Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Dun Laoghaire Master Plan - Club Response

17th June 2011
Dun Laoghaire Master Plan - Club Response
Below is the response of The Dun Laoghaire Combined Clubs (DLCC), comprising the following member organisations:

Dublin Bay Sailing Club
Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Alfred Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht Club
Royal St George Yacht Club

The DLCC both welcomes the Master Plan and the initiative this represents for the development of the Harbour.

This submission makes wide-ranging suggestions and provides the perspective of sailing organisations, which have been operating within the confines of the Harbour since the 1830's. It has attempted to set aside the specific interest of any one of the DLCC Members in favour of a larger and longer-term vision for the Harbour, recognising that the future of the Harbour and the DLCC Members are, inevitably, intertwined. Any detailed proposal, which may impact on the interests, activities and property of any of the DLCC Members, will necessarily be subject to the approval of the various parties involved, including by the DLCC Members individually.

The DLCC strongly supports several aspects of the DLHC Master Plan outline, as we understand it today:

1. We believe that the future of the Harbour ultimately lies in its development primarily as a Marine Tourism and Leisure destination, and not as a Commercial Port We see it as a key part of the City of Dublin and Dun Laoghaire's water sport's infrastructure.

2. We believe that the Harbour needs to rethink how the Town and Harbour intersect and connect, and which improves accessibility for all. This requires a radical rethink of the public access to both the shore and water side of the Harbour. The way in which the Harbour has developed to date has served, indirectly, to restrict both shore and waterside access to existing and potential future users and particularly the public.

3. We believe that the Harbour is a leisure resource of World Class standard, and that properly developed with a Marine Tourism & Leisure focus, it can generate new and sustainable sources of income. There are, however, no quick or easy "fixes" to replace the revenues lost from the reduction/withdrawal of ferry services.

4. We support the development of the Carlisle Pier as the focal point for that Marine Tourism/Leisure focus. A "diaspora project" housed in a low scale but iconic building, with year round public access and which enhances and attracts, on a year round basis, the many existing public users of the Harbour (from walking to sailing) will deliver long term and lasting benefits and revenues to both DLHC and the wider community.

1.1 Understanding of the Master Plan

It is our understanding that the Master Plan ("Master Plan") for Dun Laoghaire Harbour (the "Harbour") envisages, at its core, that the Harbour will have a Marine Leisure & Tourism focus.

The key messages in the various presentations and materials from the Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company ("DLHC") have included the following:

a. The duty of DLHC to maintain the physical fabric of the Harbour

b. The need to protect and enhance the natural features and setting of the Harbour

c. The desire to ensure that public access to and use of the Harbour for recreational and other purposes is enhanced.

d. To integrate the Harbour into Dun Laoghaire Town Centre and align the proposed Harbour development and Master Plan with objectives of the Dun Laoghaire Rathdown (DLR) Development Plan (2010-2016).

1.2 Proposed Harbour Uses

Within this broad outline, the Master Plan also envisages the use of the Harbour for the following activities:

a. To attract cruise ships to the Harbour, with the objective of enhancing tourism development within the greater community.

b. To develop the Harbour as a source of renewable energy.

c. To develop the existing Port Terminal area for commercial purposes, whether as office space or for light industrial use.

d. To develop the Carlisle Pier as a major cultural attraction, the "Diaspora Project"

2.1 Activities of the DLCC Members

There are 4 sailing clubs which have premises located within the Harbour as follows:
• Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club (DMYC)
• National Yacht Club (NYC)
• Royal Irish Yacht Club (RIYC)
• Royal St George Yacht Club (RSGYC)

These clubs are collectively referred to as the "Waterfront Clubs". In addition, the Sailing in Dublin Club (SID) operates from the Coal Harbour.

Collectively the Waterfront Clubs have of the order of 5,000 Members, who in turn own approximately 700 keelboats (boats which are moored in the water typically) and 1,000 dinghies, most of which are sailed by the Junior and Youth Members of the Waterfront Clubs. The Waterfront Clubs can trace their origins back to the early 1800's, having up to 175 years of involvement in the Harbour, with the DMYC (1965) and SID (1987) being more recent but still long term occupants of, and valued additions to the leisure users of the Harbour.

The members of the Waterfront Clubs organise their routine sailing activities through Dublin Bay Sailing Club ("DBSC"), founded in 1884, which provides racing, on a combined clubs basis, in Dublin Bay for the members of the Waterfront Clubs and others who are also members of DBSC. DBSC has 1,500 members (included in the 5,000 above). This activity involves many volunteers drawn almost entirely from the Waterfront Clubs and takes place on 3 to 4 days/evenings per week during the main sailing season, April to October. With the development of the Dun Laoghaire Marina (DL Marina) since 2001 sailing has become a year round activity with racing (outside the main sailing season) taking place typically on Sundays. DBSC, while it owns the start boats, starter hut (on the West Pier) and floating marks required for it to run the racing activities, has no premises of its own and operates its shore side activities from the various Waterfront Clubs. In this sense it is a "virtual" club.

Racing takes place within the confines of Dublin Bay, around a series of fixed marks laid for the purpose of racing, marks which are supplied and serviced by DBSC. Routine racing can involve up to 400 boats, with up to 2,500 participants. Dinghy racing takes place typically within Seapoint and Scotsman's Bays (to the west and east of the Harbour).

Another "virtual" sailing club in Dun Laoghaire, the Royal Alfred Yacht Club (1857) which also has no premises but draws its members from all the Waterfront Clubs, was the original amateur and Corinthian yacht club (in the days when all yacht racing was done with professional crew or "paid hands" as they were called), organised the first offshore races in the world, and designed the original rules by which the sport of sailing is now governed. Its primary function today is to organise One Design Race Events, and racing between the Howth and Dun Laoghaire based Sailing Clubs.

