HMS Dublin

HMS Dublin

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HMS Dublin

HMS Dublin was a Chatham class light cruiser that took part in the search for the Goeben and the Breslau in 1914, the early stages of the Gallipoli campaign and the battle of Jutland. She entered service in 1913 and was attached to the 1st Battle Squadron. In 1913 she was sent to the Mediterranean, and at the start of the First World War was part of the 2nd Light Cruiser Squadron of the Mediterranean Fleet.

In that capacity she took part in the hunt for the German cruisers Goeben and Breslau in the confused days of early August. On 4 August, before Britain and Germany were at war, the British battlecruiser squadron in the Mediterranean found the German ships, but only the Dublin and the Gloucester) were able to keep up with them. The ships were captained by brothers – Captain John D Kelly on the Dublin and Captain (Sir) William Archibald Howard Kelly on the Gloucester. On 7 August the two cruisers came close to catching the two German ships but just failed to make contact. This was probably for the best – at the start of the war the British assumed that an inferior force could inflict significant damage on more powerful ships before being defeated. The battles of Coronel and of the Falklands soon disproved this idea – in 1914 an apparently minor advantage could produce a very one-sided battle.

In mid-August the main British cruiser force was sent to the Dardanelles under Admiral Troubridge. The Dublinremained further west, under the command of the French Admiral de Lapeyrère, and based at Malta. Her initial duty was to guard the sea route between the Suez Canal and Malta, but that route was not yet under attack. Dublinwas detached from this duty in late August to protect Russian citizens trapped at Jaffa on the Syria coast, before rejoining Troubridge.

At the end of September the Dublin was part of the squadron under Admiral Carden watching the Dardanelles. While the majority of British ships were soon replaced with French ships, the Dublin (along with the battlecruiser Indefatigable and three submarines) remained off the Dardanelles at the end of 1914.

Dublin took part in the bombardments of the Dardanelles forts. During the bombardment of 25 February 1915 she acted as a spotter for the battleship HMS Queen Elizabeth, taking up a position close to the shore, where she came under heavy fire from Turkish guns. The next day she helped to protect the first landings on the Dardanelles, a demolition raid on the forts. She remained off the Dardenalles for long enough to take part in the initial landings at Gallipoli.

In May 1915 the Dublin was posted to Brindisi, in the east of Italy, as part of the deal that brought Italy into the war. While operating from Brindisi she was damaged by an Austrian U-boat (9 June 1915).

In 1916 Dublin was posted to the Grand Fleet, as part of the 2nd Light Cruiser Squadron. She was present at the battle of Jutland, where she was hit by eighteen smaller shells during the night action. Three men were dead and twenty four were wounded. Amongst the dead was the navigator. All of his maps were destroyed and for some time the ship was lost.

The Dublin was repaired by 17 June, in time to take part in the next fleet sortie, on 18-19 August. This time no battle followed, but the British suffered several losses to submarines, amongst them HMS Nottingham, lost after the Dublin spotted but failed to identify U 52.

After the war the Dublin served with the 6th Light Cruiser Squadron on the African Station (1920-1924), with a short break in April 1920 when she was posted to the 3rd Light Cruiser Squadron in the Mediterranean. She was paid off in 1924 and sold in 1926.

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed



4,500 nautical miles at 16kts

Armour – deck

1.5in – 3/8in

- belt

2in on 1in plate

- conning tower





Eight 6in guns
Four 3pdr guns
Two 21in submerged torpedo tubes (beam)

Crew complement



9 November 1911


March 1913

Sold for break up



Captain John Kelly (1914, 1915, 1916)
Captain Scott (1916)

Books on the First World War |Subject Index: First World War

TSS Helga II

When I was growing up in the 1980s, my dad would bring me to the National Museum of Ireland every Easter to see the 1916 Exhibition, and we would then walk around Dublin to look at the various areas where the fighting took place. In particular I remember being told of the shelling of Dublin by the Royal Navy’s Helga. I imagined a large battleship sailing up the Liffey with all its guns blazing at Liberty Hall and the GPO.
In fact the Helga II was not a ship of the Royal Navy it was originally built for the Department of Agriculture in 1908 in Dublin Dockyard and was pressed into war service as an armed yacht during the First World War, serving as an anti-submarine patrol and escort vessel. Like much of the British government’s response to the 1916 Rising, the Helga was rushed into service to make up for the British Army’s lack of artillery. Subsequently the Helga II gained an undeserved reputation for playing an essential part in the Rising. (Most of the damage to Dublin’s city centre was caused by fire, particularly at premises like the Irish Times warehouse and Hoyte’s Druggists and Oil Works, rather than by shelling.)
Prior to the First World War the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction used the Helga for fishery patrols and scientific research, including the survey of Clare Island from 1909 to 1911. As can be seen in the drawing (below), the Helga contained a laboratory and was designed as a marine research ship. In 1915 it was taken over by the British Admiralty and became known as HMS Helga, classified as an ‘armed auxiliary patrol yacht’. The ship was armed at the front with a QF twelve-pounder coastal defence gun, crewed by two sailors, with a range of 11,000 metres and a firing rate of fifteen rounds per minute. At the rear there was a smaller three-pounder naval gun, known as a ‘pom pom’.

The Helga was originally designed as a marine research ship and included a laboratory, as indicated on this ship’s drawing. (National Museum of Ireland)

On 25 April 1916 the Helga sailed from Dún Laoghaire to shell Boland’s mill, and on the following day fired over the loop line railway bridge at Liberty Hall. In total the Helga fired only 40 rounds during the Rising, and it is difficult to assess the effectiveness of the fire from her guns. Indeed, two of the ship’s crew refused to fire the guns during the engagement.
After 1923 the Helga was renamed the Muirchu (Seahound) and taken over by the new Irish Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, followed by the Marine and Coastwatching Service in 1939. After being retired, she sank off Tuskar on 8 May 1947 while en route to Dublin to be broken up by the Hammond Lane Foundry Company. In 1951 the Department of Agriculture presented to the National Museum a variety of items associated with the Helga, including the name-plate, pennants, model and ensign. More recently the Irish Naval Service has lent the brass ship’s bell of the Muirchu, which is on display in the Soldiers & Chiefs exhibition, National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks. HI

Lar Joye is curator of military history at the National Museum of Ireland (Decorative Arts and History).

J. de Courcy Ireland, The sea and the Easter Rising (Dublin, 1966).

History of the Port

Bligh’s study of the currents in Dublin Bay provided the basis for the construction of the North Wall. This undertaking led to the growth of the Bull Island to its present size.

Another famous person, involved in the development of the Port was the famous Port engineer Bindon Blood Stoney. He designed the Diving Bell now located on Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, which was used in the construction of the North Wall Extension.

In view of the rich history that attaches to the Port, it is worthwhile and interesting to review this history which places the current port centre in context with more than 1,000 past years.

It is generally accepted that Dublin was little more than a monastic settlement until the Norse invasion in the 8th and 9th centuries when they selected the Liffey Estuary as their point of entry to the country as it provided relatively easy access to the central plains of Ireland. Trading with England and Europe followed which required port facilities so the development of Dublin Port is inextricably linked to the development of Dublin City.

The original Port of Dublin was situated upriver, a few miles from it’s current location near the modern Civic Offices at Wood Quay and close to Christchurch Cathedral. The port remained close to that area until the new Custom House opened in the 1790s. In medieval times Dublin shipped cattle hides to Britain and the continent, and the returning ships carried wine, pottery and other goods.

(Pictured above left: A prospect of The Old Custom House and Essex Bridge, 1753 and right: The New Custom House 1867)

But Dublin Bay presented major dangers for shipping. In 1674 it was described as in its natural state, wild, open and exposed to every wind. Ships frequently had to seek shelter at Clontarf to the north of the city or at Ringsend. In certain wind conditions ships could not reach the city for several weeks at a time. Shipwrecks were common. So in 1716 work began on a bank to protect the south side of the channel at the mouth of the harbour, running from Ringsend to Poolbeg. A committee established by Dublin Corporation that was known as the Ballast Office Committee carried out this work.

The South bank provided only limited protection for shipping and in 1753, after a particularly stormy winter, the bank was replaced with a wall – the South Bull Wall. Bull is another word for strand, and the strands on either side of the mouth of the Liffey were known as North and South Bulls. The Poolbeg Lighthouse at the end of the Bull Wall was lit for the first time on 29 September 1767. It replaced a floating light that had been placed at the end of the wall to warn ships.

To save travel time, passengers and packets of mail landed at the end of the wall, or the Pigeon House, and they were rowed to the city in boats.

(Pictured above left: Pigeon House c1800 and right: Poolbeg Lighthouse)

Many Dublin merchants were dissatisfied with the running of the port, and in 1786 control of the port was transferred from Dublin Corporation to a new authority-the Ballast Board which was controlled by merchants and properly owners. The Ballast Board was also given control over Dun Leary harbour – modern Dun Laoighaire – and Dalkey Sound. In 1867 the Ballast Board was replaced by the Dublin Port and Docks Board. Since 1997 the day to day running of Dublin Port is managed by Dublin Port Company.

Dublin City prospered during the eighteenth century, and trade expanded. Merchants shipped cargos of linen and agricultural produce to Britain and farther afield. Returning ships carried coal and the luxury goods that were in demand in the great Georgian Houses.

