I'm finishing a book manuscript on the Dublin Docker. The main timeframe of the research is 1900 - 1972, but there is one chapter that describes the historical development of the port. I was looking for some information on commodities traded and the volume of exports as opposed to import. Through a chance email I came across this beautiful project Duanaire which is digitising and making available online Irish historical economic information. Of particular interest to me is the section which gives export and import data from 1714-1774.
Thanks to the technology of digitisation and the internet, we are living in an age of greater access to data .But there is a dangerous that data will be hidden away in secret gardens. If I google for commodities, Dublin 1700 Dunnaire doesn't appear on the first ten pages. The treasure trove exists but how can I find it without a map (or a chance email)? This is where projects like the Digital Repository of Ireland which seeks to build links between data sets are so important to researchers.
Favourite factoid from Duanaire? In 1764 the average tonnage (capacity) of a ship in Dublin Port was 76.99 tonnes. In contrast the average tonnage of ships visiting Dublin ports in 2011 was 2807 tonnes (1).
Hello containers. Goodbye dockers.
P.S. To provide added weight to my point about this exciting new world of data, the beautiful image above comes from John Rocque's A Survey of the City, Harbour, Bay and Environs of Dublin (London, 1757) available at Gallica, a project which is digitising material at the Bibliothèque nationale de France and partner libraries.