Swords (Sord) is a town 12 km north of Dublin, with a population in 2022 of 41,000. It's historically in County Dublin, which in 1994 was divided, with Swords becoming the county town of Fingal. Dublin Airport is within the town limits and much of Swords is industrial or commuterland for the city, but with an ancient castle and Round Tower. It has lots of accommodation and other visitor facilities.

Understand

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Pure as the driven snow: Swords well, blessed by St Colmcille

The town dates back to 560 AD when in legend Saint Colmcille (521–567) blessed the local well, hence sord meaning "clear" or "pure". He's also called St Columba, and founded Iona Abbey and many other churches and monasteries across Scotland and Ireland. A monastery needs a reliable unpolluted water supply, so it's plausible that he took a taste and declared "That's fine, let's build it here." The town grew up along the line of the present Main Street, along a ridge which turns the River Ward north. While Dublin was only slowly getting started, Swords looks to have been an important early medieval settlement, part of the territory of Fingal, so its status since 1994 as Fingal's county town has over a millennium brought it full circle.

Swords Village is town centre. It consists of Main Street, The Plaza, Town Centre Mall and the Swords Pavilions and Swords Central shopping centres. This area contains most of the shops, restaurants, bars, clubs and hotels. Swords Castle, St Colmcille's Well and St Columba's Round Tower are also here.

Dublin Airport is the behemoth that has grown up 3 km south. It opened in 1940, and grew and grew with the boom in air traffic, the budget carrier Ryanair, and the end of restrictions that had tied US flights to Shannon and European flights to subsidised flag-carriers. Along with it grew industry and air freight, and facilities such as hotels and inter-city coach connections that you might use even if you're not flying.

"Airside" is the confusing name of the retail and business park 1 km south of Swords Village, with hotels, restaurants and shops. The name implies that it's behind a security cordon, but it's simply an edge-of-town development with lots of jets whistling low overhead.

Donabate is a village on the peninsula north of Swords, with Newbridge House, golf and sandy beaches. It's closer to Malahide as the crow flies but with no road bridge, so it's easiest to reach from Swords and is described on this page.

Visitor information is available at the castle, and online at the council's Welcome to Swords.

Get in

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See Dublin for long-distance travel options. From within Ireland, simplest is to drive or take the bus.

By plane

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1 Dublin Airport (DUB IATA) is just 5 km south of the centre of Swords. There's a wide selection of flights across UK, Europe and North America, and a few to the Gulf States. You can reach Swords directly from the airport in 10 min by bus, taxi (reckon €10) or rental car — all the main operators are represented in Arrivals.

The buses to Swords depart from stop 7348 in Zone 13, signposted from Arrivals. Dublin Bus 41 runs to Swords Manor every 20 min via Pinnockhill, Swords Pavilions, Main Street, Rathbeale Road, Murrough Road and Brackenstown. Bus 102 runs to Sutton Station every 30 min via Forest Road, River Valley, Swords Pavilions and Malahide Road. Cash fare is €2.15 to Main Street and €2.60 to go further. You need exact change in coins if you pay on the bus, otherwise buy from the ticket machine near the stop or from the newsagent in Arrivals. Luggage space is limited, and drivers occasionally turn away travellers with packs that cannot be stored. This is unlikely to happen between airport and Swords, it's more of a problem between airport and central Dublin, with droves of budget travellers trying to save €4 over the fare for the dedicated airport bus.

Many hotels in Swords have a shuttle bus to and from the airport.

By train

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There is no rail service to Swords. The metro line between Swords, the airport and central Dublin is supposed to be completed in 2027, but that's probably just a typo for "2207" since the budget has already escalated to squillions of euros. Until then, the closest is 2 Malahide, which has frequent DART and commuter trains from Dublin Connolly and other city stations. The commuter trains continue north to Donabate (for Newbridge Demesne) and Drogheda, for trains from Belfast, which don't stop at Malahide.

Dublin Bus 102 runs every 30 min from stop 3634 across the road from Malahide station to Swords (15 min) and the airport.

Inter-city trains from Belfast, Sligo and Rosslare run to Dublin Connolly Station. Go downstairs and exit onto Amiens Street, cross, and walk down Talbot Street until you reach Gardiner Street. Turn left here and find bus stop 1171 on the right, for the 33 or 41 bus to Swords.

