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Dublin Port Company Funding Helps to Conserve Historic Port Records

12th May 2022
200-year-old records concerning Dublin Port rescued from the Four Courts fire of 1922 are to be restored by the conservation team at the National Archives of Ireland with funding support from Dublin Port Company. Viewing the records for the first time in 100 years were National Archives Director Orlaith McBride, Beyond 2022 Project Conservator Jessica Baldwin and Dublin Port Company Chief Executive Eamonn O’Reilly.
200-year-old records concerning Dublin Port rescued from the Four Courts fire of 1922 are to be restored by the conservation team at the National Archives of Ireland with funding support from Dublin Port Company. Viewing the records for the first time in 100 years were National Archives Director Orlaith McBride, Beyond 2022 Project Conservator Jessica Baldwin and Dublin Port Company Chief Executive Eamonn O’Reilly.

Dublin Port Company is supporting the State’s effort to recover from the Four Courts fire of 1922 by funding the conservation of 200-year-old records concerning Dublin Port.

On 30 June 1922, the Public Record Office of Ireland at the Four Courts was destroyed in the opening engagement of the Civil War. In the aftermath of the fire of 1922, over 25,000 sheets of paper and parchment were retrieved from the rubble. These records, which date from the fourteenth to the nineteenth centuries, are known as the ‘1922 Salved Records’. They are now held at the National Archives.

Most of this collection remained unopened until the last five years. As the successor of the Public Record Office of Ireland, the National Archives is a Core Partner in the Beyond 2022 project—an all-island and international research programme hosted at Trinity College Dublin and funded by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media under Project Ireland 2040. The project is working to reconstruct what was lost in 1922.

During a recent investigation of unopened parcels of salved records through the Beyond 2022 project, archivists identified five parcels of significance to the history of Dublin Port.

The thousands of sheets of paper are historically significant both as survivors of the destruction of 1922, and as fresh evidence for the historical development of Dublin PortThe thousands of sheets of paper are historically significant both as survivors of the destruction of 1922, and as fresh evidence for the historical development of Dublin Port

Now, with generous support from Dublin Port Company, these records are being restored by the conservation team at the National Archives of Ireland. The conservation work is being undertaken by the Beyond 2022 Project Conservator, Jessica Baldwin, under the guidance of Zoë Reid, Keeper, Public Services and Collection. The documents all show some evidence of damage from the heat of the flames, as well damp and rain from exposure to the weather following the fire. Despite the damage, conservation will mean that documents not seen for 100 years can soon be consulted again by historians and the public.

The thousands of sheets of paper are historically significant both as survivors of the destruction of 1922, and as fresh evidence for the historical development of Dublin Port. These papers create an incredible snapshot of the bustling live of the busy port with hundreds of people from around the country, from ports in Killybegs, Strangford and Youghal coming to collect salaries, pensions and trade in goods. They contain details on salaries and compensations, and many names of inspectors and collectors of customs taxes. They provide accounts about wine, bounties on beef and pork, allowances on silk, detail repayments of taxes on fish, ash, salt, and linen. For example, over 50 documents relating to the Bounty Payments for Fish in the summer of 1817 give a fascinating insight, as they include information on the ship, listing crew members and detailing the size and type of catch. These are important details of trade and commerce in Dublin Port that do not exist elsewhere.

Following the conservation, the documents dating from 1817–1818 will be available for research and suitable for digitization.

Speaking about the partnership, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin TD said: “This partnership between Beyond 2022, the National Archives and Dublin Port is an important and significant one. The process of saving the recovered records from the fire at the Public Record Office in June 1922 is a flagship project under the Government’s Decade of Centenaries Programme led by my Department's Commemorations Unit.

“The care that staff in the Public Record Office demonstrated over 100 years ago in their mission to save as many records as possible is now being continued by a highly skilled and committed team of archivists and conservators working together to uncover and reveal a snapshot of what life looked like at Dublin Port in 1922.”

Eamonn O’Reilly and Orlaith McBrideEamonn O’Reilly and Orlaith McBride examine the archive

Eamonn O’Reilly, Chief Executive, Dublin Port, said: “Our own rich archive is an important and actively used resource which we routinely rely on to tell the story of Dublin Port. We are delighted now to be able to add to the additional archive materials related to Dublin Port which the National Archives holds by supporting the conservation of records recovered after the burning of the Four Courts a century ago.”

Orlaith McBride, Director of the National Archives, said: “The conservation of these records represents a significant contribution to the State’s key legacy project from the Decade of Centenaries. The National Archives as successor institution to Public Record Office has held these records, salvaged from the fire in 1922, in its care for almost 100 years and has now begun the process of conservation. This support from Dublin Port is invaluable in terms of allowing us to progress this work.”

Dr Peter Crooks, Trinity College Dublin and Academic Director of the Beyond 2022 project, said: “As each page of these fascinating archives is restored, another page of Irish history is returned to the public record. These documents provide a fascinating insight into everyday life 200 years ago - not only in Dublin, with its extensive trading network, but also across Ireland at large.”

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About Dublin Port 

Dublin Port is Ireland’s largest and busiest port with approximately 17,000 vessel movements per year. As well as being the country’s largest port, Dublin Port has the highest rate of growth and, in the seven years to 2019, total cargo volumes grew by 36.1%.

The vision of Dublin Port Company is to have the required capacity to service the needs of its customers and the wider economy safely, efficiently and sustainably. Dublin Port will integrate with the City by enhancing the natural and built environments. The Port is being developed in line with Masterplan 2040.

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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