Displaying items by tag: tourism
The diving bell was first used in construction of the capital's deep-water quays in 1871, allowing for water to be pumped out and air to be pumped in for workers to make the river bed level, acting like a mobile caisson.
It was last used in the building of quayside walls as recently as 1958, and following a campaign to save it from the scrapheap in the 1980s it was moved to its present location on Sir John Rogerson's Quay.
Now it will form the basis of a new interpretive centre to be readied this June, where visitors will be able to access the 90-tonne device from beneath and learn more about its fascinating history.
The Irish Independent has more on the story HERE.
More from Dublin Port Company:
Have you ever passed by the odd looking, bell-shaped, red metal structure standing tall on Sir John Rogerson's Quay and wondered what it is? You could be forgiven for thinking it is a modern art sculpture or misplaced mound of metal. It is in fact an ingenious feat of Irish engineering that was essential in building Dublin's quay walls for 87 years. This is Dublin Port's "Diving Bell".
Dublin Port Company today announced a new project that will shed light on this important artefact and will transform the Diving Bell into a new interpretive exhibition that explains its origin and history.
The Diving Bell was designed by the port engineer Bindon Blood Stoney (1828 to 1907) and built by Grendon and Co., Drogheda. It was delivered to the Port in 1866, entered service in 1871 and was used in the building of the Port's quay walls until 1958. Stoney was a prodigious engineer and among his achievements were the building of the Boyne Viaduct in Drogheda, the construction of O'Connell Bridge and the building of many of the Port's quay walls including Sir John Rogerson's Quay and North Wall Quay Extension.
The Diving Bell was used in the building of the Port's quay walls from the Victorian era right up until almost the 1960s. It was a ground-breaking piece of engineering innovation in its day.
Its lower section was hollow and bottomless, providing just enough room for six men to work at a time. Once lowered into position on the riverbed, the crew entered through an access funnel from the surface and compressed air was fed in from an adjacent barge. The men inside the bell worked on the river bed exposed at their feet, excavating the site where a massive concrete block would later go; all the excavated soil was stashed in trays hanging inside the bell, and brought up when the bell was lifted.
The project, which commences this week and opens in mid-June 2015, will elevate the 13m tall, 90 tonne Diving Bell onto a two metre steel structure, creating a ramped public access route underneath. A water feature will also be installed beneath the structure accompanied by a series of interpretative panels explaining the historical, social and engineering significance of the Diving Bell. The new exhibition will be illuminated at night time using energy efficient LED lighting.
The project has been designed with the expertise of a range of people including the architect Sean O'Laoire, the sculptor Vivienne Roche, Tom Cosgrave (professor of engineering at the University of Limerick) and Mary Mulvihill of Ingenious Ireland.
This is the first project in Dublin Port's plan to create a 'distributed museum' of attractions across the Dublin docklands and into Dublin Port to preserve the port's industrial heritage and history.
Weslin Construction Ltd. has been appointed to carry out the project, which will be completed by mid-June 2015, when the newly reconfigured Diving Bell will open again to the city.
Pictured at the announcement are: Eamonn O'Reilly, Chief Executive, Dublin Port Company, Sean O'Laoire, Director of MOLA Architecture, Dolores Wilson, St. Andrews Resource Centre and Betty Ashe, St. Andrews Resource Centre
Eamonn O'Reilly, Chief Executive, Dublin Port Company said: "The Diving Bell is a remarkable feat of Irish engineering and Dublin Port Company is proud to invest in its transformation and bring the history of this magnificent structure to life along the Liffey. True to the commitment in our Masterplan, we are working to better integrate Dublin Port and the city. Developing the Diving Bell is the first step in our plan to create a distributed museum of port and industrial heritage attractions across the Dublin docklands and into the port. We are confident that the Diving Bell will give Dubliners and visitors to the city a true sense of Dublin as a port city with a wealth of industrial heritage to discover."