Trains from Waterford, Cork, Limerick and Galway converge on Dublin Heuston Station in the west of the city. From Heuston ride the tram towards The Point or Connolly for 5 stops and get off at Abbey Street. A little further up that street are bus stops OW and OX on the left, for buses to Swords.

By car

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Better to hire a car at the airport than in town

Best for car rental is the airport, rather than Swords or Dublin city centre.

Swords is along the M1 motorway between Dublin and Belfast. From Dublin head north, pass the M50 junction and airport and take exit 3 into Swords. From Belfast, Lisburn, Newry, Dundalk or Drogheda follow A1/M1 towards Dublin and take Exit 4. From Derry, Letterkenny, Omagh or Monaghan follow A5/N2 towards Dublin; at Ardee turn off onto the N33 link road to join M1 south until exit 4.

All other routes across Ireland converge on Dublin's ring road M50. Join it northbound till it meets M1, then follow signs for Belfast and take exit 3.

Car parking in Swords is seldom a problem.

By bus

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Inter-city: Dublin Airport is in the area's coach hub, as services from across Ireland run there, so even if you're not flying it's more convenient to come this way rather than via Dublin city centre. The main operator is Bus Éireann but they have several competitors. Buses run from Belfast, Derry, Letterkenny, Donegal Town, Sligo, Ballina, Galway, Limerick, Cork, Waterford and Wexford; see those cities' "Get in" for other operators. Between Swords and the airport take bus 41 or 102 as above.

Bus Éireann 101 runs every 20 min from Swords north to Balrothery, Balbriggan and Drogheda. Southbound it runs to the airport and city but is not available for journeys just between the city, airport and Swords.

Go Ahead Bus 197 from the airport runs hourly via Swords west to Ashbourne.

 
Coastline at Portrane

Central Dublin: Swords Express is the quickest and easiest. These bright red buses run every 30 min from Eden Quay via North Wall Quay and East Wall Road (for the port) then dive through the tunnel. They take 30 min to Swords, stopping at Holywell, Boroimhe, Forest Road, Swords Pavilions, Applewood and Brackenstown. In 2024 cash fares (no change given) are €4.90 and with a Leap card €4.50, cheaper off-peak. The last bus from the city leaves at 11PM, but Bus 41 (below) runs 24 hours.

Dublin Bus routes 33, 41, 41b and 41c from the city are frequent, congested and slow. These run every few minutes from Lower Abbey Street (stops OW and OX) via Gardiner Street, Drumcondra Road and Swords Road. They take an hour and all serve Swords Main Street; buses 41 and 41b also serve Rathbeale Road while bus 41c runs to Boroimhe, River Valley and Applewood.

Nitelink Bus 33n runs from Westmoreland St in central Dublin to Swords, Lusk, Rush, Skerries and Balbriggan, departing Friday and Saturday at midnight then 1:30AM, 2:30AM and 4AM.

Around Dublin: Dublin Buses to Swords from around the city are:

  • 33 / 33a from Balbriggan, Skerries, Rush and Lusk
  • 33b from Portraine and Donabate
  • 41b from Rolestown
  • 41x from UCD Belfield and Donnybrook
  • 43 from Eden Quay, Artane and Malahide Road
  • 102 from Sutton, Portmarnock and Malahide

By boat

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See Dublin for details of ferries to Dublin Port from Liverpool, Holyhead and Isle of Man; the port of Dún Laoghaire is no longer used.

From the port, with your own car follow signs for the M50 Tunnel. Tolls are €10 peak, €3 off-peak. Continue north on M1 (signed for the airport and Belfast) until you see the exit for Swords. On foot, walk to East Wall Road near the tunnel entrance for the bus stop for the Swords Express as above.

If you're using Swords as a base for touring the north, another ferry route is the short crossing from Cairnryan near Stranraer to Belfast, then drive south on M1.

Get around

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Constable Tower, Swords Castle

Walking is the easiest way to travel around the centre of Swords, and all of town is within a 2.5-km radius.

Cycling is also a good option; several roads have bike lanes. There's no bike hire in Swords.

Buses are frequent: route 41 / 41c is generally the most useful. Exact change only, and it's cheaper with a pre-paid Leap card — see Dublin#Get around. Leap cards are not valid on Swords Express.

Donabate railway station is near Newbridge Demesne and has frequent commuter trains from Dublin Connolly via Malahide, heading for Drogheda. This isn't convenient for Swords but is the simplest way to reach Newbridge from central Dublin.