2.2 Major Sailing Events

In addition to these regular race activities, the Waterfront Clubs (supported by DBSC) organise many Regional, National and International sailing events which are held over periods between 2 weeks and 1 weekend in duration, and which use the waters of Dublin Bay. These events include the following (as a representative sample):

ISAF World Youth Sailing Championships 2012
Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2011 – (biennial event)
La Solitaire du Figaro 2011
Star Class European Championships 2011
UK National Squib Championships 2010
Irish Cruiser Racing Association National Championships 2010
Laser SB3 World Championships 2009

These events bring significant tourism business to Dun Laoghaire, with up to 600 international visitors. A typical event has 75 to 150 boats, with 2 to 5 sailors per boat plus supporting family members, up to 600 people in total, and runs for a week, generating significant bed nights and tourism business for the local community. Up to 5 such events are held annually in Dublin Bay.

The Waterfront Clubs organise a combined Dun Laoghaire Regatta every 2 years, next being held in July 2011, which attracts up to 500 boats, 3,000 participants over the 4 day long weekend of the event. About 35% of the participants are from outside Dublin.

2.3 Sail Training for Children & Adults/ Access Sailing Programmes

Another major activity of the Waterfront Clubs is in providing sail training to youth sailors. Annually from late May to early September (during school holidays), each of the Waterfront Clubs organises sail training programmes and cater for up to 1,000 young sailors aged between 5 and 18. These programmes are being expanded continuously and now include a School Sailing programme in combination with local schools, and an Adult Training Programme for adults who wish to learn how to sail.

In common with many other sports, there are extensive year round coaching programmes for the more race (and performance) oriented youth sailors, which are run on a combined basis by the clubs involved. Each weekend, year round, these youth coaching programmes bring up to 60 boats, 150 participants out on the water.

These youth sailors make extensive use of the waters within the Harbour for their sailing activities, particularly on days with strong winds, and during the winter months.

While originally for the children of Members, these training and coaching activities have been expanded to both local schools and to sailors from other clubs which do not have the volume of activity necessary to justify dedicated programmes, other than in peak summer months.

The RSGYC hosted the sailing aspects of the Special Olympics in 2003. Following on from that event, each of the Waterfront Clubs participates and hosts a special needs sailing programme, with dedicated boats (suitable for this use) and facilities (hoists) to make it easier for our special athletes to get involved.

In addition, the Waterfront Clubs, in association with DL Marina, run an "Access Sailing Programme" to provide boats and coaching for children with disabilities. This runs on Sunday mornings throughout the season. This has proven very popular with parents and participants.

It is the ambition of the Waterfront Clubs to have a dedicated year round training and coaching programme, and to enable access to that programme for all.

2.4 Waterfront Club Shore Facilities

The larger keelboats are located both in DL Marina and on various swinging moorings located close to the Harbour walls, with the smaller boats (dinghies and small keel boats) located on and within the Waterfront Club's premises, on moorings adjacent to their premises, or "dry sailed" being stored ashore and craned into the water for each use.

Each of the Waterfront Clubs has, in recent years, invested heavily in their shore side facilities (dock space, forecourt parking, crane and launch equipment, and slipways) to enable them run the sailing activities and events (described above), which have become the norm now within Dublin Bay.

The RSGYC and National Yacht Clubs own breakwaters to protect their slipways and dock areas from adverse weather conditions, typically winds from a direction between North West to East where the Harbour is exposed (because of the size and direction of the Harbour mouth.

All 4 Waterfront Clubs are at or close to full capacity in the physical area available to keep and launch their member's boats. As a result, it is only possible to run the events described above by having the members remove their boats temporarily to accommodate visitors. This greatly reduces the capabilities of the Waterfront Clubs to host such events.

2.5 Sailing as a Spectator Sport

Sailing is a very visually attractive sport (it has action, colour, capsizes, and the combination of wind boat and water); however, it has been difficult to make that visual attraction easily viewed by the general public ashore because a lot of the action takes place out to sea. As in many sports, with the miniaturisation of technology, the expansion of wireless internet access, there are now significant changes taking place in sailing to make the sport more viewable by the public, with several top class international events with professional teams involved, participating in international circuits.

At the top end of the scale are events such as The America's Cup, a competition between nations, but all the way down through the sport, there are now fast growing events (both amateur and professional), which bring the spectacle of sailboat racing to the public. Events such as the "Extreme Sailing Series" ( are now being run globally with heats taking place in various host cities. Similarly, two forms of sailing that are growing rapidly are Team Racing and Match Racing, both of which are well represented in Ireland and all of which require relatively small race areas and short courses and which can be viewed easily from shore side facilities.

Other major sailing events which have attracted a lot of public interest include the Tall Ships (which return to Dublin Port in 2012), and the round the world races such as the Volvo Ocean Race (Galway 2009 and 2012) and the Clipper Race (Cork in 2010, Derry in 2012). These long distance events host spectacular "In-Shore" and "In-Port" Races with turning marks located inside harbours and with race courses placed along the shore line, expert commentary and easily identifiable boats (colour schemes and sails).

As has been proven in both Cork and Galway, these events bring significant economic benefit to their host cities.

Team Racing was devised in 1948 as a competition between the RSGYC and West Kirby Sailing Club (in Liverpool) and has both endured and is now the fastest growing Youth Sailing activity worldwide. This year Ireland (Schull, Co. Cork) will host the Team Racing World Championships for the 2nd time, last held in Dun Laoghaire, hosted by RSGYC within the Harbour, in 2001.

