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Dublin: 14 °C Monday 17 June, 2019
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This is what Dublin Bay used to look like

The Great South Wall is celebrating 300 years.

THREE HUNDRED YEARS ago Dublin Bay and its port looked very different.

For one thing, the North Bull Wall and Great South Wall were not jutting out from Clontarf and Ringsend.

For centuries, Dublin Bay had been a relatively dangerous place for shipping. Silt on the sea floor meant dredging was a necessity to avoid ships running aground on their approach to port.

1686 Collins Dublin Bay Source: Picasa

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The idea behind building the two walls was seen as a way of concentrating the flow of the Liffey into a kind of bottleneck to break up the hazardous sand banks.

The Great South Wall was the first to be built. The decision to build it was taken in 1715 and the 300th anniversary that decision is now being celebrated.

It was about 80 years later that the four-mile wall was finally completed, it was the world’s longest seawall at the time.

As part of a number of events to mark the anniversary, the Dublin Port company are displaying three never-before-seen maps of the port.

The Collins Chart (above) is dated from 1693 and a number of notable changes are in evidence from the Dublin Bay we know today.

Perhaps most obviously, there’s no Bull Island.

The island only formed after the Bull Wall was built in the 19th century and the silt in Dublin Bay was broken up and became deposited on the northern side of the wall.

Other differences can be observed, with the spelling of both ‘Hoath’ and ‘Rings End’ different from the contemporary equivalents.

A second map (below) is obviously a much later creation with the South Wall clearly marked alongside public baths for men and women in Ringsend.

A  number of shipwrecks also appear to marked along the entrance to the harbour.

1760 John Rocque Source: Dublin Port Company

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The CEO of the Dublin Port company Eamonn O’Reilly says that the Great South Wall has become a landmark since it was first conceived.

“This iconic structure has sheltered, protected and played a defining role in shaping Dublin Bay and Dublin Port over the centuries, becoming a city landmark in its own right,” he says.

More information on the port’s 300th anniversay can be found on its website.

Read: Dún Laoghaire’s mega cruise berth would make Dublin ‘the new Copenhagen’ >

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About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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