This morning I realised that dam, after writing about all these awesome places abroad, I should really post something about my hometown.
Dún Laoghaire (please – go ahead and try to pronounce it) is a harbour town south of Dublin city centre. It takes it name from Laoghaire, a High King of Ireland who once had a great fort here (Dún in Irish Gaelic) in the 5th century….hence Dún Laoghaire, pronounced Dun Leary. After a visit by King George IV in 1821 to officially open the new harbour, the British renamed the town Kingstown. It wasn’t until 1919, shortly before Irish independence, that the name reverted to Dún Laoghaire.
It is a prime destination for day trippers from all over Dublin, and is easily accessible by the DART train and bus. While the towns main street has suffered in the recession, the seafront has boomed, with a new pedestrian boulevard, new restaurants and a new municipal library. An “urban beach” will soon be built in the harbour, allowing year round access to a heated salt water pool.
Along the trainline, the area called “The Metals” has been transformed in the past couple of years. What was previously a dimly lit pathway is now a grand boulevard, with a pirate playground (arrghhh, bring out the pirate within), cafes and an overall pleasant ambiance. Alongside the controversial Lexicon library, which dominates the skyline, it has created a new sense of place in Dún Laoghaire, and has significantly boosted visitor numbers.
Of course, no trip to Dún Laoghaire is complete without a ramble down the famous east pier. The rewarding panoramic views across Dublin Bay and back towards south Dublin make the one mile walk totally worthwhile. Watching the sun set over Dublin, with the resident banjo player in the distant breeze, is all a girl wants after a long day in the office – guys take note!
Phoarrrrr, that was long walk down the pier……hungry?! The Peoples Park hosts a food market every Sunday, which you really don’t want to miss. Everything from mouth watering French crepes, to Spanish tapas to hot n’ spicy American wings are on offer here. The well manicured park is a favourite hang out for locals and visitors alike, and is ideal stop off for a picnic feast!
The Historic Harbour
After a wave of tragic shipwrecks in the 18th century, the construction of Dún Laoghaire harbour was begun. By the time the harbour was complete, the town was known as Kingstown and it prospered with the arrival of Irelands first railway in 1834.
With money abound, hotels, yacht clubs and stately homes appeared almost overnight around Kingstown. The town welcomed visitors from the city each weekend, who enjoyed strolls along the harbour, lunch in the teahouses and being introduced to the new sport of yachting.
The harbour became the main departure port for boats leaving for England in the 19th and 20th centuries, and millions of Irish emigrants have set sail from Dún Laoghaire over the years. There has been a constant ferry service to the UK from Dún Laoghaire over the years however due to high costs, this is the first time that there has been no service. .
Due to this, the harbour is mainly used for recreational use today. Sailing remains extremely popular, and the east pier is a favoured fishing spot for local anglers. Dublin Bay Cruises offer dolphin and wildlife spotting trips as well as trips across Dublin Bay to Howth harbour.
The Ice Cream Wars
→ Reporter Vanilla Ice with the inside scoop
The famous Teddys, on the seafront, is home to arguably Ireland’s favourite 99 ice cream cone. They have ruled Dún Laoghaire with an iron cone for generations.
However, all of a sudden in the past couple of years their dominance has been challenged by a new competitor, ScrumDiddily’s. Similar to Cold Rock in Australia, it’s the kind of ice cream parlour where you can create over 2,400 potential combinations. They looked at serving 99’s, but without any Cadbury Flakes they realised they had 99 problems and a Flake was one (sorry).
Since day one, lengthy queues have formed outside Scrumdiddly’s, much to the angst of Teddy’s. In response, Teddy’s has expanded and opened up new outlets at the end of the East Pier, opposite the Pavilion and one day even had the audacity to park their Ice Cream Van opposite Scrumdiddly’s! Needless to say, next there’ll be drive by shootings, ice cream truck bombs and extortion attempts Mr. Freeze himself….
Get to Dún Laoghaire
Train: Irish Rail offer frequent DART and commuter train services to Dún Laoghaire. Adult return ticket from Dublin city centre: €6.00 / €4.90 with LEAP card.
Bus: Dublin Bus 7, 45A, 46A and 75 serve Dún Laoghaire from the city centre and outlying suburbs. Single fare from city centre: €3.30 / €2.80 with LEAP card.
Cycle: It takes roughly 45 minutes to cycle from the city centre to Dún Laoghaire, the majority of the route is along well maintained cycle lanes.
Drive: Car parking is available in the shopping centre and side streets. However, it is notoriously difficult to find a place in summertime. Public transport is advised.
Eat & Drink
Lunch: On Sunday, the Peoples Park market. Other days – La Dolce Italia. Real Italia paninis, bruschetta and pastries on Patrick St. Also the best coffee in Dún Laoghaore.
Dinner: McLoughlins Bar – Traditional pub with modern, locally source pub grub. Live music every Thursday and Saturday.
Drink: Oliveto (formerly the Kingston) is the place to go on sunny day, marvellous views over the harbour from their beer garden. Gilbert & Wrights is a funky pub with regular live music and an eclectic array of drinks.