Transit Gateway 4 / Frenzy and Excitement

map 4 Victorian frenzy and excitementTRANSIT GATEWAY

A Deep Mapping of Dublin Port by Silvia Loeffler

Mapping Phase 4: Dublin Port from 1867 to 1897 / Frenzy and Excitement

Event was held at the following time, date and location:

Wednesday, 31 May 2017 from 18:15 to 20:15 (IST)

The LAB Gallery
1 Foley Street
Dublin 1

To listen and to view the seminar, please click here: Transit Gateway 4 @ the LAB

As part of “Port Perspectives”, Transit Gateway is a project that documents the transitional changes of the shape of Dublin Port from its medieval shoreline to its current infrastructure. The changes of the port as a gateway to the city bring to mind the void of communication of the 18th century on the ships before Marconi, the forced emigrations of the 19th century, the modern context of maritime holiday migration that shaped the 20th century, and which now extends itself to the cruise business the 21st century, and how cargo volumes changed over the centuries in terms of goods, locations and quantity.

Transit Gateway is an artistic mapping cartography that will show the changing connections of the city and the port throughout the years, and how the port as a gateway creates a vital connection of the city with the wider world. In collaboration with partners and the local community, the artist Silvia Loeffler has been commissioned by Dublin Port Company to create a social and collaborative artistic mapping project that looks at the port ‘s transitional phases over a time period of 9 months.

A large-scale installation series loosely based on the various maps used by H.A. Gilligan in his “History of the Port of Dublin” is currently being created, and the works are displayed in the Terminal 1 Building in Dublin Port. Each month, a new map layer will be added to the installation.

Each month, a specific seminar, which will be held in the LAB on Foley Street, in order ‘to bring the port back into the city’, will accompany the map layer.

“Dublin Port from 1867 to 1897/ Frenzy and Excitement” was the fourth seminar in this series. We referred to the port in the late Victorian period, which was shaped by its chief engineer Bindon Blood Stoney. The Custom House Docks declined gradually, as the improvement of entrance locks proved to be too costly. (The warehouses were still used to store cargo, which was transported from the vessels that berthed at the deepwater section.) A tramway was built across reclaimed land to connect the jetty of the chemical firm W.H.M. Goulding, with their factory. The Port and Docks Act of 1869 recommended rebuilding works at Sir John Rogerson’s Quay and Great Britain Quay and suggested that Stoney’s project for the North Wall extension come to life. The sheer float and the diving bell were delivered in 1866, and when the Prince and Princess of Wales visited Dublin on 11 April 1885 to inspect the extension, they could view the spectacle of 6 men, who excavated soil from the river, emerge from the water in a diving bell. The adjoining basin was named Alexandra Basin after the princess.

Again, the Liffey was to be the connecting lifeline of the city with the port, the river’s bridges being the connecting points. Grattan Bridge at Capel Street was rebuilt in its present form in 1873-5. A new swivel bridge, Butt Bridge, opened in 1879 and was used for shipping cargo upriver until 1888. (In 1891, Butt Bridge became a ‘loopline’ railway bridge, and it was not possible for ships to pass underneath any longer.)

Carlisle Bridge, which was rebuilt and renamed O’Connell Bridge, opened in 1880. The three bridges, who are distinctive landmark features of the Dublin of today, were designed by Bindon Blood Stoney, who retired in 1898 because of poor health, after working for the port for almost forty-three years.

We hope that you enjoyed the discussion of Dublin Port of this particular era where steam boats offered ever more speed and comfort and engineering feats added to the frenzy and excitement of a a building boom in the city that continued on both sides of the river.

Speaker panel:

Seán ó’Laoire (architect / Diving Bell development)

Vanessa Daws (artist)

Fergal Mc Carthy (artist)

This seminar was the fourth in a series of nine, held over the next months.

The Transit Gateway seminars are part of a wider public engagement programme for Port Perspectives 2017. They are funded by Dublin Port Company and the LAB Gallery.

Dublin Port’s 2017 Port Perspectives / Engagement Programme has been developed in collaboration with Dublin City Council, Dublin City Gallery, The Hugh Lane, UCD School of Architecture, National College of Art and Design, Irish Architecture Foundation, Create [the National Collaborative Arts Agency] and Business to Arts.