Taxi stands are at County Hall, Chapel Lane and Pavilions Shopping Centre. Journeys within Swords and to the airport cost €15. Firms are:

 
St Columba's Church and Round Tower
  • 1 Swords Castle, Swords Town Park K67 X439, +353 1 890 5600. Daily 9:30AM-4:30PM. Built as a residence for the Archbishop of Dublin in the 13th century; not primarily defensive but a curtain wall encloses a large pentagonal courtyard. The building interiors are closed for interminable renovations, though group tours can be arranged. The surviving buildings include the northern tower (the Constable's residence), the chapel, and the southern gatehouse. The courtyard is open to visit and is often used for events, and the castle as a film and TV location. Free.  
  • Fingal County Hall, Main St K67 X8Y2 (opposite castle), +353 1 890 5000, . M-F 9:30AM-4:30PM. This plate-glass affair facing the castle was built in 2000 on the site of Swords House, the home of the Norman family of Taylors of Swords. It won an architectural award so it's probably a mercy that it's screened by mature trees. Just to make sure, they put one within, a Himalayan cedar in the courtyard. The County Council have a branch office in Blanchardstown. Free.
  • 2 St Columba’s Church, Church Road, Swords Glebe K67 E447, +353 1 840 2308. The Anglican church was built in Gothic style 1811-18 over a monastic settlement founded by St Colmcille / Columba. Its Round Tower, occasionally open in summer, is probably 9th century, and the square Clock Tower is 14th. The church was derelict for years but restored in 2022.
  • 3 St Colmcille’s Well may be where Swords got its name - the sord (clear or pure) water source blessed by St Colmcille. It's on Well Road at the base of the little triangular park bounded by Church Rd. All you see from the street is a hand-pump and a locked chamber with a cross on its gate.
  • 4 St Colmcille’s Church, Chapel Lane, Swords Demesne, +353 1 840 7277. RC church built in 1827 - at some peril, for although support for Catholic emancipation was gaining ground, the Penal Laws weren't repealed until 1829. The graveyard contains many interesting headstones, including one for Andrew Kettle (1833-1916), a key supporter of Parnell’s campaign for land reform. Another, to Patrick Carey who was only 30 when he died in 1879, has become enfolded by the tree planted at his grave. Free.
  • 5 Ward River Valley Park is a pleasant green strip, with multiple access points 24 hours. The small river flows east almost to Main Street, then turns north through town to join the estuary.
  • 6 Glasmore Abbey is a scrappy ruin in a park. It was founded in 660 AD by St Cronan Mochua, but he was killed in a Viking raid. 150 m southwest is the site of St Cronan's Well.
  • 7 Broadmeadow Estuary is the tidal lagoon and nature reserve northeast of town, bounded by the railway embankment, with many resident and migratory birds. Simplest access is along its south bank, Estuary Rd, taking the footpath towards Malahide to get away from the din of the M1 flyover.
  • 8 Newbridge House & Farm, Hearse Rd, Donabate K36 VR90 (Bus 33b from Swords or train to Donabate), +353 1 895 8262. Apr-Sep daily, Oct-Mar Tu-Su: 9:30AM-5PM. Plush Georgian villa, built in 1747 for Charles Cobbe, Archbishop of Dublin. It remained in the Cobbe family until 1985, when they sold it to the County Council but are still resident. Entry by guided tour; this ticket also includes the Traditional Farm, which you can tour separately. There's also a walled garden, and extensive parkland (free, open daylight hours). Lanestown Castle is a scenic stump within the grounds. House: adult €14, child €9.50, conc €10.  
  • 9 Donabate the village east of Newbridge House is on a peninsula between the Broadmeadow and Rogerstown estuaries, with long sandy beaches and five golf courses.
  • 10 Portrane 1 km north of Donabate has a small medieval castle (no access), a Martello Tower, a tumbledown medieval church and a Round Tower. The coast here suffers from erosion.
 