By 1800 most of Dublin’s trade was to British ports. The shipping channel in Dublin Bay was too shallow for larger vessels, and many ships were forced to unload their cargo at Ringsend onto lighters that could travel upriver.

In 1800 a major survey of Dublin harbour by Captain William Bligh, who is remembered for his role in the mutiny on the HMS Bounty, recommended that the North Bull Wall should be constructed, parallel to the South Bull Wall to prevent sand building up in the mouth of the harbour. He correctly forecast that this would create a natural scouring action that would deepen the river channel. When the North Bull Wall was completed in 1825, sand gradually accumulated along its side until the modern Bull Island emerged.

(Pictured above Left: Captain Bligh and right Modern Day Bull Island)

Until 1800 most trade took place on the south side of the River Liffey, but with the opening of the new Custom House in 1791, port development shifted to the north bank of the river.

The original Custom House Dock opened in 1796. In 1821 it was supplemented by George’s Dock, which included large warehouses and storage vaults. These formed part of the Custom House Dock Area. In 1836 construction work began on deep-water berths at the North Wall and this was extended in the 1870’s. Further deep-water berths, in the AlexandraBasin opened shortly before World War I and Ocean Pier, to the south-east of AlexandraBasin was completed after World War II. The 1950s brought the first roll-on, roll-off services, and container traffic has increasingly dominated port business since the 1960s. Cargoes have changed in line as the Irish economy has revolved: live cattle have given way to chilled meat oil is now more important than coal, and the containers carry the products of many of Ireland’s high-tech factories.

(Pictured above: Dublin Port Company Port Centre)

Today Dublin Port Company Head office is located in the heart of Dublin Port on Alexandra Road. Dublin Port Company is a self-financing, private limited company wholly-owned by the State, whose business is to manage Dublin Port, Ireland’s premier port. Established as a corporate entity in 1997, Dublin Port Company is responsible for the management, control, operation and development of the port. Dublin Port Company provides world-class facilities, services, accommodation and lands in the harbour for ships, goods and passengers.

You can learn more about the history of Dublin Port on our dedicated Archive website here:

(Information from Dublin Port Company and Dublin Docklands Development Authority.)

The first stone quay walls were erected on Wood Quay and Merchant Quay in more or less the same line as the present quay walls.

Formation of Dublin Corporation (Ballast committee) as a separate entity to manage the port.

The first bespoke office that the Port built was the famous Ballast Office on 19-21
Westmoreland Street.

Scott Tallon Walker were appointed as architects for the proposed new Dublin Port and Docks Board Offices.

The Port Centre building was completed on the 1st of September 1981.

Began a new chapter of Port City integration, opening the Port Centre grounds to the community, rebuilding the connection between the Port and the City.


Dublin was founded by the Vikings. They founded a new town on the south bank of the Liffey in 841. It was called Dubh Linn, which means black pool. The new town of Dublin was fortified with a ditch and an earth rampart with a wooden palisade on top. In the late 11th stone walls were built around Dublin. The Danes also erected an artificial hill where the men of Dublin met to make laws and discuss policy.

In Viking Dublin living conditions were primitive. The houses were wooden huts with thatched roofs. None of them had chimneys or glass windows. In Dublin, there were craftsmen like blacksmiths and carpenters, jewelers, and leather workers. Other craftsmen made things like combs from bone or deer antlers. There was also a wool weaving industry. In Dublin, there was also a slave trade.

The Danes were slowly converted to Christianity and the first Bishop of Dublin was appointed in 1028. In his time the first Christchurch Cathedral was built. In the wars between Irishmen and Vikings, the little town of Dublin was sacked several times. Yet each time it recovered. Dublin soon grew to be the largest and most important town in Ireland. It may have had a population of 4,000 in the 11th century. That seems very small to us but it was a large town by the standards of the time when settlements were very small.

By the late 11th century there was a suburb of Dublin north of the Liffey. In those days the people of Dublin traded with the English towns of Chester and Bristol.


In 1166, MacMurrough, King of Leinster was forced to leave his kingdom and flee abroad, In 1169 he enlisted the help of a Norman, The Earl of Pembroke, known as Strongbow, and they invaded Ireland. When the Norman army approached Dublin the Archbishop was sent out to negotiate. But while the leaders talked some Norman soldiers took matters into their own hands and broke through the defenses into the town. They set about killing the townspeople. The Viking king and his followers fled by sea.

In 1171 Mac Murrough died and Strongbow declared himself King of Leinster. The Viking king returned to Ireland with an army and attempted to recapture Dublin. The Norman army went out to meet them. The Vikings were crushed and their king was captured and executed. The native Irish under their High king O’Connor laid siege to Dublin but the Normans sallied out and routed them.

The English king was afraid that Strongbow would become too powerful and might call himself king of Ireland. To prevent that happening the English king came over to Ireland himself. Most of the Irish rulers submitted to him and he became Lord of Ireland. The English king gave Dublin to the merchants of Bristol. It became their colony.

Afterward, many people from Bristol and Southwest England came to live in Dublin. For centuries afterward, Dublin was ruled by the English or those of English descent. The Viking inhabitants were afraid of the new English rulers and they moved to the north side of the Liffey. This new suburb became known as Ostmantown (Ostman is an old word for Viking). In time this became corrupted to Oxmantown.

In 1152 the Bishop of Dublin was made an Archbishop. Between 1172 and 1191 the Cathedral of Christchurch was rebuilt. In 1213 the parish Church of St Patrick was also made a cathedral.

In 1190 Dublin was devastated by fire (always a hazard when most buildings were made of wood). However, Dublin was soon rebuilt. The Normans built a wooden fortress in Dublin. In the early 13th century it was rebuilt in stone. The English king also rebuilt the walls of Dublin and strengthened them. Furthermore in 1229 Dublin gained its first mayor. Dublin grew rapidly and may have had a population of 8,000 by the 13th century.

Wine from France was imported into Dublin. Iron was also imported, as was pottery. Exports included hides, grain, and pulses. There were weekly markets in Dublin and after 1204 a fair. In the Middle Ages fairs were like a market but they were held only once a year for a few days and people would come from all over the country to buy and sell there.

In 1224 a conduit was built to bring fresh water into Dublin. In the 14th century, the main streets were paved. But like all medieval towns, Dublin was very unsanitary. Every householder was supposed to clean the street in front of their house although it is doubtful if many did! From time to time people were fined for leaving nuisances such as piles of dung outside their houses. In 1305 the town appointed 3 watchmen to patrol the streets at night, although it is doubtful if they were very effective.

In 1317 Dublin was besieged by a Scottish army. Following their victory at Bannockburn in 1314, the Scots invaded Ireland. Desperate efforts were made to repair the walls around Dublin and the bridge over the Liffey was destroyed to prevent the Scots from using it. Finally, the authorities set fire to the suburbs of Dublin (in case they provided cover for an advancing army). Unfortunately, the fire got out of hand and destroyed far more buildings than was intended. Shortly afterward the Scots abandoned the siege.


In 1537 a rebellion occurred in Dublin. The Lord Deputy of Ireland (The English king’s deputy) was summoned to London. He appointed his son Vice-Deputy to rule in his absence. This young man was Lord Fitzgerald. He heard that his father had been executed and angrily decided to rebel. He walked into the council chamber during a meeting and renounced his loyalty to the English king. He then left Dublin to gather support.

When he returned the Dubliners submitted and let him into the town but soldiers loyal to the king retreated into the castle and shut out the rebels. The rebels then murdered the Archbishop, which was a fatal mistake as it lost public support. Fitzgerald sent a small number of men to besiege the castle then left Dublin to fight elsewhere. However, the Dubliners turned against him and drove the men besieging the castle out of the town. Later Fitzgerald and his men returned to Dublin but this time they were shut out. They attempted to burn a gate but the Dubliners went out and drove the attackers off. Reinforcements arrived from England and the rebellion collapsed. Fitzgerald was later executed.

The Reformation happened peacefully in Dublin. When Henry VIII declared himself head of the church Dubliners actually celebrated. Henry closed the monasteries and nunneries, which caused some resentment but no actual rebellion. Henry also abolished the cult of relics but otherwise made few changes in religion. His son Edward and his daughter Elizabeth introduced more radical reforms but in Dublin and the rest of Ireland, they were mostly ignored. Most people continued to practice the Old Catholic religion.

In the 16th century, Dublin prospered. For the upper and middle classes, there was an impressive rise in living standards. A writer said that they lived in houses ‘so far exceeding their ancestors that they have thought rather be another and new people than descendants of the old’. In the 16th century, chimneys became much more common. So did glass windows. Previously they were a luxury few people could afford.

Although conditions improved for the well off there were many beggars in Dublin. Many of them drifted in from the surrounding countryside. Furthermore, Dublin was still dirty and unsanitary, like all 16th-century towns. And it suffered from outbreaks of plague. One outbreak in 1579 killed thousands. Another tragedy in 1596 when a gunpowder store in Winetavern Street exploded. More than 120 people were killed.

In 1591 Queen Elizabeth granted a charter for a new university, Trinity College. The first students were admitted in 1594.


