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Ports, Past and Present focuses on the five port towns which still run ferry services between Ireland and Wales: Pembroke Dock, Rosslare Harbour, Fishguard, Dublin Port and Holyhead. It envisages the Irish Sea not as a space which separates our two countries, but a rich and storied heritage, full of journeys and connections. During the course of the project, researchers from the University of Cork, the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies, Aberystwyth University and Wexford County Council worked with the port communities to bring the past to life through stories, films, apps, and twelve creative commissions.

The poet Kathy D’Arcy’s commission focused on Pembroke Dock in south Wales. Walking through different places is at the core of her creative practice as a writer, but during the Covid pandemic Kathy instead had to rely on virtual ‘walks’ taken with local volunteers through videoconferencing apps. As restrictions on travel gradually lifted, Kathy found herself able to visit Pembroke Dock in person for the first time in 2022. The poem ‘Trip’ charts that voyage from Ireland to Wales, while ‘Autotranscribe Writes an Ode to Pembroke Dock’ reflects some of the ‘mistakes’ made by the software that Kathy was using when transcribing her virtual interviews with local people.

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