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The National Maritime Museum of Ireland, at Dun Laoghaire Harbour, has opened a revamped exhibition on Wicklowman Captain Robert Halpin and his adventures and achievements at sea.

The exhibition has three strands: Captain Halpin himself and his recently restored naval uniform; the ship he commanded, the SS Great Eastern; and his achievement in laying the first successful trans-Atlantic telegraph cable. Most of the exhibits are part of the “Halpin Collection”, donated to the Museum by the Halpin family.

Maritime legend

Captain Robert Halpin is an Irish maritime legend. He was born in Wicklow town on 17th February 1836 and went to sea when he was 11 years old. After a varied career at sea, in June 1865 he was appointed chief officer of the Great Eastern, the world’s largest ship. She had been unsuccessful as a passenger ship but was altered to lay a telegraph cable across the Atlantic from Ireland to America. Halpin spent many years as a highly respected commander on the Great Eastern, and was also a popular host to the vast number of guests and spectators that the ship carried. When Halpin retired from the sea he bought Tinakilly House in Wicklow, became involved in politics, and finally died in January 1894. Having survived many years of peril on the high seas, he sadly died as a result of gangrene contracted while cutting his toenails.

Largest ship in the world

The Great Eastern was designed by the great Victorian engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and when she was launched in 1858 she was the largest ship in the world. She was designed to carry 4,000 passengers and could travel around the world without refuelling. She was powered by sails, paddle wheels, and a screw propeller, and had six masts named after the days of the week from Monday to Saturday. Eight years after she was launched, she was refitted as a cable-laying ship and, as the only ship afloat that could hold the necessary amount of cable, she laid the first successful telegraph cable across the Atlantic from Ireland to America. She ended life as a floating music hall and gym and one of her masts, “Thursday”, is now the flagpole at Liverpool Football Club.

Cable to North America

In 1866 the Great Eastern laid a telegraph cable from Valentia Island in Co Kerry to Hearts Content in Newfoundland, Canada. The first cable broke after 1660 miles (2670 km), just short of halfway across. Next year they tried again, this time successfully, when Halpin, as First Officer of the ship, really made his name by navigating the ship back to the first broken cable in 2000 feet (610 metres) of water, picking it up, splicing it and finishing the job.

Rare dress uniform and sword

Halin's Royal Navy Reserve Officers Dress UniformHalpin's Royal Navy Reserve Officers Dress Uniform

The Maritime Museum’s Halpin Collection includes his Royal Navy Reserve Officers Dress Uniform, including tailcoat, epaulettes, and dress sword. President Michael D. Higgins used Halpin’s sword to officially open the newly refurbished Museum in 2012.

The uniform was recently restored to the highest possible standard by an expert textile conservator and is now proudly displayed on a custom conservation/display mannequin. The restoration included cleaning, removal of creases and distortions, and polishing of metal elements. The Heritage Council and Dublin Port Company generously supported the restoration and new display cabinet.

Halpin's sword handleHalpin's sword handle

The Halpin Collection

The Museum’s Halpin Exhibition also includes the uniform, a model of the SS Great Eastern, paintings of Halpin and of the ship, various personal effects of Halpin (including even his teapot!), a short video about his life and career and a fun interactive quiz for all the family.

Open every day

The Maritime Museum is located in the old Mariners’ Church on Haigh Terrace, less than five minutes’ walk from Dun Laoghaire DART Station, and is open every day from 11 am to 5 pm. The Halpin Exhibition is a permanent exhibition included in the standard ticket price. The new exhibition will be officially launched by Eamonn O’Reilly, CEO of Dublin Port Company, on 21st April 2022, but is fully open for visitors now.

The first cruiseship in Irish waters since Covid19 restrictions were put in place more than two years ago but removed earlier this month, has led Viking Venus to visit Dun Laoghaire Harbour with an anchorage call this morning, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Afloat last night tracked Viking Venus in the Celtic Sea having departed from Dover. The Kent port forming a destination as part of a 14-day cruise that started from London (Tilbury) and terminates next month in Bergen, Norway. The cruise will include calling to Holyhead, other UK ports and the Shetland Islands. 

