Coastal Treasures | Essential Guide to Maritime Dun Laoghaire

Dun Laoghaire is a town of rich maritime history that you’ll love exploring! 

From west pier to east, there are lots of interesting and historically significant sights to discover on a walk about of Maritime Dun Laoghaire.

Overlooking the east pier, the maritime museum houses a fantastic collection that explores Irish maritime history and wonderfully highlights Ireland’s deep connection to the sea. Further down to the coast you have the two long arms of the pier strectching out with a myriad of significant spots all along their paths.

Check out the highlights of Dun Laoghaire’s maritime heritage.

1. The Lighthouse on the West Pier


The best place to start a journey into Dun Laoghaire’s maritime past is by taking a walk down the harbour. The first foundation stone of the harbour was laid in 1817 and it took 600 men nearly 40 years to complete. The two granite piers enclose a space of 250 acres. The west pier is home to the first of two lighthouses. This lighthouse was built in 1852 and automated in 1930. A fog horn was added to the west lighthouse in 1909 at request of the London North Western Railway.


How to find it: Walk to the end of the West Pier, all 1,548 metres, and you can’t miss it. It’s a lovely walk down the lesser travelled and quieter West pier.


 2. Commissioners of Irish Lights


The safety of coastal communities is ensured by a number of important organisations. The Commissioners of Irish lights is one such organisation with a long history going back over 200 years. They deliver essential safety service around the coast of Ireland, protecting the marine environment, and supporting the marine industry and coastal communities. They play a vital role in overseeing coastal lights and navigational aids around Ireland.

The headquarters for the Commissioners of Irish Lights (CIL) is located in a beautiful modern building on the waterfront of the marina. The building is innovative and beautifully designed using sustainable and renewable technologies much in keeping with the ethos of the CIL.

Find out more: Commissioners of Irish Lights

How to find it: As you are walking on the Harbour Road towards the marina, it located on the coastside.


3. Hobbler Monument


This monument dedicated to the courageous men, known as Hobblers, who took great risk to offer guidance to ships entering the harbour, stands on the East Marina breakwater. The Hobbler community operated in Dun Laoghaire harbour up until the 1930s. It was a dangerous occupation with little pay and there was fierce competition between them, but it was the only living they had. The men would venture out to sea often in harsh weather conditions in the hopes of spotting an incoming ship. Often times these men couldn’t swim, and a mistake could cost them their lives.

The bronze sculpture is made out of 64 life sized life jackets in the shape of a tower. It stands as a memorial to the tragic deaths of numerous hobblers who risked all to earn what little they could.


How to find it: Walk past the entrance to the marina, the monument is at the start of the pedestrian walkway on the east marina breakwater.


4. George IV monument


The Georges IV Monument, located in front of the Royal St. George Yacht Club commemorates the royal visit by George IV to Dun Laoghaire in 1821. After the visit the town officially renamed itself as Kingstown. The name reverted back to Dun Laoghaire in 1920. The granite obelisk also records the details of the laying of the first stone of the harbour in 1817.


How to find it: Right alongside the road opposite the gates to the Royal Marine Hotel and in front of Royal St. George Yacht Club.


 5. RMS Leinster Anchor


One of the single greatest losses of life in Irish waters happened on the 10th of October 1918 when the RMS Leinster was sunk by a German submarine 12 miles out from Dun Laoghaire Harbour. 501 innocent souls died on that tragic day.

In the 1990s local divers began to explore the wreck of the Leinster and one of the anchors was recovered. The anchor is now on display in front of Carlisle Pier, the place where the Leinster set out on her final voyage.


How to find it: Right beside the George IV Monument.


 6. Mariners Church – National Maritime Museum


The Mariners Church was built in 1830s as the need arose to have a place of worship for those working and coming into the busy harbour at Kingstown. Over the years the congregation dwindled and the church ceased to function.  The Maritime Institute of Ireland were handed over the building as a great place to open a maritime museum.

In 1978 the National Maritime Museum of Ireland opened it’s door and it remains a day a must see spot to learn all about Ireland’s maritime heritage.


How to find it: Between the DLR Lexicon Library and the Royal Marine Hotel.

 7. Boyd monument – East Pier

The Boyd memorial on the East Pier at Dun Laoghaire

This monument on the east pier is a dedicated to the memory of Captain John McNeill Boyd and his men you courageously lost their lives while trying to save shipwrecked crew of the Neptune.

The weekend of 8th and 9th of February 1861 saw one of the most severe storms ravage the east coast of Ireland. When two ships the Industry and the Neptune tried to seek the shelter of Dun Laoghaire harbour, they were dashed against the rocks at back of the east pier. Captain John McNeill Boyd, captain of the Ajax, and his men heroically went to the aid of vessels. Tragically they lost their lives and drown when a massive wave swept them into the sea.


 How to find: Walking down the East Pier you will see this monument on the upper path.


 8. Anemometer – East Pier


The Anemometer was built in 1852 designed by Rev Thomas Robinson of TCD and it was one of the first in the world. It’s houses in a granite structure on the East pier with the greek word Anemois above the door, referring to the greek wind gods.  It’s purpose was to monitor wind and sea direction, providing value information to mariners and significantly contributing to safety on the seas for over 120 years. Today the anemometer is fully restored and it full working order.  An automated weather station was put in in 2000 with visual display to so passersby can read the information.


How to find it: Continue walking past the Boyd monument, almost at the end of the pier.


 9. The Lighthouse on the East Pier


Our final stop on this list is the second lighthouses at the end of the East Pier. It was built in 1847 and fully automated in 1977. From here you’ve an excellent view of the whole harbour and the handy coffee shop at the lighthouse provides a much needed resting spot after you’re long trek through Dun Laoghaire’s Maritime past. Go on have a Teddy’s ice cream you deserve it!


How to find it: Once you’ve walked past the Boyd monument and the Anemometer, you’ll find the lighthouse at the end of the 1300 metre East Pier.

About the Author

Ann Robinson
Has a passion for coastal heritage and maritime history. Loves sharing the best of the Irish coast online. Contact me or follow me on Twitter @AnnRobinson22