Swords courthouse
  • Gaelic games still reflect the traditional county structure, with a single County Dublin GAA. Local club side Fingallians play football, hurling and camogie, based at Lawless Memorial Park, one km north of town centre on R132. If these games seem a little violent to the new spectator, it's because you've strayed into the area used by Kyokushinkai Karate Association.
  • Cinema: Movies@Swords is within Pavilions Shopping Centre.
  • Gym: Integrity Fitness is on Main St by the castle. The shortest membership package is one week.
  • Horse riding: several centres in the vicinity, including Kilronan (below), Forrest, Monks Field and Balcultry.
  • Kilronan Equestrian Centre, Kettles Lane, Cloghran K67 W822 (200 m north of National Show Centre), +353 87 259 6020, . Tu-F 10AM-8PM, Sa 9AM-5PM. It offers lessons and treks for all standards and ages.
  • Balheary Shooting, Pitt Rd, Balheary K67 ER20 (200 m north of Roganstown Hotel), +353 1 807 8814, . W-Su 10AM-6PM. This has two Olympic skeet ranges, two down-the-line ranges, 10 English sporting stands, Compak sporting and a 120 ft (37 m) tower.
  • Sailing: see Malahide, the Swords BC and Malahide YC are 500 m apart along the estuary south shore.

Golf

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Events

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  • 6 National Show Centre is in Cloghran, off R132 between Swords and the airport. Frequent events, mostly open to the public, eg the Irish Kennel Club hold a dog show here most weeks.
  • St Patrick's Day is on 17 March, whenever that falls in the week. The Swords parade starts at noon, heading down Dublin Road, Main St and North St. It's followed in the afternoon by Irish dancing, events at the Castle and a Fun Fair.
  • Flavours of Fingal is the County Agricultural Show (livestock, equestrian events, equipment displays, and horticulture) combined with a Food & Drink Fair. Plus music and family entertainments. It's held at Newbridge House & Farm (see above) on the last weekend in June.
  • County Flower Show is held on the early August Bank Holiday in St Colmcille’s GAA on Glen Ellen Road.
 
Fingal County Hall
  • Swords Central shopping centre is south end of Main St, corner with Malahide Rd. The Post Office is in here.
  • 1 Swords Pavilions, Malahide Rd, +353 1 890-4580, . This is the main shopping centre, one block back from Main Street. The largest shops are Dunnes Stores, Superquinn, TK Maxx, Zara, H&M and River Island.
  • 2 Airside Retail Park is no such thing, it's ground-side of course, on R125.
  • Butlers Chocolate Café, Swords Pavilions Shopping Centre, Malahide Rd, +353 1 807 4020, . Daily 8AM-7PM. Coffee, cake, chocolate and light bites, whenever you're ready for a sit-down in the shopping centre.
  • Everest Kitchen serves Nepalese food at 4 Main St opposite the castle, open M-Sa 5-10:30PM, Su 2-10:30PM.
  • Musashi is a sushi house at 14 Main St, open Su-Th 5-10PM, F Sa 5-11PM.
  • Wine House Restaurant, 18 Main St K67 C5Y2 (100 m south of castle), +353 1 813 7876. Tu W 4:30-10PM, Th-Su 12:30-10PM. Slick service and good Mediterranean food.
  • Pink Elephant is Thai, at 23 Main St, open Su-Th 5-10PM, F Sa 5-11PM.
  • Spice of India is at 29 Main St, open M-F 4-11PM, Sa Su 2-11PM.
  • d'Chilli Shaker, 36 Main St K67 Y5H6, +353 1 840 9080, . Tu-Su 5-10PM. Indian restaurant with consistently good reviews for cuisine and service.
  • Indie Spice, Burgundy House, Forster Way K67 E4A8, +353 1 807 7999. Daily 1-10:30PM. Good Indian restaurant, all the classics and vegetarian choices, though limited options for vegans.
  • Old Schoolhouse, Church Rd K67 Y935 (foot of Ward River Valley Park), +353 1 640 4160, . Daily noon-11:30PM. Locally-sourced steak, game and seafood are specialties. Limited menu but great quality and service, sometimes has live music. The bar has TV sports and there's a beer garden.
  • 1 Eddie Rocket's, Dublin Rd K67 RW64, +353 1 840 5969. Daily noon-10PM. US retro-style chain diner: burgers, wings and similar fare.
  • 2 Gourmet Food Parlour, Unit 2 St Fintans, North St K67 P825, +353 1 897 1496, . M-Th 9AM-4PM, F Sa 9AM-9:30PM, Su 9AM-6PM. Bright modern restaurant with Med-style meals.
  • McLoughlins Restaurant is within Roganstown Hotel, see Sleep. It's open daily 6-9:45PM.