In 1604 Dublin was again visited by the plague. Nevertheless, Dublin continued to grow and may have had a population of around 20,000 by 1640. In 1616 Dublin gained its first street lighting when it was decreed that a candle or lantern should be hung outside every 5th house on dark nights. In 1621 a Custom House was built. In 1637 Dublin gained its first theater in Werburgh Street.

Following the English civil war of 1642-1646 Catholics were expelled from Dublin in large numbers since their loyalty was suspect.

The plague broke out again in 1650. A large part of the population died, possibly as many as half. It was said at the time that Dublin was ‘exceedingly depopulated’. In 1659 the population was less than 9,000. Nevertheless, Dublin recovered and prospered in the late 17th century.

In 1662 Phoenix Park was laid out as a deer park. In the mid-18th century, it became a popular place for walking. Meanwhile, for centuries, Dublin had only one bridge. A second one was built in 1670. The first newspaper in Dublin was produced in 1685.

Dublin continued to grow and many new houses were built. In 1670 a law forbade any new houses to have thatched roofs because of the danger of fire. The new houses were usually of brick with tiled roofs. Meanwhile, in 1665 the Mayor of Dublin became a Lord Mayor and The Blue Coat School opened in 1669. It was rebuilt in 1773. The Tholsel, the town hall, was rebuilt in 1682 and a Royal Hospital for old soldiers was built in 1685. It is now the Irish Museum of Modern Art.

In the late 17th century the wool and linen trade with England grew. The industry was boosted by French Protestants who arrived in Dublin after fleeing from religious persecution.


By 1700 Dublin had about 60,000 inhabitants and it continued to grow rapidly. Conditions continued to improve in the 18th century, at least for the middle and upper classes. Dublin became a more refined and genteel city (for the well to do) but there was still a great deal of poverty.

Marsh’s library was built in 1701 and in 1703 the Irish Parliament passed an act for building a workhouse where the destitute (of whom there were many) could be housed and fed. Then in 1711 Dublin gained its first fire brigade and St Anns Church was built in 1720. Dublin grew rapidly in the 18th century. Streets such as Aungier Street, Cuffe Street, and Dawson Street were built early in the century. Merrion Square was built in 1762.

A number of hospitals were founded in the early 18th century. In 1729 a foundling hospital for unwanted children (of which there were many) opened in James Street. Jervis Hospital opened in 1721 Mercers Hospital was founded in 1734 by Mary Mercer. In 1745 St Patricks Hospital for the mentally ill was built and in 1752 Rotunda Maternity Hospital. In 1794 a dispensary was founded which gave free medicines to those too poor to buy them.

College Park was laid out in 1722. In the mid-18th century, Phoenix Park became a fashionable place for the well to do to take walks. Ranelagh Gardens opened in 1776. The Botanic Gardens were made in 1795. In the late 18th century St Stephens Green became a park.

Parliament House, a new meeting place for the Irish Parliament was built in 1735. Leinster House, which is the present home of the Irish Parliament was built in 1745 for the Duke of Leinster. A new Custom House was built in 1791. The Royal Exchange was built in 1779 and was later (1852) made the City Hall.

In 1757 the Irish Parliament passed an act, which created a body of men with powers to widen the streets. In 1773 a body of men with power to pave, clean, and light the streets of Dublin was formed. Their powers were transferred to the city council in 1851.

In the mid-18th-century stagecoaches began running from Dublin to other towns such as Kilkenny, Cork, and Belfast. There was a considerable coach-making industry in the city. There were also many sedan chairs for the well to do and the Grand canal opened in 1779. O’Connell Bridge was built in 1790.

In 1786 Dublin gained its first police force and Kilmainham prison was built in 1796. Meanwhile, Guinness was first brewed in Dublin in 1759.


By 1800 the population of Dublin had risen to around 180,000. In 1803 and 1804 fever hospitals were opened in Dublin. The most common fever was typhus, sometimes called goal fever, because it was so common in jails. Lice spread typhus. Poor people frequently had lousy clothes. There was still a great deal of appalling poverty in the city with many families living in one room. In all European cities at the time, there was terrible poverty but it seems to have been particularly bad in Dublin.

In the early 19th century several new bridges were built across the Liffey. O’Donovan Rossa bridge was built in 1813. Ha’penny Bridge (also called Liffey Bridge) opened in 1816 and Kingsbridge opened in 1828. (Its name was later changed to Heuston Bridge). Queen Victoria bridge, now Rory O’More Bridge, was built in 1859. The Royal Canal was opened in 1817. Meanwhile, a column with a statue of Nelson on top was erected in 1808. It was destroyed in the 1960s. In 1825 St Marys Protestant Cathedral was built. However, in 1855 the Dublin fair, which had been held in Dublin each year since the 13th century, was stopped.

Gradually during the 1800s conditions in Dublin improved. In 1824 a gasworks was built in Dublin and gas was used to light the streets from 1825. The first electric lights in Dublin were switched on in 1881 but electric light was a rare novelty until the early 20th century.

In the early 19th century sewers were laid but only in the middle-class districts of Dublin (poor areas could not pay the necessary rates). But the sewers were extended in the 1850s, 1860s, and 1870s. The railway reached Dublin in 1834 when a line to Kingsbridge was built. Horse-drawn buses began running in Dublin in 1840. They were followed by horse-drawn trams in 1872.

From 1838 there were workhouses in Dublin where the destitute were fed and housed. During the potato famine, they were overwhelmed by the numbers fleeing starvation in the countryside. Soup kitchens had to be set up in the streets to try and feed them. Although the population of Ireland fell sharply after the famine the population of Dublin actually rose because of the number of starving people fleeing to the city.

Amenities in Dublin greatly improved in the 19th Century. In 1853 an industrial exhibition was held in Dublin on Leinster Lawn. Zoological Gardens opened in Phoenix Park in 1830. Portobello Gardens opened as a park in 1839. A Natural History Museum opened in 1857. The National Gallery of Ireland opened in 1864. In 1882 a memorial to O’Connell was erected in O’Connell Street. The Gaiety Theatre opened in 1871. The National Museum of Ireland opened in 1890.

The Catholic University in Dublin was founded in 1845. Catholics were allowed to attend Trinity College after 1873 but the Catholic Church disapproved of Catholics going there. Glasnevin Catholic cemetery opened in 1832. In 1892 a new fruit and vegetable market opened and in 1897 a new fish market opened.


On 24 April 1916 the Easter Rising took place in Dublin. The insurgents occupied the Post Office in O’Connell Street where their leader Patrick Pearse announced the Irish Republic. However, the British crushed the rebellion, and the insurgents surrendered on 29 April. The British then tried the insurgents and 15 of them were executed. Public opinion in Ireland was appalled and alienated by the executions.

However, conditions in Dublin continued to improve during the 20th century. A new network of sewers was built in Dublin in 1892-1906. Butt Bridge was built in 1932. Talbot Memorial bridge was built in 1978 and Frank Sherwin Memorial bridge in 1982. East Link toll bridge was built in 1985. In the early 1990s, a ring road was built around Dublin.

Meanwhile in 1904 Abbey Theatre was built. Gate Theatre followed in 1930. In 1907 the Irish International Exhibition was held in Herbert Park. It was an exhibition of industrial and commercial goods.

However, in the early 20th century there was still appalling poverty in Dublin with perhaps a quarter of families living in one room. In 1912 slum demolition began when houses north of the Liffey were demolished and replaced with proper houses. Slum clearance on a large scale began in the 1930s and continued through the 1940s and 1950s.

In 1934 the Old Dublin Society was formed. In May 1941 the Germans bombed Dublin killing 28 people. Dublin Civic Museum opened in 1953. In 1962 the James Joyce Museum opened. In 1966 a Remembrance Garden was opened for all those who died in the fight for independence and the Friends of Medieval Dublin was founded in 1976.

In the 1960s and 1970s redevelopment of the city center took place, some of it controversial as it involved the demolition of fine old buildings. In the late 20th century the population of the city center fell as areas of slum housing were demolished and replaced by new estates on the outskirts of the city but in the 1990s new apartments were built in the city center.

In the late 20th century traditional industries such as textiles, brewing, and distilling declined but the city council built new industrial estates on the outskirts of the city and new industries like electronics, chemicals, and engineering appeared.

In 1975 the Dublin Institute of Higher Education was formed. In 1990 it was made Dublin City University. The Catholic Church reversed its ban on Catholics attending Trinity College in 1970.

In 1988 Dublin celebrated its millennium. (Dublin was actually founded in 841 but in the year 988, an Irish king forced the townspeople to pay taxes to him. That year marks the beginning of Dublin as an Irish town). Also in 1988, Anna Livia Fountain was built in O’Connell Street. A statue of James Joyce was erected in Earl Street North in 1990. In 1985 a Jewish Museum opened in Dublin.

In 1991 the Dublin Writers Museum opened. Also in 1991, the Irish Museum of Modern Art opened.

After 1991 Temple Bar was renovated. The streets were pedestrianized and it now contains bars, shops, restaurants, and art galleries.

