Next chance you get to enjoy a break in Dublin, make sure to visit the picturesque village of Dalkey just a short distance south of the city overlooking Dublin Bay.
An important port in the Middle Ages, Dalkey has a fascinating history, which is brilliantly told through the Living History Experience at Dalkey Castle & Heritage Centre
Costumed actors lead visitors from the atmospheric tenth-century church grounds and graveyard dedicated to St Begnet, through the original medieval townhouse castle from basement to battlements, via the infamous Murder Hole.
Along the way an archer demonstrates how to use a longbow, a cook shares medieval recipes, and the barber surgeon writes out his potions in calligraphy.
The Heritage Centre offers a deeper dive into the history of the area, with touchscreens presenting information in twelve languages, and a timeline from the earliest settlers on the island, through Early Christian, Viking, medieval and Victorian times to the present day.
There is also the opportunity to learn more on a guided Historical Walk around the village. Stopping at Coliemore Harbour, you will hear about the Viking slave trade on Dalkey Island, how Dalkey got its name and why large ships anchored in Dalkey Sound.
On Castle Street, you’ll discover the origins of ‘daylight robbery’, how retired tram horses were duped, and how a young woman led the Dalkey Gold Rush.
The Heritage Centre also has an impressive Writers’ Gallery featuring 45 renowned Irish writers and creative artists from Joyce to Bono, and Beckett to Maeve Binchy, who grew up in Dalkey.
To find out more about these writers, you can join a guided Literary Walk that tours local landmarks and shares anecdotes about the writers and the characters they created. Discover where characters in Flann O’Brien’s The Dalkey Archive
drank Hurley’s tonic wine and see the train tunnel where chapter two of James Joyce’s masterpiece Ulysses
is set. Look out over the bay that George Bernard Shaw and Henry Cardinal Newman so admired and finish in the Maeve Binchy Memorial Garden at Dalkey Library.
Dalkey has a wealth of upmarket eateries and pubs and is a charming place to spend a day. You can take a boat trip to Dalkey Island or stroll up Killiney Hill for wonderful views of the bay.
The village is famously home to a host of celebrities including U2’s Bono and The Edge, Neil Jordan and Enya.
It is one of the stops on the Dublin Coastal Trail
, which stretches around Dublin Bay from the pretty harbour village of Skerries in the north to Killiney in the south. The trail can be travelled by bike or on the Dart rail from Dublin city centre.