These new format sailing events, and the high growth forms of sailing, like Team and Match Racing, are spectacles, which require an arena or "Amphitheatre" to maximise their attractiveness to TV and the public. The Harbour in Dun Laoghaire is among the best natural water sport arenas available anywhere. The World Match Race Tour now has a 12 city global schedule with professional events held year round,

2.6 Water use for Leisure activities

Compared to our EU neighbours, Ireland has a very low population of boat owners. The Scandinavian countries, which "enjoy" both a far shorter season and have more extreme climate and temperature limitations, have up to 8 times the number of boats per head than exists in Ireland. Our near neighbours in the UK and France have also very significantly more boats per population than Ireland. In France it has become a key National Sport with many of the Local Authorities along the Atlantic Coastal regions hosting major events, including the following:
The Vendee Globe (, the sailing equivalent of Formula 1 Motor Racing but non-stop around the world, based in Les Sables d'Olonne (France), which is the premier single-handed sailing event;
La Solitaire du Figaro ( a multi stage sailing event, around western Europe, the sailing equivalent of the "Tour de France" cycling race, with >70 teams which comes to the Harbour in 2011;
The Barcelona World Race (, a 2 handed round the world race, last won by Damian Foxhall from Ireland with Jean-Pierre Dick, one of the legends of the sport, and now approaching its finish in Barcelona.

These events and races have captured the public imagination, are widely attended, receive global television attention, and have fostered a huge growth is sailing activities at all levels in their host countries.

Even in Ireland, throughout the late '90's and '00's, the rate of boat ownership in Ireland doubled. While the current economic climate will, in the medium term, restrict the growth of sailing (and other sports activities) it is highly likely that they will, when the economic climate improves again, revert to past growth rates and that activity levels will grow at a faster rate again.

This is the time to plan for such increases in use, and develop proposals, which enhance the access of the general public to the Harbour and its facilities.

Our immediate UK/Welsh neighbours in both Pwllheli and in Beaumaris have very significant plans to develop their water sports capabilities, to generate the sort of business for their local communities, which the Waterfront Clubs already bring to Dun Laoghaire. Their websites and show what is planned) and in Beaumaris (Plas Menai at These developments will help deliver water sports facilities, part grant funded, so that they can provide the type of events, which are already the norm in Dublin Bay. Both of these locations have taken sailing as a core part of their leisure and tourism activities.

3.1 The Unique Qualities & Potential of the Harbour

Dublin Bay and Dun Laoghaire have several qualities that are unique in the experience of sailors as follows:

a. The size of Dublin Bay (40 square miles) enables the hosting of major sailing regattas, with up to 6 possible racecourses where different fleets can race/sail simultaneously without hindering the other users (either commercial or leisure) in the Bay. The Waterfront Clubs and DBSC have a long and successful partnership with both Dublin Port and DLHC such that the commercial and sailing activities are managed so as not to conflict with each other and to ensure the safe operation of commercial traffic. This was a key feature in the selection of Dublin Bay for the ISAF World Youth Sailing Championships in 2012.

b. The internal size of the Harbour, within its Outer Piers (East & West), and now with the DL Marina breakwater, is a natural amphitheatre, viewable from all sides, which is among the best locations to handle the fast growing spectator friendly forms of the sport. Most other locations only provide 1 dimensional viewing (from a shore line) but Dun Laoghaire and its Piers can replicate for sailing what a stadium like "Aviva" does for soccer and rugby, with a "wrap Around" viewing and television possibility. There are few harbours with this potential. In adverse weather conditions, being able to sail within the confines of the Harbour is a significant advantage, both in training sailors, and in the Match and Team Racing, among the fastest growing derivatives of the sport (and now Olympic Events)

c. The Waterfront Clubs possess the race management skills and resources (in terms of experienced people, and rescue, support boats and equipment) necessary to run the highest-level international events. Jack Roy, a member of several Waterfront Clubs is among the race officials selected by ISAF (the World Sailing Governing Body) to manage the London Olympic Games. Within the Waterfront Clubs there are 3 highly regarded International Race Officers, and many others of National Standard.

d. The time from boat launch anywhere within the Harbour to the race area in Dublin Bay is less than 30 minutes; enabling event teams run racing more efficiently and quickly.

e. The closeness and connectivity of Dun Laoghaire to Dublin City and its transport infrastructure is a major benefit to visiting sailors.

f. The prevailing wind direction (South West) enables the Bay to provide excellent shelter for all sailing activities, even in adverse weather conditions. This is evident from the success of the Irish National Sailing School in its training programmes, which are run, in the main, in the "Gut" area between Salthill and the West Pier, probably the most protected sailing area within Dublin Bay.

g. The Harbour is also an outstandingly beautiful place, an amenity with significant cultural and architectural heritage in and of itself. It is worth visiting for that reason alone. The walks along the piers are extremely popular attractions both because of the views and the surrounding scenery but also because of the pier construction and features.

3.2 The deficiencies of the Harbour

The DLCC Members applaud the Harbour Company's master planning process, because we believe that, in the past, the development of the Harbour has been constrained by the somewhat piecemeal development of individual facilities within the Harbour without a clear perspective of the overall long term uses and potential of the Harbour, both ashore and afloat.

The Harbour Company planning was, we believe, because it generated the vast majority of its income from Ferry use, naturally focussed on the facilities required of that user, with the result that, as ship type changed (from mail boat to car ferry to HSS), as its size/type increased (to and back from HSS to small ferry), the facilities and shore space used for that purpose expanded, moved location (from Mail boat Pier, to St Michael's Pier to HSS Facility) and that this chopping and changing ultimately hindered the efficient overall development and utility of the Harbour leaving 2 pier facilities in its wake neither of which today are being used as planned, nor suits their intended long term uses, including the currently planned short term (?) use by the Lynx Ferry.

As a result, the Harbour today has a number of significant deficiencies as follows:

a. The Harbour, which was originally open across most of its internal space (the shore area from Carlisle Pier/St. Michaels Wharf to the Coal Harbour) has now been partly subdivided in a way that already limits the ability of any activity (whether sailing or otherwise) to use the entire internal Harbour area either from a water or a shore sided perspective.

b. There are now 2 shore side pier structures, all centred in the middle of the Harbour, and both in front of the RSGYC, which divide up both the shore side and the waterside amenity of the Harbour from most users. The also do so at precisely the point where the main road thoroughfare (Marine Road), connecting the Town of Dun Laoghaire with its Harbour, is located.