Furthermore, George Bernard Shaw’s birthplace in Dublin was opened to the public in 1993. Also in 1993 Dublinia, a Museum of Medieval Ireland opened. A Visitor Centre in the Custom House opened in 1997. Meanwhile, Powerscourt Shopping Centre opened in 1981 in a house built in 1774. St Stephens Green Shopping Centre was built in the late 1980s and Jervis Street Shopping Centre opened in 1996.


In the 21st century, Dublin continued to thrive. In 2000 a new pedestrian bridge, the Millennium Bridge was opened across the Liffey and in 2003 The Spire was erected. Trams returned to Dublin in 2004. The Convention Centre Dublin opened in 2010. Bord Gais Energy Theatre opened the same year, 2010.

Ha’penny Bridge

A Brief History of Dublin, Ireland

The first documented history of Dublin begins with the Viking raids in the 8th and 9th century. These led to the establishment of a settlement on the southside of the mouth of the Liffey, named Dubh Linn (Black Pool) after the lake where the Danes first moored their boats.

Despite stone fortifications, Dublin town was sacked many times over the next two centuries but always recovered. By the 11th Century, Dublin prospered, mainly due to close trading links with the English towns of Chester and Bristol and soon became the most important town in Ireland with a population of about 4,000.

Dublin in the Middle Ages

1169 marked the beginning of 700 years of Norman rule. The King of Leinster, Mac Murrough, enlisted the help of Strongbow, the Earl of Pembroke, to conquer Dublin. After Mac Murrough&rsquos death, Strongbow declared himself King of Leinster, defeating both the Vikings and the High King of Ireland to win control of the city. However, the king of England, afraid Strongbow might become too powerful, pronounced himself Lord of Ireland and gave Dublin to the merchants of Bristol.

Dublin was devastated by fire in 1190 and a stone fortress built sometime in the 13th century. The first mayor was appointed in 1220. Following this, the city grew fast and had a population of 8,000 by the end of the 13th century, prospering as a trade centre, despite an attack by the Scots in 1317.

From the 14th to 18th centuries, Dublin was incorporated into the English Crown as The Pale and, for a time, became the second city of the British Empire. In 1537, a revolt occurred when the Lord Deputy of Ireland was executed in London. His son renounced English sovereignty and set about gathering an army to attack Dublin. However, he was defeated and subsequently executed.

Dublin continued to prosper in the 16th Century and boasts one of the oldest universities in the British isles, Trinity College, which was founded by Queen Elizabeth I. The city had a population of 20,000 in 1640 before plague in 1650 wiped out almost half of the inhabitants. But the city prospered again soon after as a result of the wool and linen trade with England, reaching a population of 60,000 in 1700.

The History of Modern Dublin

The city grew even more rapidly during the 18th century with many famous districts and buildings added, such as Merrion Square, Parliament House and the Royal Exchange, later to become City Hall. The beginnings of the City Corporation was created in 1757 with a body of men formed to widen, pave, light and clean the streets. Ireland's famous Guinness stout was first brewed in 1759 and a stagecoach service to other towns began. The Grand Canal was built in 1779 and a police force established in 1786. Towards the end of the century O&rsquoConnell Bridge and Kilmainham Gaol had been built and by 1800 the population had swollen to 180,000. However, this overpopulation brought with it great poverty and disease

The 19th Century brought the construction of the Gasworks and introduction of street lighting, but overall Dublin suffered a steep political and economical decline with the seat of government moving to Westminster in 1800 under the Act Of Union.

Things were to change dramatically in the 20th Century with the 1916 Easter Rising, the War For Independence and the subsequent Civil War which eventually led to the establishment of the Republic of Ireland.

As the seat of English administration, Dublin was the setting for many key events during the Irish struggle for independence and you will find a number of historic buildings, such as the General Post Office on O'Connell Street, Dublin Castle and Kilmainham Gaol, where history comes alive.

Since the mid-1990s, an economic boom christened the &lsquoCeltic Tiger&rsquo brought massive expansion and development to the city, including the creation of Dublin&rsquos newest landmark, the Spire monument on O'Connel Street. Fuelled by the boom years, Dublin has grown to be the single largest conurbation in Ireland. Some 1.2m people live in the greater Dublin area, that equals 28% of the country's total population of 4.2m.

The boom brought many new ethnic groups into the city and created a more international feel, particularly in the north inner city. Ireland has fallen on harder times in recent months, but Dublin is, if anything, more vibrant than ever.

Handel’s “Messiah" premieres in Dublin

Nowadays, the performance of George Frideric Handel&aposs Messiah oratorio at Christmas time is a tradition almost as deeply entrenched as decorating trees and hanging stockings. In churches and concert halls around the world, the most famous piece of sacred music in the English language is performed both full and abridged, both with and without audience participation, but almost always and exclusively during the weeks leading up to the celebration of Christmas. It would surprise many, then, to learn that Messiah was not originally intended as a piece of Christmas music. Messiah received its world premiere on April 13, 1742, during the Christian season of Lent, and in the decidedly secular context of a concert hall in Dublin, Ireland.

The inspiration for Messiah came from a scholar and editor named Charles Jennens, a devout and evangelical Christian deeply concerned with the rising influence of deism and other strains of Enlightenment thought that he and others regarded as irreligious. Drawing on source material in the King James Bible and The Book of Common Prayer, Jennens compiled and edited a concise distillation of Christian doctrine, from Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah’s coming through the birth, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ and then to the promised Second Coming and Day of Judgment. Jennens took his libretto to his friend George Frideric Handel and proposed that it form the basis of an oratorio expressly intended for performance in a secular setting during the week immediately preceding Easter. “Messiah would be directed at people who had come to a theater rather than a church during Passion Week,” according to the Cambridge Handel scholar Ruth Smith, “to remind them of their supposed faith and their possible fate.”

This didactic mission may have inspired Jennens to write Messiah, but it is fair to say that George Frideric Handel&aposs transcendent music is what made the work so timeless and inspirational. Messiah gained widespread popularity only during the final years of Handel’s life, in the late 1750s, but it remains one of the best-known musical works of the Baroque period more than two centuries later. When you consider that Handel composed the score for Messiah in just 24 days, you begin to understand the incredible esteem in which some of his followers held him. As Ludwig van Beethoven said of Handel: “He is the greatest composer that ever lived. I would uncover my head and kneel before his tomb.”


Trinity College Dublin was created by royal charter in 1592, at which point Dublin Corporation provided a suitable site, the former Priory of All Hallows. Its foundation came at a time when many universities were being established across western Europe in the belief that they would give prestige to the state in which they were located and that their graduates, clergy for the most part, would perform a vital service as civil administrators. By the 1590s England had two long-established universities, each with an expanding group of colleges, and Scotland four. The idea of a university college for Ireland emerged at a time when the English state was strengthening its control over the kingdom and when Dublin was beginning to function as a capital city. The group of citizens, lay and clerical, who were main promoters of the scheme believed that the establishment of a university was an essential step in bringing Ireland into the mainstream of European learning and in strengthening the Protestant Reformation within the country.

The organisational design of the new institution was influenced by Oxford, Cambridge and continental precursors, but from the beginning it was an autonomous corporation governed by &lsquoprovost and fellows&rsquo, committed to teaching and to scholarship, the first and (as it turned out) only college of the degree-awarding University of Dublin. The College site, lying some distance east of the small walled city, was far larger than the small community of fellows and students required, and the first brick buildings of the 1590s occupied only a small part of what is now Front Square. But from the beginning the College&rsquos library was a priority, and the energy with which early Trinity scholars (notably Luke Challoner and James Ussher) assembled the initial collections of books marked Trinity out from other sixteenth-century foundations. Many of its early graduates, well grounded in philosophy and theology, proceeded to clerical ordination in the state church, the Anglican Church of Ireland.

During the next fifty years the community grew: endowments, including landed estates, were secured, new fellowships founded, a curriculum devised and statutes determining internal governance were framed. The international reputation of Ussher, one of its first alumni, helped place the College on the European map. But its existence was gravely threatened at two points in the seventeenth century, first when central government collapsed in the wake of the 1641 rising, followed by the temporary eclipse of the Church of Ireland in the wake of Cromwell&rsquos victories secondly, with the roller-coaster events of 1689/91, when Tyrconnell&rsquos short-lived Catholic government closed the university, expelled the fellows and students, and converted the buildings into a Jacobite barracks. The library however was spared.

Despite such dramatic interruptions, the College had become a much more substantial institution by the end of the seventeenth century. Many of the early buildings had recently been replaced, and a number of the fellows, notably William Molyneux and St. George Ashe were centrally involved in the Dublin Philosophical Society, a small body that was closely in touch with the &lsquonew learning&rsquo in London.

The following century was an era of political stability in Ireland, thanks to the firm monopoly on political power held by the land-owning and largely Church of Ireland upper class, and the College was in material terms a great beneficiary from this state of affairs: its landed income grew very substantially in the course of the century and it enjoyed the recurring patronage of the Irish parliament across College Green, evident in the scale and quality of its new buildings. The first structure dating from this era was a massive new library (1712-32), initiated while George Berkeley, another celebrated alumnus of the College, was librarian its size, far greater than then required, reflected long-sighted enlightenment ambitions, and it was followed by a string of other classical buildings on the western half of the campus: the Printing House (1733-4), the West Front (1752-9), the Dining Hall (c.1760-65), and the Provost&rsquos House (1759-61). During the second half of the century Parliament Square slowly emerged, shaped by the Public Theatre (1777-86) and the new Chapel (1787-98), which were designed from afar by George III&rsquos architect, Sir William Chambers. The great building drive was completed in the early nineteenth century by the residential quadrangles of Botany Bay and New Square.

