kids encyclopedia robot

Dún Laoghaire facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
Dún Laoghaire

View of Dun Laoghaire from Ferris Wheel.JPG
Country Ireland
Province Leinster
County Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown
24 m (79 ft)
 • Urban
Irish Grid Reference O241284

Dún Laoghaire is a suburban seaside town in County Dublin, Ireland, about 12 km (7.5 miles) south of Dublin city centre. Formerly a major port of entry from Great Britain, from 1821 to 1920 it was named Kingstown.


Ard Ri Laoghaire
Lóegaire from a stained glass window in the Maritime Museum

The town's name means "fort of Laoghaire". This refers to Lóegaire mac Néill (modern spelling: Laoghaire Mac Néill), a 5th century High King of Ireland, who chose the site as a sea base from which to carry out raids on Britain and Gaul. Traces of fortifications from that time have been found on the coast, and some of the stone is kept in the Maritime Museum.

The name is sometimes unofficially spelt in modern Irish orthography as Dún Laoire or Dún Laoighre. In some cases, the old anglicised spelling Dunleary is seen. This is also how the town's name is commonly pronounced.


The harbour in Kingstown, Co. Dublin, Ireland, in about 1895 - Option 2
Harbour in Dún Laoghaire, then known as Kingstown, in about 1895

Dún Laoghaire dates from the 1820s. An earlier Dún Laoghaire village was around the area where the Purty Kitchen pub is now (sometimes mapped as "Old Dunleary"). Dún Laoghaire had a coffee house and a small cove, both of which are shown on a number of old maps, and it may have had a salt mine (Salthill is close by). At that time, the area was a craggy, rocky pasture with some quarries.

Around 1800, some maps show a small town centre along what is now Cumberland Street, close to the junction with York Road. On the night of 18-19 November 1807, two troopships, the Prince of Wales, and the Rochdale, which had departed from Dublin, were driven on the rocks between Blackrock and Dún Laoghaire with the loss of over 400 lives. This disaster gave new impetus to an existing campaign for a harbour to be constructed near Dublin. By 1816, the legislation was passed authorising the construction of what is now called the "West Pier". The lines of the current town centre including George's Street and most adjoining streets are clearly shown on maps prepared for the development of the harbour, and in particular on a John Rennie plan of 1817, when construction of that town centre had barely commenced at the western end of George's Street. That street may originally have been laid out as a military road connecting the Dún Laoghaire Martello Towers—one at the Peoples Park, the other near the end of the West Pier—both of which have long disappeared. Whatever its origins, the street was clearly an engineer's design, being ruler-straight for all of its length (except the small western part which clearly pre-dates 1816). When King George IV came to visit the new port under construction in 1821, the name Dunleary was dropped in favour of "Kingstown"; the town returned to its former name in 1920, in the lead-up to the creation of the Irish Free State. By the time the Ordnance Survey was completed around 1845, the maps show buildings on much of the street and adjacent streets.

Ireland's first railway from Dublin to Kingstown, opened in 1834, terminated near the West Pier. It established Kingstown as a preferred suburb of Dublin, and led to the construction of elegant residential terraces. By 1844 the Atmospheric Train (designed by Robert Mallet) connected Kingstown to Dalkey, leading to further development. The Atmospheric Train ceased in 1854, but was replaced by the extension of the railway, which was subsequently extended to the ferry port of Rosslare. The opening of the railway from Dublin saw Kingstown become a Victorian era seaside resort.

In 1890, the Kingstown Town Commissioners established the People's Park on the site of a depleted quarry. By 1900, the centre of the town was congested and steps were taken to widen the street. These steps included the demolition of shop frontages on George's Street from Patrick Street to Mulgrave Street, and their replacement by new frontages stepped back about 5 yards (4.5m). Shops on the corner of Marine Road and George's Street were also demolished.

The main road to Dublin, through Monkstown village and Blackrock, was the sole road connection to the city of Dublin until 1932. In that year, the Eucharistic Congress brought thousands of visitors to Dublin, and plans indicated that most of them would come through Dún Laoghaire. The road was considered inadequate, and a new coast road was created by connecting some short segments of road and closing some gardens. This road is now Seapoint Avenue. An agreement with the local residents to restore the area to pre-Congress condition was never fulfilled.

The British 59th (2nd North Midland) Division disembarked at Kingstown in April 1916 and marched up the road to Dublin, to participate in the Easter Rising. Adjacent to the Carlisle Pier and overlooked by the National Maritime Museum of Ireland, there is an anchor, recovered from the wreck of the mailboat RMS Leinster which was torpedoed over the Kish Bank in 1918, with the loss of over 500 lives.

Dún Laoghaire was hit by stray German bombs during the Second World War, a couple of bombs landing near the People's Park at Rosmeen Gardens. Damage from the bombs was limited to buildings.


