14 June 2022

Lord Mayor of Dublin performs ‘Casting of the Spear’ tradition

Lord Mayor continues tradition dating to 1488

The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Alison Gilliland, took to the waters of Dublin Bay to take part in the annual ‘Casting of the Spear’ ceremony, the first time the tradition has been observed since before the pandemic. 

The ‘Casting of the Spear’ is a tradition dating back 531 years for the incumbent Lord Mayor, who becomes Honorary Admiral of Dublin Port. The title of Honorary Admiral of Dublin Port has been bestowed on the Lord Mayor of Dublin for over 20 years.

Historical records show that the maritime tradition of the Casting the Spear dates back to 1488 when Thomas Mayler, who was then Lord Mayor of Dublin, rode out on horseback and cast a spear as far as he could into the sea – this was to mark the city’s boundaries eastwards. Centuries later, the re-enactment ceremony reminds us of Dublin’s role as a port city in medieval times and highlights Dublin Port’s remarkable history since its establishment as a trading post some 1,200 years ago. 

Newly invested Honorary Admiral of Dublin Port Alison Gilliland said; 

Lord Mayor of Dublin Alison Gilliland said: ”I am absolutely thrilled to have had the honour of Casting of the Spear and marking the eastern boundary of our City. I feel privileged being the Honorary Admiral of the Port for the duration of my term of office. 

This ancient tradition of marking the City’s maritime boundary with a spear has always fascinated me. It also highlights the strategic economic importance of Dublin Port to our City and indeed our country and how it has grown and developed over the centuries.”

Dublin Port CEO Eamonn O’Reilly commented at the ceremony: “I would like to thank Lord Mayor Gilliland for her participation in this year’s annual Casting of the Spear ceremony as we celebrate our heritage as a port city. It is heartening to be able to return to these time-honoured traditions after the disruption of the last few years. Looking back, now more than 530 years, it is extraordinary to think that our city’s boundaries were established by Thomas Mayler’s spear in the waters of medieval Dublin. Today’s re-enactment symbolises Dublin Port’s continued commitment to preserving an understanding of the history that binds the port and the city together.”

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