At around 0630hrs a pilot boarded the 47,842 gross tonnage cruiseship in a foggy Dublin Bay so to enable an anchorage position to take place off Dun Laoghaire Harbour. The port operator, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council (DLRCC) expects more of these anchorage 'tender' calls in the region of 60 to be made this season.

Cruisegoers have been taken ashore by tenders and welcomed alongside Carlisle Pier. At the quayside, marquees are in place along with coach excursion providers awaiting those from the 930-passenger cruise ship. This follows the removal of strict Covid19 travel protocal restrictions from those travelling to Ireland which the Department of Health revoked on 6 March. 

Cruise goers are taken ashore by tenders and welcomed alongside the Carlisle Pier with awaiting coaches Cruise goers are taken ashore by tenders and welcomed alongside the Carlisle Pier with awaiting coaches Photo: Afloat

The decision also applied to ferry passengers, has led to the reopening of the cruise sector that overall is worth €70m to the Irish economy. The development follows high levels of vaccination take up in Ireland, coupled with predictions of a strong recovery in the tourism sector this summer.

The season's inaugural call to Dun Laoghaire Harbour of the cruiseship, is operated by Viking Cruises with an operational office based in Basel, Switzerland. The company marks their 25th anniversary this year having begun its origins from running river-cruises in Europe.

As for cruisegoers on board Viking Venus, it is understood the majority of guests are mostly American and having paid USD $6,999 based on double occupancy rates on the cruiseship which was only built in April of last year by Fincantieri’s shipyard in Ancona, Italy.

A private veranda comes with every stateroom, while as for dining is concerned there is a choice of restaurants offering a variety of culinary options. For fitness and leisurely pursuits, there's an infinity pool, a Nordic-inspired spa, a two-deck Explorers’ Lounge with panoramic views. Those liking to reading, there are thoughtfuly curated book collections spead throughout the cruiseship.

As alluded above tenders from the 221m long cruiseship have ferried cruisegoers ashore to Dun Laoghaire's Carlisle Pier where a pontoon is provided to facilitate passengers with easier access. It is at the same pier where much smaller sized such ships have used this berth to disembark passengers.

The next scheduled 'in port' caller Afloat identified to be the Greg Mortimer which DLRCC has confirmed and also to arrive in mid-May.  

On occasional calls over the years, they have included turn-around cruises. This has involved fly-cruises using Dublin with tourists transferred to and from Dun Laoghaire, where one set of passengers disembark to be followed on the same day with those embarking the cruiseship's gangway.

Published in Cruise Liners

While thirty-five boats had entered the extra Bank Holiday DMYC “Snakes Alive mini dinghy regatta, a slightly smaller number actually appeared on the water in Dun Laoghaire Harbour. Of the twenty-five boats that did race, full marks go to the ILCA 4s who had a 100% attendance of the four boats entered – well done to Zoe Hall, Ava Ennis, Dylan de Vreeze and Lucy Nicol who not only appeared but contested all three races.

Next best were the ILCA 7s who had a full suite of three boats, with three finishers in the first race, two in the second and none in the last race as the remaining ILCA 7 offered to start with the PY Fleet – thanks Brian!

The ILCA 6s had fourteen boats entered and eight sailed the first race and seven the remaining two. The PYs also promised fourteen boats with eight answering the starter’s call.

However, how many boats appeared was academic because there was a very favourable reaction from all those who did make it to the water.

Brain Carroll, 218961 leads Marco Sorgassi 211811 on a downwind legBrian Carroll, 218961 leads Marco Sorgassi 211811 on a downwind leg in the ILCA 6 division

With the wind steady from 150° all afternoon, the course needed no adjustment in terms of the location of the weather mark, utilising the maximum dimension of the harbour it was situated east of the bandstand, with the committee boat in the elbow of the western breakwater and the West Pier. For the first two triangular courses, the gybe mark was set inside the end of the East Pier.

