Dún Laoghaire is a scenic, suburban seaside town, located about 7 miles (12km) south of Dublin city centre. Its man made harbour is Dublin’s main passenger port and its one of the largest (man made) harbours in the world. There’s plenty to do here in terms of outdoor activities and Dún Laoghaire boasts an excellent selection of shops pubs and restaurants. The area is very well served by public transport, so no hassle if you want to get to the city centre. Read on for more
Dún Laoghaire – a little bit of history…
Dún Laoghaire derives its name from the Fort (Dún) of Laoghaire. King Laoghaire was the ancient High King of Ireland before the invasion of the Vikings. It was also named Kingstown by King George IV to honour his visit to the town, and it retained this name through the Victorian Era until just before the declaration of Irish Independence in 1920, when the Town Council voted to rename the town Dún Laoghaire.
The harbour at Dún Laoghaire is one of the largest in Ireland, and it’s the base of a major car ferry to the UK. The harbour took a period of over 40 years to create, and was officially opened in 1859. A visit to the harbour will see the historical obelisk, which was constructed at the time close to the old ferry port terminal to commemorate the opening of the harbour nearly 150 years ago. The ferry port services Holyhead, Anglesey, in Wales, and one of Ireland’s prominent sea links to the UK.
The harbour is well known for its two large granite piers. The East Pier used to have a famous bandstand, which has recently been taken down to be restored to its former glory. It’s a very popular spot for city folk, especially during spells of good weather, and all year round you’ll see people strolling the seaside promenade – you can take in the views right across Dublin Bay. You’ll also find the lighthouse on the East Pier.
There are numerous historical monuments at Dún Laoghaire Harbour as well. The area, south of the harbour known as “Scotsman’s Bay” was a popular area for Victorian seasiders. Public baths, which were very much in demand in those days, are now derelict. However there are plans for redevelopment and many of the tourist walkways are still very much intact.
The National Maritime Museum of Ireland is located in the Mariners Church, which was used by the British Navy. This is a terrific place to learn all about life in Dún Laoghaire in times past, and the importance of the port for sea trade and for the surrounding areas.
Dún Laoghaire Tourist Office is located at Marine Road by the harbour.
Dún Laoghaire was also the location of the first ever railway in Ireland. The Dublin to Kingstown railway opened in 1834. This was to serve the growing sea trade resulting from the closeness of the port to mainland Britain. The thriving port necessitated the building of a railway to serve the sprawling growth of the community and their access to Dublin city. This original railway line is now part of the DART suburban railway, the link to the city centre from Dún Laoghaire. The main bus to Dublin city from the area is the 46a, from Dun Laoghaire town centre.
What can visitors do here…
Dún Laoghaire is ideal for a range of outdoor activities. If you’re interested in sailing, the area is home to no less than 6 yacht clubs! The National Yacht Club, The Royal Irish Yacht club and the Dún Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club are the most popular clubs. Windsurfing is also a very popular (and daring) activity here – the area to the north of the West Pier is probably the best spot. Fishing too attracts visitors to the area; boat charter, rods, fishing tackle and lines may be rented from Dún Laoghaire Harbour or from any of the local harbours.
For a spot of retail therapy head to Dun Laoghaire town centre. The main shopping street is Georges Street. So when you tire all the sea air you can perk yourself up by browsing the shops and boutiques of the shopping centres? There’s also a newly opened 12-screen cinema in the town as well as a range of eateries and public houses including the Purple Ocean Restaurant and De Selbys. You can enjoy a pint in Dunphys or Cooneys after your leisurely stroll along the pier and get a warm Dublin welcome!
Popular places to visit in the town include the Tourist Information Office at the Ferry Terminal, the National Maritime Museum, and the People’s Park. The park is home to an organic market every Sunday, along with other stalls selling arts & crafts and jewellery!
Famous Dún Laoghaire people and culture…
Bob Geldof, Live Aid/Live 8 chief organiser and legendary singer with the Boomtown Rats, is a native of the area. Many TV stars and personalities of the music industry reside in nearby Dalkey including Chris De Burgh and members of U2. Dún Laoghaire also has an association with many Irish literary figures such as James Joyce and Samuel Beckett. Indeed, a visit to a Martello Tower in the area inspires the opening chapter of Joyce’s “Ulysses”.
Dún Laoghaire is home to the Festival Of World Cultures, a three day festival celebrating music from all corners of the globe. It’s one of the largest music festivals in Ireland attracting over a quarter of a million visitors to the town each year.
The Pavilion Theatre is also located in Dún Laoghaire and has hosted the Dublin Theatre Festival in the past.
So if you are travelling to Ireland by ferry, and would like to explore the greater Dún Laoghaire area, why not reserve accommodation at great rates through GoIreland.com. Check out our Dún Laoghaire accommodation page.