Sunday 19 November 2017

Employment in Balbriggan past

The building of the harbour 1761 - 1765


BARON Hamilton, with the aid of Parliamentary grants supervised the building of a fine harbour wall, or mole, of 600 feet in length, thus affording safe anchorage for large vessels.

The little port of Balbriggan very quickly prospered and apart from the development of a local fishing fleet, a sizeable trade grew up in the port where large quantities of corn and timber were exported and imports of slates, coal, culm and rock salt were unloaded at the busy quayside.

We are fortunate in having a first hand account of the building of the harbour wall and of the success of the growing fishing industry. This account is provided by a traveller called Arthur Young who toured Ireland in the years 1776 to 1778.

He actually visited Balbriggan on 19th July 1776 and the following is a snippet from his observations: "Got to Baron Hamilton's at Hampton, near Balbriggen, by breakfast. His house is new built and stands agreeably by a fine shore ... the population increases very fast and the country in every respect improves amazingly ....

The Baron carried me to Balbriggen, a little sea port of his, which owes it's being and care to his attention.

It subsists by its fishing boats which he builds; has 23 of them, each carrying 7 men, who are not paid wages, but divide the produce of their fishery."

The author also went into great detail concerning the means by which the harbour wall was erected and was much impressed by what he saw and heard.

The harbour was improved by the erection of a lighthouse in 1769 which was originally illuminated by candle power. The building of a northern jetty between 1826 and 1829 completed the job.

Fingal Independent

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