During Napoleonic times, the British government built a series of these along the coastlines in Britain and Ireland to defend against invasion, having been impressed by the capabilities of the original model in Italy. Dun Laoghaire has a number of these, but undoubtedly the most famous now houses the Joyce museum and has become a mecca for joyceans from all over the world, as it is the settin g for the start of Ulysses. Its not too hard to find. Jump off the train at Glasthule station, head to the sea and then turn right, keeping by the sea. Soon you will hit Sandycove (which is exactly as described and jampacked with people anytime there is any sunshine at all) after that you are just around the corner from the tower, but in between is another Dun Laoghaire institution, the 40 foot bathing place. Named so as its supposedly that deep, so no problem diving in (tho have also heard it was named after the regiment that garrisoned the towers, the 40th Foot!). Be aware that a lot of the hardened regulars (and you have to be hardened to swim in the sea in Ireland :-) swim naked. While probably not the most inviting place, women can now bath there, though there are no changing facilities. Every Christmas morning assorted nutcases jump in for the traditional swim - most of them actually survive the experience! The seas can actually be very rough along this stretch of coast so be careful if you are going swimming at the forty foot!
Why not, its what all the locals do and is the most popular constitutional in Southern Dublin. The bracing sea air wakes you up if you go in the morning and theres always something to see (good for people watching too!). The East pier is 1.6 km, the west pier slightly longer. If you have a dog with you, the west pier may be better as its still partially grassed and is less busy.
The harbour itself is now mostly used by pleasure boats but if you are in luck you might see the catamaran ferry come in. This is one of the largest catamarans in the world and was built in Tasmania, Australia. It connects Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead in North Wales. Its very comfortable and does the trip in 99 minutes (apparently - seems a little precise to me :)
On Sundays theres a very nice produce market in the Peoples Park. It has good bread, cheese and vegtables. Its a bustling scene as the park, while small, is very pretty and attracts a lot of families for their Sunday outing (theres a playground and a cafe). Enjoy buying some nice Italian bread in the market then slipping into the cafe for a bagel :-) Theres usually also a band playing near the market (last time I went it was bossanova)
The Peoples Park is actually another victorian relic (opened in 1890) but is very well-maintained and at most times of the year has beautiful flower displays.
This custom built puppet theatre is great for kids (and adults who have the ability to suspend their disbelief :) Each year it hosts an international puppet festival which attracts some excellent international groups. Some of the shows in the festival are definitely not intended for kids.
In Ireland, Eugene Lambert, the founder of the theatre, was best known for his work on Irish television. In the 60's, 70's and 80's he created one of the best loved Irish childrens TV programme (Wanderly Wagon) and was associated with one of the most irritating (Bosco!) The first was so good that the sins of the second must be forgiven. Both were based on puppets and there is a room in the theatre devoted to the various charactors from Lambert puppet productions. He still performs on occassion at the theatre but much of the work there is now in the nads of his children and grandchildren.
A small oratory(prayer house) that used to stand in the grounds of the Dominican convent school. It was built in 1919 to house a statue of the sacred heart sent from Flanders to commemorate the soldiers from Dun Laoghaire who died in World War One. Sr Concepta Lynch, a teacher of art at the school and the daughter of a well-known Dublin painter, spent 16 years of her life decorating the walls and ceilings before dying in 1939. The work is meticulous and is considered one of the high points of the celtic revival style. It also contains windows by Harry Clarke, a renowned Irish artist of the time. The convent has since been torn down and replaced by a shopping centre (welcome to the new Ireland!) but the oratory was listed and so preserved. Unfortunately it is only rarely open to the public but is usually opened for festivals (guided tours only). Ring this number to arrange a viewing (01) 205 4700 ext 4555
Dun Laoghaire has a long tradition of yachting and, along with Howth, would be the main centre for such in the Dublin area. There are 4 yacht clubs in the harbour and in addition a couple of sailtraining operations. Just outside the harbour is a windsurfing centre at Salthill. While I've never had much interest myself in such things, many become addicted to the call of the sea and it doesnt have to cost the earth. Theres always a need for crew on boats and efforts have been made to make the sail training approachable to non-yachties (most of the clubs are over a hundred years old and so are well aware of the need to attract the younger gneration for their own long-term survival. Even if not at all interested in such things, it can be fun to watch the boats come in and out from the harbour walls :-)
Two of the clubs have splendid 19th century clubhouses on the waterfront but unfortunately you can't go in!
