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Port Stories

Port Stories

By Ports, Past and Present
A podcast for the Ports, Past and Present project, led by University College Cork in partnership with Aberystwyth University, the University of Wales Trinity St David and Wexford County Council examining the cultural heritage of the ports in the Irish sea basin. Funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Ireland Wales Cooperation Programme. |
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Coastal Brexit

Port Stories

Women of the Docklands
For this episode of Port Stories, Ports, Past and Present researcher Dr Claire Nolan speaks to Betty Ashe, resident of the Dublin Docklands and long-term community activist. Betty played a central role in the social regeneration and development of the Docklands after the demolition and depopulation of the area in the early 60s. She talks about her work, the past role of women in the Docklands, and how the strength, cohesion and vision of the women of the Docklands in the 60s and 70s helped to make it the strong, creative community it is today.
August 04, 2022
Neolithic Crossings
For this episode of Port Stories, Ports, Past and Present researcher Dr Claire Nolan speaks to Vicki Cummings, Professor of Neolithic archaeology at the University of Central Lancashire. Vicki is a specialist in the Neolithic (c. 4000-2500 BC) of the Irish Sea Zone, with a particular interest in early Neolithic portal dolmens and ancient DNA studies. In this episode, she talks about how she became interested in these subjects, her work in this area over the past 20 years, Neolithic mariners and the strong cultural connections between Ireland and Wales that stretch back into prehistory.
July 05, 2022
We Have Always Been Your Harbour
We Have Always Been Your Harbour – A Play for Voices by Peter Murphy Produced by Dan Comerford We Have Always Been Your Harbour is a 25-minute play for voices, written and produced by Wexford writer and performer Peter Murphy, recorded, scored and co-produced by Rosslare native Dan Comerford. The piece was initially conceived as a response and homage to Dylan Thomas’s 1954 radio play Under Milk Wood, relocated to present-day Rosslare Harbour. It takes the form of a series of monologues by unnamed voices, drawing on the history, folklore and landscape of the area, as well as interviews with Rosslare residents, including ferry crew, port workers, local historians, writers and photographers. The piece is impressionistic rather than narrative driven, a chorus of ghosts, underscored by original music and foley sounds recorded by Dan Comerford in the region of the port. As well as Dylan Thomas’s writings, it was inspired by works such as Edward Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology, Michael Lesy’s Wisconsin Death Trip, and the late Hal Willner’s Rogues’ Gallery. But by far the biggest influence on the work is of course the port itself, and the denizens of the harbour area. The release of the audio production will be accompanied by a short promotional film, by Dan Comerford.
June 16, 2022
A new thematic podcast from the Ports, Past and Present project team. In this episode, project team members Claire Nolan, Rita Singer and James Smith discuss heritage: its manifestations, its meaning, its relevance for port communities, its ownership and stewardship, and its role in the future.
April 12, 2022
Bernard O'Donoghue
For this episode of Port Stories, Ports Past and Present project leads Mary-Ann Constantine (CAWCS, University of Wales Trinity Saint David) and Claire Connolly (University College Cork) were delighted to speak to esteemed poet and academic Bernard O'Donoghue. Born in North Cork, Ireland, O'Donoghue moved to Manchester as a young man and later spent most of his adult life in Oxford where he taught Old English. In this episode, O'Donoghue shares his thoughts on travelling between Ireland and Britain, discusses his poem, 'Westering Home', and reads his new poem, 'Sandpipers at Rosslare'.
January 11, 2022
Julie Merriman
In this episode of Port Stories, Martin Crampin talks to artist Julie Merriman. Julie is one of twelve artists and writers commissioned to work with the project on a series of creative responses to the ports towns. A visual artist, Julie is making a series of mimeograph postcards of all five ports, and explains the background to the images made for Dublin Port, Holyhead and Rosslare. She also talks about her Carlisle Pier Residency at Dún Laoghaire (2006–10), which examined the history of the site and its social, political and psychological links to emigration, and explains the technical processes that underlie her work. A shorter, illustrated version of the interview was broadcast for the Holyhead Port Fest in May 2021, and can be seen on our YouTube channel. More examples of her work can be found on her website and an interview about her work for Carlisle Pier can also be found here.
