Dalkey is now considered to be a suburb of Dublin, but it was originally a town in its own right and still retains a ‘small town’ feel about it.
Its main street houses a variety of shops, serving both the locals and the tourists. There are plenty of pubs and restaurants too.
Originally founded as a Viking settlement, Dalkey became an important port during the Middle Ages, and there are still two harbours in use today. Bulloch Harbour is the larger of the two, but Coliemore Harbour is more picturesque with its view of Dalkey Island.
Dalkey Island, now uninhabited, apart from a herd of wild goats, was first occupied in the Stone Age. There are the ruins of a 9th century church which was probably abandoned when the Vikings used the island as their base. Today the island’s most striking feature is the Martello Tower, one of several erected along this part of the Irish coastline by the British Admiralty in the early 19th century, as part of the defence system against the threat of a Napoleonic invasion.
Dalkey once had seven castles, built in the 15th century as fortified townhouses. Only two still exist, and one of them (Goat Castle) dominates the northern end of the main street. It now contains the local heritage centre, and ‘Living History’ presentations take place during the summer months, with actors portraying maids and merchants, and describing life in the castle in the past.
Dalkey boasts a long list of famous people who have at some point made their homes here, from George Bernard Shaw and James Joyce in the late 19th/early 20th century, to modern musical stars like Bono, Enya, Chris de Burgh, and Van Morrison. An area south of the town, overlooking Killiney Bay, is home to the mansions bought by some of these millionaires. But then, who wouldn’t want a view like this from their house?
Killiney Bay, south of Dalkey, is sometimes compared to the Bay of Naples – and, according to some, is better than the Bay of Naples!