A Perfect Day Out In Dublin
I spent my early childhood being wheeled up and down Dun Laoghaire pier and to this day it’s still one of my favourite places in Dublin, and a place I go on my summer holidays for one weekend every year.
Take the DART (train) from Dublin city centre and head south to mix with the hoi polloi. But first, glimpse at the lives of Dublin’s jet set through their kitchen windows, as the train takes you south past some of the capital’s most expensive real estate. Pass the strange but beautiful Aviva Stadium, and gasp in awe as you pass the last house at Sydney Parade, and Dublin Bay opens up in all its glory. Get out at Salthill and Monkstown station. If you’re hungry, pop into the Purty Kitchen for their famous Chowder with the most wonderful homemade brown bread. Walk this off on the West Pier if you want a more traditional surface and fewer crowds.
The East Pier in Dun Laoghaire has been a catwalk for families, friends and dog owners since the year dot. There is nothing quite like reaching the end of the pier and taking in views of Howth on the other side of Dublin Bay in the distance. A Teddy’s ice cream is mandatory on the pier, while the wind and ice cream messes up your hair.
Head south of the pier towards Sandycove where the clue is in the name. Just further around the bend you’ll find the famous Forty Foot. Immortalised in James Joyce’s Ulysses and treasured by generations of the city’s swimmers, the Forty Foot is a Dublin institution where Dubliners have been swimming for over 250 years. On Christmas Day this place is a hive of activity awash with brace Christmas plungers and spectators keeping warm with hot flasks and bottles of bubbly. In the past it was exclusively for men but in the 1970s, during the women’s liberation movement, a group of female equal-rights activists charged into the waters and now it is also open to women and children (although the men only sign still hangs on the wall).
Beside the forty foot you’ll find the James Joyce Tower which was one of a series of Martello towers, now a museum devoted to the life and works of James Joyce who made the tower the setting and inspiration for the first chapter of his masterpiece Ulysses. It’s definitely worth checking out if you are a Joyce fan. The museum is free and open 365 days a year.
The path meanders along the sea down to Coliemore Harbour where you can take a 5 minute boat ride to Dalkey Island; a real treat. Inhabited by rabbits and a herd of goats, this island feels so much bigger when you are actually on it. The goats are there, but always seem to elude me. Maybe they are hiding down some rabbit hole looking for Alice? Make sure your legs are covered as it is full of nettles, and watch out for all the rabbit holes! Cross the island and if you are lucky you will get a look at the seal colony that resides on its rocky shores. The island is worth it just for the boat trip alone. (Fisherman will take you there in summer for about €8 return p.p)
Continue further South to Dalkey village and enjoy some of the many bars cafe and restaurants that this delightful village has to offer. The Queens Bar and Steak Room is a popular spot and you can either enjoy a drink on the terrace or sit by the fire depending on the time of year.
Pass by Glasthule on your way back to Dun Laoghaire. It’s full of cute cafés and some great restaurants. Cavistons is one of my favourite where they serve fresh local fish of the day. Book early as its small and fills up quickly.
There is nowhere nicer to finish off a wonderful day exploring the real ‘Dubliner’s Dublin’ than sitting outside the Kingston Hotel with a few drinks watching the sun set across the bay.
On a sunny day there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.
Maria is a sales manager in Ryanair’s marketing department