Dun Laoghaire Harbour

Perhaps one of the finest man-made harbours to be found anywhere in the world, Dun Laoghaire Harbour symbolises an engineering achievement of spectacular proportions.

 

However, a little known fact is that by the time the port was considered complete in 1859, its original purpose - to act as an asylum harbour for sailing ships entering the port of Dublin - had been rendered pretty much redundant by the coming of steam and with it the substantially reduced risks faced by merchant ships attempting to enter Dublin in bad weather.

Kingstown Harbour August 1848

Kingstown Harbour August 1848

The departure of Queen Victoria and the Royal Squadron

Dun Laoghaire Harbour - 1978

Dun Laoghaire Harbour - 1978

Dun Laoghaire Harbour - 2008

Dun Laoghaire Harbour - 2008

Dun Laoghaire Harbour 2008

Dun Laoghaire Harbour 2008

The actual site for the new harbour on Dublin Bay's rock strewn coast was selected by a Captain Richard Toucher on account of its depth of water and sound bottom. In 1815 an Act was passed giving powers for "the erection of an asylum harbour and a place of refuge at Dunleary." A parliamentary grant of £505,000 was raised by duties on shipping, and the design was entrusted to the Scottish engineer, John Rennie.

 

The first stone was laid by Earl Withworth on 31st May, 1817 and 600 men were employed upon the work. Granite was obtained from the quarries in Dalkey and transported to the site along a track known locally today as 'The Metals' - a funicular system enabling the full trucks to haul up the empty ones. By 1821 the East Pier was generally complete and the harbour was put to effective use. Meanwhile, the construction of the West Pier followed, and work continued on the harbour until 1859 when the Carlisle Pier was completed.

 

Renamed Kingstown in 1821, after a visit by King George IV, it carried this name for 100 years when it reverted to its ancient Irish name by resolution of the town council in 1921, one year before Irish independence.

 

Today, in addition to its impressive ferry terminal, Dun Laoghaire boasts the largest marina in the country, which was opened in 2001 following resistance for over 15 years. A 240-berth extension, involving an investment of €3 million, was approved in June 2006. Completed in April 2007 this extension increased the number of berths to over 800. Boats of up to 30 metres in length and up to 80 tonnes can now be accommodated.  Out in the West Bight is a stand alone pontoon serviced by the marina launch.