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Heads Up On Eden Quay: Historic Crest of the 'City of Dublin Steam Packet Company'

29th October 2017

#CityOfDublin - It would be hard not to have noticed in particular as a Dublin bus commuter using services at Eden Quay the historic crest of the former City of Dublin Steam Packet Company, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The ornate masonry of the crest depicts the City of Dublin S.P.Co that was established in 1823 and later incorporated from 1833. The crest is to be found on the facade of 13-15 Eden House, on the first floor of the steam packet's former head office. Notably, such a crest is a very rare example in Dublin city and which has such historic shipping connections dating almost 200 years ago.

Facing almost opposite of Eden House are further bus stops located on the quay from where past Dubliner's could conveniently board City of Dublin 'steamers' to the rest of the UK. Noting that Ireland then remained as part of the Union.

The crest is of historical importance given the rarity of such architectural decorative features relating to our shipping heritage. Such an example should be recognised more so in the public domain as part of our national maritime past. 

Eden House is on the corner with Marlborough Street where the Abbey Theatre's front entrance is located. To mark the significance of the 1916 Easter Rising centenary last year, images of leading historical figures were placed on the ground floor windows of Eden House. Currently they are adorned with those concerning productions held at the cultural institution also known as the National Theatre of Ireland.

As for the crest itself, the earliest date depicted is 1823 and this refers to when the Irish owned passenger services began when Charles Wye Williams inaugurated the Dublin-Liverpool service. In the following year this route was served by steamships City of Dublin and City of Liverpool.

Afloat will have a follow up on the crest and a more in depth background about the history of the City of Dublin Steam Packet. Also examined will be the relationship with other Irish Sea operators, among them B&I Line that has links to present day ferry operators connecting Dubin with Liverpool and Holyhead.

As developments continue in an increasingly changing city notably downriver in the 'Docklands', it is in this predominantly financial quarter where only a handful of further historical shipping related 'listed' buildings remain standing. These examples along the inner quays recalls an era from Dublin's older port.

The last regular trading ships from this part of the port were Guinness tankers that ceased operations in 1993. Originally the stout company loaded ships on the north side along Customs House Quay which was connected by barges upriver from St. James Gate brewery until this river trade ended in 1961. This led to road tankers taking over to supply the final pair of ships, The Lady Patricia and Miranda Guinness that transferred southside to Sir John Rogersons Quay.

As for Eden Quay's more central city location is located between O'Connell Street Bridge, the capital's main thoroughfare and the Butt Bridge completed in 1932.  A previous bridge of the same name had been built at the same location albeit it was a 'swing' bridge that permitted navigation to shipping in the days of sail and steam. 

It is along this stretch of the inner city Liffey quays is where commercial traffic exists in the present day albeit confined to the river. This been in the form of a single operator that been Dublin Discovered boat tours. Their excursion craft, Spirit of Docklands (see photo-story) embarks tourists from a berth pontoon at Batchelors Walk. From there the low-air draft craft regularly plies upriver to the Ha'Penny Bridge and as far as the Tom Clarke toll-lift bridge downriver where the modern port begins. 


Published in Dublin Port
Jehan Ashmore

About The Author

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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