Betty Ashe of St. Andrew's Resource Centre, Pearse Street, said: "I am delighted that the next phase of the Diving Bell Project is now underway, having been involved in a Millennium project with St. Andrew's Resource Centre, the DDDA and Dublin Port Company to save and restore this fascinating artefact from the Victorian era. As a port community, we have a duty to preserve local history for future generations. I thank Dublin Port Company for sharing that vision and giving the Diving Bell a prominent place in the history books for this community and our city."
#Coastal - Ireland's coastal islands offer some astounding vistas, as this breathtaking video from the Smithsonian Channel shows perfectly.
The clip from the American TV channel's Sky View series sweeps high above the Aran Islands to highlight the rugged beauty of the west coast, from the skeletal shipwrecks to the rocky shores to the veins of stone walls across the green landscape.
It's easy to see why the Wild Atlantic Way is such a draw for tourists, but let's not ignore the bounty of the east coast either, as the Irish Independent highlights the New York Times' celebration of Dublin Bay's world-class views for "little more than the cost of a pint".
Cited as "one of the most beautiful views in the world" in that tribute is the vista as seen from Howth Head, from where one has a perfect 'eye-catching' view of the enthralling Ireland's Eye.
The tiny island, with its prominent Martello tower, is less than a mile from the North Dublin fishing village, and doesn't even seem that far from the end of the pier.
But as Conor Pope reports in The Irish Times, it "may as well be on a different planet", describing a place full of mystery, history – and even murder.
Meanwhile, off the southwest coast there's another tiny rock with its own storied past that's about to take on a whole new relevance to fans of the Star Wars saga.
The island is already a popular spot for visitors, but could soon welcome many more – with lightsabers in tow!
Kitesurfing and kayaking on the coast are go-to pursuits at all times of year, but some activities that may be less familiar include coasteering – a combination of rock climbing and scrambling across the more rugged parts of the coastline.
Thrills can also be had by the less athletically inclined by float tubing – essentially swimming with a giant inflatable ring – and 'ride and tide', a mix of horse riding on sand and through surf and kayaking to an offshore island.
The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.
#WildAtlanticWay - The Wild Atlantic Way was recognised as ‘Best Tourist Attraction’ at the third InBusiness Editors' Choice Awards at a ceremony in Dublin's Hibernian Club.
Fáilte Ireland says it invested €10 million during 2014 in what's Ireland’s first long-distance touring route, stretching from the Inishowen Peninsula in Donegal to Kinsale in Co Cork.
And the news comes in the same week as the Loop Head Peninsula, a key attraction on the route, was named as one of the world's top 100 sustainable travel destinations.
"The enthusiasm out there for this project is impressive and not only amongst tourism businesses but also in the wider community," said Fiona Monaghan, head of the Wild Atlantic Way project for Fáilte Ireland. "The key to success for this initiative is its authenticity – not just the places but also the people of the Wild Atlantic Way.
“With its capacity to drive extra visitor footfall, mobilise communities and showcase the best of the West Coast of Ireland, the Wild Atlantic Way is set to be one of the most significant developments in modern Irish tourism and to be a significant engine of regeneration for rural Ireland," she added.
"I have no doubt that there is at least a decade of growth in the Wild Atlantic Way and is already luring visitors to Ireland as they seek to explore the longest defined coastal route in the world.”
Irish companies and individuals were recognised at the InBusiness Editor’s Choice Awards, which honour outstanding achievement in the Irish business community. Winners were selected based on the broad criteria of growth, profile of business, range of services and customer care.
The breathtaking Clare coastal spot is featured with the likes of the UK's Lake District and New Forest, Easter Island in the Pacific and the Wild Coast in South Africa's Eastern Cape in the first Sustainable Destinations Global Top 100 travel guide.
The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.
That's the message from Docklands Business Forum chair Ciaran Flanagan, who claims that developing Grand Canal Basin and the bank of the Liffey opposite as a "world class luxury yachting destination" could bring "about €36 million into the local economy".
