Here's our suggested walking route with plenty of information to keep you occupied as you stroll around!
STOP 1 Start at Hartley’s restaurant. It was originally the ticket office of the train station and is considered to be one of the finest buildings in Dún Laoghaire. Hartley’s is a lovely restaurant where you can still see some of the original decoration from its time as a ticket office.
Opposite us, on the corner of Marine Road, is the Town Hall, built in 1880 by JL Robinson. Robinson was the towns principal architect in the 19th century. He also designed St Michaels hospital, the Peoples Park and the spire of St Michaels Church – all of which we will come to later. The Town Hall is a fine example of Venetian-style architecture with its arched windows, circular pierced balconies and coloured stonework. The splendid clock tower is a local landmark. The building also used to serve as the court house.
On the other corner of Marine Road is the site of the Old Pavilion. This had been an impressive structure constructed largely of timber and glass, but sadly it was burnt down in 1915. The idea for this pavilion (built in1903) came from the English seaside pier-pavilions, and was the venue for parties, concerts and balls.
Walk down Crofton Road, past Mallin railway station. The Dublin to Dún Laoghaire line was the first railway in Ireland. Opened in 1834 it was the worlds first suburban railway line. The original purpose was to have a freight connection between the harbour and Dublin. Improvements in the Liffeys channels made it easier for large vessels to navigate the waters and the system turned out to be a very profitable commuter line. In the early 1980s the line was electrified, replacing the old diesel trains. It runs the full length of the bay – from Bray to Howth.
On the other side of the road is the entrance to the Harbour Commissioners House, tucked neatly between two rows of cottages. It was built in 1820 for a mere £330! A short distance beyond is St Michaels Nursing Home. On your right is the Royal Irish Yacht Club, the first purpose-built yacht club in Ireland. Farther on is Crofton Terrace, commanding an unobstructed view of the bay; it is one of the earliest Victorian terraces built in town.
STOP 2 We have reached the bridge that leads to the harbour. This is the site of the ancient Dún (or ring fort) from which the town derives its name: the Irish translation of Dún Laoghaire means ‘The Fort of Laoghaire’. Laoghaire is believed to have lived here in the Fifth century AD and is said to have been the son of Niall of the Nine Hostages, who brought St Patrick to Ireland.
In the early nineteenth century a Martello tower was within the ring fort. It was one of many built arpund the coast of Ireland in 1804 as a defense against a possible Napoleonic invasion. Eventually the tower and the ring fort were demolished to accommodate the railway.
Cross the road to the BIM offices and then take the first left after Crawfords Garage. This will lead us to Callaghans Lane.
STOP 3 At the corner of Callaghans Lane ond Lr. Georges St. is Smyths Pub, which retains an old-world atmosphere. It is the only pub in Dún Laoghaire that still has a snug. A snug was a small room off the main bar where women drank and lovers met.
We are now on George’s Street, called after King George IV, who visited Dún Laoghaire in 1821. Many of the other street names indicate the anglicised nature of the town: Wllington Street, Mulgrave Street, Queens Road etc. To commemorate the king’s visit, the town’s name was changed to Kingstown, only reverting back to the original after Independence in 1921.
Cross the street at this point.
STOP 4 Up a short distance on the other side is the workmen’s Club founded by Professor W.F. Barret as a Temperance Club, a place where working men could meet and play billiards or read the newspaper – without being tempted by the demon drink!
Beside the club is Dún Laoghaire Public Library, a Carnegie Library built in 1912. The library is named after Andrew Carnegie, the American philanthropist, who donated generously to the cost of building it. He gave funds for 2,800 free public libraries world-wide.
STOP 5 St Michael’s Hospital is our next stop. It was opened in 1860 and was known as the Kingstown Lying-in Institute. An extension was added in 1938. As you can see it conflicts with the rusticated granite of the original.
Just beyond the hospital (on this side) is Dunphy’s Pub, beautifully refurbished in the traditional style. This style is becoming very fashionable today. Some of the most interesting architectural details on George’s Street can be seen on the upper parts of buildings. As you stroll towards Stop 6 cast your eyes along the upper storeys.
