Best Of Ire­land takes a closer look at some of the at­trac­tions that make the Dublin Dock­lands such a unique and cap­ti­vat­ing des­ti­na­tion for lo­cals and tourists alike…

Hot Press - - Contents -

Why the dock­lands are now one of the most ex­cit­ing and vi­brant ar­eas in Dublin.

There was a time when a con­tin­u­ous ca­coph­ony reigned over Dublin’s fa­mous Dock­lands. Back then, the port area was dom­i­nated by mas­sive mar­itime in­dus­tries. But change has been in the air for a long time. The ships still come into Dublin in large num­bers, and trucks roll off and on with stag­ger­ing pre­ci­sion. But the wider dock­lands area, which strad­dles both banks of the River Lif­fey, has been trans­formed into a vi­brant busi­ness and tech hub that would be the pride of any Euro­pean cap­i­tal.

Tech ti­tans Google, Twit­ter and Facebook are chang­ing the way we com­mu­ni­cate from be­hind gleam­ing win­dows set in shin­ing ex­am­ples of mod­ern ar­chi­tec­ture on the south­side of the river. Mean­while, half of the world’s big­gest banks and insurance com­pa­nies trade in the sprawl­ing nan­cial ser­vices cam­pus of the IFSC on the north­side.

The dock­lands have also be­come a thriv­ing cul­tural cen­tre. North Wall Quay has long been home to the 3Arena (née the Point De­pot), a state of the art con­cert venue that has proudly stood Lif­fey­side for over 30 years. In that time it has hosted an ar­ray of leg­endary per­form­ers, from Frank Si­na­tra to Nir­vana,

El­ton John and U2 and been the site of world fa­mous live record­ings by icons REM, Bruce Spring­steen and the late, great David Bowie. Closer to the city, Cus­tom House Quay is home to one of the top-rated vis­i­tor at­trac­tions in Dublin. EPIC The Ir­ish Em­i­gra­tion Mu­seum is an in­ter­ac­tive show­case of how the Ir­ish di­as­pora made such a big im­pact on the world, with ad­ven­ture, ad­ver­sity and tri­umph fea­tured in hi-tech gal­leries.

An ab­so­lutely fas­ci­nat­ing and en­gross­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, EPIC pro­vides an in­cred­i­ble in­sight into Ire­land’s cul­tural her­itage and the re­mark­able in­flu­ence its ci­ti­zens have ex­erted around the globe. Vis­i­tors can avail of the tours on of­fer, or else opt for the self-guided op­tion (with head­set) and get their “pass­port” stamped along the way. With loads to see, hear, touch and read, the in­ter­ac­tive EPIC ex­hi­bi­tion of­fers an un­for­get­table look at the unique achieve­ments of Ire­land and its peo­ple.

It’s just one of the many gems in an area that con­tin­ues to grow in pop­u­lar­ity. Ac­ces­si­ble by the Luas and Dublin

Bikes, the dock­lands makes for a great walk on a sunny day – travers­ing the Sa­muel Beck­ett Bridge, you can walk by the river and en­joy all of the mod­ern ar­chi­tec­ture on show.

In­deed, the dock­lands are lled with an ex­cit­ing range of ac­tiv­i­ties and at­trac­tions just wait­ing to be ex­plored.


An en­dur­ing monument to Dublin’s sea-far­ing past, the iconic Div­ing Bell has been a fa­mil­iar sight on Sir John Roger­son’s Quay since it was re­stored and put on dis­play in the late 1980s. In re­cent years, a ma­jor project was un­der­taken to trans­form the 13m tall, 90 tonne struc­ture into a mod­ern, in­ter­ac­tive in­ter­pre­tive cen­tre.