The story appears only weeks after Afloat's WMN Nixon asked the question in his weekly blog on Afloat.ie: Who Runs Dublin Bay, The Capital's Waterborne Playground?
Flanagan's comments come ahead of the Docklands Business Awards this Thursday 27 November, which he says "are a key platform to highlight the activity and invocation taking place in the Docklands area but also an important forum to underline the potential the area still holds."
Meanwhile, nearby Dun Laoghaire marina on the south shore of Dublin Bay has tweeted an image of its recent superyacht style visitors. In 2014 it has had a series of high profile visiting superyachts including Superyacht Christoper in June and Arcadia in September.
The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.
The new paddling trail will run between Skibbereen and Baltimore along the River Ilen and will have the full funding support of Cork County Council for works that include the upgrade of Deelish Pier in Skibbereen.
“Market research shows that people are really interested in activity-based holidays. This will be a great boost to Skibbereen and Roaringwater Bay,” said Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan at a meeting of the West Cork Municipal District in Clonakilty last month.
The Irish Examiner has more on the story HERE.
If so, Tipperary County Council, in association with the Lough Derg Anglers Association, invites you to attend a workshop at the Abbey Court Hotel in Nenagh on 26 November at 8pm.
The workshop will address integrated development and, as part of the Lough Derg Roadmap, examine how to enhance angling tourism and Lough Derg as a key destination for angling.
It's hoped the workshop will provide an important opportunity for information gathering, exchange of views and development of proposals for the future. The key focus will be on stakeholder engagement with the integrated management of angling tourism and the environment.
Places are limited so get involved now to avoid disappointment – details are available to read or download HERE.
#marinetourism – Ireland's south coast provides an almost infinite variety of harbours, natural havens, and extensive areas of interesting sailing water. These cater for boat enthusiasts of all kinds, with craft of every type. So how does the welcome for visitors shape up? W M Nixon contrasts the different hospitality styles of four attractive ports.
The word on the grapevine that the Ballydehob Old Boat festival had taken place arrived with an intriguing photo from Anthony O'Leary. It had been noted in the interview with him immediately after he had led the team in Ireland's Commodore Cup Victory, that while he was trying to unwind for a while, it's not really in the O'Leary makeup to relax, and soon his mind was busy with new ideas of nautical interest.
Nevertheless he was cruising gently in early August down towards West Cork in the family's handsome big Nelson powercruiser Irish Mist, a fast and able vessel which his father Archie and mates like Mick Ahern once took right round Ireland in a settled springtime spell of weather, just to be in Dublin to watch Cork Con play rugby in some major championship at Lansdowne Road.
As it turned out, this year Irish Mist was getting down west ultimately to be in Baltimore for the 1720 Nationals in late August, which O'Leary duly won. But from time to time, he flashed back some photos of interesting boats met along the way, and one which really rang the bell was a little Ette Class clinker-built gunter-rigged sloop sailing in Castlehaven.
The Ette class originated way way back, when two keen dinghy cruising types sailed their little dinghy into Castlehaven, and the Castletownshend locals in the South Cork Sailing Club were so taken by the boat that they commissioned the waterfront boatbuilders, the O'Mahony brothers, to build some sister ships as the basis of a class.
All the new boats' names ended in "ette". And the class survived for many years, though at times the Ettes were hanging on by a thread. But recently it has had a fresh lease of life with new examples of what is now a classic dinghy being built by Lui Ferreira of Ballydehob, who last came through this parish when, in 2012, he put the first teak deck on a vintage Howth 17, the syndicate-owned Deilginis.
