Transit Gateway 6 / Emergency

map 6 emergency


A Deep Mapping of Dublin Port by Silvia Loeffler

Mapping Phase 6: Dublin Port from 1930 to 1946 / Emergency

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

Wednesday, 26 July 2017 from 18:15 to 20:15 (IST)

The LAB Gallery
1 Foley Street
Dublin 1

For the video podcast, please visit: Transit Gateway 6 Seminar @ 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. 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 held in the LAB on Foley Street, in order ‘to bring the port back into the city’, accompanies a specific map layer.

“Dublin Port from 1930 to 1946/ Emergency” was the sixth seminar in this series. According to Lloyd’s Register, the average size steamship had worldwide increased by 60 % between 1900 and 1928, and berthing facilities for large vessels very incredibly expensive. We will refer to the port in Saorstat Eireann, where the tribunal report of 1930 stated that, “the public generally do not, we fear, appreciate the importance of our harbours as a vital part of the country’s economic structure […]”.

1932 was going to be a major challenge for the Port, as the Eucharistic Congress would be held in Dublin, with seven large ocean liners plus extra cross-channel passenger services from Liverpool and Glasgow coming in. Masses were held on board of the ships, and the transit shed at the Crossberth at the North Wall Extension, which had formerly housed gear to generate electricity, became equipped with temporary altars to provide service on land to the pilgrims.

60 years after Bindon Blood Stoney supervised the men in the Diving Bell excavating soil from the riverbed of the Liffey to make room for the first 350 ton concrete block, the North Wall Extension was finally completed in 1937, with the re-positioning of the North Wall Lighthouse at its extremity. By the end of 1938 more and more land was being reclaimed in the heartland of the port, and the work of two jetties had begun in order to accommodate the by now numerous oil tankers arriving, and to connect these jetties with a tank farm that would store crude oil before it was going into a planned refinery.

In 1939, these plans were abandoned, and as a result of the outbreak of WW II, restrictions and censorship were introduced by the Emergency Powers Order. All movement, public media correspondence, communications and supplies that concerned ships, aircraft and lighthouses were put under governmental control. The building of the Ocean Pier commenced, which may be seen as a continuation of Alexandra Quay, and a new warehouse – later known as Stack D – was designed. The Crossberth Shed that had been transformed into a place of service for the Eucharistic Congress in 1932 became a briquette manufacturing plant during the WW II years, as coal for dredging was once again difficult to obtain.

In September 1945, refugees who were mainly from the Baltic States arrived in small fishing vessels and yachts into Dublin Port, travelling the distance that would be the first stage of their journey into the New World.

We hope you enjoyed the discussion of this particular era, where one of the largest eucharistic congresses of the 20th century was held in Dublin City. Within the historical time span of only 16 years, its Port adapted to the mass visit of celebrating pilgrims, and, on a more sombre level, to the emergency situations of war and evacuation. We elaborated on the meanings of “emergency” in a historical as well as in a contemporary Irish maritime context, and we will connect associations of religious mission and migration with the wider world.

Speaker panel:

Joe Varley (maritime historian)

Fiona Loughnane (researcher in Visual Culture)

Annabel Konig (artist)

This seminar was the sixth 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: Joe Varley trained at Kevin Street College of Technology as a marine radio officer and spent five years at sea with Marconi Marine. He has been associated with the Maritime Institute of Ireland since the early 1980s. He is at present research officer to the Institute. He holds an MA in naval history from the University of Exeter, and is currently doing a PhD at Hull, working with David Starkey and Martin Wilcox.

Synopsis: Joe’s presentation focussed on Dublin Port during World War Two. It examined how the organisation coped under extremely difficult conditions. It looked at the beginnings of Irish Shipping Limited, and the activities of the smaller Irish companies, some of which were still using sailing vessels. It drew extensively from Walter Kennedy’s superb 1998 “Shipping in Dublin Port 1939-1945”.

Bio: Fiona Loughnane is an assistant lecturer in the Dept. of Visual Culture at the National College of Art and Design, Dublin, and a PhD candidate in the Dept. of English and Media, Maynooth University, where she is researching the photographic cultures of Irish Catholic missions to Africa. Fiona has given public talks and published articles on topics related to modernist art (particularly in Ireland) and photography. In 2015 she was awarded the Thomas Dammann Junior Memorial scholarship, which funded a research trip to East Africa.

Talk Outline: The Eucharistic Congress of 1932 and the growth of Irish Foreign Missions are connected by their shared concerns – to define the power of the newly independent Irish nation in spiritual rather than material terms, and to present Irish Catholicism on a global stage. As clergy arrived in Dublin for the Congress, holding masses on the quays of Dublin Port, other Irish religious were taking ships from Dublin, bound first for the ports of Liverpool and Southhampton, and from there to Africa. In this talk for Transit Gateway 6, Fiona discussed how these movements were tracked through photography, firstly because missionaries shared the common desire of all tourists to record their travels through photographs, and secondly because photographs are themselves migratory objects, travelling across different locations and contexts, and destabilising any fixed meanings through this movement.

Bio: Annabel Konig’s art practice deals with a range of projects using photography, drawing and social engagement. Her upcoming exhibitions are at Grellen Mill, solo, Thomastown Arts Festival. (August 2017) and ‘This I can carry’, Utrecht, the Netherlands. (September 2017). For more details about Annabel’s work and exhibitions, please visit:

Annabel is a founding member of the ‘9 Stones Artists‘, a professional group of artists based at the foothills of the Blackstairs Mountains in County Carlow.

Synopsis: For Transit Gateway 6, Annabel introduced two of her projects that relate to “Emergency” in a contemporary context:

‘Saved, the Lifeboat Crew of Dunmore East’

During my ‘sea-side artist in residency’ in 2013, I came to know the crew of the RNLI lifeboat station in Dunmore East. The ‘Saved’ project came out of that meeting.

The RNLI’s mission is to ‘save lives at sea’. There are sixteen crewmembers that can be called upon to man the all weather boat when a ‘shout’ has been issued, the boat needs six lifeboat crew to operate.

These people are of all ages and come from all walks of life. They will drop everything when the pager goes off, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to risk their lives, voluntarily, to save anyone in trouble at sea.

The lifeboat and crew are an integral part of the coastline and the communities where they are based.

‘Saved’ is a photographic project that consists of images of some of the crewmembers. Dressed in their RNLI survival suits the crewmembers stand in a range of real life locations. These locations are where the volunteers do their ‘regular’ jobs.

Along side the sitters, a grey blanket is placed in every shot. This blanket references the RNLI long historical existence. Each image is accompanied by texts from the sitters about their experiences of their ‘shouts’.

‘This I can carry’

This is an ongoing project and will be developed in several stages. For the first part, I traveled to Athens to speak with and photograph refugees who are waiting for permits to a new or temporary safe place of residence.

The starting question/observation is:

‘Everyone has, at some point, packed a bag to take with them on a journey; but how many of us have packed a bag that will hold all we have left in this world?     When you’re forced to leave your home, what do you bring with you?  What will fit into the rucksack or bag that you, yourself must carry for such a long way?  What size is this bag, how much does it weigh?  How much can you carry; physically, psychologically’?