Drink

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Broad Meadow Estuary
  • The Cock Tavern, 31 Main St K67 X923 (opposite Forty Four Hotel), +353 1 807 7010. Su-Th noon-11:30PM, F-Sa noon-12:30AM. It's been a pub since the 18th century. Done out in old-world style with slated floors, old oak and pine beams fused together with brick and granite walls and warm wooden floors. And good beer, food an atmosphere as well.
  • The Old Borough, 72 Main St K67 E6W7, +353 1 808 4103, . Su-Th 7AM-11:30PM, F Sa 7AM-12:30PM. Designed by Francis Johnston of GPO fame, the Old Borough School was open 1809 to 2000; it's now a JD Wetherspoon.
  • The Pound & The Attic, Bridge St K67 N240 (by castle), +353 83 305 1676. Su-Th noon-11:30PM, F Sa noon-12:30AM. This pub has great atmosphere with food served all day and live music Saturday nights. The Pound was the adjacent land where stray animals were held, cos there wasn't enough room in the Attic.
  • Wrights Cafe Bar, The Plaza, Malahide Rd K67 VW44, +353 1 840 6760, . Su-Tu noon-10PM, W Th noon-11:30PM, F Sa noon-2:30AM. The upper level lounge, with dramatic red and cream furniture, dark wood tables and chandeliers, gives a distinctive ‘bordello’ effect. Behind the bar, there’s a secluded lounge that overlooks an open-plan area below, complete with a stage for dancing to live music. Dog friendly.
  • 1 The Coachman's Inn, Swords Rd, Cloghran K67 XP99 (half a mile north of airport), +353 1 840 1827. M-Sa 10:30AM-11:30PM, Su noon-11PM. Bar and grill, good Sunday carvery.

Sleep

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"Lay down those Swords!" - St Colmcille or Columba lays it on the line for the Picts
See Dublin#Sleep for accommodation near the airport, though you'll pay more there than in Swords.

Budget

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  • No campsites or caravan parks near Swords, head to the coast at Donabate or Rush.
  • 1 Forty Four Hotel, 44 Main St, Swords K67 AH28, +353 1 840 1308. Pleasant hotel with 14 rooms in town centre. Some noise from the pub, open to 11PM. Double (room only) €200.
  • 2 Travelodge Dublin Airport North, Pinnock Hill Roundabout, Swords K67 K6R2, +353 1 807 9400. Reliable budget chain with comfy rooms, 500 m south of Swords Main Street. Parking €5 per night during stay, no long-stay parking. It's on bus route 41 to the airport and central Dublin. B&B double €190.
  • 3 Premier Inn Dublin Airport, Airside Retail Park, Swords K67 E4A6, +353 1 895 7777. Reliable comfy budget chain. It's called "Dublin Airport" but is closer to Swords, about 1 km south of town centre. Parking €10 a day during stay, but no long-stay parking. A shuttle bus runs every 30 min between hotel and airport. B&B double €220.
  • 4 San Augustine B&B, 21A Rathbeale Rd, Swords K67 ET02 (Bus 41 from airport and Dublin), +353 1 840 8729, . Pleasant B&B in detached modern town house. Five minutes walk to Swords.
  • 5 Evergreen B&B, 13 Balheary Ave, Swords K67 D2V3, +353 1 840 3886, . Friendly well-run B&B 3 km north of Swords.
  • 6 Seamount House, 18 Seamount View, Malahide Rd, Swords K67 Y778, +353 1 840 5933, . Comfortable friendly guesthouse in quiet cul de sac on the east edge of Swords, 1 km from town centre. No credit cards. Double (room only) €80.
  • 7 Tirconaill, 2 Longlands, Malahide Rd, Swords K67 V832, +353 1 840 7962, . Pleasant guesthouse (room only) close to centre of Swords. Free parking at the rear of the house.

Mid-range

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Splurge

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  • 9 Roganstown Hotel and Country Club, Naul Rd, Roganstown K67 P2E4 (R108 8 km northwest of Swords), +353 1 843 3188, . Plush hotel and Country Club out in the rolling hills. Facilities include restaurant, bar, leisure centre, pool, 18 hole golf course, wedding and conference venues and free car parking. Shuttle bus available to Swords or airport. B&B double €150.

Connect

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Roganstown Bridge

As of May 2024, Swords and the airport have 5G from all Irish carriers.

Go next

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Routes through Swords
BelfastBalbriggan  N   S   Dublin



This city travel guide to Swords 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.