Perfection of summer – an Ette class in her home waters of Castlehaven. Photo: Anthony O'Leary
Rui Ferreira, builder in Ballydehob of the Ette Class, also put this teak deck on the 107-year-old Howth 17 Deilginis in 2012. Photo: W M Nixon
A Howth 17 looks well no matter how you photo her. But an Ette is a quirky little thing which can sometimes look odd from the wrong angle. Yet in a flash of inspiration, the Captain of the Commodore's Cup team took up his iPhone as an Ette came bustling down Castlehaven on fine sunny morning, and we got what I reckon to be one of the best photos of an Ette under way ever obtained – plus it gets the very essence of summer in Castlehaven.
The next O'Leary snap some days later was just briefly titled: "The Ballydehob Old Boat Festival, Irish Mist in archway second left". What was going on here? We'd heard vague stories about a very relaxed assembling of boat at high water at the drying quay at Ballydehob, but the O'Leary photo hinted at serious numbers and a high level of organization.
The teaser photo – first intimations of this year's Ballydehob Gathering of the Boats, with the O'Leary family's motor-cruiser Irish Mist (framed in the second arch from left) joining an eclectic group of 74 boats for a couple of hours at top of the tide. Photo; Anthony O'Leary
This is most people's image of Ballydehob, crowded and very rural, with Mount Gabriel beyond. Only the more observant will notice the tidal river in the foreground. Photo: W M Nixon
To begin with, most casual visitors would scarcely think of Ballydehob as a seaport at all. Rather, it's the very essence of rural West Cork, a crowded little village where "laid-back" is the default mode, and it has been so for some time. It reached something of an apotheosis when Annie Barry (she's one of the Fergusons of Gubbeen Cheese) was running her wonderful Annie's restaurant on one side of the winding main street, and the Levis sisters Julia and Nell, feisty little ladies of mature years, were running Levis's pub across the way.
Julia and Nan were splendid folk of considerable standing, and it's said the pair of them were once squired to the West Cork Hunt Ball in Skibbereen by Jeremy Irons of Kilcoe Castle a few miles along the coast. As for the setup in Ballydehob, space was so limited in the restaurant that, having checked out your booking, you simply took up station in leisurely style across the street in the pub with Annie's menus and an aperitif or two, then Annie would come across the road and discuss your order, and a delightful evening would continue late into the night.
Alas, for some year now Annie's has been closed, though everyone lives in hope of somebody re-opening it. And in the pub, the old ladies have passed on. But now it's run by a great-nephew, and very successfully too. We got ourselves in there late on a velvet July evening this year to find the place was heaving with youth and beauty and high fashion in casual style - achingly trendy it has become.
It could have been a traditional local in any of the world's fashionable holiday areas except for one thing. A ball of fur, a terrier of some kind, emerged from among people's legs and barked its head off at me. I assumed it was because I carried a whiff of our own little Jack Russell. But the blushing girl owner told me with a big smile that her little dog must have thought I was a priest. Only along Ireland's south coast, near some former or still surviving Protestant enclave, would you have heard that particular excuse.
The old dock at Ballydehob is well able to receive a very varied fleet, seen here from the old railway viaduct Photo: Miriam Jones
Just along the river from these scenes of hospitality and minor mayhem, immediately below the mighty railway viaduct which seems to be so disproportionate for the long-gone needs of the little West Cork Railway, there's Ballydehob Harbour. Time was when it was key to the place's economy, and it was in the late 1930s, only a year or so before World War II, that the Brooklands, the last surviving sail-only coasting schooner to deliver cargoes to West Cork, made her way up the winding estuary at the head of Roaringwater Bay (it's named for the Roaringwater River, much of the bay behind Carbery's Hundred Isles is well sheltered), to anchor just off the quay, as she was too deep to berth alongside.
The Brooklands was owned and skippered by Tom Creenan of Ballinacurra in the inner northeast reaches of Cork Harbour, but it was from Birkenhead or Goole on the Mersey that she'd bring her welcome cargoes of coal, a challenging passage at the best of times. At Ballydehob, while smaller cargo-carriers could get alongside the old quay, the Brooklands discharged her cargo into the multi-functional barge-type vessel known the Sandboat.