The harbour, one of the largest in the country, is notable for its two granite piers. The East Pier is particularly popular with walkers, and was featured in the 1996 film Michael Collins, where Liam Neeson (as Collins) and two of his co-stars are seen walking along a seaside promenade, which is actually the Dún Laoghaire East Pier. A band is seen playing on a bandstand in this film scene, and this is the actual bandstand on the East Pier. The bandstand was restored to its original condition in 2010 by the Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company.

It took 42 years to construct the harbour, from 1817 to 1859. The obelisk near the old ferryport terminal at the harbour commemorates the construction of this harbour.

Lighthouse Dun Loaghaire
Harbour in Dún Laoghaire

A lighthouse was at the end of the East Pier, while the new headquarters of the Commissioners of Irish Lights (the General Lighthouse Authority for Ireland) is on Harbour Road.

South of the harbour is Scotsman's Bay, where there was a Victorian seaside amusement area, with walks, shelters and baths. The walks and shelters are largely intact. Dún Laoghaire Baths have been derelict for many years, but were repainted in bright colours in 2012. Plans for restoration of this area are much debated, and some of the more ambitious ideas have been highly controversial.

A traditional Victorian-style park, the People's Park, is at the eastern end of George's Street, and including still-functioning tea rooms.

At least one traditional "cabman's shelter" survives – these were small buildings built for the drivers of horse-drawn taxis.

Community facilities include the Boylan Community Centre, the Dún Laoghaire Scout Den, and a community information service in the tower building of St Michael's Church.

A new library has been built to cater for education purposes and also to increase tourism in the area. this library was built newly in 2014.

Dún Laoghaire promenade
Dún Laoghaire promenade.


Public transport

Dún Laoghaire is connected to central Dublin by the DART suburban railway, and is also a stop on the mainline rail service from Dublin to Wexford and Rosslare. The town is also served by a frequent bus service e.g. 7, 7a, 45a, 46a, 59, 63, 75, and 111. Beside the railway station is the terminus of the 63, 75 and the 46a, the most frequent and heavily used bus route in Dublin. The 746 bus route from the station terminus to Dublin Airport was discontinued in October 2010. Sandycove and Glasthule and Salthill and Monkstown also serve the area.

An Aircoach service links the area with Dublin Airport 24 hours a day with stops at County Hall and the Royal Marine Hotel. Route 703 travels from Killiney to Dublin Airport via Dalkey, Glasthule, Dún Laoghaire, Monkstown, Blackrock, Booterstown, Tara Towers hotel, Strand Road and The Point (3Arena).

Rail history

The Dublin and Kingstown Railway, constructed and opened in 1834, was the first ever railway in Ireland, built to standard gauge. This was followed by the Dalkey Atmospheric Railway, an extension of the D&K that opened in 1843 (also built to standard gauge), the first railway to have practical application of pneumatic power. In 1854, the Dublin, Wicklow and Wexford Railway took over both lines, converting both to Irish gauge and the latter to steam power, extending further south to Bray, Wicklow, and eventually Wexford and Waterford as the Dublin and South Eastern Railway. In 1925, the DSER was amalgamated into the Great Southern Railways company, which lasted until 1944 when the railway was merged into CIÉ. Electrification arrived in 1984, and the suburban service was re-branded as DART.


Stena Lynx III Rosslare
HSC Stena Lynx III
HSS Stena Explorer in Dun Laoghaire
HSC Stena Explorer

From the 19th century the town was the principal passenger port for ferries between Ireland and Britain, with a frequent service to Holyhead in Anglesey, Wales. Among the ships which operated this route were 'Banshee', 'Llewellyn', 'Ulster', 'Munster', 'Leinster', 'Connaught', 'Cambria', 'Hibernia', 'Holyhead Ferry 1', 'St. Columba' and 'Stena Cambria' At the beginning of the 21st century the route, operated by Stena Line's Stena Explorer ran three times daily in each direction, but competition from low-cost airlines and increasing fuel costs resulted in the service being reduced to once-daily in 2008, and becoming a seasonal (summer-only plus Christmas/New Year) from 2010. From early 2015 Stena Line concentrated their Holyhead routes on Dublin Port, and withdrew the service to Dún Laoghaire.


In the early 2000s, Lower George's Street underwent pedestrianisation, placing a ban on all general traffic with the exception of bus routes toward central Dublin. Bus routes coming along this road into Dún Laoghaire were re-routed along the sea front. This restriction was reversed in late 2008. Many of the local residents felt that Dundrum Shopping Centre, which opened a mere 20 minutes drive from Dún Laoghaire was the major contributory factor to the "downturn" and were disappointed that the pedestrianisation was never implemented seriously by the local authorities. Dún Laoghaire Business Association attributed the downturn to high parking charges. They unsuccessfully called for these charges to be reduced to one euro per hour (Dundrum charges two euro for three hours).

