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Dun Laoghaire, Dalkey and Killiney

Follow the coast around the smart suburbs of south-east Dublin and return via a historic walkway.
Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 8.264 miles
Duration: Half day

Overview :  Situated between the mountains and the sea, the coastal area on the south side of Dublin Bay from Dun Laoghaire to Killiney... more »

Tips:  A bright sunny day is the best time to do this walk, if only you could depend on the weather! Flat shoes are essential, as is a... more »

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Points of Interest

The trail starts at the entrance to Dun Laoghaire railway station. The line between Pearse Station and Dun Laoghaire was opened in 1834 and is the oldest railway line in Ireland. It was the world's first suburban commuter railway line. The neoclassical station house, which is now a restaurant, was built in 1854 by J. S. Mulvaney.

Dun Laoghaire... More

2. Harbour Monuments

As you follow Queen's Road, you will pass a number of interesting monuments erected to commemorate various events in the town's history.

The Victoria Fountain was erected to mark the visit of Queen Victoria in 1900. It was made in Glasgow out of cast iron. Vandalised in 1981, it was restored to its former glory in 2003.

The George IV memorial,... More

The trail passes the east pier of Dun Laoghaire Harbour or, to give it its original name, the Royal Harbour of George IV. The harbour was built to provide shelter for the ships in Dublin Bay. The approach to Dublin Port is only navigable at high tide and so ships often have to wait in the bay until it is safe to approach. This makes them... More

4. Scotsman's Bay

Newtownsmith is the name for the promenade and park along Scotsman's Bay that curves gently from the East Pier of Dun Laoghaire Harbour to the rocky outcrop that is Sandycove. The bay is a habitat for a variety of sea birds, including the Common, Arctic, Sandwich and Roseate Terns, which are protected species. Another protected species that has... More

The small harbour at Sandycove was built by the Ballast Office to facilitate the transport of stone from the quarries in Dalkey for the construction of the Great South Wall of Dublin Port as well as part of the North Wall and Howth Harbour.

The precise origin of the name "Forty Foot" for the "Gentlemen's Bathing Place" on this promontory - a former gun battery - is uncertain. Some theories suggest it takes its name from the 42nd Highland Regiment of Foot (now known as the Black Watch), which was stationed here and in the adjacent Martello Tower. Others suggest it ... More

Situated close to the Forty Foot is this Martello Tower, which now serves as a museum dedicated to the author James Joyce.

A chain of Martello Towers was constructed in Ireland, England and the Channel Islands between 1804 and 1812 to defend the coastline against attack from the sea by the forces of Napoleon Bonaparte. Some 74 towers were built... More

8. Bullock Harbour and Castle

The harbour is dominated by Bullock Castle, which was built in 1346 by the Cistercian order of monks. The monks lived off the tolls they extracted from any ships and fishing boats that landed at the harbour. The Cistercians remained in the castle until the suppression of the monasteries by Henry VIII in the 16th century after which the castle was ... More

9. Bullock Steps

Follow these steps leading off the road opposite Bullock Harbour and then turn left onto Ulverton Road. Follow the road to the top of Dalkey Main Street.

Dalkey takes its name from the Irish, Deilg Inis, meaning Thorne Island, possibly a reference to the shape of Dalkey Island, of which more later. The village developed in medieval times as a seaport, it being easier and safer for ships to come ashore here than in the much more treacherous Dublin Bay. Dalkey was known to have seven castles, of... More

11. Coliemore Road

Walking along the Coliemore Road from Dalkey brings you past some of the finest Victorian houses in the area, including Cliff Castle, a mock castle built in the 1850s. It served as a hotel during the 1920s and its clientele included Arthur Griffith and Oliver St John Gogarty.

Inniscorrig was built in 1847 for a noted physician called Sir Dominic... More

Sheltered by Dalkey Island, this small harbour developed as an important alternative embarkation point for ships on occasions when conditions prevented them from getting into Dublin Bay. It served as Dublin's main port between the 14th and 17th centuries. The name Coliemore is taken from the Irish Calladh Mór, which means Large Port. Today ... More

13. Dillon Park

This small park, which enjoys excellent views of Dalkey Island, is named People's Park in the Ordnance Survey maps but is more generally known in the locality as Dillon's Park, after a Mrs Dillon who kept a tea room here in the 1930s.

