Casting of the Spear in Dublin Bay

At the annual Casting of the Spear re-enactment was Lord Mayor of Dublin and newly invested Honorary Admiral of Dublin Port, Mícheál Mac Donncha with Dublin Port Chairperson Lucy McCaffrey. Conor McCabe Photography.

The new Lord Mayor of Dublin, Mícheál Mac Donncha, took part in the annual Casting Of The Spear ceremony on July 18th, a tradition dating back 529 years and the first official duty for the Lord Mayor as Honorary Admiral of Dublin Port.

The title of Honorary Admiral of Dublin Port has been bestowed on the Lord Mayor of Dublin for over 20 years.The tradition of the Casting the Spear dates back to 1488 when Thomas Mayler, who was then Lord Mayor of Dublin, rode out on horseback and cast a spear as far as he could into the sea. This was to mark the city’s boundaries eastwards. The re-enactment ceremony reminds us of Dublin’s role as a port city in medieval times and highlights Dublin Port’s remarkable history.

The newly invested Honorary Admiral of Dublin Port, Mícheál Mac Donncha said: “It is an honour to perform the Casting Of The Spear ceremony which has become a highlight in the calendar for the Lord Mayor of Dublin. I look forward to an exciting year ahead as Honorary Admiral of Dublin Port and working with the Port and its communities to create new traditions and memories. It is important that we keep alive the customs and traditions that define us as a port city.”
There to witness the Casting Of The Spear ceremony were members of the local port community enjoying the launch of the 30th annual South Docks Festival, now in its 30th year. The South Docks Festival is run by the St. Andrew’s Resource Centre of Pearse Street in collaboration with a number of local clubs and groups, including Pearse Area

Recreational Centre. It celebrates the community and heritage, taking pride in the maritime identity inherent in the South Dublin Docklands area.
Betty Ashe, from St Andrew’s Centre, Pearse Street, told those who gathered to witness this year’s ceremony that the communities around the South Docks “have survived hard times in the past, and in the recent past too but have never lost the spirit of community and the confidence in their ability not just to survive but to thrive.”

This is Betty’s 30th and final year in her role as titular head, MC, and cheerleader-in-chief of the Festival. She said that she is happy to relinquish the position at this point and she expressed confidence in the new talent coming through at the St Andrew’s Centre who will continue her good work.
Dublin Port Chairperson, Lucy McCaffrey, who performed the investiture, thanked the new Lord Mayor and the organisers of the festival. She said: “Today’s re-enactment celebrates that tradition and is symbolic of Dublin Port’s continued commitment to preserving, for the city and its people, an understanding of the history that binds the port and the city.

It is great to celebrate the 30th South Docks Festival, which brings together the communities of our docks and our nearest neighbours. I would like to congratulate the organisers of the festival on a tremendous programme of events and to encourage everyone to come along and enjoy the festivities.”

by Jennifer Reddin