It was the rst project in Dublin Port’s am­bi­tious plan to cre­ate a ‘Dis­trib­uted Mu­seum’ of at­trac­tions, spread across the Dublin dock­lands and into Dublin Port it­self, with the aim of pre­serv­ing the port’s in­dus­trial her­itage and his­tory. Char­lie Murphy from Dublin Port has been work­ing on the project


The Jeanie John­ston is an au­then­tic replica of the type of ship that car­ried Ir­ish em­i­grants across the At­lantic to the New World. The orig­i­nal ves­sel made 16 jour­neys to Amer­ica be­tween 1847 and 1855, car­ry­ing over 2,500 peo­ple with no loss of life. Lo­cated on Cus­tom House Quay, two min­utes’ from EPIC, the stun­ning rig­ging of the tall-ship has be­come a land­mark along Dublin’s quays. The 50-minute tour re­veals what con­di­tions were like, how long it took, and what awaited em­i­grants. jeaniejohn­ston.ie


‘Famine’ was com­mis­sioned by Norma Smur t and de­signed and crafted by sculp­tor Rowan Gille­spie in 1997. The sculp­ture is ded­i­cated to Ir­ish peo­ple forced to em­i­grate dur­ing the 19th cen­tury Ir­ish Famine. The lo­ca­tion is his­tor­i­cally signi cant, as it was from Cus­tom House Quay that the ves­sel ‘Per­se­ver­ance’ em­barked on one of the rst voy­ages of the famine pe­riod. The steer­age fare was £3. 210 pas­sen­gers made the jour­ney, land­ing safely in New York on 18th May 1846.


A must-visit din­ing spot is the CHQ Gar­den Ter­race – lo­cated at the south end of the CHQ build­ing, it of­fers spec­tac­u­lar views of the city while you kick back on your lunch-break. A wel­come oa­sis amidst the bus­tle of the city, CHQ Gar­den Ter­race is open at lunchtime Mon­dayFri­day, with the de­li­cious food pro­vided by the Bake­house Ex­press. Then there’s the CHQ Build­ing’s Ur­ban Brewing, where the ar­chi­tec­turally daz­zling Stack A restau­rant of­fers de­li­cious food in an un­ri­valled at­mos­phere. The ex­pe­ri­ence con­tin­ues in their Taps & Tapas and Vault Bar, where you can share some tapasstyle dishes and taste their exclusive, on­site brewed beer.

And that’s just the tip of the ice­berg. Other es­sen­tial stop-offs in­clude the Ely Bar & Grill and its new Atrium Bar at the IFSC, where the menu boasts se­ri­ously tasty food grown on their own or­ganic fam­ily farm in the Bur­ren, Co. Clare; and the Rooftop at the Marker Ho­tel, where you can en­joy evening cock­tails with an in­cred­i­ble view of the city. There’s also a won­der­ful range of cafes on the south dock, and pop­u­lar desina­tions like Star­bucks and In­som­nia. Throw in healthy lunches at Fresh, Toss’d, J2 Sushi & Tea and Seven Won­ders, as well as tra­di­tional Ir­ish-based food at The Bake­house, and the dock­lands boasts a truly bril­liant ar­ray of din­ing op­tions.

from the get-go. ”The idea is to open up the port to the city, and open the city up to the port,” he ex­plains. Look­ing into the fu­ture, Char­lie says that Dublin Port hope to be part of, “A her­itage trail, where you can walk from the city down the quays, pass­ing the Famine Memo­rial, EPIC, The Jeanie John­ston, The Div­ing Bell – and a num­ber of other at­trac­tions that are soon to be rolled out – and nally ar­rive at the Port Cen­tre.”

There are, it emerges, even big­ger plans on the hori­zon. “We have bought back the old Od­lums Mill,” says Char­lie. “We’re cur­rently work­ing on the mas­ter­plan for a larger mu­seum about the his­tory of Dublin Port and the lives of those who worked there.”