She was used by her owners, the Levis family, for just about everything, but primarily for going out among the islands towards high water, running up on a clean beach, then laboriously shovelling sand into the hold until the tide returned and the Sandboat could be floated off and piloted back to the quay where her eventually very useful cargo would be shovelled ashore to become builders' supplies.
The Sandboat was Queen of the Fleet at Ballydehob, and she played such a central role in the Levis family's life that Old Boat Festival organiser Cormac Levis's brother calls his pub in Ballydehob the Sandboat.
As for how Cormac himelf first got the notion for the Ballydehob Gathering of the Boats, he has been a tower of strength in the Traditional Boat movement, particularly in West Cork but also throughout Ireland, for many years. And with others following his example in restoring or even building new sailing lobster boats to traditional design, he suggested that getting together at Ballydehob during the little town's time-honoured summer festival around August 15th might hit the spot. And for the first one in 2004 –making this year's the tenth anniversary - they assembled nine boats, which was considered pretty good going.
Close-up on Cormac Levis's lobster boat, which led the way for the first gathering of traditional craft at Ballydehob in 2004. Photo: Brian Marten
From it, they learnt that, for the future, while the aspiration would of course be for quiet and easy-going organization under a light hand, underneath it all there'd have to be efficiency, always with an eye on the clock. Although the tidal window is more than two hours for most boats, they've successfully accommodated modern yachts up to two metres draft without anyone being left behind stuck on the mud. But with limited manoeuvring space in both the harbour area and the channel, once the witching hour of high water is upon the fleet, it's time to start thinking about an orderly departure after two solid hours and more of good crack, mighty barbecues, and much interest in an examination of other people's traditional and classic boats.
Even among the sister-ships of the lobster fleet, many individual variants in hull lines and rig are apparent. Photo: Brian Marten
Just to add to the variety and colour, the Ilen Trust from Limerick brought their much-travelled Shannon Gandelows (right) to Ballydehob. Their stylish pennants are a legacy of heir successful visit to Venice at the end of April this year. Photo: Gary MacMahon
So the crucial thing is to select the ideal Saturday nearest to August 15th with a good big tide in mid-afternoon. As the Boat Gathering is such a force in its own right, they can range quite extensively on either side of August 15th, and to date the earliest has been August 8th, while the latest was August 21st.
This year's was Saturday August 9th, and while there may have been rain later in the day despite West Cork having much more sunshine in August than almost any other part of the country, no-body now remembers the rain as they recall the sheer fun and sense of community of what has been described by Tiernan Roe, another of the quality boat-builders of Ballydehob, as the "shortest bestest Boat Festival in the World".
Yet another creation of the active Ballydehob boat-building scene. This is an attractive little Cape Henry 21 cutter lunched in June by Tiernan Roe of Roe Boats. Photo: Tiernan Roe
For this year, it attracted 75 boats, though admittedly last year's record entry of 50 boats was greatly enhanced by this year's decision by the Drascome Lugger Association to combine Ballydehob in their 2014 cruise-in-company in West Cork, thereby adding 27 boats at a stroke.
But even with 27 boats of one class, the variety across the fleet as a whole was remarkable. So how do they assemble such a disparate fleet of boats with obviously highly-individual skippers, in such a quietly efficient way? For you'll never see or hear the Ballydehob Gathering of the Boats being publicly advertised all that much beforehand.
The method is perfectly simple. Everyone with an interest will know it is likely to be coming up on the agenda. So a month and more beforehand, Cormac will text them with the final date on a need-to-know basis. It works, and it sets the tone of quiet consideration for others and their boats in a very special festival in which some quiet sponsorship by CH Marine and West Cork-based German traditional boat fan Thomas Drewes sees that all participants get mementoes including cherished T-shirts (definitely not for general release), while barbecue facilities keep the good humour buzzing until everyone departs in style for their anchorage for the night, for although most boats hope to be berthed in Ballydehob on the big day more two hours hours before high water, once the ebb has started the channel has become much less forgiving about any pilotage errors.
