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Dublin Port Company Welcomes Back Terns for 2024

27th May 2024
Helen Boland, Manager of the Dublin Bay Birds Project and Eamon McElroy, Port Engineer at Dublin Port Company, at the purpose-built platform for common and arctic terns running alongside Dublin's iconic Great South Wall
Helen Boland, Manager of the Dublin Bay Birds Project and Eamon McElroy, Port Engineer at Dublin Port Company, at the purpose-built platform for common and arctic terns running alongside Dublin's iconic Great South Wall Credit: Cian Geoghegan

Dublin Port Company (DPC) is welcoming back its breeding terns for the summer months.

Among these returning birds is likely an Arctic Tern that was first ringed in Dublin Port in the year 2000 and has been flying back and forth from Antarctica ever since. At least 23 years old, this is the oldest Arctic Tern on record in the Republic of Ireland.

A Common Tern, also first ringed in 2000, was observed nesting in the port last year too, and has been migrating back and forth to West Africa all these years.

As Afloat reported earlier, Dublin Port is home to a wide range of bird species throughout the year, including nesting Black Guillemots (a relative of the Puffin) and even Peregrine Falcons, the fastest bird in the world. DPC is particularly protective of the terns, who breed within the port area during the summer, as they are listed in Annex I of the EU Birds Directive due to their threatened status across Europe. There are two species of tern – the Common and Arctic – that nest in the Dublin Port colony.

BirdWatch Ireland has been researching and monitoring these birds with the support of DPC since 2013 and there is now a robust database of information, meaning a great deal more is now known about the avian inhabitants of Dublin Bay.

Helen Boland, Manager of the Dublin Bay Birds Project at Birdwatch Ireland, at the purpose-built pontoon for common and arctic terns at Dublin Port, alongside the iconic Great South WallHelen Boland, Manager of the Dublin Bay Birds Project at Birdwatch Ireland, at the purpose-built pontoon for common and arctic terns at Dublin Port, alongside the iconic Great South Wall

In anticipation of the birds’ return, DPC has recently redeployed its pontoon - purpose-built for terns - off Dublin’s iconic Great South Wall. The pontoon is specially designed to provide the seabirds with a safe place to nest and has been fitted with perimeter boards to protect from predators.

The pontoon is located approximately 100 metres off the Half-Moon swimming club and can be seen by walkers on the South Wall.The pontoon is located approximately 100 metres off the Half-Moon swimming club that can be seen by walkers on the Great South Wall Photo: Afloat

DPC originally installed this platform in 2015 following the successful deployment of the first pontoon at the Tolka Estuary in 2013. BirdWatch Ireland collaborates closely with DPC to ensure that conservation measures are in place for these protected species so they can keep thriving in this unique man-made environment.

The pontoon is located approximately 100 metres off the Half-Moon swimming club and can be seen by walkers on the Wall. There are also two other permanent structures in the port area for terns to nest.

Last year’s devastating Avian Flu had a significant impact on Dublin Port’s birds, eliminating almost 20% of the breeding adult terns along with many chicks. BirdWatch Ireland will work closely with DPC to assess for any signs of it at the tern colony this year.

These measures are just the latest example of DPC working to promote biodiversity in the Dublin Port area. It follows DPC’s recent launch of its groundbreaking eco-engineering initiative in collaboration with University College Dublin. This involved deploying artificial fish habitats along the Great South Wall that aim to enhance marine biodiversity.

Helen Boland, Dublin Bay Birds Project Manager at BirdWatch Ireland commented:

“The deployment of the pontoon represents the start of a new tern breeding season and time for us once again to make sure protective measures are in place to help the terns to have a successful year. BirdWatch Ireland is delighted to continue its collaboration with Dublin Port Company which has enabled us to significantly ramp up operations that were being done on a shoestring budget before DPC came on board in 2013.”

Eamon McElroy, DPC Port Engineer added: “We are delighted to see the tern colonies arrive back to the Dublin Port pontoons, as they have done for 11 years now. Dublin Port Company is deeply committed to taking care of the environment in the port area in all its forms. This includes doing our part to preserve and enhance biodiversity.

“As demonstrated by our recent fish habitat collaboration with UCD and now our deployment of the pontoon at the Great South Wall, we are determined to look after all the species within our local environment.” Team

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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.