1. Walk along the Dun Laoghaire East Pier at Sunset
Anytime of day is pleasant to walk along Dun Laoghaire (pronounced Dunleary) East Pier however the view at sunset is exquisite. According to Kate Holmquist from the Irish Times
‘People have healed from heartbreaks and anxieties and solved moral dilemmas by striding up and down that pier, alone or in tandem.’
Our friend introduced us to this walk on our first evening in Ireland and we were so grateful. It was the perfect opportunity to have a decent heart-to-heart catch up whilst simultaneously getting a workout. The 1.3 km walk (2.6 km return) is a popular spot to exercise for locals and it’s not uncommon for them to see someone they know. We bumped into one of her old colleagues and her family. Although 1 million people walk the pier each year, it has this really peaceful, relaxing, calm feeling. If you are based in Dublin it takes around 15 minutes Southbound on the Dart train from the City Centre to access the Pier and it’s surrounds.
2. Hike at Killiney Hill Park
Killiney Hill Park is another popular walk and is dog friendly too. It was a real treat to see so many locals and their canine friends out and about in the crisp, fresh morning air. Back home in Brisbane I regularly do a hike at Mt Coot-tha and I considered Killiney Hill the local’s equivalent in this area. Killiney Hill Park is in South County Dublin. It can easily be accessed by car, bus (59) or alternatively, it’s a really nice, energetic 15 minute walk uphill from the back of Dalkey Dart Station. The 2 km walk is an easy one and offers sweeping stunning views south over Killiney Bay to Bray and Wicklow. It also captures the Sugar Loaf Mountain and further still.
Then to the North it offers views over the Dublin skyline and the entire Dublin Bay. You can also see Dalkey Island and Dun Laoghaire Pier. An interesting fact is that the granite used to build Dun Laoghaire Harbour Pier was actually taken from Dalkey Quarry and the quarrying started between 1815 and 1817. Today the disused quarry is one of Ireland’s most popular rock climbing locations with over 350 routes to climb.
There is a fascinating piece of architecture in the park, a memorial to a tragic time in Irish history. The Obelisk has a commanding, eerie presence. It stands as a strong reminder, to those fortunate enough to be living in today’s abundant times, of their less fortunate ancestors.
Killiney Obelisk was built in 1742 to commemorate a sad event in Irish history which was described as ‘the Year of the Slaughter’. Two years earlier between 1740 and 1741 an incredibly cold winter was followed by a severely wet summer that wiped out the crops and killed off livestock. This again was followed by months of minus temperatures during the next winter. Reports suggest that between 250,000 and 480,000 people died during this forgotten famine.’https://curiousireland.ie/killiney-obelisk/
The Obelisk is located at the highest point in the park which is 170 metres above sea level. The Pyramid of Dublin, constructed in 1852, can also be seen on this walk and is another distinctive piece of architecture.
When travelling it’s always interesting to capture some of the local vegetation and flowers as they have adapted to the conditions in which they exist. In Australia we commonly talk about going for a bushwalk whilst in this part of Ireland the walk in nature is along woodland trails. There are over 200 native plant species which have been recorded around the Killiney and Dalkey Hill area. ‘Roughly 50% of the park consists of mature woodland with a variety of trees such as Sessile Oak, Beech Pine and Sycamore. There is also a local variety of Ragwort growing within the park known as “Dalkey Ragwort”.’ In this area there were a lot of pine trees as well as the rugged, heath like coastal vegetation. Chiffchaffs and warblers are some of the birds that can be spotted around here.
3. Catch the Dart along the coastline to Bray
The train ride on the Dart to Bray along the coastline is such a relaxing, picturesque trip. Stepping out of the wild and windy conditions, we opted for a comforting hot chocolate overlooking the water although I was intrigued that, even in the cold, the Irish still relish a well earned Teddy’s Ice Cream.
Bray is a nice spot for a stroll and this spectacular footage from Skycam Ireland captures, in ways words cannot express, just how stunning the scenery is in this area and it’s surrounds. The music, Now We Are Free by Lisa Gerrard (from the film, Gladiator Soundtrack), perfectly complements the clip. I was so pleased when I discovered this and just had to share it on my blog. I admit that watching the Skycam video brought a tear to my eye. We took the Dart train ride along that very coastline, as captured here, earlier this year and I just felt like I was back in Ireland again.
4. Stay a night or two at the grand Royal Marine Hotel
We decided to stay in Dun Laoghaire on this visit to Ireland because our friends live nearby and we liked the idea of staying near the water. We had booked an air bnb however our host cancelled one week before we were due to depart. Luckily the grand Royal Marine Hotel had vacancies and it certainly did not disappoint. The hotel overlooks Dublin Bay and is located in an area steeped in history.
We loved the old worldly charm of this particular place and it’s close proximity to the water as well as the Dart train station. It has a large, comfortable restaurant and lounge area where you can also choose whether or not to have breakfast included.
We originally booked 2 nights but enjoyed our time in the area so much that we ended up extending our stay to 3 nights before departing on our road trip along the Wild Atlantic Way. There was no issue staying longer as the hotel staff were friendly and most accommodating. Monkstown Village is close by and offers a trendy cafe, bar and restaurant precinct which is very handy for a decent coffee to kickstart a day of sightseeing.