1) The HSS Terminal which today comprises a largely underutilised building and a substantial car marshalling facility, already has very limited utility, and may have even less in the future with the eventual withdrawal of the HSS from service. In addition, as it is proposed that the HSS be replaced (temporarily?) by the smaller Lynx Ferry, which will occupy Berth 4, a substantial part of the HSS waterside and Associated Terminal Building is effectively redundant. Hence the most modern facility, and the significant buildings attached thereto, in the centre of the Harbour, is of limited utility and inaccessible to either water or shore side users.

2) The Carlisle Pier, which has been out of service for many years, but is now earmarked for Tourism/Leisure development, is (we understand) a structure which is neither suitable (in its current form) as a pier for docking visiting ships (whether cruise ships or otherwise) both because of the depth available, its location (to one side of the Harbour) and its length (too short). It's structure, apparently, isn't strong enough for such ships, nor as the base for any future construction whether the planned "Iconic Building" or other permanent structure. To use the Carlisle Pier for such purpose, the entire structure of the Pier would need to be replaced. While of considerable historical interest and importance, the Carlisle Pier, because of these deficiencies is unlikely to be capable of development on purely commercial grounds (it wasn't even in the hay-day of the Celtic Tiger), requiring substantial State or Local Authority funding before any new use (including the proposed Marine Tourism/Leisure use) can be made of this structure.

3) Other than the Plaza area (on top of the car park on St Michaels Wharf), and the green space to the west of the RIYC, the entire shore side of the Harbour from the west side of the Irish Lights building to the East Pier is either in private ownership or is used for purposes which require restricted access and is thus inaccessible to the public.

c. Because of the two pier structures, commercial shipping activity now cuts the Harbour into 2 parts, and while the recent activity levels of the car ferry operation have reduced significantly, because of the timing of car ferry operations (around mid-day) it still significantly hinders the use of the vast internal space of the Harbour for water activities because these activities are at their peak at ferry operating times.

d. The main public use (primarily for walking) of the Harbour is thus centred on the East Pier, and the public areas on the Scotsman's Bay area outside that pier, the DL Baths area and the walkways to the east and towards both the People's Park and Sandycove areas. While an equally attractive walk, the West Pier is hugely constrained by the access limitations to that area of the Harbour.

e. The Coal Harbour provides the main focus of public access for boat users to the Harbour and its waters, with a limited amount of both car and boat parking facilities provided. This space is very limited and the facilities provided here are far below what would be required or expected of a harbour with both the boat population and event capabilities that Dun Laoghaire Harbour has on its doorstep. In fact the lack of such resources will in time further limit the attractiveness of the Harbour for such uses. The Coal Harbour has evolved into an area of very limited utility, catering mainly to the pre-existing users and with so many competing uses (from car parking, to boat storage, to public launch facility to private and public boatyard) that it is of limited value to any one of them. In particular:

i. The boat mooring capacity of the Coal Harbour would be hugely enhanced were a marina provided, with a focus on smaller boats (including dinghy storage platforms), rather than the existing moorings. As this location is both shallow and very well protected, the hardware requirements (and thus capital cost) of such a facility would be minimised. Such a marina should include temporary boat parking for short-term visitors, perhaps best located alongside (both sides) the Old Pier, the inner wharf within the Coal Harbour, which might also be the access point for both marinas. The value of the additional boat spaces provided by a marina should enable the DLHC to offer attractive terms to existing mooring users, at least for a period, to facilitate the transition to its new use. There are literally hundreds of equivalent small harbours in France, which have been transformed by providing such small marina facilities. This is not for yacht parking; it is for small boat parking.

ii. The slipway and access thereto, within the (outer) Coal Harbour is inadequate for use by the public. The stone surface (probably a listed structure) doesn't cope with modern low-slung road trailers (now required for boat transport), and access requires a right angle turn (in reverse) from the adjacent the car park (and is very difficult when that car park is anywhere near capacity). The slipway has a ledge at its end, which results in many trailers being damaged or lost (as they are lowered too far into the water at low tide). As a result the slipway, while a very attractive and useful piece of infrastructure, is far less usable than it should be, and thus, on a year round basis, is used mainly by the RIB's and dinghies stored in the adjacent hard standing boat park. In its (late 1800's) day, the slipway with its "rail tracks" and "turntable" was a very sophisticated facility enabling boats be "hauled" out for repair and maintenance. Given that the location of the existing slipway is probably ideal, consideration should be given to building a modern and wider slipway alongside the existing slipway, and parallel to it. This would have the effect of making both the existing and the new slipway structure far more useful without impacting to any great extent the facilities available within the Coal Harbour.

iii. Traders Wharf, the outer pier of the Coal Harbour is the focal point for the small number of commercial users, mainly small fishing boats, and this use seems to be well catered for. The space on the outside of that wharf, which was previously exposed to easterly winds, is now also very protected (within the marina) and while part is used for the boatyard facility (and as a parking area for heavy equipment and boat trailers), the existing wall on top of that wharf is now redundant, and the removal of that wall would make that structure more useful. This too might be the appropriate area to locate the (portacabin type) offices of the many small users of the hard standing area, such as Ocean Divers and SID whose buildings and containers occupy space within that hard standing which might expand the space available for boats. It would also enhance the public profile and visibility of those key businesses, and may, if other boatyard and marine service providers were to relocate there, provide a focal point for such small light marine industrial users (see also boatyard below).