In 2015, The Div­ing Bell was raised onto a two-me­tre plat­form, al­low­ing pub­lic ac­cess to a wa­ter fea­ture which has been in­stalled be­neath the struc­ture, ac­com­pa­nied by a se­ries of in­ter­pre­tive pan­els ex­plain­ing the his­tor­i­cal, so­cial and engineerin­g sig­nif­i­cance of the Div­ing Bell, and im­mor­tal­is­ing its cre­ator and the brave men who toiled in­side.

The Div­ing Bell was de­signed by the fan­tas­ti­cally named port en­gi­neer Bin­don Blood Stoney, a prodi­gious tal­ent who was also re­spon­si­ble for the de­sign and con­struc­tion of many of Dublin Port’s quay walls. A ground-break­ing piece of engineerin­g in­no­va­tion, the Div­ing Bell was used in the build­ing of the Port’s quay walls from the Vic­to­rian era right up un­til the 1950s.

Dublin Port plans to make ad­di­tional mar­itime at­trac­tions out of lo­cal land­marks within walk­ing dis­tance of the Div­ing Bell. The nearby Scherzer Rolling Lift Bridges have long been an iconic at­trac­tion for any­one trav­el­ling along the north­side quays. Plans are afoot to con­struct a ‘green­way’ style pedes­trian and cy­cle path from the north­ern perime­ter of the quays to the east end of the port, al­low­ing easy ac­cess to these fan­tas­tic port-side at­trac­tions.

At the Port Cen­tre, on Alexan­dria Rd., close to the 3Arena, a ’60s quay­side crane has been re­stored to its for­mer glory, with an il­lu­mi­nated cabin for pow­er­ful night-time im­pact. It makes a strik­ing ad­di­tion to the city’s sky­line. Stand­ing in the shadow of Crane 292 is the Port Cen­tre’s new Mar­itime Gar­den, now open to the pub­lic.


Fol­low­ing an ab­sence of 35 years, Dublin’s his­toric No. 11 Ferry is re­turn­ing to ac­tion on the River Lif­fey. First granted a char­ter in 1665 by King Charles II, the ferry was dis­con­tin­ued in 1984 fol­low­ing the open­ing of the East Link toll-bridge. The wa­ter-taxi has now been fully re­stored through a joint project be­tween the Ir­ish Nau­ti­cal Trust, Dublin Port and Dublin City Coun­cil, and has al­ready re-en­tered pub­lic ser­vice, both as trans­porta­tion and as a train­ing ves­sel. Fares cost €2 per 3-minute cross­ing, and will soon be payable through the Leap card.

Jimmy Mur­ray of Ir­ish Nau­ti­cal Trust ex­plains.

“The ferry was the only route for dock­ers on the south­side to get to the north­side to work on the ships,” he says. “I re­mem­ber the ferry as a child and as kids near the river, it was part of our liveli­hood. Af­ter school, we’d work with the sher­men. If we weren’t work­ing with the sher­men, we’d be help­ing un­load the coal boats when they came in. I was shown how to drive the ferry when I was a young by Richie Saunders. Af­ter that I was hooked.

“Richie saved the boat from the scrap heap. He re­turned it to its orig­i­nal de­sign, but in or­der to make it ready for mod­ern day trans­porta­tion, it needed to be com­pletely re­fur­bished. Dublin Port and Dublin City Coun­cil were amaz­ing in help­ing out with the fund­ing for that.

“With all the tech com­pa­nies and the busi­ness at the IFSC, we have what we call the new-age dock­ers. It’s a real boom around the dock­lands at the mo­ment, and we be­lieve that this will be a ser­vice that our­ishes. But it’s also a train­ing ves­sel.”

As Jimmy notes, the ferry pro­vides a unique glimpse into the cap­i­tal’s past.

“The ferry of­fers a new gen­er­a­tion on both sides of the city the chance to take a peek into the his­tory of life on the River Lif­fey,” he says. “If they want to con­tinue on the Mar­itime Train­ing Course, then the ferry is there as their first in­tro­duc­tion to this way of life. We have peo­ple with 30-odd years of vast sea-far­ing ex­pe­ri­ence to pass on. While they’re do­ing their pro­fes­sional cour­ses and certi cations, they’re be­ing guided by this vast ex­pe­ri­ence.

