Research study seeks to unlock the cultural potential of Welsh and Irish ports


Today (June 13th), Welsh Government Minister for International Relations, Eluned Morgan announced a major joint Irish and Welsh project that will seek 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.

Ports, Past and Present

The four-year project – ‘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 the University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies (CAWCS) and Aberystwyth University. The project is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Ireland Wales Cooperation programme.

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 five 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.”

Professor Claire Connolly from the University of Cork explained the thinking behind the project: “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 is found in Irish and Welsh ports, which this study will seek to bring to life, so that our ports can become a destination in themselves.”

The €3.2 million (£2.7 million) project will work with tourism stakeholders and local communities to enhance tourists’ awareness of the history of these ports. Creative works in the visual arts, literature and film will be commissioned to bring these histories to life, while digital technology will be deployed to engage new audiences with aspects of their heritage.

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 to develop economic growth in these ports.

“There is so much potential here for bringing these stories to life,” said Dr Mary-Ann Constantine from UWTSD’s Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies (CAWCS). 

“The team at CAWCS are looking forward to sharing and developing their knowledge of the history and heritage of the Celtic-speaking cultures with new audiences in the port communities. We are especially glad to be working in collaboration with our Irish colleagues at this period of political uncertainty – it is a wonderful opportunity to strengthen Welsh cultural and academic links across the Irish Sea.”

The project will run from 2019 to 2024 and members of the public can obtain additional information by emailing

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Further Information

 For further information, please contact Sian-Elin Davies, Principal Communications and PR Officer on 01267 676908 / 07449 998476