Transit Gateway 8 / Transition

map 8 transition.jpg


A Deep Mapping of Dublin Port by Silvia Loeffler

Mapping Phase 8: Dublin Port from 1965 to 1986 / Transition

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

Wednesday, 27 September 2017 from 18:15 to 20:15 (IST)

The LAB Gallery
1 Foley Street
Dublin 1

For the video podcast of this seminar, please visit: TG Seminar 8 at the LAB

“Dublin Port from 1965 to 1986/ Transition” was the eighth seminar in the Transit Gateway series. This time period was marked by the building of two new bridges spanning the River Liffey: Talbot Memorial Bridge linking Custom House Quay on the Northside to City Quay on the Southside was completed in 1978, and the East Link (today its formal name is Tom Clarke Bridge) with its connecting toll bridge approach road opened in 1984 to bridge Ringsend to the North Wall.

Yet again, another significant amount of reclaimed lands opposite Clontarf added to the port expansion. Container terminals were added to the Southside at Poolbeg, and so was the Corporation Sludge Jetty, together with ESB Poolbeg Station and the ESB Tanker Jetty. On the Northside, B&I Freight Terminal, the first car ferry terminal and the deepwater No.5 Ro-ro berth were added. The Sealink Freight Terminal was built on the last stretch of the port’s heartland on the Northside.

We hope that you enjoyed the discussion of this particular era, when Dublin City saw throngs of people leave by boat for England for employment. The port became divided into zones, and the ships’ total cargo was now being carried in containers, a concept started in the 1950s and 60s. The total change from break-bulk to containerised cargo was regarded as revolutionary (comparable to the groundbreaking change from sail to steamships in the 1800s). We elaborated on the meanings of “transition” in a socio-economic and urban context as well as in psychological terms. We furthermore connected associations of container landscapes and port zones with everyday life experiences. What does it mean to be working in a port? What is it like to be travelling in and out of Dublin by sea on a regular basis?

Speaker panel:

Niamh Cherry Moore (geographer)

Michael McLoughlin (artist and researcher)

Derek McGauley (port security; Terminal 1) [was unable to attend in person]

The Transit Gateway seminars were part of a wider public engagement programme for Port Perspectives 2017. They were 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.



Niamh Moore-Cherry is an Associate Professor in the School of Geography, University College Dublin. She is an urban geographer and her research is focused on understanding the governance of urban development and its outcomes. She is the author of Dublin Docklands Reinvented (Four Courts Press, 2008), has co-edited three books and has papers published in national and international journals. Her current work focuses on the spaces and practices of governance, particularly in the Dublin city-region, and the implications for spatial planning and quality of life in city-regions. She is also working on issues of urban governability and ungovernability in Europe and in China. Niamh is a member of: the Social Sciences Committee, Royal Irish Academy; the IGU Urban Commission Steering Group; and is President of the Geographical Society of Ireland, 2016-2018.


Niamh’s presentation  focussed on how the evolution of Dublin Port in the time frame of this map set the scene for the contemporary development of the docklands that we see today. The radical physical and social transformation of the port area through the late 1960s and 1970s opened up large spaces of the city for redevelopment, but also had detrimental social and economic consequences for the wider port community. This presentation set this scene and then Niamh talked about some of the changes that began to take place in the early 1980s once the potential of the docklands became clear to policymakers. The struggles and some of the controversies that this involved were discussed.

Bio & Synopsis:

Michael McLoughlin is an artist from Dublin who makes audiowork, drawings, sculptural objects, video and installations. His artistic approach endeavours to present an outlet for dialogue/exchange and explores the physicality of places where, and the manner in which, people interact. Since the mid-1990s Michael McLoughlin has consistently developed and presented new ways of making contemporary artwork in social contexts.

Within the last year he has made site specific audio work in Limerick (Cumann: An Audio Map of Limerick, Limerick City Gallery of Art), Drogheda (Cumann, Droichead Art Centre, & as part of Beyond the Pale, Highlanes) and in Dublin (Rest Here, UCD Sutherland School of Law & Ocean Wonder Resort Revelations, Portrane). His artists book of drawings, I am here because I know you will be too was published by Dublin City Council in 2014.  McLoughlin is currently Artist in Residence in Draiocht Arts Centre, Blanchardstown. He was also UCD College of Social Science & Law Artist in Residence in 2015, where he has since begun a critical social and institutional analysis of ethics, art-making and knowledge production in the contexts of participatory arts practice.

Michael’s presentation took as its starting point regular journeys from Dublin to Liverpool on the car ferry, which he undertook in the late 1970s to late 1980s. He equated the regular connection between Dublin and Liverpool through Dublin Port to connections with family, with relations, with museums, galleries and an introduction to contemporary art. His talk will focus on B&I Lines, JetFoil and the Booze Cruise, competition between B&I and Sealink, the day trips on the Ro-ro ferries and  frequency of the journey. He linked his journeys from Dublin Port to seeing quite formative exhibitions in Liverpool and also related it to aspects of a recent project in Glasgow focusing on commuting, migrating, belonging and relationship with place defined by the ports of departure.

Bio & Synopsis:

Derek McGauley grew up in East Wall and his first encounters with Dublin Port were as a child when he went down to catch racing pidgeons for his Dad, who drove the cranes. Like Derek’s father, his grandfather was also a docker, and so were his uncles and granduncles. At the age of 15, Derek went to sea and worked as a galley boy on the Saint Patrick, a ship that went from Rosslare to Le Havre.

In 1979, he went on the maiden voyage of the Connacht. Over the years, he worked first as a deckhand and later on as an AB seaman on many vessels, including the Leinster, the Innisfallen and the Wicklow. These ships would go into the B & I, a terminal that would later be taken over by Irish Ferries.

In 1995, Derek worked in Dublin Shipyard, on the dry docks, and in 1996 he was a bosun on the Sir Joseph Bazalgette, a wastewater disposal vessel operated by Dublin Corporation. Derek also worked on a depthfinder for Dublin Port and later on as a deepsea docker for Portroe. In 2008, he was made redundant and went back to Education. In 2012, he returned to work as Port Security in Terminal 1, yet his duties still cover the whole area.

Derek knows Dublin Port like the back of his hand and will talk about his personal life experiences that are intrinsically intertwined with the port, the sea and his family roots in the East Wall & Docklands. He has not only witnessed major geographical and cultural shifts that happened in the 1980s, but has first experience of good days and tragic accidents concerning the close knit community of dockers and seamen.

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’.