Dr Silvia Loeffler is an artist, researcher and educator in Visual Culture. She is the organiser of the Transit Gateway seminars, funded by Dublin Port Company, and run in close collaboration with the LAB. This seminar series will continue until October 2017 and is part of Silvia’s artistic cartography ‘Transit Gateway: A Deep Mapping of Dublin Port’.




Seán ó’Laoire is an Architect/Urban Designer, educated at UCD and UCLA, his professional career spans over 40 years, which include experience in England, the USA, Italy, France, China, Russia, and Eastern Europe.

A founder of Murray ó’Laoire Architects (1979 – 2016) he is now a consultant to Móla Architecture. He is a former President of the RIAI and recipient of its Triennial Gold Medal. He has had a 30 year long engagement as a consultant in the renewal of Dublin’s Docklands, and has recently designed the reconfigured Dublin Diving Bell on behalf of the Dublin Port Company. He has also contributed to the development of Dublin Port Company’s “Soft Values” Framework, which seeks to promote a dynamic engagement between the Port and Dublin City and beyond.


For Transit Gateway 4, Seán will give us insight into the Alexandra Basin, the Shear Float and the Diving Bell. He will commemorate the legacy of Bindon Blood Stoney by discussing the role of the engineer as a shapeshifter and innovator who was so vital to the port development of this particular era.


On September 6th 2016 Vanessa Daws became the first person to ever swim around Lambay Island in Dublin Bay. This 8k circumnavigation took 3.17 hours and was the third and final swim in her current project “The Lambay Swim Trilogy” a series of swims to, about and around Lambay Island.

Vanessa is a visual artist and open water swimmer based in Dublin. Vanessa’s art practice explores place through swimming. ‘Place’ being the watery spaces navigated and swam through, the surrounding littoral space and the social spaces created by this shared activity. Vanessa’s work uses swimming as part of her art research, the creative process and in live events.

Vanessa is currently a recipient of a Temple Bar Gallery Project Studio and has been awarded a Docklands Small Grants Award, Vanessa has also been commissioned to create new film work based on the Liffey as part of Port Perspectives “port | river | city.” In 2015 Vanessa was selected for the UCD Art in Science Residency and was given the Neville Johnson Award as part of this residency. Vanessa was a recipient of the Artist in the Community Award from the Arts Council of Ireland & Create in 2013 and collaborated with the sea swimming community from Malahide, Co Dublin.

Vanessa’s swim projects have taken place in watery spaces as diverse as the frozen Pirita River in Estonia, The President’s Fountain in Bulgaria, the Pacific Ocean, The River Liffey, Trafalgar Square, The Rideau Canal in Canada, The UCD Lake, the Dublin M50 Aqueduct and the Bogs of Ballycroy in Co Mayo.


Dublin as a Swimming City

Dublin has a thriving open water swimming community and an abundance of watery spaces to swim in, hundreds of people all using Dublin’s rivers, canals and coastline as their playground or place of ritual and inclusion. Vanessa will talk about a swimmer’s relationship with the River Liffey. Always swimming with her Gopro camera, Vanessa has captured the Liffey from a unique, embodied swimmer’s perspective.


Fergal McCarthy has made many artworks in relation to the Liffey, the port and Dublin Bay. Liffeytown, 2010, saw a small estate of red and green floating houses appear on the Liffey and the following year a desert island was moored on the river for two weeks becoming the artist’s temporary home. A 10 metre tall reconstruction of the Northbank Lighthouse was exhibited in the Science Gallery in 2015, the interior was furnished with waste materials collected from Dublin Bay and visitors were invited to use the space as their own for half hour periods. The Swimmer, a 45 minute video documenting the traversing of the city by land and water was also shown in the Science Gallery. Inspired by the original 1968 film of the same name a journey around Dublin Bay from south to north unfolds crisscrossing multiple swimming pools, the river and finally the Irish Sea.


Fergal will speak about his ongoing interest in the Liffey and Dublin Bay and the projects that have arisen as a result of living in proximity to the river. He will explain the genesis of his installations, films and performances on the river and discuss further projects he hopes to realise in the future.