Dalkey took its name from Dalkey Island. Originally in Irish, it was named Deilg Inis meaning Thorn Island. This was later changed to Deilg –ei by the Vikings, Dalk-ei by the Normans and later anglicised to Dalkey.
Dalkey grew as a small village around the Early Christian church of St Begnet. Its later growth and importance was certainly influenced by the anchorage provided for large Anglo-Norman ships in Dalkey Sound.
Seven fortified Town Houses/ castles were built from the 1390s onwards along Castle Street to store the goods. Reading’s Map of 1765 shows the location of the castles. At that time, in addition to the castles, Dalkey comprised of cabins, a few inns, burgages and gardens.
It rose to prominence again with the excavation of granite in Dalkey Quarry from 1816/7.
A new invention caused a great transport stir in 1844, the Atmospheric Railway. It ran to Dalkey for 11 years. It was replaced by the steam train going to Bray. By 1865, Dalkey had its own administration. Horse-drawn trams came in 1879, followed by electric ones in 1896.
The Town Hall was built in 1893-6. Dalkey could now be called a town. Findlater’s, the first grocery store opened in 1897. Carnegie Library opened in 1902. James Joyce taught in the Clifton School in 1904. Dalkey became a heritage town in 1995. The Heritage Centre was opened in 1998.
Today, Dalkey is a thriving small town. It wins many awards in the national Tidy Towns competitions. There are many writers and creative artists living in the area. It is much sought-after place to live.