A joint Irish and Welsh project is seeking to unlock the cultural potential of the Irish ports of Dublin and Rosslare, and the Welsh ports of Holyhead, Fishguard and Pembroke Dock.
The research will explore the cultures, traditions and histories of these ports, so that their cultural heritages can become a driver of economic growth.
The four-year project titled 'Ports, Pasts and Present: Cultural Crossings between Ireland and Wales' is a joint initiative with University College Cork (UCC) and Wexford County Council in Ireland, and in Wales with Aberystwyth University and the Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies at the University of Wales,Trinity Saint David.
The project is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Ireland Wales Cooperation programme and is led by UCC.
The Welsh Minister for International Relations, Eluned Morgan said he was pleased to announce the exciting new project which aimes to help turn five Welsh and Irish ports into vibtant 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', he said.
'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 €2.6 million project will work with tourism stakeholders and local communities to make tourists more aware of the deep history of the ports. Creative works in the visual arts, literature and film will be commissioned to bring the histories to life, while digital technology will be deployed to engage new audiences in the heritage of these ports.
Work with local authorities and tourism operators will seek to develop new tourism activities, while a joint Irish and Welsh tourism network will be established to assist in developing economic growth in these ports.
Professor Claire Connolly of University College Cork said there has been a movement of people between Ireland and Wales for thousands of years for reasons of trade, leisure, religious, political and family and also in times of war.
'A rich vein of culture exists in Irish and Welsh ports, which this study will seek to bring to life, so that our ports become a destination in themselves. Our ports can too often be transient, bypassed as we rush from and to another destination, but there are extraordinary histories and stories attached to ports. This project seeks to awaken audiences to this heritage and in so doing aims to work with communities to generate new tourism markets for Irish and Welsh ports', she said.
Wexford County Council Coastal Engineer George Colfer said Rosslare port has provided both a physical and cultural link between Wexford and Wales over the years and the local authority recognises the importance of this link to the south east region.
'We look forward to working with our project partners and the local community to build on this strong connection and to develop economic activity in the area', he said. The project will run from 2019 to 2024 and members of the public can obtain additional information by emailing email@example.com.