iv. The Harbour needs a boatyard with the capacity to deal with the boats that reside in and/or use the Harbour. Today, the vast majority of boats on which work is required either go to Malahide Boatyard, to the Cork/Kinsale based boatyards or to Wales (Holyhead/Pwhelli) all of which have far smaller population of both boats and potential customers, but still provide far better facilities. The smaller boats in Dun Laoghaire are being stored while under repair on the hard standing at each of the Waterfront Clubs, for members, or within the Coal Harbour (below Harbour Terrace) for the Coal Harbour fleet. There is no focal point for the many small industries that today operate out of the back of the contractors vans. The existing boatyard has almost no hard standing space (which is the key driver of business for any boatyard), thus provides a limited range of services and facilities. The Harbour would benefit from having a proper boatyard, with modern facilities (as was the case 100 years ago in the Coal Harbour), but most importantly with adequate amounts of hard standing for boats so that it gets the critical mass required to become a marine industry centre. As capacity at the Waterfront Clubs is limited, and as public demand grows, there will always be a requirement for boat storage ashore for both maintenance and repair. The best and most efficient way to operate that space is to have it used by a working boatyard. The more space it has available the more business it generates, the more facilities it (and other subcontractors) can then provide, attracting employment and boat industry to the Harbour area. The only space currently available for such a facility is within the Coal Harbour, but requires the amalgamation of the various spaces in that area for that purpose. The area within the inner Coal Harbour which is currently too shallow for boats, and dries out, could be filled to expand the existing car parking facilities to the south of the inner wharf, and to replace that parking space "lost" to the expanded boatyard hard standing. We recognise that there are long terms users who may be inconvenienced or displaced by such a reorganisation, but it should be examined in the context of the Master Plan.

v. Until such times as a roadway is built to provide proper access to the West Pier (probably from Salthill), this entire area will remain underutilised. In the interim, consideration should be given to widening (perhaps by partially infilling the inner Coal Harbour) the existing single lane roadway, which links the Coal Harbour to the West Pier head. This would open the gut area for far greater use. Even however, once the access from Salthill had been provided, this roadway (which should have a pedestrian walkway and cycle path) would provide the necessary link along the shore side of the Harbour.

5.1 The Future for the Harbour

If one were building the shore side Harbour facilities today, recognising the limitations imposed by the Railway Line, the DL Marina, the Irish Lights building, the roads as exist today, the Carlisle Pier and the existing HSS Terminal facility, you would try to separate the leisure and commercial users into distinct and separate areas of the Harbour so that each use was capable of being carried out with the minimum of disruption to and interference with other uses, and you would pool like users into places where they could share common facilities making best use of the finite resources of the Harbour, and avoid the cost associated with duplicated facilities that abound today.

You would also enhance the connection between Town and Harbour, by making the centre of the Harbour (end of Marine Road and in front of the Pavilion & Royal Marine Hotel) the main area where public access (whether pedestrian or vehicle) would be maximised, facilitating both leisure and commercial users.

Ideally, because of the natural barrier imposed by the railway line and train station, and the location of the DL Marina, it would make the most sense to locate the leisure (and other small boat) users of the Harbour from the Ferry Terminal westwards up to and including the Coal Harbour. This part of the Harbour is "tucked" away behind the railway line and is the part least used by the general public today.

The Shipping Access point (whether Ferry or Cruise Ship) would ideally be in the area between the existing HSS and Carlisle Piers, with good access from both water and shore side, and directly connected up with the proposed Tourism/Leisure development of the Carlisle Pier. Putting the commercial shipping in this area would also move it eastwards, and open the centre of the Harbour for other water users even when shipping traffic was operating.

This however, is not possible because of the segmented development of the Harbour over its lifetime. That is one of the key problems for the Master Plan process to address

The Gut area of the Harbour is especially attractive in terms of the possible future development of a public marine leisure centre, an area where all forms of water sports could be accommodated, and in particular where the learner aspects of the sport might be best facilitated. This is the most sheltered area of the Harbour and Dublin Bay, it is relatively shallow (thus easier to build on), and it would bring a whole host of new activities and interests to the Harbour area, and greatly expand the services and facilities, which the Irish National Sailing School provides at the moment.

It is the suggestion of the DLCC that consideration be given to building an enclosed seawater lagoon, which would run outside the West Pier, parallel to it and provide a non-tidal safe area for many boating and other water sport activities. There is a similar facility located in West Kirby/Hoylake near Liverpool on the Wirral Peninsula on the mouth of the River Dee, see for details of the wide range of activities and uses of this excellent facility. In West Kirby, this lagoon which has a sea wall of about 2.5 m in height (and a depth throughout of 2m), which is filled (and refreshed) by the tide (and has sluice gates for occasional cleaning) measures about 250m in width and is about 1.2km's in length. There is a walkway around the outside wall, and a "baths" area or small dock, which, was used for bathing. This facility was so popular that it was expanded and doubled in size in the late 1990's.

There is a significant amount of shore based space in the "Gut" area of the Harbour already, the "Shell Depot" and the open space around the sewage treatment facility, and that shore space would assist in meeting the parking requirements of possible users to this "Marine Lake or Lagoon".

The facility at West Kirby is home to the largest sailing event in the UK, the "Wilson Trophy" which is the UK Sailing Team Racing Championships, held in May annually with 48 teams from 6 countries over a 3-day period. In addition to this annual event, now in its 62nd year, it has hosted the World Match and Team Racing Championships.

5.2 Master Plan Considerations

It is the DLCC Members view that the "Key Aspects" of the Harbour to be protected in any Master Plan (and especially one with the Marine Leisure/Tourism focus which we share) are the following:

a. To retain the ability to use the entire internal area of the Harbour for water and water sports activities.

b. To avoid any further development, whether ashore or afloat, which breaks up or sub divides the harbour further and/or which further restricts access by the existing boat users and public to the shore side and waters within the Harbour.

c. To provide ashore a large open space which would have multiple uses, either as an "Event Location" or "Tented Village" and which would suit a wide variety of purposes both land side and waterside. It is believed essential that this large open space would also provide slipway access to the water, so that it could cater for the growing Sailing Event uses, such as the "Figaro" in 2011 and the Youth World Championships in 2012 when the Carlisle Pier will be the main "Event Area" for those events.