These buildings reflected a seriousness of purpose absent from English universities of that era. The fellows were generally hard-worked, both as teachers and administrators the general curriculum was adapted, albeit slowly, and most of the outstanding Irish politicians and writers of the eighteenth century (Swift, Burke, Goldsmith, Grattan, Fitzgibbon, Tone) were Trinity graduates, the influence of their university discernible in their writings and speeches.

Since the early days, the power of College provosts to re-shape the university had been very considerable: most of them were ordained clergy, but two eighteenth-century laymen who held the office stand out: Francis Andrews (1758-74), whose chief monument is the sumptuous Provost&rsquos House, but who also encouraged science with his endowment of a chair of astronomy and an observatory and his successor, John Hely-Hutchinson (1774-94), who was an enlightened lawyer but an adversarial public figure: he oversaw the foundation of chairs of modern languages and widened the composition of the student body Catholics were permitted to enter and take degrees from 1793. Not for the last time, political controversy in the world outside came to be powerfully reflected among the student body in the lead-up to the 1798 rebellion, in which ex-students were involved on both sides, most famously Tone.

The undergraduate curriculum was a prescribed general course, embracing classics, mathematics, a limited exposure to science and some philosophical texts. This began to change from the 1830s when it became possible to specialise for degrees with honors, or moderatorships, in mathematics, in ethics and logic, and in classics. In 1851 a moderatorship in experimental science was added (embracing physics, chemistry and mineralogy at first, and later geology, zoology and botany, which in 1871 was split into two moderatorships, natural and experimental science). And new humanities disciplines emerged as moderatorship subjects at the same time – in history and modern literature.

The professional schools were also transformed in the course of the nineteenth century: divinity had been taught since the foundation of the College, but this was now systematised. The Law School was reorganised, and medical teaching placed on a much stronger footing, helped by the emergence early in the century of a group of medical teachers who gained international eminence (notably James Macartney, Robert Graves and William Stokes), practitioners who divided their time between clinical teaching and the lecture theatre. The Engineering School was established in 1842 and was one of the first of its kind in the English-speaking world. Student numbers overall increased in the post-Waterloo generation, and the vibrancy of the institution is evident from the variety of associations and clubs in the city that were dominated by the university. The Dublin University Magazine (1833-82) became one of the most widely circulating monthly reviews in Ireland or Britain, conservative in its politics, highly original in its literary coverage and on occasions quite subversive, not unlike its original College sponsors.

Between 1830 and 1900 twenty new professorial chairs were founded, and individual scholarship flourished as never before: in mathematics and science William Rowan Hamilton, the Lloyds, George Salmon, George Fitzgerald and John Joly spent most of their working careers based in the College, and in the humanities it was the classicists who led the field in terms of international celebrity.

The expansion of the College&rsquos teaching activity during the nineteenth century was evident in the changing campus landscape, most strikingly with the Museum Building (1853-7), designed to accommodate civil engineers and geologists. By the late nineteenth century the College had gone some way to fill the ancient site with an ensemble of academic buildings and recreational facilities, museums and terraces of student residences. And new buildings to the east of the College Park reflected the increasing importance of science and medicine in College priorities. However purpose-built science laboratories came late it was thanks primarily to the philanthropy of the Guinness family that some really fine architecture began to grace the East End when the Physics and Botany buildings appeared c.1903-06.

Behind its high iron railings the Victorian university had become something of a self-contained community, out of sympathy with the increasingly nationalist city and focused on an expanding British empire for opportunities for its graduates. During the sixty-year war of attrition between British governments and the Catholic hierarchy over higher education policy in Ireland, Trinity struggled to accommodate itself to what was a changing Ireland. Between 1873 and 1908 a variety of schemes were proposed that would have made the College a member of a federated Irish (or Dublin) university these were strenuously and effectively resisted as threats to its independence. As part of this, the College gradually re-positioned itself to become a non-denominational institution: in 1873 all religious tests (except those connected with the Divinity School) were abolished. However despite this, the fractious struggle to retain the College&rsquos separate identity meant that when the battle over Irish higher education was finally resolved in 1908 with the creation of the federal National University, it left a difficult legacy for the defenders of the older institution.

Power within the College was slowly changing too. The creation in 1874 of the University Council, a body representative of non-fellow professors, gave control over the shaping of courses and appointments to the teaching departments, and in 1911 membership of the College Board itself was somewhat widened. But power remained with the senior fellows until the provostship of Albert McConnell (1951-74), who managed to widen the collegiate governance of the College and initiate major administrative reform. More momentously, women students became part of the College: admitted for the first time in 1904, within a decade they amounted to 16 per cent of the student body. But it was not until 1958 that the first female professor sat on the Board, and 1972 before female students could reside within the campus (a women&rsquos hall of residence had however been established in 1908). In 1986 women accounted for more than half of the full-time student body, and have retained that ascendancy ever since.

The First World War marked a general turning point in the College&rsquos fortunes, the human cost recognised in the hall of honour (1928), erected in Front Square. The Easter Rising of 1916 had engulfed the College environs, and Trinity was lucky to escape serious physical damage. However wartime inflation and the drastic erosion of its assets threatened the College&rsquos peacetime future. In the new Free State that emerged after the War of Independence in 1922, Trinity lacked the benign support of government that it had always enjoyed, and the new national administration, financially weak and recovering from civil war, had more pressing priorities. Therefore, at a time when the newer universities in Britain were growing in strength and prestige, TCD found itself without the revenues required to advance research and scholarship in what was an increasingly science-centred world.

Student numbers however held up well in the inter-war period, but with very limited philanthropic support and none from the state, TCD&rsquos capacity to develop was severely constrained. Some new disciplines were introduced at little cost, notably degree courses in commerce, economics and politics, and the first night-school diplomas, ranging from art history to public administration, were very successful. But it was only after the end of the Second World War that the university once again sought financial support from government it was promptly given. That modest agreement in 1947 marks the beginnings of TCD&rsquos transition towards becoming a large state-funded university, although this was not apparent until the 1970s. In the meantime, cramped by continuing church restrictions on Catholic attendance, the College increased its enrolment of students from Britain and the United States at a time when overall numbers were falling below pre-war levels. In some years around 1960, nearly half the student body was coming from outside Ireland (north and south).
The overall student population remained small until the mid-1960s, when the cap was raised by a third to 4,000. At that same point the Irish government became involved in capital investment within the College, sharing the costs of building a new library with the College&rsquos fundraisers. In the same period private philanthropy, again led by the Guinness family, and international philanthropic trusts, notably the Wellcome, were dramatically improving the stock of medical and science buildings, and enabling the development of new disciplines such as biochemistry, genetics and preventive medicine.

The real growth in student numbers began in the 1970s, reflecting the introduction of free second-level education and of third-level student grants, the removal of the Catholic episcopal &lsquoban&rsquo (in 1970), the widening career opportunities for women and a stronger underlying economy in Ireland. Trinity&rsquos recruitment field became much more heavily concentrated within the Republic of Ireland, and College policy in the early 1970s was to bring down the non-Irish proportion to 15 per cent. The new &lsquomassification&rsquo of higher education took physical form with the construction of a large Arts and Social Sciences Building on the south side of the campus (opened in 1978). This was almost entirely funded by the national exchequer.
The diversification of the curriculum continued in the last quarter of the century, with the mushroom growth of information science and computing, the medical therapies, nursing, and teacher training, the latter developed in conjunction with the three Dublin teacher-training colleges with which TCD had become associated in the 1970s. The College also became involved in the oversight and accreditation of technical degree courses delivered across Dublin by the Vocational Colleges (until the Dublin Institute of Technology was established as an independent degree-awarding body). But a more generic change was the huge expansion of postgraduate activity, both of taught courses and research degrees, many of these closely related to the professions. And by the 1990s post-doctoral researchers, scattered across all disciplines, had become a new segment of the academic community, reflecting the scale and complexity of research teams and the opportunities for research funding at national and European levels.

In the new scheme of things, as the university came to depend on the state it became publicly accountable. Oversight of the universities became the responsibility of the Higher Education Authority, established as a statutory body in 1971, its role and powers being greatly extended by the 1997 Universities Act. The state by the late 1990s had become the principal source of the College&rsquos revenues, both through the direct grant and as a consequence of the state&rsquos adopting a &lsquofree fees&rsquo policy for undergraduate tuition. But despite the ever-increasing involvement of the state in directing higher education, the contribution of the state grant to the College&rsquos total income began to decline in the following decade, falling to 27 per cent by 2010 and actually counting for less than the College&rsquos research income (much of the latter coming of course from Irish state agencies). Research income from all sources had contributed a mere one million pounds in 1981, whereas in 2009 it peaked at just under 90 million euro.

