The town of Dún Laoghaire, located about 12 km south of Dublin’s city centre and easily accessible by bus and rail services (including the DART and mainline trains), boasts several historical sites of interest. Here are our top five must-see historical sites in Dún Laoghaire.
5. The Town Hall
This beautiful building, located on Marine Road, was constructed in 1880 and was designed by John Loftus Robinson.
The structure was loosely based on the style of a Venetian palace and comprises a 2-storey granite block.
The Town Hall is a listed building, and the interior of the existing Chamber contains some features of architectural significance, including wall panelling, a chimneypiece and original doors and brass-work.
Today, the building is home to Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council Offices and is worth a visit to see its resplendent architecture.
4. The People’s Park
The magnificent People’s Park is a beautifully landscaped space located very close to Dun Laoghaire town centre, between the village of Glasthule and the seafront. Toward the end of the 19th century, it was developed by the Town Commissioners in the formal Victorian style and was enclosed by wrought iron railings and gates. The main facilities of the People’s Park today include the following:
(a) The Park Lodge, which was formerly a gardener’s residence that is now used as offices; (b) The Victorian shelter, which is now the park’s appealing tearoom; (c) Two impressive cast iron fountains; (d) The Victorian bandstand, which is fitted with original gaslight standards; (e) A garden for the blind with a safe walking trail; (f) A children’s playground; (f) Public toilets.
The park is open to visitors every day and, on Sundays, there is an attractive market between 11am and 4 pm, offering a selection of international goods.
3. The Royal Marine Hotel
The Royal Marine Hotel and Spa, located on Marine Road, overlooks Dublin Bay and is steeped in history.
The hotel has hosted many Kings, Queens, Heads of State and celebrities who included Ol’ Blue Eyes (Frank Sinatra), Charlie Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy.
When the British Queen Victoria came to visit Dublin in 1849, she had a 16-course breakfast when she arrived, and Irish freedom fighter Michael Collins is thought to have hidden out in Room 210 of the hotel with his partner Kitty Kiernan.
The hotel that is now the Royal Marine was first constructed in 1863 and first opened its doors in 1865.
It is considered to be one of the finest 4-star hotels in Dublin. Today, the hotel is owned and run by the Neville Family from Co. Wexford who purchased the property in 2003. The hotel currently features 228 luxury bedrooms that have been recently updated.
2. The National Maritime Museum
The National Maritime Museum of Ireland is located in Dun Laoghaire’s Mariners’ Church at Haigh Terrace and is 180 years old. The building constitutes one of the few venues that remains intact today, and that was built specifically for seafarers to worship.
Aside from the building itself, the museum boasts some artefacts that are of historical interest, which include the revolving Baily Optic, an electrified steam engine and the Titanic exhibit. The Baily Optic Light was donated by Irish Lights and is the light from the Baily Lighthouse in Howth, North Dublin. Initially installed in the lighthouse in 1902, the Baily Optic was removed in 1972, when the lighthouse was modernised.
There is a free guided tour of the museum lasting 60 minutes that must be pre-booked on www.mariner.ie, and there are two such free tours per week, on Mondays and Wednesdays at 11am between June 25 and August 29, 2018.
The venue is wheelchair accessible, and there is a maximum capacity of 30 people. If you wish to visit at another time, the museum is open every day from 11am – 5pm, with admission charges of €6 per adult, €5 for seniors, €3 for children (under 12), and €12 per family (two adults and two children or one adult and three children).
1. The Martello Tower – The James Joyce Tower and Museum
This tower is located 2 km east of Dun Laoghaire Harbour and 14 km by road from Dublin city centre. It is within walking distance of 3 DART rail stations (Dun Laoghaire, Sandycove/Glasthule and Dalkey) and is accessible by bus 59 from Dun Laoghaire and bus 7 from Dublin city centre.
Located at the seaside village of Sandycove, this building constitutes a spectacular example of 19th century Martello Towers that were constructed by the British to protect against the threat of a Napoleonic invasion.
The tower is the setting for the opening of “Ulysses” by James Joyce and also houses a museum dedicated to the life and work of the writer.
Admission to the James Joyce Tower and Museum is free, and the opening hours are 10 am – 6 pm during the summer and 10 am – 4 pm during the winter.