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Portmarnock to Malahide

Walk along the coast to a historic castle via a spectacular beach.
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 8.513 miles
Duration: Half day
Family Friendly

Overview :  The coastline of Dublin is dotted with numerous settlements that began as ports and fishing villages and have since developed as... more »

Tips:  This trip is best done by public transport, using the DART to get to Portmarnock at the start and Malahide at the end. The 32, 32A and... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Portmarnock DART station

The trail starts at Portmarnock DART station. Although modern in appearance, the station, which lies on the main Dublin-Belfast line, was opened in 1844 as part of the Dublin and Drogheda railway. The full Dublin to Belfast line was completed in 1852.

Portmarnock takes its name from Saint Marnock, a native of the area who founded a church here in... More

2. Portmarnock Bridge & Baldoyle Estuary

Turn left at the roundabout where Station Road and the Coast Road meet and cross over Portmarnock Bridge. The bridge crosses the Sluice River, which feeds into the salt marsh and wetlands of the Baldoyle Estuary Nature Reserve. This is an important habitat for many wading birds as well as light-bellied Brent Geese, which spend the autumn and... More

3. Golf Links Road

Follow the Coast Road into Portmarnock Village and turn right onto Golf Links Road. Climb up to the top of the grass embankment on the right-hand side of the road and walk along the faint track. If visibility is good, you should have a view of the Dublin and Wicklow Mountains in the distance to your right. As you walk along the embankment, the... More

4. Beach Car Park

At the end of Golf Links Road is a public car park for use by visitors to Portmarnock Beach. This could also be used as an alternative start point to the walk, leaving the car here and returning at the end by DART. Follow the path through the dunes to reach the beach.

5. The Velvet Strand

Emerging from the sand dunes, the broad expanse of Portmarnock Beach comes into view. It is the only beach in Europe with a perfectly flat 5-kilometre (2 miles) long stretch of hard-packed fine sand. The name, The Velvet Strand, originates from the fineness and smoothness of the sand to be found here. The sand dunes are an important natural... More

6. Ireland's Eye and Lambay Island

Visible from the beach are the islands of Ireland's Eye and Lambay.

Ireland's Eye was originally known as Inis Erean, meaning Eria's Island. Eria is woman's name sometimes confused with Erin, which means Ireland. When the Vikings arrived they replaced Inis in the name with Ey, which is the Norse word for Island. Thus, over the centuries the name... More

7. Eccentric Orbit

This sculpture, "Eccentric Orbit", designed by Remcow De Fouw and erected in 2002, commemorates Sir Charles Kingsfort-Smith's successful circumnavigation of the globe in the "Southern Cross", a Fokker FV IIb aircraft, in 1930. The bronze needle at the top of the sphere points to the North Star. The final leg of the trip, which incorporated the... More

8. Carrick Hill Martello Tower

Overlooking the strand is a Martello Tower. A chain of these towers was constructed in Ireland, England and the Channel Islands between 1804 and 1812 to defend the coastline against attack from the sea by the forces of Napoleon Bonaparte, with some 74 towers built in Ireland, mainly along the east and south coasts. Each tower was built to a... More

9. Robswall Castle

Overlooking the entrance to Malahide Estuary is this square tower, known as Robswall Castle, with a Victorian slate-roofed house built up against it. It is of a similar design to Bullock Castle in Dalkey, which dates from 1346 and, like Bullock Castle, was occupied, until the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII, by the Cistercian order of... More

10. Hick's Tower

This Martello Tower, built in 1805, was bought and converted into an Arts and Crafts-style residence by the architect Frederick George "F.G." Hicks in 1910, who added the conical roof and cut windows into the walls. The living room is in the original vaulted space in the tower and the bedroom in the conical roof built over the gun platform. The... More

A few minutes walking after Hick's Tower, turn right and follow a wide grassy track overlooking Malahide Beach. The peninsula, visible on the other side of the entrance to the estuary, is home to the Island Golf Club, founded in 1887. Up until 1973, when a new road was built, the only way to get to the golf course was by a ferry from Malahide. The... More

As you enter the village of Malahide, to your left you will see the Grand Hotel, which opened in 1835. It quickly became a popular destination for Victorian sightseers traveling to Malahide by train; the Great Northern Railway offered combination rail and hotel tickets for tourists. The hotel was reconstructed in 1955 and a conference centre added... More

13. Malahide Marina

The 350-berth marina and marina village was built in 1992 and is one of the more modern additions to Malahide.

Malahide, or Mullach Íde, means Sandhills of the Hydes. The Hydes were a Norman family from nearby Donabate. The area has been settled since prehistoric times, with fishing the main activity, and from the 12th century it grew to support the castle. The arrival of the railways in the mid 19th century led to the village developing as a tourist... More

Just over the railway bridge is the Malahide Gate entrance to Malahide Castle. The gate lodge was designed by A. Souther Forest in 1886.

Following the Norman invasion of Malahide in 1169, the lands around Malahide were granted to Sir Richard Talbot in 1185. Talbot built a motte and bailey castle at Wheatfields to the southeast of present day... More

16. The Courtyards

The castle courtyards have recently been restored and refurbished and now house the Malahide Castle visitor centre where you can buy tickets to visit the castle itself and the gardens. The courtyards also house a branch of Avoca with a shop and cafe.

Between the courtyards and the castle are the ruins of Malahide Abbey. A church was first established here in the 12th century with the arrival of the Talbots but the present ruin, which consists of a chancel and a nave, dates to a much later time, possibly the 16th century. The abbey was the burial place of the Talbot family and includes the tomb... More

The first castle was built on this site around 1250 but the oldest part of the castle as it stands today is the Barbican, which dates to the 14th century. Other notable rooms include the Oak Room, which dates from the 16th century, and the Drawing Rooms, which were built in 1765 and 1782 following a fire. The tour of the castle takes in the Oak... More

19. Malahide Demesne

It is worthwhile taking a stroll around the grounds of the castle demesne before retuning to Malahide and the train home. The demesne has been converted into a public park with walks, playgrounds and sporting facilities, including a 12,000 spectator capacity cricket ground, still under construction, which, when opened, will host international... More

20. Malahide Railway Station

The trail ends at Malahide railway station where you can get the DART home. Like Portmarnock, Malahide lies on the Dublin to Belfast line, which was opened in 1844. The station building was built in 1851. It consists of a single-story yellow brick building with a Tudor-style porch at the entrance and a glazed canopy over the platform supported by ... More