There have been two major internal waves of academic reorganisation over the last fifty years: the incorporation in 1968 of all academic departments into six faculty units, headed by deans, and the integration of academic departments into schools in 2004-08, with in turn a reduction in the number of faculties to three. Faculty deans have now come to play a strategic role in the management of the university. These changes since the 1960s facilitated the incorporation of many new teaching departments (including Business Studies, Dentistry, Drama and Film Studies, History of Art, Linguistics, Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, Pharmacology and Pharmacy, Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy, Psychology, Sociology and Statistics). And the recent programme of academic restructuring facilitated the establishment of five large trans-disciplinary research institutes in areas of particular international strength, one focusing on Adaptive Nanostructures and Nanodevices (CRANN), one on Neuroscience (TCIN), one on International Integration Studies (IIIS), one on research in the Arts and Humanities (the Trinity Long Room Hub), and the Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute (TBSI).

In the wake of the huge growth in Irish student numbers attending the College, there was a new commitment to internationalisation in recent years and a move back towards the recruitment of international students, initially in the field of medicine, latterly across all disciplines, with a particular focus on Asia. The College was an early supporter of undergraduate exchange programmes (notably the E.U.-supported Erasmus/Socrates scheme), which have been in operation since the 1960s, and it has long been a favoured destination for U.S. visiting students. By 2010 11 per cent of the student population came from other E.U. countries, 4 per cent from North and Central America, and 5 per cent from other parts of the world in all, the College&rsquos population of 16,807 registered undergraduate and postgraduate students was drawn from some 110 nationalities.

In 1993 the College also began to boost recruitment from within Dublin city by developing a series of access programmes (TAP). The aim was to raise the number of young adults from socio-economic and ethnic groups underrepresented in higher education coming to university. At the same time, new efforts were made to recruit mature students. By 2009-10, over 15 per cent of all Irish entrants to the university were &lsquonon-traditional&rsquo students, two-fifths of whom were in the mature category.

Another major change in the second half of the twentieth century was in the composition of the academic staff: it became progressively more international. Until the 1930s the great majority had been doubly indigenous, being Irish-born and Dublin University graduates, including many who returned, like Ernest Walton who came back from Cambridge in 1934 and shared the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1951, arising out of his work two decades earlier on splitting the atom. The dominance of indigenous graduates in the academic community had all but disappeared by the 1980s, and the increasingly cosmopolitan character of the College helped drive change in the curriculum, in research, and in the general appetite for innovation across the institution. There has meanwhile been a transformation in the size of the academic community: in 1950 the academic staff had totalled less than 125, far out-numbering the support staff by 2011, in a vastly different environment, there were 676 academics and 667 research fellows and assistants, out of a total staff complement of 2,860.

In terms of physical development since 1950, the College contributed to the small stock of fine modernist architecture in Dublin, beginning with the Berkeley Library (1965-6), the Arts Building (1977-8), the Dental Hospital, the O&rsquoReilly Institute (1989), the Ussher Library (1999-2001) and the Long Room Hub (2008-10). But by 2000 the College had begun to burst out of its campus home, with a huge expansion of its halls of residence off campus, and with Nursing, Drama, and the Social Sciences putting down new roots a short distance away. But the most ambitious construction project in the College&rsquos history, the Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute in Pearse St (2008-11), has become the strongest physical statement of the College&rsquos outward movement. The opening of this development, which now houses five academic schools, coincided with the development of the Trinity Academic Medical Centre, an alliance between the university and its two main teaching hospitals, St James&rsquos and AMNCH, Tallaght. And west along Pearse St, the Science Gallery was opened in 2008 as part of the new Naughton Institute: within a short time the Gallery has become a highly successful centre for &lsquoscience outreach&rsquo and art-science collaboration, exploiting to the full the potential for creative interaction between college and capital city.

Battle Stations! 10 Interesting Facts and Figures about HMS Belfast You Might Not Know

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Anchored in the Thames, HMS Belfast was launched not long before the advent of World War II. It saw a great deal of action during the war as a blockade ship, escorting convoys, in battle, and supporting the Normandy invasion. After a long and distinguished career, efforts to save the ship from being scuttled resulted in the Belfast becoming a museum ship. Today it stands a monument not only to its own history, but to the British Navy and all sailors who fought in the war. Without further ado, here are ten interesting facts about this great ship.

Basic Figures

Launched as a Light Cruiser in 1938 and officially commissioned in 1939, the ship has a displacement of 11,533 tons, which is the volume of water that would fill the space being occupied by the ship. It has an armament of 12 6-inch guns, 12 4-inch dual-purpose guns, 16 2 lb. AA guns (also known as “Pom-Poms”), 8 Vickers 0.5 machine guns, and 6 21-inch torpedo tubes. It is 613’, 6” long with a beam (width) of 63’, 4”. The Belfast’s top speed is 32 knots (36.82 mph). At any given time during its service, it had a crew compliment of 750-850 sailors.

We Three

The Belfast is one of only three ships from the D-Day fleet that haven’t been scrapped and serve as museum ships. The other two are US Navy vessels. The first is the USS Laffey, a Sumner-class Destroyer currently anchored with other museum ships at Patriots Point in Charleston, South Carolina. The other is the USS Texas, a New York-class Battleship that is part of San Jacinto State Park near Houston, Texas.

Blow Away the Serviceway

HMS Belfast’s guns are trained and elevated in such a way that they are aimed at the London Gateway, the last service station on the M1 before you get to London. Of course, the gun are no longer loaded or capable of firing, so you’re pretty safe if you stop there for a toilet break.

Great, Now Where Do We Go?

During the D-Day invasion, the firing of the guns actually managed to crack the toilets onboard ship. The Belfast spent 33 days at Normandy and fired over 5,000 shells. It would be the last time she fired her guns, despite seeing a tour in the Korean War and peacekeeping missions before her retirement in 1968.

Fancy a Pint?

The Facilities at the Belfast include a bar named the Upper Deck located above the entrance to the museum ship. The bar can handle up to 55 patrons and serves a number of drinks and light snacks. It stays open until 11:30 pm and offers great views of the Belfast and other London landmarks.

Last of Her Kind

HMS Belfast is the last remaining light cruiser from the Royal Navy’s WWII fleet. The HMS Belfast Trust was formed in 1971 to lobby for preservation of the ship as a museum. Eventually, the government agreed and handed the ship over to the trust. Six years later, the financials of the trust weren’t in good shape and they merged the the Imperial War Museum, which now manages the Belfast.


The Belfast was once equipped to launch aircraft via catapult and had hangers to store them. Two Supermarine Walrus amphibious planes were part of the ship’s compliment and used to attack submarines. After completing their missions, the planes would land alongside the ship in the water and were recovered by cranes on either side of the ship.

War is Cold

In 1943, the Belfast was serving in the arctic, where it destroyed the German ship Scharnhorst. The Scharnhorst had been assigned to attack a convoy sailing from England to Russia. What the German ship didn’t know, however, was that the convoy was a trap set by the Royal Navy. The Belfast, joined with HMS Norfolk and HMS Sheffield, flanked the Scharnhorst along with HMS Duke of York, HMS Jamaica, and four destroyers. While the German ship attempted to flee, it didn’t get far before a shot hit the boiler room, slowing the Scharnhorst down enough that the fleet was able to catch up and sink her.

You Won a Prize

One of the Belfast’s finest accomplishments was the capture of the German liner SS Cap Norte in 1939. The ship was trying to make its way back to Germany by posing as a neutral vessel. The Belfast boarded the Cap Norte and escorted it to a British port. At the time, it was the largest merchant ship ever captured and the Belfast crew received “prize money” in the form of a cash gratuity.

Can I Get Your Autograph?

The operating theatre of HMS Belfast bears the signatures of 26 of the 36 survivors from the Scharnhorst.

Foyle Port


The waters of the Foyle were flowing to the ocean long before man’s foot trod its banks. In early Irish history those waters carried the flimsy boats of fishermen and travellers. The latter included the Donegal monk, Colmcille, travelling to establish the monastery on the Scottish Island of Iona. Over the centuries since then, many from the North West have followed in his wake. Some travelled to Britain while others crossed the Atlantic to North America or sailed even farther afield to Australia and New Zealand.

Both Vikings and Normans used the Foyle. The Vikings sailed inland as far as Dunalong – the fort of the ships – in County Tyrone while the Normans established a stronghold at Greencastle and controlled Derry. The skeleton on the city’s coat of arms represents a Norman Knight of the de Burgo (Burke) family who built Greencastle.

In 1664 King Charles II granted a Charter to Londonderry Corporation giving it responsibility for the Port. Over the next 200 years shipping increased greatly with exports of linen and provisions, as well as emigration. In 1771 the city’s merchants owned 67 ships with a total tonnage of 11,000 tonnes.

Londonderry Port & Harbour Commissioners

In 1854 the Londonderry Port & Harbour Commissioners were established to take control of the port and the waters of the Foyle from the city to the mouth of the Lough Foyle. Thus began strategic development of the Port.

Within seven years the Commissioners had spent £150,000 to improve facilities. From the wooden bridge at the bottom of Bridge Street, to the new graving dock at Meadowbank, a line of quays was built. Other quays were built on the Waterside and tramways were laid to link up with the railways that connected the city to the rest of Ireland.

The graving dock allowed large vessels to be dry-docked for repair and was built at an angle to the river. Granite-walled and fitted with heavy oak gates, it cost £25,000 and came into use in February 1862. The McCorkell Line ship Zered was the first to be docked there while the next ship was the Cooke Line’s Doctor Kane. Both were local ships belonging to Derry-based shipping companies.

