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Dun Laoghaire Harbour - few now emigrate from this beauty spot in Dublin

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Dun Laoghaire Harbour from the more popular East Pier.
Dun Laoghaire Harbour in County Dublin is no longer the commerce and transport hub it was for more than a century after it was built in the 19th century, but it is still a functioning sea port. There is only one daily sailing from Dun Laoghaire (sounds - Dun Leary) these days, and even that is curtailed during winter months. Dublin Port has stolen Dun Laoghaire's thunder. Of course, Dublin Port would probably argue that Dun Laoghaire stole its thunder first and that turnabout is fair play. 


In the early 19th century Dublin was a growing city with a problem - it was difficult and dangerous to navigate a ship through the narrow channels that led into Dublin. The answer was to build a brand new harbor at Dun Laoghaire, eight miles southeast of Dublin.

Even before the harbor was complete - it took over 40 years to finish - Dun Laoghaire was busy providing a safe harbor for ships bringing goods and people back and forth to Britain and further afield. Dun Laoghaire was connected to Dublin by one of the first suburban rail lines in the world. 

Of course this being Ireland, one of Dun Laoghaire's less happy functions was as point of embarkation for many of those who emigrated from Ireland over the past 170 years. Most of the emigrants who left through Dun Laoghaire would have landed at Liverpool, where many settled and many others found further passage on ships going to America or Canada.

Emigrant Ship by Edward Hayes, 1853
{From the National Gallery of Ireland.}

Dun Laoghaire remained a pivotal trading hub for Dublin until recently, when new roads to Dublin port attracted away most of what was left of Dun Laoghaire's shipping traffic. Today traffic in Dun Laoghaire Harbour is mostly pleasure boats. There was a proposal a few years ago to develop a "Diaspora Centre" on a small disused pier, but I haven't heard too much about that recently.

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So Dun Laoghaire Harbour is mostly used by sailboats, but the piers themselves are also a great amenity. People come from all around to walk the piers. The East Pier, which is the most popular for walkers, rollerbladers, etc, is a mile long and finishes at the lighthouse, which is surrounded by a small 19th century fort.

The fort was recently opened to the public. It's not the most interesting old structure in Ireland, but it's having a quick look around. You do get a good view of Howth in the distance and the town of Dun Laoghaire, of course.

I always like walking the pier and inevitably as I walk back I take a good look at Dalkey Hill, which is a couple of miles away. The rock used to build the harbor was extracted from Dalkey Hill. I don't know if quarrying the rock, transporting it to Dun Laoghaire and building the harbor was an engineering marvel or not, but it always impresses me.

Today that disused quarry is part of the beauty of Dalkey Hill and useful for rock climbers, who like the sheer drops the quarry provides. Nature has covered over what I'm sure was a man-made eyesore and just down the hill the man-made harbor still tames nature.

From the end of the pier looking back towards the town of
Dun Laoghaire, County Dublin.

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