Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Decline in Dublin Port Volumes for First Half of 2023

5th September 2023
Unitised trade (Ro-Ro and Lo-Lo) in the form of trailers and containers accounted for 81% of all cargo volumes at Dublin Port in the first half of the year
Unitised trade (Ro-Ro and Lo-Lo) in the form of trailers and containers accounted for 81% of all cargo volumes at Dublin Port in the first half of the year Credit: Afloat

Dublin Port Company has today reported trade figures for the first half of 2023.

Volumes declined by 3.6% to end June as the war in Ukraine, global inflation and a slower than expected recovery in China from Covid-19 lockdown dampened international and domestic demand, with the Central Statistics Office showing Ireland entering a technical recession in the early part of 2023.

H1 2023 – Key Figures:

  • Imports fell by -3.6% to 10.8 million gross tonnes.
  • Exports declined by -3.5%, to 7.1 million gross tonnes.

In Detail:

Unitised trade (Ro-Ro and Lo-Lo) in the form of trailers and containers accounted for 81% of all cargo volumes in the first half of the year.

Unitised freight fell by -5.4% year-to-date June Vs prior year, with both modes experiencing reductions of -4.4% and -7.6%, respectively.

Passenger numbers on ferries (such as Stena) increased by 13.6% to 758,454 at Dublin PortPassenger numbers on ferries (such as Stena) increased by 13.6% to 758,454 at Dublin Port

Positive growth indicators were seen in other areas of the port’s business, including: -

Imports of new trade vehicles rose by 40.3% to 67,000 units. This rise is already on the back of strong import figures in 2022 when volumes increased by 8.1% for the full year.

Bulk Liquid imports of petroleum products continue to grow strongly, reaching 2.3 million gross tonnes matching the record levels achieved in the same period last year.

Passenger numbers on ferries increased by 13.6% to 758,454

Dublin Port continued outperforming the all-island market in both Ro-Ro and Lo-Lo in 2022 and Q1 of 2023, with elements of post-Brexit trade returning to Dublin from Northern Ireland ports (source: The Irish Maritime Development Office).

Commenting on the H1 2023 figures, Dublin Port’s Chief Executive, Barry O'Connell, said:

“Lower international and domestic economic activity has seen our volumes slightly down in the first half of 2023. This comes on the back of a very strong first half in 2022 where volumes increased by 10% vs 2021. The second half of 2022 was flat in terms of growth rates, so we are expecting modest positive growth in the second half of 2023 as markets recover.

“A dip is not unusual and reflects the ebb and flow of imports and exports in a more cautious economic environment. In the medium to long term, we still expect to see continued growth in volumes as the economy rebounds and consumer sentiment steadies. As recently as June there was a 1.1% rise in exports, a notable shift from the average monthly decline of -4.4% over the preceding five months. This tallies with market and CSO commentary on Ireland’s exit from a technical recession.

“Overall, Dublin continues to outperform the all-island market in both Ro-Ro and Lo-Lo, underscoring continued demand for the world-class route-to-market offering here.

“With Dublin Port accounting for 80% of Ireland’s containerised trade, 91% of UK trade and 68% of trade with mainland Europe, it remains a critical enabler of Ireland’s economy. Providing capacity for future economic growth is our core imperative and I am pleased to say that the first of three expansion plans have been completed (ABR Project), the second is underway (MP2 Project), and the third and final development plan, the 3FM project, is at an advanced design stage and will be submitted later this year for planning.”

Dublin Port Company trade figures for the first half of 2023Dublin Port Company trade figures for the first half of 2023

Published in Dublin Port Team

About The Author Team

Email The Author is Ireland's dedicated marine journalism team.

Have you got a story for our reporters? Email us here.

We've got a favour to ask

More people are reading than ever thanks to the power of the internet but we're in stormy seas because advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. Unlike many news sites, we haven’t put up a paywall because we want to keep our marine journalism open. is Ireland's only full–time marine journalism team and it takes time, money and hard work to produce our content.

So you can see why we need to ask for your help.

If everyone chipped in, we can enhance our coverage and our future would be more secure. You can help us through a small donation. Thank you.

Direct Donation to Afloat button

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.