By this time the port was Ireland’s fifth largest and exports were increasing. The Foyle was home to a small shipyard and so locally built ships operated from the city. The revolutionary Great Northern, the first ever propeller-driven ship, was built by Captain Coppin in the city.

Coppin had turned to ship repairs by 1854 and used the graving dock for this purpose. When he closed his repair business in 1873 the Commissioners decided to create a shipyard. They spent £25,000 to turn the slob land beside the graving dock into a yard. Charles Bigger leased this new shipyard in 1886 and, over the next five years, built 25 steel-hulled sailing ships. Some, such as the Osseo for the McCorkell Line were built for local owners.

Trans-Atlantic Travel

The Allan Line began a weekly service from Liverpool to Canada in 1861. Ships called at Moville where local passengers could board. Mail was also taken aboard. Five years later the Anchor Line began a Glasgow-New York service which also called at Moville. The Allan Line service ended with the First World War but the Anchor Line, which became Anchor-Donaldson, continued sailings to Canada until 1939.

The liners that called at Moville carried many emigrants from these shores. These passengers boarded a tender at the Trans-Atlantic Shed on the quay and travelled down the Foyle to Moville where they transferred to the liner. Today’s Tourist Information Office stands almost on the site of the Trans-Atlantic shed.

The traffic across the Atlantic played a major part in the port’s growth. From 200,000 tonnes in 1866, the transatlantic service grew to its highest point of 940,000 tonnes in 1905. Averaging about 600,000 tonnes each year until 1931, it began dropping to half that figure by 1939 when the trans-Atlantic service ended.

UK Trade

The core of the Harbour’s trade during the 19 th century was cross-channel business. Between 1860 and 1910 tonnage increased from an annual 200,000 tonnes to just below 300,000. 1910 was the peak year for such traffic.

Both passengers and goods travelled by ship from the city to destinations in Britain such as Heysham, Fleetwood, Liverpool, Greenock and Glasgow. The Laird Line operated six passenger steamers each week to Heysham or Fleetwood. In addition the Belfast steamship company connected the City with Liverpool twice-weekly and G. & J. Burns and the Laird Line provided six sailings each week to Greenock or Glasgow.

Passenger services began declining in 1912 when the Fleetwood service ended. In 1922 passenger services to Liverpool ended, although cargo and livestock were carried until 1965. No passengers were carried to Heysham after the early 1930s but a cargo service operated until 1963.

In 1922 G. & J. Burns Ltd. and the Laird Line amalgamated to form Burns and Laird Lines Ltd. By 1930 the company had a sailing each weekday evening from Prince’s Quay to Glasgow. A passenger service to Glasgow continued to operate until September 1966 when Burns and Laird transferred the Laird’s Loch, their last passenger steamship, to the Dublin-Glasgow service.

Livestock was an important element of the shipping trade from Derry. In 1884 over 57,000 cattle almost 15,000 sheep and more than 19,000 pigs were carried to ports in Britain. Cattle exports through the Port increased from over 49,000 in 1918 to 91,000 six years later.

The passenger ships carried many emigrants as well as seasonal workers and businessmen. There were also holidaymakers, especially from Scotland, who continued to visit the North-West until the last passenger sailings in 1966.

The Foyle at War

During the Second World War Londonderry became the most important escort base in the UK. In mid-1940, following the German capture of the French Atlantic ports, convoys were routed through the North-West Approaches around Ireland’s north coast.

As Londonderry was the most westerly port in the UK, a naval base named HMS Ferret, was established here in June 1940. The old shipyard was re-activated and the graving dock extended to repair and maintain warships which guarded the Atlantic convoys. A new jetty was built at Lisahally (which means the Fort of the Fleet) and “dolphins”, or mooring points, extended along the quays.

Royal Navy and Royal Canadian Navy ships provided most of the Londonderry Escort Force. In February 1942 the United States Navy commissioned the US Naval Operating Base Londonderry. By mid-1943 there were about 150 ocean-going escort ships based here, more than Liverpool, Glasgow and Belfast combined, with over 25,000 British and Canadian naval personnel and 5,000 Americans. By 1945 the Canadians, with about 100 ships, were the mainstay of the base.

On 14 May 1945 Lisahally was chosen as the location for the official surrender of the German U-boat fleet when the first seven submarines were escorted upstream by three frigates from the Royal Navy, Royal Canadian Navy and United States Navy.

From 1947 until it closed in 1970, an Anti-Submarine school operated from Ebrington Barracks which was renamed HMS Sea Eagle, and HMS Stalker, a submarine depot ship nicknamed “HMS Neverbudge” by the locals.

Into the Future

With the city centre port becoming increasingly unsuitable for larger ships the Harbour Commissioners decided to relocate to Lisahally. The move was made in February 1993. The new deep-water port, with 440 metres of quayside and an eight-metre-deep channel can handle ships of over 62,000 tonnes and bulk cargoes.

Principal imports are grain from the United States and coal from Colombia and South Africa. Vessels carrying various cargoes including cement, logs and fertiliser also visit Lisahally from ports across Europe. A separate terminal handles oil tankers and has a capacity of 88,000 tonnes. Uniquely in Ireland it can handle four grades of fuel: Gas Oil, Kerosene, Low Sulphur Diesel and Unleaded Petrol.

In recent years Londonderry Port and Harbour Commissioners have established a number of diversified trading divisions including Foyle Marine Services a division set up to handle the Port’s dredging and towage services and to offer marine services externally to other ports. Foyle Consulting Engineers is a division set up to provide structural and civil engineering services while Foyle Engineering offers a steel fabrication service.

Today, Foyle Port is the key marine gateway in the North West for both Commerce and tourism and its strategic location means that the port can continue to serve the whole north western seaboard of Ireland.

Ireland and the Crimean War 1854-6

In the light of recent events in Palestine, it is interesting to note that a dispute over the control of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem was one of the immediate causes of the Crimean War of 1854–6. In the summer of 1850 Orthodox and Roman Catholic monks clashed over the question of who should control the church, several Orthodox monks being killed as a result. Tsar Nicholas demanded to be appointed the protector of all Christians in the Ottoman Empire, a demand to which the sultan could not, of course, accede. By July 1853 Russia had invaded Turkey’s Danubian principalities (Moldavia and Wallachia), and France and Britain, fearing Russian control of the eastern end of the Mediterranean and also further expansion into their own territories in North Africa and India, promised to go to the aid of Turkey. After the failure of diplomatic efforts, France and Britain declared war on Russia on 28 March 1854, Turkey joining the Anglo-French alliance on 10 April. In January 1855 Sardinia-Piedmont joined the war on the allied side and, while the conflict was centred on the Crimean peninsula in the Black Sea, there was further fighting in the Baltic and naval activity in the Atlantic and the Pacific. Indeed, many Crimean historians now argue that the Crimean War was the first ‘world war’, while the trench fighting around Sevastapol foreshadowed later events in World War I.

Attitudes to the war in Ireland

What was the impact of this European war on Ireland? One could well imagine that Ireland, just a few years after the Famine and the failed Young Ireland rebellion of 1848, would regard the war with a sense of sullen disinterest. Newspaper accounts of the period, however, suggest the contrary. In the early months of 1854 Ireland was gripped by a kind of war fever as regiments departed and young men rushed to join up to fight in a war which, it was assumed, would be over in a few months. Indeed, in scenes that mirrored later events in 1914, public enthusiasm bordered on hysteria as the troops left for the east.

Lieutenant-General Sir George de Lacy Evans, from Moig, County Limerick, distinguished himself at the battles of the Alma and Inkerman.

Many regiments left before war was even declared as a conflict was deemed inevitable. On 24 February 1854 the 50th Foot, commanded by Wexford-born Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Waddy, left Dublin. The Dublin Evening Post describes the regiment’s departure as it marched from the Royal Barracks (later Collins Barracks) to Westland Row railway station. Such scenes were repeated in all of the towns and cities of Ireland:

The bands of three other regiments of the garrison led them along the line of route, one of the finest in Europe and vast crowds accompanied them, vociferously cheering, while from the windows handkerchiefs and scarves were waved, and every token of a ‘God Speed’ displayed. As the regiment took the north side of the long and splendid line of quays for which Dublin is so well celebrated, the bands struck up ‘Old Lang Syne’, which the citizens took as a compliment, as the ‘Blind Half-Hundredth’, as the regiment used to be called, had often shared their hospitality. As they came to the Queen’s Bridge, they played ‘A good time coming’, the bands took up the concluding line of each verse, as the instrumental music died away, and sang it. This vocal repetition was quite in unison with the habits and tastes of the Dubliners, and old Eblana echoed with the shouts of the people. When the regiment arrived at Essex Bridge, it crossed, passing up Parliament Street, where the Exchange steps presented a splendid position for the sight, and from which the cheering and waving of handkerchiefs was most enlivening as the corps turned down Dame Street. When they arrived in College Green, instead of wheeling to the left between the Bank of Ireland and the statue of William III, they kept to the right of ‘King William’ and leaving the university to the left, proceeded up Nassau Street and Leinster Street to Westland Row, affording by the longer route the better opportunity to the people to display their feelings. It also gratified the gownsmen who, at the front of Trinity College, welcomed the soldiery by waving of caps and shillelaghs, and various original demonstrations of good will, retired through the grand entrance into College Park, and climbing the railings, continued their healthy plaudits along the line of Nassau Street, and then penetrating to the rear of the College grounds by the school of Anatomy, met the procession again in Westland Row.’

