka Estuary Greenway - Construction of Phase 1 (1.9 km) starts in December 2020 and will be completed by Spring 2022.  Phase 2 (1.3 km) will be delivered within the following five years.  The Pumphouse is a heritage zone being created as part of the Alexandra Basin Redevelopment Project.  The first phase of 1.6 acres will be completed in early 2021 and will include historical port equipment and buildings and a large open space for exhibitions and performances.  It will be expanded in a subsequent phase to incorporate the Victorian Graving Dock No. 1 which will be excavated and revealed. 
 The largest component of the distributed museum will be The Flour Mill.  This involves the redevelopment of the former Odlums Flour Mill on Alexandra Road based on a masterplan completed by Grafton Architects to provide a mix of port operational uses, a National Maritime Archive, two 300 seat performance venues, working and studio spaces for artists and exhibition spaces.   The Flour Mill will be developed in stages over the remaining twenty years of Masterplan 2040 alongside major port infrastructure projects.

Source: Dublin Port Company ©Afloat 2020. 

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