Dun Laoghaire Harbour"
a very early age Dun Laoghaire Harbour has always held a strong
fascination for me.
the age of five when from the back of my father’s car I loved nothing
more than to see one of the mailboats at rest on the east side of the
Carlisle Pier, through the years until the day when I brought my own
children to the harbour to view the operations of high speed craft, the
harbour has been my very own place of tranquillity.
More recently, in September 2003, I revisited the port from my
home in Australia and, despite the addition of the new marina, it was
almost as if I’d never left!
my school years Dun Laoghaire Harbour was my playground.
Friendly Harbour Constables and Sealink staff nurtured within me
a deep interest in the port’s link with Holyhead, served by countless
British Rail, Sealink and later Stena Line ferries. How privileged I was
to be permitted to view the ferry operations at such close quarters!
interest developed to the point where I embarked on a career in the
ferry industry, firstly and briefly at sea before moving to port
operations at both Dun Laoghaire and Dublin, and then moving to
Australia as Public Relations Officer with Incat, builders of the Stena
Sea Lynx, built for the Holyhead run in 1993.
was first introduced to my favourite vantagepoint, the end of the
Carlisle Pier, in 1980 at the age of ten.
From here I was permitted to view the departure of the route’s
penultimate steam turbine ferry, the Avalon.
I was hooked!
this vantagepoint I have since recorded on camera every ferry to have
served on the route. And
through the years and the various ships I have made lasting friendships
with the many Captains, officers and crew members who maintained the
crossing day in day out on a year round basis.
I loved to stand on the end of the Carlisle Pier during the late 1980s
and early 1990s, now with a basic understanding of the artform that is
ship handling, and watch as the master brought his command gently into
the berth. Of course, during the winter months it could be very
different! With an easterly
gale and low water the master’s every skill was tested as he brought
the St Columba alongside,
fighting the wind and keeping in mind propeller cavitation with reduced
water under his keel.
departure of the ship was always an exciting time.
The pier was a hive of activity, especially in the last 20
minutes or so before sailing. What a scene it was.
last passengers hurrying for the gangway, as tugmasters swiftly place
the last pieces of unaccompanied freight on the vehicle deck.
The Piermaster rushes across the causeway from the car ferry
compound with the “papers” signifying all is on board and accounted
for. Outside the pier gates
wellwishers wait as their loved ones wave from the ship’s exterior
decks and the gangways and car ramp are taken away.
cry of “single-up” from the bridge wing and the first wires and
ropes are released as a plume of black smoke erupts from the ship’s
funnel. Now held by one
rope fore and aft, the ship straining to get to sea, the master and
chief officer appear on the bridge wing, radar scanner swishing above
their heads. “Let Go –
Right Time” and before the rope hits the ship’s side the bow thrust
and twin screws are already lifting the huge ship away from the granite
pier. Moving astern off the
berth the ship turns her bow for the harbour mouth and disappears out
into Dublin Bay, a course of 100 degrees taking her down to the South
Burford Buoy once again.
the pier an eerie silence always descended.
For me it was always a strange experience, the pier, quiet now,
when only 30 minutes previously so many people, maybe up to 2000 or even
more, had passed through its gates.
the Carlisle Pier is quiet once again.
But not for long it would seem and I am greatly encouraged to see
that regeneration plans are proceeding well.
It is my hope that the pier will be redeveloped with a strong
understanding of its role since 1857 and will continue to remain a focal
point in “My Harbour”.
in Hobart, in the Australian Island State of Tasmania, I look back with
fondness on my days in and around Dun Laoghaire Harbour.
Without hesitation I can safely say the harbour, and the people
in it, shaped my life. Indeed my first job was in the port when during
school holidays I worked as a boatman in the Royal Irish Yacht Club,
ferrying members to their yachts moored in the harbour.
Perhaps if the Incat-built Stena
Sea Lynx had been deployed to any other Stena Line route in 1993
then I might not be living in the Antipodes!