5.3 Master Plan Considerations

Looking at the specific proposals for the Harbour Master Plan we have the following comments and observations:

I. Cruise Ships

We note the interest in many towns/Cities in Ireland in attracting this cruise ship business to its ports, and see that places like Waterford, Belfast, Cork, and Dublin Port (to mention the bulk of them) all hope to attract Cruise Ship visits, albeit such business would be a very small percentage of their overall turnover. It is becoming an increasingly competitive market, both worldwide and in Ireland, although perhaps not yet at saturation point in terms of demand. However, we are not convinced that the economic benefits to the greater Dun Laoghaire community from such visits, and the number of such visits (50 at best) that can realistically be expected, are such as to justify the potential long-term adverse impacts that the provision of such a facility will have on the Harbour.

It is our understanding that Cruise Ships provide all of the food and accommodation requirements of their passengers, who simply take day trips out at each destination.

We understand that a new pier, of c 300m in length, would need to be built to accommodate such craft. For technical reasons (and to suit the limited manoeuvrability of these large ships), this Pier needs to be directly in front of the Harbour mouth, and so would be connected at the existing HSS facility.

Our fear is that, yet again, another structure will be built within the Harbour, which further restricts its overall development ashore and afloat, and which may not have the long term use that was envisaged when it was constructed.

We cannot comment on the economic benefits of such visits except to note, from the experience of other ports, that such ships operate to an itinerary, arrive typically early morning, stay all day while the guests "sample" the local delights, and then depart at dinner time for the next destination. Some ships might stay several days, but that is more the exception than the rule for a typical cruise itinerary. While harbour dues will be charged, we cannot see that the economic impact on Dun Laoghaire and DL Rathdown Communities will generate anywhere near the economic value of other forms of marine tourism and leisure which such a facility might prevent, such as the major sailing events mentioned above which generate significant local business. Cities such as Venice, which is a major destination for cruise ships, and recognising the low economic benefits of cruise visitors, now charges a per capita tourist tax to generate revenues from cruise ship visitors.

To berth such a vessel within the Harbour will hugely impact existing users, the vessel (and its pier) will protrude significantly out into the Harbour area, limiting the use of the Harbour by many existing activities, especially the Youth Sailing activities.

Its new pier will also have the impact of further subdividing the internal Harbour area, thus making it impossible to attract the growing list of professional water sports events that are on the international calendar.

II. Renewable Energy

The DLCC Members do not believe that the building of wind turbines on any of the Harbour Piers would be consistent with maintaining the Harbour as a public facility of outstanding beauty. There are significant offshore sand banks close to Dublin and the East Coast of Ireland, which are far more suited for this purpose.

There are significant and consistent tidal streams within Dublin Bay, and on the outside of the Harbour Piers, which may be suitable for tidal powered energy generation. The size and location of such facilities would have a significant impact on the existing Harbour and Dublin Bay users and on Sailors.

The major issue will be the structures required for such turbines, their location in the Bay or Harbour area, the depth of water in which they are located, and the draft or clearance over any submerged structures. We have noted the structures used in Strangford Lough for tidal energy, and those in several locations in France, but understand that this technology is still evolving quite quickly, so that it is difficult to envisage exactly what might work in the Harbour and Dublin Bay.

Unless and until a detailed proposal emerges, we cannot really comment at this time. DBSC runs its routine racing activities from the West Pier, and there are many local navigation and racing marks adjacent to the Harbour walls. Consideration will have to be given to all of these uses in any proposal.

III. Industry Development in the Harbour

It is the view of the DLCC Members that there is significant capacity to grow a marine focussed light industrial business cluster in the Harbour. We know of the Waterfront Business Group and support their initiatives to establish such a cluster.

This is everything from the suppliers of boat parts needed, to the regular annual service and maintenance of the 1,000 boats (and all its associated equipment) in the Harbour (and 2,000 in nearby locations), to the repair and building of boats.

It is quite striking that most existing boat owners within the Harbour rely on yards outside of Dun Laoghaire for almost all of their boat needs.

The key missing requirement is that there is not enough hard standing space for this work within the Harbour at present for the reasons noted above. There is no critical mass as a direct result of this single deficiency.

It is quite striking that there are 3 boatyards in Crosshaven, 2 in Kinsale/Bandon, and that most of the suppliers of marine services are based in the Cork area when the bulk of the sailing population, marina facilities and boat numbers are in Dublin. Only Howth with a reasonable fishing fleet and adjacent boatyard in Malahide has anywhere near the resources and facilities of Cork.

Having one boatyard of significance, with the proper space and facilities to take boats from the water and manoeuvre them so as to maximise the use of the hard standing, providing boat services to all boat users, whether members of the Waterfront Clubs or otherwise, would have the capability of bring many light marine elated industries to the Harbour enabling a cluster of such industries emerge, providing employment, and further growing the use of the Harbour.

This requires a rethink of both the Coal Harbour and other public facilities so that the necessary critical mass can be achieved.

In respect of the existing HSS Terminal Building and associated car marshalling facility, we understand that among the various proposals under consideration for this area include both residential and office development. We believe that neither of these uses is appropriate to the Harbour area, even if they have significant attractions in terms of revenue potential (from a sale) in the short term for the DLHC. They may produce a one-off result, but would take away from the long-term potential of the Harbour shoreline.

IV. Carlisle Pier and its associated Diaspora Project

The DLCC Members believe that the Carlisle Pier remains one of the greatest assets and disappointments of the Harbour, and strongly supports the outline plans of DLHC to develop this facility as a core part of the Marine Leisure and Tourism focus of the Harbour.

It is our belief that the Carlisle Pier should be THE FOCAL POINT for the Public and Tourist visitor to the Harbour. Whatever is built on it should not restrict public access around its perimeter, so that everyone on it has 2 perspectives, outside into the Harbour and inside to whatever structure is constructed on it.

We have never believed that the plan to develop the Carlisle as the Dun Laoghaire version of the Sydney Harbour Opera House (with its associated office and residential buildings) was appropriate either in terms of its scale, its surroundings or with the density of development planned for that location. We think the more appropriate model is the many places where former harbour piers (with associated warehouses) have been redeveloped into low rise leisure facilities, such as exists in the Darling Harbour area in Sydney and in many European ports, from Liverpool to Barcelona.

