2003:1252 - Dundalk Harbour, Louth

NMI Burial Excavation Records

County: Louth Site name: Dundalk Harbour

Sites and Monuments Record No.: SMR 7:119 Licence number: 03E1737

Author: Kieran Campbell, 6 St Ultan

Site type: Monitoring of dredging

ITM: E 706583m, N 808039m

Latitude, Longitude (decimal degrees): 54.010558, -6.373887

Dundalk Port Company have commenced a dredging programme at the quays and turning circle in Dundalk Harbour and the navigation channel in the Castletown River estuary eastwards to the bar. The distance from the harbour to the bar is c. 7km. The five-month dredging programme is being conducted for maintenance purposes to remove accumulated silts and to re-establish the required channel depth. The dredging operations will not extend beyond the existing standard for channel depth. A grab dredger, the Hebble Sand, has been acquired to conduct the dredging operations. This operates by dropping the grab, suspended from cables, to the riverbed and craning the collected material into the hold of the dredger.

Until the early 18th century, Dundalk Harbour was in Seatown, the Villa Maryna of Dundalk. In 1740 Lord Limerick constructed a new quay extending into the river channel. This quay, 'The Old Custom House Quay', was in an area reclaimed in the 19th century. Between 1839 and 1850 a new channel was constructed from the Dundalk Steampacket Company Quay on the west to Soldier's Point at the east. An embankment built along the south bank of the channel is still known as 'The Navvy Bank'. Previous to this, the channel downstream from the quays followed a meandering course to Soldiers' Point, where it divided into two, around a slobland island, before entering the outer channel to the sea. The channel dredged in the mid-19th century continues in use to this day.

The Underwater Archaeology Unit of the National Monuments Section requested that the dredging operations in certain areas be monitored for possible archaeological content.

Dredging at Oake's Quay, also known as 'the tanker berth', was monitored on 15-16 October 2003. This old stone quay pre-dates the improvements made in the mid-19th century and is shown on the first-edition 6-inch OS map of 1836. A dock formerly extended from the west end of Oake's Quay to Quay Street, but this has been filled in and the entrance blocked up by a timber revetment. The incurving stone walls at the entrance to the dock are still evident in the modern quayside. Nothing of archaeological or historical interest was recovered during the monitoring, which will continue into 2004.