The last race was a shorter two-lap windward-leeward which meant that the gybe mark became the second half of the leeward gate.

Frank Miller & Neil Cramer, Fireball 14713 (later in the afternoon)Frank Miller & Neil Cramer, Fireball 14713 (later in the afternoon)

The wind was at its strongest at the start of the afternoon, with the base wind fluctuating around the 15- 17 knots but during the first race 21 knots was recorded on a handheld device. That afforded the fleet a brisk tour of the harbour and Frank Miller & Neil Cramer (FB 14713) availed of the conditions to romp home by a very comfortable margin in Race 1. However, on corrected time, they lost out to the GP14 of Ciara Mulvey & Peter Murphy. Young Conrad Vandlik in the ILCA 7 continued where he has been for a large part of the season, in pole position.

The ILCA 4s were superb with tight racing all afternoon between Zoe Hall and Ava Ennis, but in the breeziest conditions, their willingness and competitiveness to get around the course was fantastic. These two young ladies are petite, but neither gave way to the conditions. Zoe took the first race, but Ava took the second.

Brendan Foley, Aero 7 1321 – downwind concentrationBrendan Foley, Aero 7 1321 – downwind concentration

In the ILCA 6s, only three boats finished the first race with Marco Sorgassi taking the honours, but their numbers went up for races two and three.

As the afternoon wore on the wind eased and the last race of the day was sailed in 8 – 10 knots. While the ILCAs had “enjoyed” a prolonged training session on the water before racing began, they also seemed to enjoy having three races. There were many others who had a smile on their face at the conclusion of the afternoon.

Snakes’ Alive “Regatta” Friday, March 18th – hosted by Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club

Snakes’ Alive “Regatta” resultsSnakes’ Alive “Regatta”. results

The regular Frostbites return tomorrow (Sunday) for the penultimate round of racing. The forecast now (16:30, Saturday) is for 13 – 17 knots of South-Easterly with sunshine and a temperature of 9°. See you on the water!

Published in DMYC

Calling all dinghy, stand up paddle (SUP), kayak, rowing and small powerboat owners to a ‘Splash For Ukraine’ in Dun Laoghaire Harbour this Saturday 12th March at 1 pm in aid of the Ukrainian humanitarian crisis. Meet on the water at 1 pm by the bandstand on the east pier and sail/motor/paddle counter-clockwise around the harbour. Dinghies and powerboats are invited to do two laps, while SUPs, kayaks and rowing boats can do one.

We would ask that attendees donate what they can to the Irish Red Cross Ukrainian Crisis Appeal via this link https://donate.redcross.ie/ or via Revolut. We would also ask that everyone wear yellow and blue and if they have one, fly the Ukrainian flag from their craft or person.

Dun Laoghaire harbour waterfront club members should launch from their respective clubs and all other attendees are invited to launch from the public slipways by the east pier and coal harbour. We would ask that all attendees navigate at a safe speed (limit of 8 knots/15 kph) and observe all fairways.

All Notice to Mariners can be found on the Dun Laoghaire Harbour website - www.dlharbour.ie/harbour-information/notice-to-mariners/.

Organiser and local Laser dinghy sailor, Gavan Murphy, say’s ‘Like most, I’m appalled and horrified at the invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces and the humanitarian crisis unfolding as Ukrainian people are being driven from their homes. I would invite all dinghy, SUP, kayak, rowing and small powerboat owners to attend this solidarity fundraising event in order to assist the Irish Red Cross with their efforts in supplying vital humanitarian aid to the Ukrainian people’

Follow on Instagram for updates #splashforukraine or contact Gavan Murphy on 087 2374591.

In strong and gusty winds, Dun Laoghaire Harbour RNLI Lifeboat was called out to a dismasted yacht on Dublin Bay this morning. 