“There will be a few other jour­neys with the ferry com­ing up, but we have to keep them un­der wraps for the mo­ment. We have a long term plan and it’s go­ing to be very en­joy­able, cre­ative, his­tor­i­cal, and the whole ex­pe­ri­ence is go­ing to be very com­mu­nity ori­en­tated.”


For a fas­ci­nat­ing in­sight into Dublin’s dock­side and ten­e­ment his­tory, the North In­ner City Folk­lore Project is an in­valu­able re­source. An en­gross­ing col­lec­tion of arte­facts, pho­to­graphs and record­ings of the lives of or­di­nary Dublin peo­ple, the project is the pas­sion­ate un­der­tak­ing of lo­cal Terry Fa­gan.

Since the 1970s, Terry has ded­i­cated his life to pre­serv­ing the sto­ries of the com­mu­nity he grew up in, cap­tur­ing the rich, raw, and real his­tory at the heart of Dublin. In do­ing so, he has amassed an as­ton­ish­ing col­lec­tion of au­dio record­ings chron­i­cling the ev­ery­day lives of in­ner city Dublin and its ci­ti­zens. They are housed in a small Vis­i­tor Cen­tre that gives peo­ple an op­por­tu­nity to ex­pe­ri­ence the hard­ships of ten­e­ment life, and the harsh re­al­ity of those con ned to the nearby Mag­da­lene Laun­dries and in­dus­trial schools.

What re­ally sets the project apart, how­ever, is the man him­self. Terry’s own his­tory with the area runs deep. His mother was the last ten­ant to leave Cor­po­ra­tion Build­ings on Fo­ley Street, and he and his fa­ther both served their time work­ing at the nearby docks. His sto­ries of the harsh life lived on the docks are il­lus­trated with fas­ci­nat­ing

arte­facts in­clud­ing docker’s badges, pay books, and ex­am­ples of the tools of their trade. Terry is a foun­tain of fas­ci­nat­ing knowl­edge about the area’s his­tory and, if you give him the chance, he’ll spin sto­ries that truly beg­gar be­lief.

The Ir­ish na­tional an­them, Amhrán na bhFiann, nearly met a ery end at the hands of its com­poser, Pa­trick Heeney – saved only by the quick re exes of its lyri­cist Peadar Kear­ney – me­tres from where the project is based. Terry will also re­gale you with tales of the no­to­ri­ous Monto, once the big­gest red light dis­trict in Europe, and the (al­leged) site of some eye­brow-rais­ing tales in­volv­ing both the King of England, and our own WB Yeats. The area was also sur­pris­ingly im­por­tant to the rev­o­lu­tion in Ire­land, serv­ing as a net­work for gath­er­ing and dis­sem­i­nat­ing in­for­ma­tion for Michael Collins and oth­ers in­volved in the strug­gle for Ir­ish in­de­pen­dence.

In ad­di­tion to the Vis­i­tor Cen­tre, Terry also runs the Red Lights & Rev­o­lu­tion walk­ing tour of the Monto area, which in­cludes sto­ries of the ladies who worked there, the Great Lock­out of 1913 and the 1916 Easter Rising. It costs €10 and lasts two hours which, in the com­pany of Terry Fa­gan, is money very well spent.


A short walk East from EPIC takes you to the Sa­muel Beck­ett Bridge. Turn left there, walk the length of Guild Street and just be­yond Spencer Dock, close to the junc­tion with Sher­iff Street Up­per, you’ll nd the new statue of the great Ir­ish folk singer Luke Kelly of The Dublin­ers. Cre­ated by sculp­tor Vera Klute, it is a mar­vel­lously im­pres­sive, larger-than-life head, adorned by Luke’s fa­mous hair.


