5 April 2023
Lord Mayor of Dublin ‘Casts Spear’ at Dublin Port
Caroline Conroy continues a tradition dating back to 1488
The Lord Mayor of Dublin Caroline Conroy today performed the annual ‘Casting of the Spear’ into Dublin Bay, one the most important symbolic occasions on the Dublin Port calendar. In the process, she confirmed her title as Honorary Admiral of Dublin Port, upholding the memory of a 535-year-old tale.
In 1488, Lord Mayor of Dublin Thomas Mayler rode on horseback out to the city’s boundaries, facing bitter rain and fierce winds. Braving these elements, Lord Mayor Mayler brandished a spear, which he vaulted out into the sea as he went. Each casting of his spear marked a point on Dublin’s eastward boundary, the distance of which into the Irish Sea was determined by the Lord Mayor’s aim and strength.
More than half a millennium later, the face of Dublin Port has changed considerably. Today, it carries nearly two-thirds of all port traffic on the island of Ireland. Beneath all this activity lie the marks of Thomas Mayler cast out when Ireland’s trading relationship with the rest of the world was still in relative infancy.
To commemorate this event, Lord Mayor of Dublin Caroline Conroy cast a spear of her own into Dublin Bay, her first official act as Honorary Admiral of the Port. Modern times have seen successive Lord Mayors take to the water at Dublin Port to earn their honorary title, which they retain for their period in office.
“It is my great pleasure to be confirmed as Honorary Admiral of the Port of Dublin,” Lord Mayor of Dublin Caroline Conroy said, “This ritual has fascinated me for several years. A connection to these colourful aspects of our past remains of great cultural value to all Dubliners. Dublin Port remains ever more vital to our commercial and cultural life in the city and beyond, and I wish it every success in its Masterplan projects over the coming years.”
Dublin Port CEO Barry O’Connell commented at the ceremony: “I would like to thank Lord Mayor Conroy for her participation in this ceremony and for her continued support of Dublin Port. This is a tradition I’m very proud to continue, one which emphasises the strong links between port and city and the importance of history and culture to our local community. It’s astounding to think, with all our advancements in engineering today, that the original boundary of the city was set by one person casting a spear into the sea. We’re currently in the process of developing a range of paths for cyclists and pedestrians running 5.5km across the Poolbeg Peninsula and 16km across the north side of the Liffey. These should allow Dubliners to look out over the full scope of this boundary set by a previous Lord Mayor over 500 years ago.”