They're all here, as neatly berthed as you could please, but getting them away as the ebb starts requires good seamanship and boat-handling skills. Photo: Miriam Jones
Ballydehob's central position in a hugely varied and welcoming crusing coast is emphasized by the number of other harbour chartlets indicated in this plan of the prime cruising area of West Cork. Plan Courtesy Irish Cruising Club
It's good to see a locally-focussed event like this now coming of age with a very healthy turnout. Eastward along the south coast, last weekend saw another event which will surely grow in stature and numbers, the second staging of Y2V Cruise-in-Company on the River Blackwater up the estuary from East Cork to West Waterford, as a flotilla of ten boats - eight GP14s, a Mermaid and a Feva – sailed up-river from Youghal to Villierstown.
It has been promoted by Youghal schoolboy GP 14 skipper Adrian Lee, and last year the inaugural tiny flotilla managed most of the sailable river by going to the bridge at Cappoquin before returning downriver to Villierstown. This year it achieved deserved support from the GP 14 class, with the furthest road-trailed from sea level being incoming Irish GP 14 Association President Stephen Boyle from Sutton DC, while the furthest-travelled in terms of elevation above sea level were the Blessington group, who came down from the Wicklow Hills with their Geeps and included Richard Street and kids (see again this blog on 26th July), and a brand new Duffin boat belonging to Simon Culley and Libby Tierney.
As for seniority, the classic of the class was a 60-year-old beautifully-restored Bell Woodworking GP 14 owned and skippered by 16-year-old Jack Nolan, another of that group of Youghal youngsters who are taking local dinghy sailing forward with gusto, while further variety was provided by Norman Lee of Greystones, his crew including the inevitable family pooches which are such a part of the GP 14 scene.
The sailing was mixed – as Norman said, in a river the wind will always be ahead some time, and though we think of the secret Blackwater Estuary as being fairly straight, in fact there are some quite significant curves. It took about four-and-a-half hours to sail up, and a brisker four hours to return on Sunday morning's ebb.
The secret waterway – the Blackwater Estuary from Youghal up to Cappoquin and almost to Lismore is one of Ireland's least-sailed rivers
Villierstown's new clubhouse, open only three weeks, was ready and willing to make welcome the crews who had sailed up from Youghal. Photo: Norman Lee
The new facility, Villierstown's "floating pier"
(right), was originally the in-harbour pontoon at Dungarvan SC. Photo: Norman Lee
At Villierstown, the new clubhouse of the Villierstown Boating & Activites Cub had been open only three short weeks, but they've made good use of a sports council grant, and it well fulfills a multi-purpose role, including providing the hospitality needed by sailing campers, with Paul Virtue and his wife Caroline organising a fine feast in the clubhouse on the Saturday night, and an enormous breakfast on Sunday to send them on their way downriver to round out an event which has future annual success written all over it.
One of the reasons it all went so well was that the slightly cogglesome little plastic floating jetty, along which the sailors of Villierstown used to access their small boats, has been replaced by a proper pontoon which the club acquired when Dungarvan SC eastward along the coast up-graded their in-harbour pontoon. In fact, Dungarvan support for the development of Blackwater sailing didn't stop there, as one of the fleet in the Y2V was a vintage Dungarvan-based Mermaid in which owner Eugene Burke has cruised the entire south coast between Ballycotton and Kilmore Quay.
The boat is Akita, Mermaid No. 85, and she has certainly been around, as she was built in the Barkyard in Skerries in 1953 by Joe and Matt Boylan. The Barkyard was originally the place where the Skerries-based coasting schooners and fishing boats had their sails preserved against rot by tanning with bark, but in the 1950s the now redundant premises were used to build some of the eventually enormous fleet of Skerries Mermaids through a boat-building class run by the colourful Jem Kearney.
