5 Welsh and Irish Sea ports are set to benefit from a new €2.6 million EU-funded project to help turn them from passage points to key tourist sites – improving tourism opportunities, tourist experiences, and the livelihoods of coastal communities on both sides of the Irish Sea.

The Ports, Past and Present project, part of the Ireland Wales Co-operation programme, is being announced today by the Welsh Government’s Minister for International Relations, Eluned Morgan during a visit to the Republic of Ireland.

The project will develop new tourism opportunities between 5 port towns and their surrounding coastal communities on either side of the Irish Sea - Dublin, Rosslare, Holyhead, Fishguard and Pembroke Dock, drawing on academic research and community partnerships.

The project aims to bring life and colour to the ports, enhancing the experience of modern travellers of all ages and interests, and encouraging people to spend more time and money in these towns. It will do this by working with tourism stakeholders and local communities to make passing tourists aware of the deep history of these places. 

Specifically, the project teams will produce information in various formats, working with port authorities, transport carriers, tourism agencies, and local artists and writers to generate new tourism sites/sights/traffic, and commission creative works in the visual arts, literature and film. New audiences will be sought through digital technology including apps and social media. Irish and Welsh language material will be fully integrated throughout the project content.

The Welsh Government’s Minister for International Relations, Eluned Morgan said:

I’m really pleased to announce this incredibly exciting new project, which will help turn 5 Welsh and Irish Sea ports into vibrant tourist destinations in their own right.

Our ports make a critical contribution to our economy - providing jobs and added value to local communities. UK and Welsh business depends on ports in order to move their goods efficiently and quickly between Wales and Ireland. 

This new project will help enhance our ports even further, by bringing their unique cultural heritage to life, allowing people to understand the rich and economic and cultural roles they’ve played in our past, and the vital roles they play today and in the future.

The project will led by University College Cork alongside Aberystwyth University, University of Wales Trinity Saint David and Wexford County Council.

Professor Claire Connolly from University College Cork said: 

Ports, Past and Present aims to create a new future for the port towns in the Irish sea basin, based on a deeper understanding of their past.  

We at University College Cork look forward to working with Aberystwyth University, the University of Wales Trinity St David and Wexford County Council on this exciting project, which allows us to explore the connected cultures, traditions and histories of Dublin Port, Fishguard, Holyhead, Rosslare and Pembroke Dock, working to ensure that their shared heritage can become a driver of economic growth.