National Yacht Club (www.nyc.ie)
Royal Irish Yacht Club (www.riyc.ie) Oldest in the harbour, founded in 1831
Royal St George Yacht Club (www.rsgyc.ie)
Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club (www.dmyc.ie)
Irish Sailing Association (www.sailing.ie) - Overall governing body for Irish yachting
Irish National Sailing School (www.inss.ie)
Irish Youth Sailing Club (www.iysc.net )
Dun Laoghaire, which has a proud maritime tradition, is the home of the Irish Maritime Museum. This desperately underfunded institution survives on the efforts of its volunteers and could really do with as many visitors as it can get. Don't expect a comparable experience to that of maritme museums in other countries though. The museum is housed in the old Mariners church (1837-8) and the collection is quite small.
This harbour is around the coast from Dun Laoghaire, near the village of Dalkey. It still has a couple of working fishing boats and you can hire a boat yourself if you want to go fishing. At the moment theres a pod of up to 8 seals who have made the harbour their home. They're big buggers when you see them up close!
Guarding the harbour is Bullock Castle, a tower house that some have dated back to the 12th century (Dalkey and the area around was an important trading centre in Maedievel times). It was held by the cistercian order, who took a toll from the fishermen who used the landing spot.The current harbour was built in the early 19th century but if you close your eyes maybe you'll hear ghostly monks chanting evensong . . . .
This statue of Christ the King by Andrew O'Connor had a long and winding journey before it was erected in its current location. It was made to commemorate the fallen of WWI and originally exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1926. In 1931 meetings were held in Dun Laoghaire to erect it in Dun Laoghaire. Support was rather slow to come and the statue was still in France when WWII started. It was hidden and in 1949 was finally purchased. However it wasn't finally put on public display in its current location until 1978! While it is on an elevated site overlooking the harbour can't help feeling most people pass it by , as I did, which is a pity as it repays closer inspection!
You can go lawn bowling in Moran Park. The facility is publicly owned though there is a club there. However two of the runs are kept for non-members to use.
Moran Park House was the location for the first wireless transmission by Gugielmo Marconi on 20th July 1898, though this being Dun Laoghaire not much is made of this. Theres nothing to see in the house, which as far as I can tell is unused.
The Pavilion Theatre is Dun Laoghaire's municipal theatre facility, built on the site of the old Pavilion cinema. It has a varied and quite extensive event list. Its modern auditorium can hold several hundred in comfort (no getting your knees crushed if you're tall :) and tends to be be very popular, so don't be surprised if things you want to see book out!
Its handilly located for a variety of restuarants and the entrance to the 40 foot pub is just a few metres away.
The town hall has recently been renovated and extensively remodelled, though the original building dates back to 1878. Its a good place to go to get information on whats going on in Dun Laoghaire and has a nice exhibition space open to the public in its centre. You can also go in and view planning permission request, which are normally accompanied by what look like very expensive 3D models of what they will end up looking like (wonder what happens to them when the permission is granted . . . . )
The centre of Dun Laoghaire is a little ugly (maybe I'm being charitable . . ) The Dun Laoghaire shopping centre is an unlovely piece of 1970s architecture, which replaced a row of victorian buildings. The church across the way is a modernist 1970's concrete monolith built to replace the original 19th century church, which was destroyed by fire in 1965. All that remains of the original church is the rather fine 60 m tower, which is now used as a youth information centre.
It could be argued that Killiney Hill is really in Killiney rather than Dun Laoghaire but I'm taking the view that its in the same local authoirity area so can be claimed :-)
Killiney Hill was opened as a park in the late 19th century, with Dalkey Hill being added to it at a later date. Its a forest park with wonderful views over the sea and some nice paths to wander.
Cabinteely Park is one of a number of large south Dublin public parks. Asides from pleasant walks and being a great place to pick up chestnuts (as any kid will tell you - for conkers :), its also the only park I've come across in Dublin that has a circuit walk with exercise stops (bars etc) and ity also has one of the best playgrounds in the city, with different zones for different aged kids. Also in the Park is Cabinteely House, the former big house of the area, which is now owned by the local council and is occasionally open to the public (check with Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown Council)
Although out of the city centre (about 7 miles) its quite easy to get to as you head out along the stillorgan dual carriageway to Cabinteely village.