Ur­ban Brewing is one of the newest ad­di­tions to the ever de­vel­op­ing Dublin Dock­lands scene. The award-win­ning O’Hara’s brewing com­pany are be­hind this mi­cro brew­ery with a Restau­rant and Tapas kitchen. Their vaulted bar and Stack A Restau­rant in the iconic CHQ build­ing stocks a hugely im­pres­sive ro­tat­ing se­lec­tion of beers on tap, in­clud­ing their own in-house brews. In ad­di­tion, there’s over 200 beers from around the world and an ex­ten­sive wine, spir­its, and cock­tail list. Fur­ther to the lux­ury li­ba­tions, their restau­rant menus – both at Taps + Tapas and down­stairs in the vaulted cel­lars of Stack A Restau­rant – are care­fully crafted to de­liver a fresh and in­ven­tive twist on tra­di­tional Ir­ish fare. Adding to its Dock­lands ap­peal, Ur­ban Brewing is per­fectly lo­cated for ei­ther a drink or a meal be­fore or af­ter a con­cert at the 3Arena, or a night of the­atre at the nearby Bord Gais En­ergy The­atre.

“The ob­jec­tive of Ur­ban Brewing is to serve food, which pairs well with the beers we’re pro­duc­ing on site,” says Sea­mus O’Hara, the pi­o­neer­ing head of O’Hara’s Brewing. “We also hope it pairs well with the 200 or so other beers from all over the world that are on our drinks menu. Some in­gre­di­ents even cross over be­tween the two, as our brewer and chef work very closely to­gether.”

Their su­perbly thought-out menus fea­ture such high­lights as the PanFried Prawns, Brewed Ir­ish Beef Cheek and Beeramisu, which are among the cur­rent stand­outs at Taps & Tapas; the Cured Sea Trout, Duo of Ir­ish Beef, or Wex­ford Lamb at Stack A also get the Best Of Ire­land Gold Star seal of ap­proval.

Look up and you’ll spy the stain­less steel tanks where Ur­ban Brewing brews its own exclusive small-batch beers, which cur­rently in­clude a 4.6% Nitro Pale, 5.3% Dry Hopped Pil­sner (a col­lab with Cabin Boys Brew­ery from Tulsa), 5.5% Schisan­dra + Berg­amot Sai­son or 4.4% Bel­gian Wit, brewed with co­rian­der seed, or­ange peel, and lemon ver­bena. Com­ing soon are ex­cit­ing brews like a Szechuan pep­per Stout, a Seaweed Gose, or a Cof­fee IPA, amongst oth­ers.

“It’s a great way for us to put va­ri­ety in front of the cus­tomer and get im­me­di­ate feed­back,” Sea­mus says. “The beer menu is al­ways chang­ing as we con­tin­u­ously de­velop and ro­tate it.”

If you want to see the alchemy hap­pen­ing rst-hand, Ur­ban Brewing of­fers daily tours and tast­ings as well as beer and food match­ing menus, and a Brewing Day Ex­pe­ri­ence for those who can’t re­sist the im­mer­sive world of brewing.

O’Hara’s also import and dis­trib­ute the leg­endary Span­ish beer, Estrella Gali­cia. It’s a two-way trade with Estrella Gali­cia help­ing O’Hara’s to break into Spain and Por­tu­gal. Brazil and other parts of South Amer­ica will fol­low.

“We’re in over 30 coun­tries at the mo­ment, which is some­thing we never imag­ined when we were start­ing out,” Sea­mus adds. “What hasn’t changed is the fun we have brewing our beers, which any­one who comes to our Dock­lands home in Ur­ban Brewing will ex­pe­ri­ence rst-hand.”

In­side CHQ

Thehe Famine Memo­rial

Dublin’s Dock­lands

The Con­ven­tion Cen­tre Dublin

The Jeanie John­ston

In­side Thehe Jeanie John­ston

Ae­rial view of CHQ

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.