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2018 Docklands Arts Fund Small Grants Recipient Fergal McCarthy’s project – ‘Dublin’s First Port of Call’

Fergal McCarthy - No Man's Land

Visual artist Fergal McCarthy, ‘No Man’s Land’. Image: Andreas Pettersson

Visual artist Fergal McCarthy is one of the three recipients of the 2018 Docklands Arts Fund Small Grants.

Fergal is a visual artist living in Dublin, who originally worked as a painter but in recent years has widened his practice to include installations, photography and film.

He has spent several months researching source material relating to the Dublin Docklands area to create a book, which delivers an engaging and humorous account of the story of the Docklands. This book was distributed without cost to local primary schools in the Docklands area, with Fergal hosting presentations of the project to school pupils.  For information on Fergal’s other work, please see his website here.

Commenting on the Docklands Arts Fund, and working on his project ‘Dublin’s First Port of Call’, Fergal says:

 “Since I moved to Dublin almost 20 years ago I have been fascinated by the Liffey, I refuse to see it in any way that doesn’t involve rose-coloured glasses. I have worked on many art projects over the years responding to the river including ‘Liffeytown’, a small estate of red and green Monopoly-style houses moored on the river for a fortnight and ‘No Man’s Land’, a floating desert island in the Docklands that became my temporary home for a week.

By being awarded a grant from the Docklands Arts Fund, I was enabled to shift my interest in the Liffey further down river to Dublin Port. I spent several happy months reading into the history and geography of Dublin Port and making visits to the area to chat with former dock workers about their time in the port. By the end of my research I was considering moving house to Ringsend just so I could watch the ships come and go all day and maybe join a rowing club. All the information I gathered became the basis of a little book of cartoon-style drawings detailing Dublin Port’s back story. I got to tell such stories as the unexpected formation of Bull Island, Captain Bligh’s commissioning of the North Wall, the shipwrecks on the Kish Sandbank and the Diving Bell’s usage to deepen Dublin Port.

On completion I printed up several hundred copies of my little book, Dublin’s First Port of Call. These books were distributed freely to primary schools in the Dublin Port area which I visited to conduct workshops and readings. I’m glad to report that in the course of ten workshops only one child managed to fall asleep! Most of the children I met in the schools had parents and grandparents who worked in Dublin Port, and they shared their experience of living in a Docklands community. I was pleasantly surprised that many of the pupils I worked with knew far more about Dublin Port than I do. Retired Dockers had already spoken to them in their schools and Fighting Words had initiated writing projects in response to the port and the local environment. The Docklands communities have an incredibly rich history, and I am incredibly grateful to the Docklands Arts Fund for providing me with this opportunity to respond to it with this book.“

 

Fergal McCarthy - Dublin's First Port of Call_newspiece

 

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