It was a rather warm Saturday this weekend – a mellow, leisurely sun guided the day, interspersed with patches of cloudy skies. It wasn’t particularly cold or windy and we didn’t encounter any rain – and that in Ireland is a glorious thing.
So we decided to head to Dalkey. It had been on the cards for a long time really. Once on an evening walk at the Dan Laoghaire harbour, a nice Irish man carrying his old dog in his arms, (so that the dog could get some ‘nice, fresh sea air’) told us to go to Dalkey. “You must go there,” he said, “there’s a nice little walk up the hill and it would give you some spectacular views.” He chatted with us about Indian music and Indian food and then went on his way, and his recommendation of Dalkey was also reinforced by our Irish neighbours.
So we pulled ourselves out of our lazy slumber, and took the 46A to Dun Laoghaire and then from there, we took the Dart (three stops) to Dalkey. We live in South Dublin so it wasn’t a very long journey to make at all, but if you are visiting Dublin, The Lonely Planet Guide does list Dalkey as one of the day trips and we would definitely recommend it as well.
We didn’t take to the town centre right away after getting off the Dart; instead we made our way to Killiney Hill – it is the smallest of treks (just about 153 meters high), so it is actually for everyone. Once we started walking, so many beautiful views appeared one after another as if Aladdin’s magical lamp had been at work, that we feel guilty for not coming here any sooner.
The sea as you can see from the photographs was the gentlest of blues, and it glittered in the September sun.
Once we reached the Obelisk and the pyramid, we took in the views from all the sides. And there were many views to be savoured. There was Dublin in the northwest – you could see the city neatly laid out, the Irish sea in the east, Bray Head and the Wicklow Mountains in the South. (The Obelisk is said to be first constructed in 1742 by John Mapas to provide employment for the poor who had been badly affected by the severe winter of that year.)
We took our fill of the views, sat there for a while and then headed down to the Tower Tea Rooms. On our way there, we encountered a beautiful butterfly and we spent about 10 minutes or so stalking it as it had its share of the abundant nectar! Everything was still green, but we could see a little bit of the fast approaching autumn on our way to Killiney beach.
Our walk to Killiney beach was breath-taking as well. Like I have mentioned in our blogs, we haven’t ever lived so near the sea and we get excited when, at the turn of the road you can see in the horizon the blue of the sea, giving a glimpse of its might and strength, its beauty and ferociousness.
When the first blue appeared on the horizon, we oohed and aahed and felt like two school children, who had stumbled upon a treasure trove.
So as the sea came closer and closer in sight, we felt as if we were two people in a picture postcard. There was a footpath to our left supported by a boundary wall on which a creeper had evenly spread out, fall colours already in display. Beneath it was what appeared to be a private garden to a home (a wealthy home at that!) and like a blue tile was the sea all around.
We gasped at some of the big mansions that we passed by. A part of us wondered – how do people get so rich? Is it hard work and entrepreneurship, is it inheritance or family wealth spanning generations, is it a lottery win? Was it someone from the erstwhile East India company, and it was the emeralds and gold from India paying for some of these houses? (Just kidding!) We don’t really know who these belonged to, but those mansions by the sea were surely something.
After a few more minutes of walking and going down an underside of a road, the beach was finally upon us.
Beautiful, smooth pebbles. Lots of children. Some people splashing about in the water. Some in wet suits and with what appeared to be snorkelling or scuba diving gear. A family with a huge table, barbecue, canopy, and various varieties of food (which made me very hungry in spite of the lunch that we had at the tea rooms).
We sat on the beach for an hour or so, happy with the sights and sounds and the smells (the family with the table and canopy made something very delicious on the barbecue!). I listened to the sea – its roar was gentle in that moment. I listened to the children and their mothers – “come here, have a slice of pizza”, “mummy, he threw sand in my hair”, “stand there nicely, I will take a picture”.
My heart was full and happy. We then decided to take the Dart back to Dalkey, where we walked about its pretty and quaint town centre, taking in the bookshops, having orange juice at the Select Stores, inquiring about the Lobster festival (there were buntings all over the town, but sadly it was already done with in the past week, only the buntings had stayed on). We also took in the remnants of one of the castles, tried walking to the Forty Foot, and then gave up and went walking about the town again.
There’s a beautiful Dalkey Heritage town map available at the Dalkey Dart station. Do pick it up. It gives you details of the three Heritage trails (via the sea, to Bulloch Harbour and the one with panoramic sea views). I love the illustrations in it – children will absolutely love it too!
There are various other things to do whilst in Dalkey (going to the Dalkey island by ferry, guided Kayak tours, living history tours at Dalkey Castle) – which we didn’t indulge in. We didn’t have the time but if you pick up the lovely map – you will find all the handy information.
There’s still so much to explore; I hope we visit Dalkey more in the coming months. Ireland is so beautiful, there’s so much natural beauty at an arm’s length that it will be a crime to live here and not visit some of these spots.
(PS – I had forgotten to add in my first draft that you will encounter so many lovely and curious dogs – some on leash, some happily making a run on the Killiney Hill with sticks in their mouths, their owners either walking with them or calling out to them. Most of them can’t resist sniffing out and getting a little pat from the other walkers on the Hill.)