Private Project

Keepers of the Port

In this lyrical portrait of working life, filmed and directed by Moira Sweeney on Dublin’s docks, a touching pride emerges within the stories and memories of the custodians of the port. As a group of former dockworkers set about preserving their legacy, daily life continues for the stevedores, boatmen, marine operatives and port managers who keep this gateway to the world open. Arresting industry visuals are amplified by the rugged harmonies of forklift warnings, creaking wood and metal, squeaking ropes and pulleys, and seagulls. The local activity of loading and unloading cargo and containers persists as a busy, humming backdrop to the steady arrival and departure of transnational ships. As the film moves through each discrete yet interconnected hub of dock activity, the filmmaker narrates her reflections on the evolving picture of vibrant, transforming port life. Recurring themes across the film include a nostalgia for lost communal tradition and solidarity, the precarity of seafarers’ lives and the complexity of a global digitalised structure which controls ship movement into and out of ports.

  • Moira Sweeney
    'Coming Home', 'Imaginary', 'Oriel – Atlantis of Ireland'
  • Moira Sweeney
    'Coming Home', 'Imaginary', 'Oriel – Atlantis of Ireland'
  • Moira Sweeney
    'Coming Home', 'Imaginary', 'Oriel – Atlantis of Ireland'
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Experimental, Feature
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 10 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    September 23, 2017
  • Production Budget:
    7,000 EUR
  • Country of Origin:
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  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Port Perspectives: port I river I city
    September 23, 2017
    Irish Premiere
Distribution Information
  • Moira Sweeney
    Country: Ireland
    Rights: All Rights
Director Biography - Moira Sweeney

With a background in experimental cinema, Moira Sweeney has honed her storytelling skills in the world of broadcast documentary. She therefore brings a distinctive creative approach to the worlds of music, art and social or personal history. Her experimental films have received numerous Arts Council awards and achieved recognition with international avant garde tours such as the Institute of Contemporary Art’s Signs of the Times. They have been screened at key film festivals including London, Melbourne, Berlin, Dublin and Edinburgh as well as at avant garde events such as the Yokohamo, New York Super 8 and Toronto Experimental Film Forums. Moira’s work has been broadcast on RTÉ, BBCNI, TG4, Channel 4 and ZDF and has been nominated for best documentary at the Boston Irish Film Festival, the Irish Film and Televison Academy and Radharc Awards.

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Director Statement

I wanted to make a film that moved beyond the scenic views and ventured deep into the heart of the port to capture a sense of the rhythms, grime and dust of dock work and what remained of a once more vibrant dock community. The desire in my filming was to create a sense of ‘being there’. I gradually built up a collage of imagery and accompanying mechanised sonic harmonies to capture the mechanical rhythms associated with the loading and unloading of the ships. I then began gathering the stories and memories of the keepers of the port; those who work here and those who have retired to form the Dublin Dockworkers Preservations Society. The film evolved then into the journey of a group of former dockworkers as they preserved their legacy, while daily life continued for the stevedores, boatmen, marine operatives and port managers who keep this gateway to the world open.