July 27, 2021
Digital Coasts
This is a recording of a an event recorded on 27 May 2021,  2:00PM - 3:30PM BST. Video of episode on YouTube: Projects and websites discussed in order of appearance: Port Towns and Urban Cultures: Sailortown: Waves of Ink: PERICLES Project: PERICLES Mapping Tool: Seamens’ Church Institute Archives: Red Hook Water Stories: OAIS: Urban Archive: Ports, Past and Present Project: Endings Project Questionnaire: Heritage Digital: Endings Project Principles: Journal of Open Humanities Data: Medieval and Tudor Ships: The warped sea of sailing: Maritime topographies of space and time for the Bronze Age eastern Mediterranean: Historypin WW1 Collections: Google Arts and Culture Open Heritage:
July 14, 2021
Haunted Shores
In this recording, Professor Claire Connolly, Dr Rita Singer and  Dr James Louis Smith from the Ports, Past and Present team talk at the Haunted Shores online conference. They explore Gothic strangeness at the coast in public humanities storytelling, investigating a dark history by thinking in particular about the ways in which we can take account of a shadowy past in the context of public history and the tourist experience of the Irish sea. Abstract: The Gothic clings to coasts and finds voice through strange stories of drowning, shipwreck, suicide and smuggling. Centuries of accumulated death and tragedy forms a dense web of sorrow with particularly prolific roots in the literature, songs, and stories of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. These traditions resonate within the longer history of lives and vessels lost in the Irish Sea, becoming part of what Gillian O’Brien has described as the “ring of sorrow” encircling Ireland—and the wider archipelago—“binding together communities who have suffered maritime tragedies like beads on a rosary”.  The Ports, Past and Present project is an initiative funded by the European European Regional Development Fund through the Ireland Wales Cooperation programme. It seeks, through its storytelling activities, to present a depth of narrative across five coastal communities—Dublin Port, Rosslare, Pembroke Dock, Fishguard and Holyhead—and to bring the past to life for visitors and residents alike. During this task, the project has tuned in to a dark and tragic subset of coastal folklore and literature. In this paper, three project members will discuss some of the coastal Gothic resonances that cross the Irish Sea and explore some of the conundrums of expressing this material through digital and stakeholder-based public history activities.
May 05, 2021
Holyhead – Sea Change?
In this episode of Port Stories, Jonathan Evershed talks to documentary photographer, Robert Law, about his project, Holyhead – Sea Change?. The project aims to observe Wales’ busiest port ‘as honestly as possible’, and start a dialogue about how and why this often overlooked and side-lined coastal community came to support Brexit. A series of images from Holyhead – Sea Change? are available to view on Rob’s website. Here you will find a link to Rob’s November 2020 talk at the Royal Photographic Society, which explores some of the themes and images from the project in more depth.
March 08, 2021
Coastal Brexit
This episode of Port Stories is the edited recording of a Zoom-based webinar held on the 21st of January, 2021. The chair and sound engineer is Dr James L. Smith, postdoctoral research fellow on the Ports, Past and Present project. The event explored the complexities of Brexit for the coastal  communities spanning the Irish Sea Basin. What coastal connections will  strengthen and wane in 2021 and beyond, and what initiatives and stories sustain coastal communities? What aspects of coastal connection endure, and what is in flux from a social, infrastructural and political perspective? Speakers included Jonathan Evershed, University College Cork; Gráinne Ní Aodha, Journalist for; Rhys Jones, Aberystwyth University; and Ciarán O' Driscoll, Policy and Brexit Research Officer at European Movement Ireland.
February 01, 2021
An introductory podcast for the Port Stories series of the Ports, Past and Present project. In this episode, project manager Aoife Dowling and postdoctoral fellows James Smith and Jonathan Evershed discuss their motivations for joining the project and why they thing its topic is important and timely.
January 06, 2021