By Kim O’Leary
Dublin City Council recently unveiled a new plaque to commemorate the Guinness Barges sixty years on from their last voyage.
A plaque was unveiled last Friday by the Deputy Lord Mayor, Joe Costello, at Victoria Quay, Dublin 8 to commemorate the Guinness Barges which stopped working in 1961.
Named for places around Dublin city and county, some of these vessels travelled far from home, with The Farmleigh ending up in Scapa Flow, off the Orkneys, and The Fairyhouse playing a part in the flotilla of small ships that rescued the British Expeditionary Force from Dunkirk in 1940.
“It is important that we also commemorate the women and men who lived and worked on the streets – and rivers – of our city, who contributed to its social and cultural and economic life through ordinary everyday things, whose names are not inscribed in the history books,” said the Deputy Lord Mayor.
The barges date from the 1920s when a fleet of ten was built by Vickers – a subsidiary of Vickers & Armstrong – at the North Wall shipyard.
One hundred years ago the Guinness barges were prevented from unloading their cargo as the Custom House burned, and as the battle for the Four Courts raged over the Liffey in 1922, the barges sailed on.
The development of breweries abroad, and the switch to Lorries, brought the era of the barges to an end and the last sailing, of The Castleknock, from Victoria Quay, was on June 23 in 1961.
The City Council plaque replaces a previous Inland Waterways Association one, and the Chair of the Association, Jim O ‘Riordan, Chair of the Association, thanked the City Council for agreeing to their proposal to replace it.
“IWAI are delighted to see an important chapter in Dublin’s maritime life remembered and celebrated. The Guinness barges and their crewmen were an iconic feature of city life for almost 90 years and todays unveiling represents a co-operative effort by Dublin City Council, Diageo Ireland and IWAI to put in place a permanent reminder of past times,” he said.
The decision to erect the plaque was made by the Dublin City Council Commemorations & Naming Committee.