A four-year Irish-Welsh project aims to unlock the cultural potential of the ports of Dublin and Rosslare alongside Holyhead, Fishguard and Pembroke Dock. The research will explore their cultures, traditions and histories to enable their cultural heritages become a driver of economic growth.

‘Ports, Past and Present: Cultural Crossing between Ireland and Wales’ is a joint initiative with University College Cork and Wexford County Council in Ireland, and Aberystwyth University and the Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, in Wales.

The €2.6m project will work with tourism stakeholders and local communities to improve awareness of the ports’ historical significance. Creative works in the visual arts, literature and film will be commissioned to bring these histories to life, while digital technology will be deployed to engage new audiences in the heritage.

New tourism activities will be developed, while a joint Irish and Welsh tourism network will be established to develop economic growth in the ports.

Tourism potential

Eluned Morgan, Welsh Minister for International Relations, described the project as “incredibly exciting” and would help turn five Welsh and Irish ports into “vibrant tourist destinations” in their own right:
“Our ports make a crucial contribution to our economy – providing jobs and added-value to local communities.”

UK and Welsh businesses depend on ports to move their goods “efficiently and quickly” between Wales and Ireland, he added.

“This new project will help enhance our ports even further, by bringing their unique cultural heritage to life…”

Professor Claire Connolly, UCC said a “rich vein of culture” already existed in Irish and Welsh ports:

“There has been a movement of people between Ireland and Wales for thousands of years for reasons of trade, leisure, religious, political and family, and also in times of war.”

Professor Peter Merriman, Aberystwyth University, said the study would “uncover hidden histories and heritage of the seas and ports and past journeys”; while Dr Mary-Ann Constantine, University of Wales Trinity Saint David said with the available potential, the port communities would “help bring stories to life”.

George Colfer, coastal engineer with Wexford County Council said the Welsh-Irish link was very important to the south east region.

The project is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Ireland Wales Programme 2014-2020 and is led by UCC.