Saturday 23 July 2011

Dublin Dún Laoghaire Running Route

Click here for route map 
Length:  6.9 km (4.3 miles), terrain flat

Dublin Running Routes:
Georgian Heritage  
River Liffey 

Phoenix Park
Dun Laoghaire coastal run 
City Centre loop   

Howth Cliff Walk trail
See the other running routes here!

NOTE: I took these pictures on a cloudy evening, so try to imagine everything in more picturesque sunlight!

A lot of visitors to Dublin stay close to the town center, bouncing around between the Guinness brewery and Grafton Street, without even noticing that the city has a long, scenic seacoast. The shore is lined with coastal vistas, parks and harbors.
Dún Laoghaire coastline

NOTE: see the Destinations Tips page for tips about spending your free time in this great town!

One of the most interesting spots to visit is Dún Laoghaire (also known as Dunleary), the old Royal Navy port for Dublin. Built in the 1820s to avoid the dangerous sail up the mouth of the River Liffey, the town around the port was called Kingstown by the British. Built in the Georgian style of the time, with long rows of terrace cottages, the town feels like an Irish Greenwich.
Dún Laoghaire cottages
Today, it comes across like a quiet seaside resort. The old navy harbor is now used as Ireland's biggest marina, home to almost a dozen yacht clubs. And it's easy to reach from the Dublin town center: just jump on the DART train from any of the downtown stations, like Connolly, Tara or Pearse Street. It just costs a few euros, and in 20 or 30 minutes you'll be running along the waterside, smelling the Irish Sea salt-air and feeling as if you've landed in a completely different city.

I first experienced the train ride there when I had to get to Enniscorthy in the south. The train ride was absolutely beautiful, traveling directly along the Irish coast for a long time, before cutting up over the hills to Enniscorthy.

On my latest visit to Dublin last week, I decided to take a closer look, charting a running route through Dún Laoghaire to Bullock Harbour and back. This route is the result.

The Dún Laoghaire Route
It starts at the west end of town, at the Salthill & Monkstown DART station. The train ride there already provides you with great views of the coast.

When you get out of the train at Salthill, you have to go up a stairway to cross over the tracks and leave the station. But in the station parking lot, immediately go up the other stairs that cross back over the whole railway to land on the coastal path. The beach here is often used by windsurfers.

Turn to the right, with the water on your left side, and run parallel to the tracks, towards the harbor. The harbor begins in just a few hundred meters, when you pass the west pier. Just stay along the road going by the harbor, unless you'd like a little detour out to the end of either pier, with their 150-year-old lighthouses.
Dún Laoghaire marina
You'll pass some modern harbor buildings that say "Irish lights". No, they aren't lamp stores, they are the government agency for keeping up the country's lighthouses and buoys. You'll pass some of the yacht clubs in the old harbor buildings, as well as the ferry landing for the ferries to Anglesey in Wales.

From now on, just stay along the water. After the east pier, there are some salt-water baths out on the rocks, only usable at high tide. Then, along Windsor Terrace, the shore is lined by a little park, where you can run right at the water's edge. You can see the stone tower and fort at Sandycove straight ahead. We'll run right to that spot.

When you get to Sandycove, the land sticks out in a little peninsula to the left. Follow the little street to the left and you'll come to Forty Foot Bathing Place, where you can take a fun break and jump off the rocks into the water. The rock formations remind me of the coast in Sydney, Australia. In warm weather, this is the place to cool off from a hot run.
Swimmers having fun at Forty Foot
Now continue running eastwards, past the stone tower (now it's the James Joyce Museum). Running further along the shore for a few blocks, you are forced to take the street leading away from the water, on Sandycove Avenue E. Run till it ends in the main road, and turn left to run the 200 meters to the half-way point at Bullock Harbour.
Kayakers at Bullock Harbour
There is a little 700-year-old castle here (built by monks) and an equally little protected harbor full of fishermen's rowboats. This is the turn-around point. Now we'll run back down the main road into town again. You just stay on the road, going straight west. The street name changes about five times, but no bother. It begins with the name Breffni Road and ends as George Street, Dún Laoghaire's main shopping street.
Bullock Castle
When you get back into town, the road goes uphill a bit. You'll pass People's Park on the right side, at Park Street, with its blue iron fence. If it's open, it's worth a little loop through it. When I was there, it was closed for the evening, though.
People's Park
At the spot where George Street narrows to one lane, turn right and run the two blocks down Marine Road to end the run at the Dún Laoghaire DART Station, right in front of the ferry landing in the harbor.

Or you might want to do as I did, and stop in at the Ritz Café at the corner of George Street and Patrick Street and get a fish and chips dinner (I had the smoked cod) and run with it down Marine Road to the yacht harbor and watch the boats while you eat, before heading back into the city (hey, I'm a sailor, what do you expect?).

Now you've earned your pints of Guinness back in Temple Bar this evening!
Meanwhile, back in Temple Bar...

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