14. Sorrento Park

The view from the summit of this park, built around a rocky outcrop of granite, is probably the most spectacular in the whole of Dublin, encompassing the full sweep of Killiney Bay across to Bray Head and the Wicklow Mountains. H.G. Wells described this vista as "The finest view west of Naples" and it seems he was not the only one to... More

Following the Vico Road, you will come to this lookout point with excellent views across Killiney Bay. If you want to get down to the beach, then take the path leading down from here. Note that to continue the walk you will have to return the way you came via a steep climb up many steps. If you decide to skip descending to the beach, then cross... More

16. White Rock Beach

This small beach is usually cut off from the rest of Killiney Beach, except when the tide is right out. The diving platform, which gives the beach its name, is carved out of the granite rock. When the tide is in, the entire platform is covered by the sea.

Killiney Hill Park - originally known as Victoria Park - was opened by Albert, Prince of Wales, (later King Edward VII) in 1887 in commemoration of the golden jubilee of his mother, Queen Victoria. The land, which was owned by Robert Warren and formed part of the Killiney Castle Estate (the castle is now the Killiney Castle Hotel), was purchased... More

18. Killiney DART station

If you don't want to continue back to Dun Laoghaire, then you can leave the park and walk to Killiney DART station. To get there, exit the park onto Killiney Hill Road and the follow Victoria Road, passing under a castellated arch, to reach Vico Road. Follow Vico Road to the DART station.

19. Thus Daedelus Flew

This bronze sculpture by Niall O'Neill symbolizes "the human search for ever-higher levels of consciousness".

The trail follows the path through the park, crossing the car park to reach the steps that lead up to the summit of Dalkey Hill.

20. Dalkey Hill and Quarry

At the summit of Dalkey Hill is a signal tower, built in 1804, which formed part of a network of such towers used to communicate with the Martello Towers as well as ships at sea during the Napoleonic Wars. Nearby is a radio beacon used to assist aircraft in navigation.

The summit of the hill overlooks Dalkey Quarry, opened in 1817 to provide... More

21. Torca Cottage

Following the wall overlooking the quarry downhill, the trail emerges onto Torca Road. Along this road is Torca Cottage, which was the summer home of George Bernard Shaw between 1866 and 1874.

22. The Metals

Torca Road eventually joins Ardbrugh Road and, at the head of Dalkey Quarry, joins the start of The Metals, which will be the route back to Dun Laoghaire.

The Metals is the name given to the trackway along which rock from Dalkey Quarry was transported to Dun Laoghaire to be used in the building of the harbour. The rocks were carried in wooden... More

23. The Flags

The first section of The Metals is an area known as The Flags on account of the granite flagstones found along this part of the route. The Metals were designed to follow a level inclination wherever possible in order to facilitate safe and easy movement of the wagons. This was not feasible, however, along this stretch leading to the quarry. This... More

24. Atmospheric Road

This road takes its unusual name from the Atmospheric Railway, built 1843, that ran from Dun Laoghaire to Dalkey. Rather than using a steam locomotive, this railway was driven by a vacuum system: a 15-inch (c. 40 centimeters) wide steel pipe ran the length of the line and by pumping the air out of the pipe the resulting vacuum was able to drive a ... More

25. Glenageary DART Station

If you're feeling tired, the Metals passes right beside Glenageary DART station, which you can use to get back to Dun Laoghaire or on to the city centre.

26. Sandycove & Glasthule DART station

Again, if you want to cut the trip short, the Metals also passes the Sandycove & Glasthule DART station.

27. The People's Park

Reaching the outskirts of Dun Laoghaire, The Metals reaches the People's Park, a Victorian park opened in 1890 and designed by John L. Robinson, architect of Dun Laoghaire town hall. It was originally the site of Glasthule Quarry, another source of stone for the harbour. There was a Martello Tower here but it was demolished when the quarry was... More

28. Moran Park

Also developed from a quarry is Moran Park, which was opened in 1954. The area was originally known as Churl Rocks and after the granite had been extracted, a reservoir was built to supply water for the ships in the harbour. The reservoir still exists and is found to the rear of the park. A new county library is now in the process of being built... More

29. Finish - Dun Laoghaire Railway Station

The trail ends back at the railway station.