The Fingal region around Skerries and Rush continues to be the great heartland of the Mermaids, with some very racy boats built in the old mill at Rogerstown recently, but despite the modern challenge, this year's Mermaid Week at Rush saw the champion emerge in the form of Jonathan O'Rourke of the National YC with his vintage boat, one of the few Mermaid sailors still in Dun Laoghaire.
The welcoming port. Despite its tidal limitations, Dungarvan lays on the welcome in a big way. This shows a visiting fleet at the original pontoon, which has now been moved to Villierstown. Photo Kevin Dwyer, courtesy Irish Cruising Club
Dungarvan SC's new in-harbour pontoon has much improved the alongside berthing space, but unfortunately the local Council wouldn't permit dredging to improve access.......Photo: Donal Walsh
....and thus the reality for most boats in the Inner Harbour is a drying berth.......... Photo: W M Nixon
....but if you've access to local knowledge, there is a deep pool just below the bridge........Photo: Donal Walsh
.....and here the Northwest Passage transiting 44ft steel gaff yawl Young Larry is visiting in comfort and style. Photo: Donal Walsh
Meanwhile in Dungarvan the club's hopes of doing a bit of dredging to improve access to their extended in-harbour pontoon was stymied when the council said they wouldn't permit any salt-contaminated sludge being brought up onto the quay. But despite its tidl limitations, it's a hugely hospitable place, and if you do take the ground at the pontoon, it's mostly soft and forgiving mud which enables you to sit in relative comfort. Certainly some very substantial cruising boat have overnighted here to enjoy the fine pubs both on the waterfront waterfront and in the town, while culinary standards are set by Paul Flynn's famous restaurant The Tannery just round the corner.
Nevertheless if you absolutely won't let your boat dry out, leading Dungarvan cruising man Donal Walsh (he has just returned from an epic round Ireland and Britain clockwise cruise with his Moody 31 Lady Kate) well knows the deep pool across the harbour close under the bridge, and he saw to it that his brother-in-law Andrew Wilkes and sister Maire Breathnaith found a secure berth there for their hefty 44ft steel-built gaff yawl Young Larry, a boat in which they transited the Northwest Passage, but she looks well at home in Dungarvan with its fine tradition of first class locally-based trading schooners.
In moving along the south coast, we find that when possible, they'll lay out the welcome mat big-time in Ballydehob, Youghal, Villierstown and Dungarvan, despite the fact that all four places are restricted in what they can do by the exigencies of tide.
Despite this potential, the under-development of its facilities, fuelled by a sometimes poisonous attitude between fishermen and other harbour users, has provided recreational visitors with often unpleasant memories. In trying to understand why this might be so, we have to understand how Dunmore East came to get its pretty little harbour. When it was built in the first half of the 19th Century, it was not – as is commonly supposed – built for the benefit of fishermen. The horrible fact is that fishermen came so far down the pecking order that they just had to make do for themselves as best they could.
The handsome new pier at Dunmore East, designed by Alexander Nimmo who is best known for developing Tobermory in Scotland and many places in Galway including Roundstone, was constructed exclusively for the use of the new fast sailing cross-channel packet boats serving the top people of Waterford in their trading and communication with Britain, while the unfortunate local fishermen were forced to keep their boats in the limited shelter of The Cove to the north of it, and haul them on the exposed beaches at The Strand and Councillors Strand.
Dunmore East's substantial pier was new-built originally to provide a port for cross-channel sailing Packet Boats, serving Waterford ten miles up the road. When this was its primary function, any local fishermen were banished to the poorly-sheltered coves to the north, with their boats being hauled up on the exposed beaches beyond. Plan courtesy Irish Cruising Club
Soon, however, steam driven packet boats were able to go conveniently all the way up to Waterford, and Dunmore East was redundant as a packet-boat harbour. But it was only with reluctance that fishing boat were allowed to start using it, as the Royal Navy would have been keeping an eye on its possibilities for their own occasional use.