We welcomed and supported the planning application by DLHC for the short-term development of the Carlisle with a public walkway along one side, a pavilion at its head, and the provision of significant space for both boat and car parking.

We think that a development of the Carlisle Pier in a way which opens access to the public (it is a great viewing platform for any water based activity), which brings much needed passing trade and tourism business (restaurant and shopping), within a flexible set of build structures, but all having a low profile and with lots of open space would be a significant asset to the Harbour.

It is our view that this area should be flexible in terms of its possible uses, that it not be covered entirely by just 1 building, and that it provide adequate open space for the many (and different) events which the Harbour and DL Rathdown could attract to Dun Laoghaire.

One suggestion is that it could contain the following within its approximately 150m length:

A Diaspora Centre, cultural and visitor attraction, perhaps the central or internal structure at the outside end of the Pier and running for 1/3rd to ½ its length. This building should be an iconic low scale building.

Surrounding shops and restaurants, around the perimeter of the centre, but which add attractions to that centre. These should have outdoor areas and be able to benefit from good weather.

Pedestrian access on the exterior of the Pier, outside all structures so that a walk around the outside of the Carlisle enables spectator views into the Harbour and any activities therein.

An open sided or pavilion covered area which could be used for tented village and market uses, likely in front of those buildings and adjacent to the roadside access to the Pier.

Open space in the middle of the Pier, between the Diaspora Centre and the Pavilion, space that could be used for whatever event was being held on the Pier.

Pontoon dockage (and ramp access) on both sides of the pier so that visiting yachts, visiting fleets when the Harbour is hosting a Sailing Event, and other visitors can arrive at the Carlisle Pier by boat. This facility alone would attract new types of visitors to Dun Laoghaire, including Super Yachts.

Examples, which provide some of these features, include the following;

• The Milk Market in Limerick, now a focal point for a City in desperate need of one, and a very family oriented location.

• The US war museum and graveyard on the Normandy Beaches (Utah Beach). These are simply beautiful, low profile and very attractive museums celebrating and remembering the horrors of the WW2 Normandy Landings. As a model for a future Diaspora centre they have attractions and resonate with the famine years that led to the emigration of the Irish in the 1800's.

• The Italian City of Genoa has transformed its run down port area, perhaps too ambitious for Dun Laoghaire, but an example of what could be done to develop Dun Laoghaire as a major Irish Tourist Attraction and draw visitors to Dublin and Ireland.

• The National Maritime Museum Cornwall is a small maritime centre, financed by UK Lottery money, but supported by visitor charges and donations. It celebrates the evolution of both sailing and of lighthouses.

6 Follow Up

We recognise that this Master Plan is in its formative stages and that any proposal is subject to detailed consideration by the many constituents involved.

We would welcome the opportunity to discuss this submission with you, both individually and collectively, and we ask that the DLHC keep the DLCC Members fully informed of the developments and thinking within the Master Plan as it evolves and comes to a conclusion.

We reserve the right to add to or amend our submission in light of any changes that take place as the Master Plan evolves.

Peter Redden
DLCC Convenor
March 2011

Published in Dublin Bay Team

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Dun Laoghaire Harbour Information

Dun Laoghaire Harbour is the second port for Dublin and is located on the south shore of Dublin Bay. Marine uses for this 200-year-old man-made harbour have changed over its lifetime. Originally built as a port of refuge for sailing ships entering the narrow channel at Dublin Port, the harbour has had a continuous ferry link with Wales, and this was the principal activity of the harbour until the service stopped in 2015. In all this time, however, one thing has remained constant, and that is the popularity of sailing and boating from the port, making it Ireland's marine leisure capital with a harbour fleet of between 1,200 -1,600 pleasure craft based at the country's largest marina (800 berths) and its four waterfront yacht clubs.

Dun Laoghaire Harbour Bye-Laws

Download the bye-laws on this link here


A live stream Dublin Bay webcam showing Dun Laoghaire Harbour entrance and East Pier is here

Dun Laoghaire is a Dublin suburb situated on the south side of Dublin Bay, approximately, 15km from Dublin city centre.

The east and west piers of the harbour are each of 1 kilometre (0.62 miles) long.

The harbour entrance is 232 metres (761 ft) across from East to West Pier.

  • Public Boatyard
  • Public slipway
  • Public Marina

23 clubs, 14 activity providers and eight state-related organisations operate from Dun Laoghaire Harbour that facilitates a full range of sports - Sailing, Rowing, Diving, Windsurfing, Angling, Canoeing, Swimming, Triathlon, Powerboating, Kayaking and Paddleboarding. Participants include members of the public, club members, tourists, disabled, disadvantaged, event competitors, schools, youth groups and college students.

  • Commissioners of Irish Lights
  • Dun Laoghaire Marina
  • MGM Boats & Boatyard
  • Coastguard
  • Naval Service Reserve
  • Royal National Lifeboat Institution
  • Marine Activity Centre
  • Rowing clubs
  • Yachting and Sailing Clubs
  • Sailing Schools
  • Irish Olympic Sailing Team
  • Chandlery & Boat Supply Stores

The east and west granite-built piers of Dun Laoghaire harbour are each of one kilometre (0.62 mi) long and enclose an area of 250 acres (1.0 km2) with the harbour entrance being 232 metres (761 ft) in width.

In 2018, the ownership of the great granite was transferred in its entirety to Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council who now operate and manage the harbour. Prior to that, the harbour was operated by The Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company, a state company, dissolved in 2018 under the Ports Act.

