18 July 2023

Dublin Lord Mayor Launches South Docks Festival   by ‘Casting Spear’ for Dublin Port 

Port Heritage tradition marks the launch of five-day community festival 

The Lord Mayor of Dublin Daithí de Róiste has performed the ‘Casting of the Spear’ into Dublin Bay, upholding a 535-year tradition. The Casting marks the launch of the 36th South Docks Festival, which runs this week for a full five days for the first time since 2019. 

Hosted by Dublin Port Company and the staff and volunteers of St. Andrew’s Resource Centre, the South Docks Festival offers the communities of the Docklands a chance to celebrate their heritage. One particular aspect of this heritage, the ‘Casting of the Spear’, today saw Dublin Lord Mayor Daithí de Róiste imbued with the title of Honorary Admiral of Dublin Port. 

No Repro Fee.
The Lord Mayor of Dublin and Honorary Admiral of Dublin Port, Cllr. Daithí de Róiste pictured performing the ‘Casting of the Spear’ in Dublin Bay with Dublin Port CEO Barry O’Connell. The tradition dates back to 1488 when the city’s boundaries were marked eastwards. Pic. Robbie Reynolds

The tradition dates back to 1488, when then Lord Mayor of Dublin Thomas Mayler braced the elements to mark the boundaries of Dublin to the East by vaulting a spear into the sea. As each successive Lord Mayor casts a spear of their own, the tradition reinforces the idea that the city and the Port are at once constantly evolving and inextricably tied to a rich heritage to which all members of Dublin’s diverse community can lay claim. The South Docks Festival aims to highlight this shared heritage, with the theme of this year’s festival being ‘Friendship and Inclusion’. 

Over the five days, the public can engage in activities for all ages, from TikTok workshops, tours of the Docklands and Dublin Port, and a short film exhibition exploring life in the Docklands through the pandemic. The festival will close on Friday with a parade leaving St. Andrew’s at 12:30pm and proceeding through the Docklands, after which Pearse Square will be transformed into a fairground with picnic areas, an inflatable slide and obstacle course and live performances from DJs and children’s entertainers. 

Dublin Port CEO Barry O’Connell commented: “I want to thank Lord Mayor de Róiste for helping to continue this great tradition and for his support of Dublin Port. I am happy to bring this ceremony back to the South Docks Festival, which allows the communities of the Docklands to come together and celebrate a distinct cultural heritage. Our mission at Dublin Port over the coming years is to strengthen ties between the Port and the city, by allowing the public access through a range of pedestrian pathways, cycle routes and arts spaces. We hope to bring communities together, in keeping with the tradition of this great festival.” 

Lord Mayor of Dublin Daithí de Róiste said: “As Honorary Admiral of Dublin Port, I offer my thanks to Dublin Port Company for the lovely ceremony and for their support of the South Docks Festival, which remains a special highlight of the summer calendar. Such an inclusive and welcoming festival is of great benefit to the public.” 

Dermot McCarthy, Chair of the St. Andrew’s Resource Centre, said: “Our staff and volunteers greatly appreciate the contribution of Dublin Port Company to this year’s festival, which makes its full return following disruptions from the pandemic. We hope the community take the chance to see everything on the week’s schedule, which offers something for everyone.” 


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