It`s been too long since my last photowalk here in Ireland. So yesterday I set off for Dalkey.
Ten miles south of Dublin City Centre, the best way to get to this pretty seaside village is on the DART. That’s Dublin Area Rapid Transit, Dublin`s light rail system. South of the city, the railway line is threaded along the very scenic curve of Dublin Bay, a wonderful prelude for the delights of Dalkey village.
Disembarking at Dalkey, I am just a short trot from the Main Street. It’s noon time Saturday and the place is barely awake. Perhaps the absence of people ensures that I notice the shop fronts and housefronts more readily: everything is so well maintained, neat and tidy, from luscious little gardens, to the litter free streets.
I ramble on past one of Dalkey`s seven castles. This one is on the main street. It bills itself a heritage centre “where living history meets 21st century technology” but I am in full on ramble mode, so I keep moving.
On past Archbold`s Castle then. Can you see the machiolation about the front door? It;`s the extra piece of masonry that juts out above the entrance. That’s for dumping down stones, debris, oil or other rubbish on those attempting entry to the castle. I ponder what I’d dump on some unwelcome guests to the Chook House and move on with what can only be describes as an evil smirk.
Out past Bullock Castle then, to Bullock Harbour. There I catch a glimpse of Poolbeg lighthouse and the twin chimneys of Ringsend way off in the distance. God bless your eyesight if you can spot them in this pic!
The excited screech of herring gulls draws my attention and soon, like a scene from Hitchcock`s Birds they are all about the place fighting over some fishy offerings amid the rocks.
And rocks abound in Dalkey. The whole place hewn out of steep granite hillsides. There was a granite quarry there in the early 19th century which supplied granite for the building of Dun Laoghaire harbour and also the South Bull Wall.
Dalkey`s harbours too, were important in their own right back from the 14th to the 17th century. The Liffey had become silted up so Dublin Port became inaccessible, whereas Dalkey Sound had deeper waters.
A quick trot around then to Coliemore Harbour. Coliemore Harbour bills itself as one of the smallest harbours in Ireland. It too was built from Dalkey granite and is the point of departure for boats heading out to Dalkey Island.
From here, I got a better view of the Island. It is home to the remains of St Begnet`s church and it also has a Martello tower at one end. Fifty such towers were built by the British in the early 19th century to provide defence against an anticipated invasion by Napoleon Bonaparte. Luckily for us, it seems Napoleon was ignorant to the delights of Dalkey however.
But many were not.
All along the coastline, there are rows of Regency and Victorian houses, another legacy from British times. And, if the area, with its warm microclimate, abundance of the spiky Cordylion and steep hillsides reminded me of the French Riviera, the street names certainly evoke the Mediterranean with street names such as Sorrento, Vico and Nerano.
Further on out towards Killiney beach, I am heartened my the sight, and distinctive licquorishy smell, of furze. (Or gorse, depending on where you’re from.) The railway line had been cut into the steep hillside there in a singular feat of engineering carried out by Brunell in 1855.
While down on White Rock beach there`s every chance I’ll catch a glimpse of a dolphin leaping. The views across to Bray Head are reward enough for my rambling but suddenly, and quite literally out of the blue, a single dolphin leaps into view. He leaps several times but all too fast for my camera.
What a thrill it is though, to spot these creatures in Irish waters.
I am ready, then, to ramble back along Ireland`s “Bay of Naples” …
… back along the Vico Road and past the quiet rows of Victorian terraces to the village itself.
Heading back towards the DART station, I cannot resist the tug of a newly opened bookshop. It’s a little beauty with blue washed walls, white bookshelves, bunting and an atmosphere conducive to some very productive browsing.
But my train is on it’s way, and time is short.
Besides, I haven’t seen all there is to see in Dalkey. There’s a castle to explore, a 13th century graveyard to visit, and Dalkey Head to be climbed.
And, if one can believe everything on facebook, the Dalkey Book Festival is set to run in June this year! A perfect time for a return trip.
So yes, I’ll be back!
- A very interesting piece describing the geology of Killiney Beach
- Youtube video of the very scenic DART trip from Killiney to Dalkey
- The wonderful BBC Coast programme has a piece here about Mallett and his seismology experiment on Killiney beach. Check in towards the end of the programme at the 58th minute