Dalkey is a picturesque seaside resort and suburb of Dublin. The town has a Norman castle, several scenic walks, and the island just offshore was a pilgrimage site and slave market. Dalkey (pronounced daw-kee) had a population of 4608 in 2022, and sits 16 km southeast of city centre. It used to be part of County Dublin, which was divided so it's now part of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County.

Understand edit

Dalkey was founded as a Viking settlement and named for nearby Dalkey island (Deilginis, "thorn island"), rather than the island being named for the town. That's the clue that something important must have been sited out there. One contender is the abode and church of the 7th century St Begnet, but he or she never contrived to get martyred in a lurid way and may not have existed. The likelier explanation is the lucrative Viking slave market: the bleak farms of Iceland and Greenland could not have been worked without Irish thralls to flog across them. A port developed on the mainland from the 15th century, as it was a better harbour and with safer approaches than Dublin, and was dotted with "castles" - fortified dwellings and warehouses - that have mostly vanished. In later centuries commercial shipping moved away to Dún Laoghaire then to Dublin, and Dalkey morphed into a picturesque upmarket suburb. Celebrity residents have included Maeve Binchy, Bono, Enya and George Bernard Shaw.

Get in edit

See Dublin#Get in for long distance travel routes.

By train: Dart trains run every 10 min from Malahide and Howth through central Dublin (Connolly, Tara St and Pearse stations), the southern suburbs and Dún Laoghaire to 1 Dalkey station. The trains continue south to Bray and Greystones. All these stations are within the Dublin "short hop zone", see Dublin#Get around for fares.

Four mainline trains per day pass through without stopping on the way to Dublin Connolly from Wicklow, Wexford and Rosslare (for ferries to Wales): change at Bray for these.

By bus: Aircoach 703 runs every two hours from Dublin Airport to Dún Laoghaire, Dalkey and Killiney. It's scheduled to take little over an hour but is often snarled in southside traffic. Aircoach 702 between the airport, Bray and Greystones runs further inland via Cabinteely and Loughlinstown.

Go Ahead Ireland Bus 59 runs hourly between Dún Laoghaire, Dalkey, Glenageary and Killiney Victoria Rd.

Get around edit

The town is small and walkable.

See edit

  • 1 Dalkey Castle (Goat Castle), Castle Street A96 DE61, +353 1 285 8366. M W-F 10AM-5PM, Sa Su 11AM-5PM. 14th-century fortified town house, with an 1890s extension that was formerly the town hall. May-Oct there are "living history tours" with medieval characters, and guided walks several times a day. Adult €16, child €10.50.  
  • Archbold's Castle across the street is a fortified warehouse of similar date, nowadays a private residence. Dalkey's other five similar castles have been lost.
  • St Begnet's is a 13th century ruin behind Dalkey Castle, extended in the 15th / 16th. It fell out of use when Henry VIII's Reformation made it Protestant, which the population was not. It's now within the graveyard of the RC Church of the Assumption.
Dalkey Island
  • Mediterranean Dalkey: Coliemore Road (along the coast) and Sorrento Road (inland) are where Ireland dreams it borders the Med, with white villas and palm trees. They're glorious on a sunny day, though on a grey wet day they look forlorn. Both roads are too narrow to enjoy while driving, but there's a sidewalk (or should that be marciapiede?) throughout. They're both about a mile long so a gentle stroll down one and back up the other might take an hour.
  • 2 Coliemore Harbour has views over Dalkey Island and boats to take you there.
  • 3 Sorrento Park is the hill at the intersections of Coliemore, Sorrento and Vico Roads. A short scramble brings you to the top.
  • 4 Dalkey Island, 300 m offshore, is now uninhabited but was long settled and a centre for pilgrimage. There are remains of old field systems, another St Begnet's church, a "cairn" burial, a gun battery and a prominent Martello Tower. There are two Holy Wells, one being reputed to cure scurvy, and its waters were laden with swamp vegetation so the claim may not be far-fetched. Look for seals, black rabbits, wild goats and Roseate Terns. The rocks out to the east are the hazardous "Muglins", with a lighthouse. In fine weather boat trips sail daily from Coliemore Harbour; they may also sail from Bulloch Harbour near Dún Laoghaire.

Do edit

Slaves of Dalkey Island

There was slavery in Ireland long before the Vikings, one famous example being St Patrick, abducted from Roman Britain circa 5th century. But the Vikings took the exercise to new heights, raiding and trading wherever their power reached, especially in 8th to 11th century Ireland. Numbers are hard to gauge, but maybe 40% of the population of Iceland at that time were Irish slaves. Remains on Dalkey Island suggest it had a slave market, and its position was ideal, a secure edge-of-town supermarket for buying and selling. In an economy lacking the Euro, one unit of exchange was the cumhall, the price of a female slave. She was worth less than a horse.

In the 11th and 12th centuries, the Normans crushed the Vikings and the trade. Probably there were other slave markets in and around Dublin of which, 1000 years later, all traces are gone, not least because of the construction of all those fine mansions from the profits of the 18th century African-Atlantic slave trade.

  • Walk: instead of turning back at the south end of Coliemore and Sorrento Roads, continue southwest along the shore by Vico Road. This parallels the railway tracks and eventually brings you to Killiney DART Station, with trains back to Dalkey every ten minutes.
  • Golf: Killiney GC is on on the hill, and Carrickmines is inland. South towards the boundary with Wicklow are Woodbrook, Old Conna and Dún Laoghaire.
  • Sea kayaking offshore, but beware strong currents and tidal overfalls around Dalkey Island.
  • Dalkey Book Festival is held over three days in mid-June with readings and similar events in various locations around town.

Buy edit

  • Supervalu is the main supermarket. It's within Killiney Shopping Centre on Castle St, open daily 8AM-10PM.
  • Thyme Out, 34 Castle Street A96 C9X3, +353 1 285 1999. M-Sa 8AM-6PM, Su 10AM-4PM. Deli grocery with sandwiches, breads, cakes and other tasty things.
  • Gutter Bookshop, 20 Railway Road A96 VW52, +353 1 285 9633. M-Sa 10AM-6PM, Su noon-5PM. Small bookshop but good selection, knowledgeable staff.

Eat edit

Dalkey Castle

Drink edit

Along main drag are The Dalkey Duck[dead link], Queens Bar, Kings Inn and The Club Bar.

Sleep edit

Most visitors day-trip and Dalkey itself is short of accommodation: stay in Dún Laoghaire or elsewhere around County Dublin.
  • 1 Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel, Killiney Hill Rd, Scalpwilliam, Killiney A96 N125, +353 1 230 5400. Upmarket hotel on the hill above Killiney, with restaurant and small pool. B&B double €180.
  • Coliemore is self-catering accommodation on Tubbermore Rd near the railway station.

Connect edit

As of May 2024, Dalkey has 4G coverage with Three, and 5G with Eir and Vodafone.

Go next edit

  • Most onward routes mean travelling into Dublin so you might as well stay and enjoy the place.
  • Bray just south has connections across County Wicklow and south towards Wexford.
  • Enniskerry at the edge of the Wicklow mountains has sumptuous Powerscourt.

This city travel guide to Dalkey is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.