Yet down the years, the idea has developed that Dunmore East was always primarily a fishing harbour, and to a lesser extent the same attitude prevailed at Howth on the east coast, where the new harbour functioned as the Packet Boat station for Dublin only between 1817 and 1826, when the developing new asylum harbour at Dun Laoghaire became the selected port for the Royal Mail's new paddle steamers serving the cross-channel route. Yet the silted harbour at Howth was only allowed to become a "fishing station" in the 1850s.
The legacy of all this, in Dunmore East at any rate, is that there still seems to be a suspicion among the fishing community that their tenure is only temporary, that the powers-that-be would move them out if they see a better use for the place. How else can we explain the negative and almost paranoid attitude of the fishing spokesmen every time a suggestion for a much-needed marina at Dunmore East is put forward?
With all this in mind, I made a quick visit to Dunmore East in mid-August while on other business in the southeast, in the hope of seeing if a much-trumpeted €4 million dredging scheme was now in progress in the harbour, and also to see how an equally celebrated new Visitors Pontoon along the East Pier was working out.
The photos speak for themselves. There wasn't any sign of a dredger, though doubtless that will turn up in due course. Yet as for the 40 metre pontoon, it's not a leisure-boat-friendly neat little piece of work at all, but is quite a massive and brutal steel box structure more suited to rugged fishing boats, who were showing their approval by using it so totally that the only leisure visitor was a German motor-cruiser which had managed to squeeze in at one end.
But as this pontoon is on the wrong side of the harbour for ease of access to the Sailing Club on the west side, and the welcoming facilities in the village above it, any pedestrian boat visitor – the vast majority of incoming leisure boaters, in other words – has a long trek through the sometimes crowded and malodourous delights of a fishing port before they can access any amenities. So not surprisingly the German boat had its inflatable tender moored outside it for quick and easy movement across the harbour, and along to the beaches if wished, a situation which inevitably precluded any other newly-arrived boat from rafting up alongside
So for any cruising boat coming in from sea, often with the challenge of Hook Head just recently put astern, it wasn't a welcoming setup. In fact, it was downright hostile. While we were there, an ordinary sailing cruiser with happy folk aboard came motoring from the eastward to round the end of the pier after stowing their sails, but their hopes of a convenient and enjoyable visit to Dunmore East were soon dashed. No welcoming RIB came out from the sailing club to direct them to a vacant mooring, as there probably wasn't one. And as for the pontoon, "unwelcoming" is inadequate. It clearly didn't want anything to do with them. You could see their spirits wilting as they headed out, faced with the long haul up to the marina in Waterford City. The current visitor berthing situation in Dunmore East is at the very least a sad business, so where does it go from here?
Dunmore East in mid-August. No sign of any dredging, and the "Visitors Pontoon" under the lighthouse on the East Pier is packed out with fishing boats.......Photo: W M Nixon
........and just one visiting German motor cruiser which was protected against any rafting up by its tender on the outer side. Photo: W M Nixon
The new pontoon is an industrial standard piece of kit......Photo: W M Nixon
....and understandably very popular with active fishing boats. Photo: W M Nixon
But for visiting sailing boats newly arrived in port.......Photo: W M Nixon
....it's soon clear that there isn't really a welcoming berth for them.....Photo: W M Nixon
....and they head out to sea again, visibly disappointed by their Dunmore East welcome. Photo: W M Nixon
Sweeney's top 10 list begins in Tramore, the "perennially popular weekend destination" in Co Waterford where visitors can split their time between the Blue Flag beach and the old-school amusements.
Near the capital, Brittas Bay in Co Wicklow to the south and Skerries and Balbriggan to the north make the grade for the quality of their beaches and proximity to other sites of interest – the former found slap bang in the middle of the Garden of Ireland, while the latter are a short distance from Ardgillan Castle and the restored Skerries Mills.
Independent.ie has much more on the story HERE.