Life boat

An inshore and offshore lifeboat operated by the RNLI is based in Dún Laoghaire Harbour. The offshore boat is normally moored adjoining the Carlisle Pier. The inshore boat is stored in a stone shed at the base of the East Pier. Until recently lifeboat crews were called to duty using a firework rocket which was launched from the shore base and which exploded with a loud bang.


Much of the town's early growth came from visitors from Dublin, and today there is one large hotel, heavily refurbished in 2007, the Royal Marine, along with several small hotels, and a number of bed-and-breakfasts.

Pier Walking

Walking the East Pier of Dún Laoghaire Harbour is the most popular tourism activity in Dún Laoghaire. The west pier is longer but the surface of the pier is less suitable for walking.

Cruise ship visits

Arcadia Cruiser
Arcadia Cruise Ship in Dún Laoghaire Harbour. The town is pictured in the background.

In 2011, Dún Laoghaire Harbour published a master plan, which focused on developing Dún Laoghaire as a tourist destination. Specifically, the plan revolved around promoting Dún Laoghaire Harbour as a prime location for both ferries and cruise ships. Since then, many cruise ships have stopped in Dún Laoghaire, usually between the months of May and July. The first ship to arrive was the Queen Mary II on 16 May, and the Arcadia arrived on 9 July. The Queen Mary II was the 7th largest cruise ship in the world at the time, with a maximum passenger capacity of about 3,000. Other large vessels to visit Dun Laoghaire include the QE2 and the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy.

Dublin Bay Cruises

Dublin Bay Cruises sail twice a day from Dún Laoghaire to Howth. The scenic trip takes about 75 minutes, and the ferries leave at 11.00am and 3.00pm.

Outdoor tourism

In July 2013, the first ever tourism office opened in Dún Laoghaire. Kayaking, kite surfing, paddle boarding and sailing are available, along with facilities for biking and rock climbing.


National Maritime Museum in the restored Mariners' Church

Dún Laoghaire has associations with many leading cultural figures, most notably James Joyce and Samuel Beckett.

In the second chapter of Ulysses, Joyce famously refers to Kingstown Pier as a "disappointed bridge," and in the opening chapter he immortalised his stay with Oliver St John Gogarty at a Martello tower located in nearby Sandycove. This tower, known as the James Joyce Tower, now contains a small museum.

Samuel Beckett came from nearby Foxrock and is said to have experienced an artistic epiphany, alluded to in his play Krapp's Last Tape, while sitting on the end of one of Dún Laoghaire's piers. A bronze plaque marks the spot.

The baritone Frederick Ranalow, famed for his close to 1,500 performances in The Beggar's Opera, was born in Kingstown, although he moved to England at an early age.

The famed black equestrian and circus owner Pablo Fanque, immortalised in the Beatles' song Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!, performed here for one week during a long engagement in Dublin, in 1850.

In August 1991, Seattle grunge band Nirvana played at the Top Hat.

Dún Laoghaire was previously home to the Festival of World Cultures, a three-day festival dedicated to music from all corners of the globe. It was one of the largest music festivals in Ireland attracting over a quarter of a million visitors to the town over a weekend in August. For nine years (2001–2010), the festival was a huge success, but Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council decided to stop hosting the festival after its large losses in 2010.

A new purpose-built theatre, the Pavilion Theatre, opened its doors in 2000. Built on the site of the 1903 Kingstown Pavilion, it serves as the municipal theatre for Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, and is a host venue for a number of important festivals, including the International Puppet Festival, and, recently, the Dublin Theatre Festival.

St Michael's Church is home to the longest-running series of organ concerts in Ireland, featuring the famous 1974 organ by Rieger Orgelbau which is the only organ of its type in Ireland.

The National Maritime Museum of Ireland is housed in Mariners' Church, which formerly served the British Navy. It is directly inland from the East Pier. The building has been completely renovated and reopened.

Beside the maritime museum is the DLR Lexicon, the central library and cultural centre of DLR County Council. It opened in 2014, replacing the Carnegie library opened in 1912 on Library Road. Costing an estimated €36.6 million, the new building attracted much criticism prior to its opening on account of its size and design.

Off Library Road there is the Oratory of the Sacred Heart (4m x 6m), described as a "gem of Celtic Renaissance art". It was designed by John J. Robinson, architect of Robinson and Keefe Architects and decorated by Sr. Lynch for members of the former Dominican Convent which existed on the site of the Tesco anchored "Bloomfield" Shopping Centre.


See Category:People from Dún Laoghaire

International relations

Dún Laoghaire has a town twinning relationship with the following cities.

 France: Brest

 Japan: Izumo

 Wales: Holyhead

Images for kids

kids search engine
Dún Laoghaire Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.