The lifeboat launched at 10.10 am to go to the assistance of a crew of five on a First 310 type yacht dismasted three-quarters of a mile east of Bulloch harbour.

While the sea state was moderate westerly winds were gusting to over 40 knots, according to RNLI coxswain Mark McGibney.

The yacht's mast had broken in the strong winds, and the rig was lying over the side of the yacht's hull. 

"the spinnaker, main boom and assorted sheets were still in the water"

The crew had managed to get half off of the mast back on board the vessel, but the spinnaker, main boom and assorted sheets were still in the water and under the boat, which meant the crew could not risk using their engine for fear of propellor entanglement.

The lifeboat towed them back to Dun Laoghaire marina. No injuries were reported.

Due to the strong winds, Dublin Bay Sailing Club had earlier cancelled its first race of 2022 at the AIB sponsored Spring Chicken Series.

As part of a master plan to improve connections between Dun Laoghaire town centre and its harbour, the wall that long blocked the view of the sea from Marine Road has been demolished. 

Removal of the sea wall at St. Michael’s plaza (previously Victoria Wharf) to the right of the Royal St. George Yacht Club has opened up a bright new vista for the town.

It is one of several efforts by Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County council to improve the physical connection between the town centre and its waterfront.

Removal of the sea wall at St. Michael’s plazaAbove a couple peering over the wall for a sea view and (below) two views of the works this month that reveal a new glimpse of harbour waters visible from the town's Marine Road

Removal of the sea wall at St. Michael’s plaza

Removal of the sea wall at St. Michael’s plaza

The wall will be replaced with specially strengthened glass. 

The council is engaged in a number of remedies to improve 'vitality and range of uses along waterfront' including a new public national watersport campus to provide access to the sea at all stages of the tide as well as shore-based public marine leisure facilities across the harbour.

Tagged under

A Fine Gael Senator has raised the importance of funding for heritage harbours as part of the plan to support and rejuvenate coastal communities and infrastructure.

Speaking in the Seanad, Dún Laoghaire-based Senator Barry Ward welcomed the Government’s announcement of €35 million for local authority-owned piers and harbours, as part of the Brexit Infrastructure Fund.

However, he said that this must not be to the exclusion of heritage harbours and piers that may be less commercially viable.

“Many heritage harbours around the country are in dire need of investment to secure their futures and useability. This new €35 million fund, while very welcome, must not operate to the exclusion of heritage harbours, which play their own role in trade and as public amenities of historical importance. I hope that the Minister’s statement that this funding is an ‘unprecedented opportunity for us to invest in our publicly-owned piers and harbours’ includes all such piers and harbours. 

"This is particularly true of ancient harbours like Bullock and Coliemore, whose role in early trade in this island is unparalleled, and which are now in significant stars of disrepair.

"Many heritage harbours around the country are in dire need of investment to secure their futures and useability"

Dun Laoghaire Harbour equally occupied a unique position in Irish history, both as a departure point for Irish emigrants and an arrival point for British monarchs and troops. Dún Laoghaire is a substantial Victorian engineering achievement that now badly needs repair and attention.

“Heritage harbours and piers may not be commercially viable, but they play a vital role in local communities as historical amenities and landmarks. I welcome the fact that the Minister’s task force noted the decline of many of these coastal structures, both in terms of their structural integrity and effective use, and I hope that local authorities will use this opportunity to apply for money to rejuvenate publicly-owned maritime heritage infrastructure throughout the country.”

The actor Niamh Cusack temporarily enlisted with the Naval Service to give a professional reading of a significant poem on board the L.É.James Joyce while alongside Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

Her nuanced, balanced and knowing delivery of the work, recorded by the Defence Forces Audio Visual Section, can be viewed below.

For this phase of the Naval Service’s 75th Anniversary year, a poem submitted by a serving member of the Navy was selected by Naval Headquarters to mark the occasion.