  • 1817 - Construction of the East Pier to a design by John Rennie began in 1817 with Earl Whitworth Lord Lieutenant of Ireland laying the first stone.
  • 1820 - Rennie had concerns a single pier would be subject to silting, and by 1820 gained support for the construction of the West pier to begin shortly afterwards. When King George IV left Ireland from the harbour in 1820, Dunleary was renamed Kingstown, a name that was to remain in use for nearly 100 years. The harbour was named the Royal Harbour of George the Fourth which seems not to have remained for so long.
  • 1824 - saw over 3,000 boats shelter in the partially completed harbour, but it also saw the beginning of operations off the North Wall which alleviated many of the issues ships were having accessing Dublin Port.
  • 1826 - Kingstown harbour gained the important mail packet service which at the time was under the stewardship of the Admiralty with a wharf completed on the East Pier in the following year. The service was transferred from Howth whose harbour had suffered from silting and the need for frequent dredging.
  • 1831 - Royal Irish Yacht Club founded
  • 1837 - saw the creation of Victoria Wharf, since renamed St. Michael's Wharf with the D&KR extended and a new terminus created convenient to the wharf.[8] The extended line had cut a chord across the old harbour with the landward pool so created later filled in.
  • 1838 - Royal St George Yacht Club founded
  • 1842 - By this time the largest man-made harbour in Western Europe had been completed with the construction of the East Pier lighthouse.
  • 1855 - The harbour was further enhanced by the completion of Traders Wharf in 1855 and Carlisle Pier in 1856. The mid-1850s also saw the completion of the West Pier lighthouse. The railway was connected to Bray in 1856
  • 1871 - National Yacht Club founded
  • 1884 - Dublin Bay Sailing Club founded
  • 1918 - The Mailboat, “The RMS Leinster” sailed out of Dún Laoghaire with 685 people on board. 22 were post office workers sorting the mail; 70 were crew and the vast majority of the passengers were soldiers returning to the battlefields of World War I. The ship was torpedoed by a German U-boat near the Kish lighthouse killing many of those onboard.
  • 1920 - Kingstown reverted to the name Dún Laoghaire in 1920 and in 1924 the harbour was officially renamed "Dun Laoghaire Harbour"
  • 1944 - a diaphone fog signal was installed at the East Pier
  • 1965 - Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club founded
  • 1968 - The East Pier lighthouse station switched from vapourised paraffin to electricity, and became unmanned. The new candle-power was 226,000
  • 1977- A flying boat landed in Dun Laoghaire Harbour, one of the most unusual visitors
  • 1978 - Irish National Sailing School founded
  • 1934 - saw the Dublin and Kingstown Railway begin operations from their terminus at Westland Row to a terminus at the West Pier which began at the old harbour
  • 2001 - Dun Laoghaire Marina opens with 500 berths
  • 2015 - Ferry services cease bringing to an end a 200-year continuous link with Wales.
  • 2017- Bicentenary celebrations and time capsule laid.
  • 2018 - Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company dissolved, the harbour is transferred into the hands of Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council

From East pier to West Pier the waterfront clubs are:

  • National Yacht Club. Read latest NYC news here
  • Royal St. George Yacht Club. Read latest RSTGYC news here
  • Royal Irish Yacht Club. Read latest RIYC news here
  • Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club. Read latest DMYC news here


The umbrella organisation that organises weekly racing in summer and winter on Dublin Bay for all the yacht clubs is Dublin Bay Sailing Club. It has no clubhouse of its own but operates through the clubs with two x Committee vessels and a starters hut on the West Pier. Read the latest DBSC news here.

The sailing community is a key stakeholder in Dún Laoghaire. The clubs attract many visitors from home and abroad and attract major international sailing events to the harbour.


Dun Laoghaire Regatta

Dun Laoghaire's biennial town regatta was started in 2005 as a joint cooperation by the town's major yacht clubs. It was an immediate success and is now in its eighth edition and has become Ireland's biggest sailing event. The combined club's regatta is held in the first week of July.

  • Attracts 500 boats and more from overseas and around the country
  • Four-day championship involving 2,500 sailors with supporting family and friends
  • Economic study carried out by the Irish Marine Federation estimated the economic value of the 2009 Regatta at €2.5 million

The dates for the 2021 edition of Ireland's biggest sailing event on Dublin Bay is: 8-11 July 2021. More details here

Dun Laoghaire-Dingle Offshore Race

The biennial Dun Laoghaire to Dingle race is a 320-miles race down the East coast of Ireland, across the south coast and into Dingle harbour in County Kerry. The latest news on the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race can be found by clicking on the link here. The race is organised by the National Yacht Club.

The 2021 Race will start from the National Yacht Club on Wednesday 9th, June 2021.

Round Ireland Yacht Race

This is a Wicklow Sailing Club race but in 2013 the Garden County Club made an arrangement that sees see entries berthed at the RIYC in Dun Laoghaire Harbour for scrutineering prior to the biennial 704–mile race start off Wicklow harbour. Larger boats have been unable to berth in the confines of Wicklow harbour, a factor WSC believes has restricted the growth of the Round Ireland fleet. 'It means we can now encourage larger boats that have shown an interest in competing but we have been unable to cater for in Wicklow' harbour, WSC Commodore Peter Shearer told here. The race also holds a pre-ace launch party at the Royal Irish Yacht Club.

Laser Masters World Championship 2018

  • 301 boats from 25 nations

Laser Radial World Championship 2016

  • 436 competitors from 48 nations

ISAF Youth Worlds 2012

  • The Youth Olympics of Sailing run on behalf of World Sailing in 2012.
  • Two-week event attracting 61 nations, 255 boats, 450 volunteers.
  • Generated 9,000 bed nights and valued at €9 million to the local economy.

The Harbour Police are authorised by the company to police the harbour and to enforce and implement bye-laws within the harbour, and all regulations made by the company in relation to the harbour.

There are four ship/ferry berths in Dun Laoghaire:

  • No 1 berth (East Pier)
  • No 2 berth (east side of Carlisle Pier)
  • No 3 berth (west side of Carlisle Pier)
  • No 4 berth  (St, Michaels Wharf)

Berthing facilities for smaller craft exist in the town's 800-berth marina and on swinging moorings.

© Afloat 2020