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Once a medieval port, Dalkey, Ireland is now home to Ireland’s rich & famous. Even if you can’t afford to move there, a day trip from Dublin to Dalkey & Killiney makes for a nice escape from the city, thanks to beautiful walks, historic sites, and a relaxed atmosphere.
How to get to Dalkey from Dublin
Dalkey is about 16 kilometres (10 miles) from the Dublin city centre. It’s best accessed via public transportation. DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) trains to Dalkey run frequently and take about 30 minutes from Tara St. or Pearse stations in central Dublin. The train follows the coast for much of the trip from Dublin to Dalkey.
Famous Dalkey residents & visitors
As a rich suburb of Dublin & a pleasant seaside place to live, Dalkey & Killiney have had many famous residents over the years. It’s especially popular with artists & writers. Some famous Dalkey residents (current & former) include U2’s Bono & the Edge, who you can learn more about at the Little Museum of Dublin, George Bernard Shaw, Maeve Binchy, Hugh Leonard, Enya, Van Morrison, Jane Emily Herbert, and Neil Jordan. Matt Damon also famously ended up stranded in Dalkey for a while in 2020, becoming a local sensation & calling Dalkey a “fairytale.” He’s not wrong, it’s a lovely village.
A pub lunch in Dalkey
My first stop after arriving in Dalkey on the DART train was Finnegan’s. Finnegan’s is a well-known pub in Dalkey for a few reasons.
First, it’s one of the 16 surviving Victorian pubs in Dublin, so it’s got a special history. It’s been well-kept over the years through renovations, serving as a popular local gathering point. When I visited on a Friday afternoon, much of Dalkey was quiet, but Finnegan’s was packed with locals having an end-of-the-week lunch & drink in the pub.
Finnegan’s has also seen plenty of famous visitors over the years. When Michelle Obama visited Dalkey in 2013, Bono & his wife Ali Hewson took her here. If Finnegan’s is good enough for Michelle Obama, it’s good enough for me.
I had the open-faced smoked salmon sandwich on Guinness brown bread & the Bulloch Harbour crab bisque, along with a pint of Guinness.
Shops, pubs, & restaurants in Dalkey
Other popular pubs & restaurants in Dalkey include The Magpie Inn, 1909 Restaurant & Wine Bar, Jaipur, Ouzos, & DeVille’s. Or grab some food & drinks from Country Bake or Select Stores & take them to the seaside or a park.
A coastal walk in Dalkey
After my nice pub lunch at Finnegan’s, it was time to go for a walk. Dalkey & Killiney have some of the nicest urban coastal walks in Ireland.
I started off by walking down Sorrento Road to Coliemore Road.
From there, I chose to head east toward Sorrento Point and then back north, but the coastal walk along Vico Road towards Killiney is also beautiful.
Sorrento Park is a bit run-down, especially for such a rich suburb. However, the summit has recently been refurbished with a stone compass & commemoration of the 1916 Easter Rising.
Dillon’s Park is much nicer. The park stretches all the way to the water, with rocky outcroppings and views to Dalkey Island, which gave the town its name. The name comes from “Deilginis” in Irish, which means “thorn island.” You can read more about Dalkey Island below.
On a clear day, you can also see all the way around Dublin Bay to Howth, another Dublin suburb that’s also a nice day trip with coastal walks. Dillon’s Park also has a historic holy well that was recently discovered.
Heading further north along the coastal path, the view alternates between expensive houses & overlooks. Keep your eyes peeled for seals, dolphins, and birds.
Coliemore Harbour has a nice overlook with free binoculars that allow you to get an even better look at sea life & Dalkey Island.
Then I followed Coliemore Road for a while until it led me back to the Dalkey village centre. The area is filled with little shops, pubs, & restaurants. Gourmet food & drink stores are especially popular, along with bookshops.
The town centre is also home to Dalkey Castle & Heritage Centre.
Other things to see & do in Dalkey & Killiney
Dalkey Castle & Heritage Centre
The Dalkey Castle & Heritage Centre is free with the Dublin Pass. Dalkey Castle, which dates back to the 14th century, serves as the entrance to both the Heritage Centre & Dalkey Town Hall. The Heritage Centre covers all of Dalkey’s history, from the earliest settlements to Dalkey’s time as a Middle Ages port for Dublin to its popularity with writers. Actors from Deilg Inis Living History Theatre Company bring this history to life. The Writer’s Gallery features the works of famous Dalkey residents & visitors from Maeve Binchy to Bono. The site is also home to St. Begnet’s Church, whose stone walls were first built in the 10th century.
Just down the street is another castle called Archbold’s Castle, but it’s seldom open to the public.
Dalkey Island was first settled in the Mesolithic period. Vikings had their turn later, and the island was also a site for religious pilgrimages. Today, the island is populated solely by wildlife, with seals and birds being the most commonly spotted animals, except for the goats that run the place, as goats do.
A couple of buildings still remain on Dalkey Island. The ruins of St. Begnet’s Church date back to the 7th century. The prominent Martello Tower is a much newer construction, having been built in the 19th century during the Napoleonic Wars.
The island is accessible by boat.
Boat rentals in Dalkey
There are two harbors near Dalkey, Coliemore & Bulloch. Both have boat & kayak rentals, chartered fishing trips, & ferries to Dalkey Island depending on the season.
Dalkey Quarry was a 19th century stone quarry on Dalkey Hill. The quarry was opened to help build nearby Dún Laoghaire. Nowadays, it’s a popular rock climbing spot, with over 350 routes of varying difficulty.
Biddy’s Cottage is an authentic Irish cottage featuring cocktails, tea, and storytelling by Irish folk artist & writer Brighid ‘Biddy’ McLaughlin.
While my day trip to Dalkey did not include Killiney, the next village to the south, it also has a similar laidback coastal vibe that’s popular with the rich.
Killiney Hill has some of the most amazing views in the area, with panoramas across the villages, Dalkey Island, and the Irish Sea. Manderley Castle is a notably pretty building on Killiney Hill, but it’s not open to the public since it’s the home of Enya. The Vico Road coastal walk below Killiney Hill is also beautiful. Killiney Strand is the largest beach.
Where to stay in Dalkey & Killiney
A day trip from Dublin to Dalkey is a lovely way to get out of the city for a bit. Dalkey’s village vibes & costal walks make for a relaxing day out, with great food, shops, & history to suit anyone’s interests.
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