The poem is entitled ‘Statio Bene Fida Carinis’ (Latin for ‘A Place Most Suitable For Ships’). It envisages the Navy’s fleet circumnavigating Ireland from its Base in Cork Harbour, touching on Irish maritime historical and mythological events en route.

The poem makes the point that Ireland’s maritime tradition spans the centuries.

More from the Dublin Gazette here.

Published in Navy

The RNLI has awarded volunteer lifeboat crewmember Rory Bolton with a medal recognising his twenty years’ service to the charity at Dun Laoghaire Harbour. Over the course of two decades, Rory has been a volunteer crew member on both the inshore and all-weather lifeboats based at Dun Laoghaire lifeboat station and been passed out as a mechanic for both lifeboats.

Rory was presented with his medal recently by Dun Laoghaire RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager Edward Totterdell and RNLI Area Lifesaving Manager Peter Harty. Joining the RNLI back in 2001, Rory came on board after a friend who was already on the lifeboat crew, invited him to come to the station and see if he’d like to join. Already an outboard engine mechanic, Rory had seen the lifeboat in the harbour but didn’t know how to join the lifeboat crew. He was welcomed with opened arms and started his lifeboat journey on the smaller inshore lifeboat before moving onto the All-Weather lifeboat as well. He became a Helm and then the Senior Helm on the inshore lifeboat and has since passed out as a mechanic on both lifeboats and is currently third mechanic on the All-Weather lifeboat. On the personal life front, Rory also met his wife, Dr. Sarah Brookes, through the lifeboat, as she volunteers as the station’s medical advisor.

Commenting on the honour Rory said, ‘Dun Laoghaire RNLI is an amazing team to be a part of and the last twenty years have flown. We all come from different backgrounds but when we are out on a callout, we work as a team and there is nothing like it. Being a volunteer with the RNLI has been a huge part of my life, I met my wife Sarah through it, and we now have two beautiful children, Alice (7) and James (3). Alice already wants to join the lifeboat when she’s old enough. It’s been a wonderful twenty years.’

Reflecting on his most memorable callout Rory remembers a New Year’s Day callout around eight years ago to a kitesurfer who had lost the kite and was left in the water. ‘Conditions on the day were very challenging and right on the edge of what the inshore lifeboat can launch in. We went to Sandymount and there was no way he was able to get in to the shore by himself. With waves breaking over the lifeboat and the casualty struggling in the water, we pulled him to safety in the most difficult conditions. I’ll never forget it.’

Dun Laoghaire RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager Edward Totterdell added his congratulations to Rory, ‘This recognition, by the RNLI, of twenty years of dedicated service and volunteering by Rory, is one he thoroughly deserves. Those two decades have seen countless rescues and launches and he has helped so many people, along with his colleagues on the crew. Our grateful thanks to Rory for all his tireless work and for his continued service to the lifeboat crew and hopefully we will have a few more years yet.’

RNLI Area Lifesaving Manager Peter Harty presented Rory with his medal on behalf of the RNLI. Peter said, ‘It’s an honour to work with a group of incredible men and women who give so much to their community. In being part of a lifeboat crew, they carry a pager day and night, ready to launch at a moment’s notice when people get into trouble on the water. Twenty years’ service is an incredible record. My thanks to Rory and also to his family, who support him and help our lifeboat crews saves lives at sea.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

The Dun Laoghaire Coast Guard team was tasked to assist National Ambulance Service (NAS) with a casualty on a yacht at Dun Laoghaire Harbour on St Stephen's Day.

The RNLI Dun Laoghaire Lifeboat and Dublin Fire Brigade also attended. The casualty was treated on scene by the inshore lifeboat crew and staff at the town marina until paramedics arrived.

The casualty was then stretchered to an awaiting ambulance.

While packing up after the incident, a member of the public alerted the Coast Guard to someone who had fallen on the road near the marina. An ambulance was already called for by other members of the public but the Coast Guard team provided initial first aid treatment and care until they arrived. 

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