Transit Gateway 5 / Turbulence

map 5 turbulence

Mapping Phase 5: Dublin Port from 1898 to 1929 / Turbulent Times

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

Wednesday, 28 June 2017 from 18:15 to 20:15 (IST)

The LAB Gallery
1 Foley Street
Dublin 1

To listen to and to view the seminar, please click here: Seminar 5 @ 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 shows 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 is being held in the LAB Gallery on Foley Street, Dublin 1, in order ‘to bring the port back into the city’, accompanies the map layer.

“Dublin Port from 1898 to 1929/ Turbulent Times” was the fifth seminar in this series. We referred to the port as a reflection of Dublin City as “Nighttown”, as Joyce would have it. Dublin’s red light district covering the inner city was situated around Faithful Place (on what is now Railway Street), the “World’s End Lane” that was part of Montgomory Street (now Foley Street, home of the LAB Gallery) and Mabbot Street (now James Joyce Street). The dark sides of frolicking and sexual disease were rampant in the Monto, which was conveniently bounded by Amien Street Station, Gardiner Street and Talbot Street, and the Port – with the Custom House, the docks and berthages for trading vessels from overseas only a stone’s throw away. The area was deprived, rent was cheap, and the inner city tenements were home to the numerous men working on the dockyards and quays along the Liffey and their families.

Alexandra Quay was often congested because cargo ships competed for berthage spaces, and shallow water in the river channel of the Liffey continued to be a major problem. Dutch firm was contracted to remove the sand from the bar with a suction dredger and to pump the vast amount ashore at the Graving Dock, which was situated on the newly reclaimed lands. Public lighting along the quays was put into place, the timber jetties used by Gouldings and the American Oil company were extended, the new electricity generating station replaced “animal power”, and the use of electric cranes and electric capstans became a common sight.

In 1913, labour disputes in the tenement areas put the inner city into paralysis, but works in the port, albeit under immense difficulty, carried on. At the outbreak of World War I, military forces took over the North Wall extension and Alexandra Quay, and when the Irish Free State came into existence in 1922, the Port urgently needed extra bonded transit sheds and warehouses, as imports from Britain were no longer exempt from customs regulations. In 1923, a labour dispute with seamen, dockers and port workers erupted and sea trade became seriously affected. The miner strike of 1926 in Britain challenged the import of coal into the port, which meant that the dredging programme was immensely difficult to keep up.

We hope that you enjoyed the discussion of this particular era where the cattle ban came in and Dublin City and Port were shaped by the turbulence of labour disputes, war years, and the thrall of Joycean “wisps and danger signals”.

Speaker panel:

Gerry Kearns (health geographer)

Robert Nicholson (curator of the Joyce Tower)

Anne Maree Barry (artist)

This seminar was the fifth in a series of nine. 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’.



Bio: Gerry Kearns is Professor of Human Geography at Maynooth University. He works at the intersection of political, medical and historical themes in Geography. He is the author of Geopolitics and Empire (Oxford University Press, 2009) and co-editor of Spatial Justice and the Irish Crisis (Royal Irish Academy, 2014). He is currently working on a book about the cultural politics of AIDS focusing upon the ways artists invent or transform spatial metaphors of disease.

Synopsis: Venereal disease was a central anxiety of early-twentieth century Dublin. It was a marker of certain sexual relations between men and women outside marriage, between richer men and poorer women, between soldiers and civilians, and between men who pay for and women who sell sex. These relations had a spatial expression. There were clear sex districts in Dublin. There was a variegated spatial expression of commercial and other adulterous sexual activity. But venereal disease was also a metaphor for broader anxieties about the social body in ways that are registered in artistic forms such as, indeed, in Joyce’s Ulysses.

Bio: Robert Nicholson is a Dubliner and a graduate of Trinity College. In 1978 (almost 40 years ago) he became Curator of the James Joyce Museum at the Tower in Sandycove, a position he still holds in addition to being Curator of the Dublin Writers Museum, which he helped to bring into being in 1991. Among his Joycean achievements over the years he has been involved in developing Bloomsday from an esoteric little occasion to the city-consuming festival that it has now become. He was Secretary of the James Joyce Centenary Committee way back in 1982 and subsequently became one of the founder members of the James Joyce Centre. He has littered the streets with plaques marking Joyce’s houses and the locations of his stories. He has written a book, ‘The Ulysses Guide’ which has kept Joyce readers on the streets since 1988, and has presented a DVD on the same subject (and keeps getting recognised by startled literary tourists as a result). He has had a wonderful time looking after the collection and the visitors at the Joyce Tower, leading the reading group with the James Joyce Institute, and getting pulled out to occasions such as this one.

Synopsis: James Joyce’s aim was to present Dublin to the world. In a series of ground-breaking, earth-shaking, mind-blowing books he not only altered the history of world literature but also gave us a vivid picture of the city at the time of his youth. Joyce saw Dublin and its culture as a labyrinth, a trap set to hold him down. Its port, however, represented a lifeline to the excitement of the outer world, and it provided him with his escape route in 1904. Robert read a number of passages, which relate to the port area and the sea and talked about their significance.

Bio: Anne Maree Barry makes site specific film works that address connections between memory and loss, geography, sociology and architecture. Anne Maree was the recipient of the 2016 HIAP Helsinki international Residency Programme exchange in association with Temple Bar Gallery and Studios. Anne Maree’s film work has been selected and screened at international film festivals and cultural institutions, such as the Irish Film Institute, The Dublin International Film Festival, Darklight Film Festival, Aesthetica Short Film Festival, Curtas Vila do Conde, Indie Cork, Les Rencontres Internationales, Tampere Art Museum, Dublin City Gallery’s The Hugh Lane and TULCA ’15. She is a current resident at The Fire Station Artists Studios. Previous residences include The Liaison of Independent Film Makers of Toronto, with support from Screen Training Ireland.

Synopsis: Anne Maree discussed the impact of the Port on the psychogeography of the Monto area, where the LAB is based, with particular reference to ideas of labour and precarity and the making of her new film, Leisure with Dignity.