President to open 200th anniversary of Dún Laoghaire harbour celebrations

Fly past and 21-gun salute among events to mark ‘special place’ of habour in Irish life

The first stones of Dún Laoghaire east pier were laid 200 years ago. Harbour Master Simon Coate says it became a very successful "asylum harbour" when it was completed 25 years later.

 

President Michael D Higgins will formally open celebrations to mark the 200th anniversary of the laying of the Dun Laoghaire harbour foundation stone on Wednesday.

Mr Higgins accompanied by a guard of honour from the the RNLI and Coast Guard will place a time capsule at the King George IV monument overlooking the Carlisle Pier.

Overhead a fly past will be performed by the Defence Forces and a 21-gun salute will be fired from the gun battery at the end of the East Pier.

The capsule is to contain letters from local schoolchildren, photos of the harbour in 2017, notes from harbour users and a copy of Wednesday’s print edition of The Irish Times.

It is not the first time a time capsule has been placed in the harbour. The Freeman’s Journal of May 31st 1817, as transcribed by harbour master Simon Coate from a copy in the National Library, reported several “coins of the realm” and newspapers were to be placed into a glass time capsule, and dropped through “a specially prepared hole in the foundation stone” by the then lord lieutenant of Ireland Charles Whitworth.

While the exact location of the foundation stone is now uncertain it is believed to be somewhere in the area around the George IV monument.

Public pride

An exhibition detailing the history and heritage of the harbour is already under way in the dlr Lexicon library, researched by Colin and Anna Scudds of Dún Laoghaire Borough Historical Society .

It includes images from the 19th century up to more recent times giving an insight into the early history of the pier, working conditions for the labourers, shipping disasters and convict ships. There will also be walking heritage tours from June to October.

Also under way is an exhibition of local contemporary art including many works from local artist Peter Pearson, which is running in the former ferry terminal.

Food festival

Dermot Reidy of the Motor Yacht Club said all four yacht clubs based at the harbour, the Royal St George, the Royal Irish, the National, the Motor Yacht and other harbour users were looking forward to “a summer of fun” in the harbour.

The full list of events and an interactive archive of personal memories and reminiscences of the harbour is available at dlharbour200.ie

A video of life in the harbour, including an interview with Capt Coate, is available on irishtimes.com