The Irish in the Crimea

This public interest in the regiments departing for the war is perhaps not surprising when one considers the large number of Irishmen who were serving in the British army at this time. Irish soldiers made up around 30–35 per cent of the British army in 1854, and it is estimated that over 30,000 Irish soldiers served in the Crimea. There were some prominent men among them. General Sir George De Lacy Evans, from Moig in County Limerick, and General Sir John Lysaght Pennefather, from County Tipperary, both distinguished themselves at the battles of the Alma and Inkerman. Irish-born soldiers and seamen won 28 Victoria Crosses. Master’s mate Charles Davis Lucas, from Poyntzpass in County Armagh, was awarded the first-ever Victoria Cross for throwing overboard a live shell that landed on the deck of HMS Hecla during a bombardment of the Bomarsund fortress in the Baltic in June 1854.
Alongside this Irish involvement in the military, there was a large Irish civilian contingent in the Crimea. In the years following the Napoleonic wars the British government had run down the army medical and supply services. On the outbreak of the war a call was made for volunteers for both the supply service (the Commissariat) and the medical services. Several Irish doctors volunteered to work in the hospitals at Scutari and Balaclava, where Irish nurses and nursing sisters also worked. There was a total lack of Roman Catholic chaplains, and several priests—including two Dublin-based Jesuits, Father William Ronan and Father Patrick Duffy—volunteered to serve in the Crimea.

Contemporary illustration of Charles Davis Lucas, from Poyntzpass, County Armagh, throwing overboard a live shell that landed on the deck of HMS Hecla during a bombardment of the Bomarsund fortress in the Baltic in June 1854, for which he was awarded the first-ever Victoria Cross.

Irish engineers and navvies also worked on the new roads and the railway in the Crimea. The chief engineers of both the road and railway projects, William Doyne and James Beatty, were Irish.
One of the most unusual aspects of this Irish civilian involvement was the participation of members of the Irish Constabulary, who worked as military police with the Mounted Staff Corps and also with the Commissariat Department. In January 1855 a letter written by Sub-Constable Richard Bradshaw from the Irish Constabulary barracks in Kilkenny was published in The Times. In it he described the misery of camp life at Balaclava:

The weather, as yet, is not colder than in Ireland, but when a man gets wet to the skin, he has no place to go to but a cold tent and when he gets up in the morning he must go about collecting wood to boil his breakfast which consists of green coffee, which must be roasted on the stable shovel, pounded and thrown into the water that, with some biscuit, is our breakfast biscuit and salt beef for dinner and supper same as breakfast. We get two glasses of rum every day, which is chiefly the thing that keeps life in us, but we hope it won’t be always as bad as it is now. If Sevastapol was once taken our condition would be better. Why, if it is not taken, and that the troops have to winter here, history will record another 1812. Some of the Mounted Staff Corps are in excellent health and spirits and we hope, with the Divine assistance, to rub out and return to our native country again.

Hundreds of Irishwomen also travelled to the Crimea and their experiences have not been the subject of sustained research. Each regiment allowed a small number of the men’s wives to accompany their husbands to the Crimea. They washed and cooked for the men and, after each battle, helped with the wounded. Indeed, it could be argued that the army wives were used to help redress the deficiencies in the support and medical services. Margaret Kirwin, the wife of Private John Kirwin of the 19th Foot, later described her experiences after landing at Varna:

We marched on up to Devna and remained for a fortnight. There I bought a little wash tub, and carried my cooking things in it. This was the whole of my baggage which I carried on my head during the march. I also had a water bottle and a haversack to carry biscuits in. The priest and minister had to carry their own bottles and sacks, like the soldiers. On the march the men kept falling out from the heat and they kept me busy giving them drinks. When we got to Monastne the [washing] duty of No. 5 Company fell to me there were 101 in it and the clothes were brought by its transport horse. I stood in the midst of the stream from 6 am to 7 pm washing. The Colour Sergeant would not keep account and some men paid and some did not, so that I was left with very little for my trouble.

Irish war correspondents

The Crimean War was also significant as it was the first conflict to be covered by war correspondents, the most prominent being the Dublin-born William Howard Russell. The war is unique in the history of war-reporting as the correspondents operated without the restrictions imposed by any form of censorship. It was not until late in the war that the military commanders in the Crimea began to censor their despatches, and never again would war correspondents enjoy such freedom. Russell’s reports in The Times often told of the shambolic supply and medical systems and resulted in severe public criticism for Lord Aberdeen’s administration and also the military commanders. In a despatch of September 1854 he wrote:

The management is infamous and the contrast offered by our proceedings to the conduct of the French most painful. Could you believe it: the sick have not a bed to lie upon? They are landed and thrown into a rickety hut without a chair or a table in it. The French with their ambulances, excellent commissariat staff and boulangerie etc., in every respect are immeasurably our superiors. While these things go on, Sir George Brown only seems anxious about the men being clean-shaved, their necks well stiffened and waist belts tight.

For the first time the public was given regular information about the management—or, in this case, mismanagement—of a war, and Russell’s despatches served to destroy the reputation of the British commander, Lord Raglan, while also playing a part in the fall of Lord Aberdeen’s administration in January 1855. Only a small number of war correspondents worked in the Crimea, and it is interesting to note that there were two other Irishmen among them—Edwin Lawrence Godkin, born at Moyne, Co. Wicklow, and James Carlile McCoan, born in Dunlow, Co. Tyrone. Both Godkin and McCoan wrote for the Daily News.

Post-war celebrations

In view of this high level of Irish involvement in the Crimea, in both the military and civilian capacities, the intense interest of the Irish public in the war is perhaps less surprising. Many families must have had members in the Crimea serving in some capacity. The work of war correspondents such as William Howard Russell fed this public demand for information, and the large number of Crimean War ballads in Irish collections is a further manifestation of this interest. When the south side of Sevastapol was captured in September 1855 a series of celebrations took place around the country, and these were repeated when an armistice was signed in Paris in February 1856.

William Howard Russell, Dublin-born London Times correspondent, photographed in the Crimea by Roger Fenton.

Perhaps the most extravagant demonstration of the Irish public’s enthusiasm for the war was the Grand Crimean Banquet held in Dublin in 1856. Over £3600 was raised by public subscription, and 4000 Crimean veterans and 1000 members of the public gathered in Stack A in the Custom House Docks on 22 October 1856 for what must surely have been the largest-ever formal dinner in Ireland. Three tons of hot potatoes were sent in four vans, which pulled up to the hall ‘steaming like locomotives’. The drivers of these vans were ‘literally enveloped in clouds of steam’, much to the delight of the small children who were looking on. A vast amount of food and drink was consumed, including 250 hams, 230 legs of mutton, 500 meat pies, 100 venison pasties, 100 rice puddings, 260 plum puddings, 200 turkeys, 200 geese, 250 joints of beef, 100 capons and chickens, and 2000 two-pound loaves.

The Dublin Grand Crimean Banquet, 22 October 1856-5000 soldiers, seamen and guests gathered in a bonded warehouse (Stack A, Customs House docks) to celebrate the end of the war. (Illustrated London News, 8 November 1856)

Each soldier was given a quart of porter and a pint of port or sherry. Such a conspicuous display seems incredible when one considers that just ten years previously Ireland was being ravaged by famine.

There are also physical reminders of the war in Ireland in the shape of monuments and even Russian trophy guns, such as the cannons on the steps of the courthouse in Tralee, on the pier in Dun Laoghaire and on the Armaghdown Bridge in Newry. Yet despite the public enthusiasm displayed, the Crimean War has been largely overlooked by Irish historians. Usually just remembered for events such as the charge of the Light Brigade and the work of Florence Nightingale, the war was, without doubt, one of the major episodes in Irish history in the mid-nineteenth century. Not only was there a high level of Irish involvement, but the work of the Irish-born correspondents ensured that the public was fully informed of events in the Crimea.
While the end of the war was hailed by the government as a great victory, the public was now fully aware of the inadequacies of the army’s commanders and organisation. The majority of the British army’s 21,097 fatal casualties had succumbed to disease, only 4774 being killed in action or dying of their wounds. Irish names feature prominently on the casualty lists, and the Irish public must have come to realise that most of these deaths could have been avoided. Towards the end of the war newspaper reports in Ireland began to sound more war-weary, and it became increasingly obvious that thousands of Irishmen had paid for the army’s lack of organisation with their lives.

David Murphy is an editorial assistant with the Dictionary of Irish Biography, Royal Irish Academy.

Further reading:
E. Bolster, The Irish Sisters of Mercy in the Crimean War (Cork, 1964).
A. Hankinson, Man of Wars: William Howard Russell of The Times (London, 1982).
D. Murphy, Ireland and the Crimean War (Dublin, 2002).
T. Royle, Crimea: the Great Crimean War, 1854–1856 (London, 1999).

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