STOP 6 We are now at the junction of Marine Road and George’s Street. From here we can see St Michael’s Church. We now cross over to that side of the street. The church was burnt down in1966. All that remains of the original church is the spire, which deserves closer examination, being one of the town’s most elegant landmarks. The granite blocks of the old church were used in the building of the new one.
On the other side of Marine Road is the shopping centre, built in the mid-70s. Before its construction there was a pub called Downey’s on part of the site. This pub was quite famous; in fact it’s in the Guinness Book of Records for having the longest strike ever. Apparently it lasted for fourteen years ! Facing the centre on George’s Street (beside Eason’s) is a pharmacy ,O’Mahony & Ennis, an example of an old-style shopfront which has been retained over the years. The premises date back to the 1880s.
Now let’s continue our walk along Georges Street. It’s worth mentioning at this point the street lamps, many of which have extended brackets, the reason being that the poles once carried overhead wires for the trams that were running until the late 40s.
STOP 7 Adelaide house, on the corner of Adelaide Street, has been in continuous occupation by the same family for generations. It is the only house in Dún Laoghaire with two front doors. The first is on George’s Street, the other on the Adelaide Street side. Note the paving on the road at the junction of Georges Street and Adelaide Street. The paving acted as a pathway in the when the roads were unsurfaced and frequently muddy.
STOP 8 A short distance on, on the other side, is the Kinstown Men’s Institute, established in 1888. It provided recreational and sporting facilities for its members. Take a closer look, the elaborate brickwork on the façade is particularly beautiful.
STOP 9 We are now at he People’s Park. Of particular note are the elegant granite pillars and the KTC gate (Kingstown Town Commissioners). The stone troughs in front of the gate lodge were originally pig troughs; they are now being put to more aesthetic use, as flower pots.
The park is beautifully laid out with magnificently coloured flowerbeds. Among the sights to see are two very fine fountains, dating back to about 1890. Take a stroll through – it is a serene haven from the bustle of the town.
STOP 10 The walk now takes you out of the park. From here you can get an excellent view of the east pier. The laneway to the right of the gates is called The Metals, it used to be the old rail line that brought the granite from Dalkey Quarry to Dún Laoghaire for the construction of the harbour. On the other side of the Metals are the public baths, which were once famous for their seaweed bath.
STOP 11 Now we walk along Marine Terrace and cross Mellifont Avenue, go up the steps by the side of the hotel Pierre and on to Adelaide Street. We now come to St Nicholas’, the Montessori school, just beside the office block. St Nicholas’ used to be the Old Mariners school. It was founded to provide an education for the children of sailors. Note the buildings interesting Tudor-style front and the ironwork of the gate
STOP 12 The next stop is the Mariners’ Church, now the National Maritime Museum. It was opened in 1974 and is run on a voluntary basis. It is well worth a visit, having a large collection of maritime models, pictures, documents, photographs, charts, stamps, postcards, flags and badges, celebrating Ireland’s maritime tradition.
Next is the statue of Christ the King. This is a very impressive piece of sculpture, commanding a scenic view of the harbour and bay.
STOP 13 As we continue our walk we will pass Moran Park House on the left. It was to this building that Guglielmo Marconi radioed the very first account of a sporting event, a yacht race, from a tug in Dublin Bay.
STOP 14 Turn right at gates of the Royal Marine Hotel. Cross the road to the George IV monument. The monument commemorates the laying of the first stone of the harbour in 1817, and the visit of King George in 1821. Behind that is the Carlisle pier or Mail Packet Terminal as it was called. Below us is the National Yacht Club, erected in 1870 and designed by William Stirling. Over to the left is the Royal St George Yacht Club. It is interesting to note that all the buildings along the waterfront had to be one-storey. The harbour commissioners would not allow the view of the harbour to be blocked. For this reason, when they were extending the railway they had to sink the line below ground level. The pleasant tree-lined path where we are standing will bring us back to where we started, for a well-deserved rest
Walk courtesy of Dun Laoghaire Tourism.