Dalkey has a rich and varied history.
Its origins go back to early settlers on Dalkey Island around 4500BC.
There is evidence of activity on the island though all the ages of Pre-History.
Both the mainland and the island became places of Early Christian and Early Medieval ecclesiastical importance with two churches, dedicated to St Begnet.
The Vikings arrived to disrupt the peace in the eighth century. They made Dalkey Island a base from which they traded slaves.
The arrival of the Anglo-Normans In the twelfth century saw the emergence of a new political and social order. Land changed ownership and large stone castles were built.
In medieval times, Dalkey served as the port for Dublin, when large ships could anchor and unload their cargoes in the deep, sheltered waters of Dalkey Sound. The seven castles of Dalkey were built to store the goods.
The Seven Castles of Dalkey
Goat Castle which is today part of Dalkey Castle & Heritage Centre is one of the seven castles of Dalkey. The name was given to it by an Anglo-Norman merchant family, the Cheevers, who were associated with the castle in the 17th century. You can see its defensive features to this day: Machicolation, Murder Hole & Battlements. The other castles were named : Dungan’s Castle, Yellow Castle, Wolverton’s Castle , Archbold’s Castle , House Castle and Black Castle.
From the late 1500s, Dalkey declined until the sea tragedies of 1807 led to great activity in Dalkey Quarry for the building of Dún Laoghaire Harbour.
Dalkey had its own urban administration. The upstairs room of Dalkey Castle was used in the 1860s by the Dalkey Town Commissioners. The fireplaces were ‘Victorianised’ at this time as was the Garderobe.
With the coming of the railways in 1834, and the availability of local granite, some of the fine houses we know today were built. Dalkey Town Hall was built from 1891 -1893 as a community facility.
Dalkey was designated a Heritage Town in 1995, one of two in County Dublin. Today, it is a much sought after place to live.
Dalkey has provided inspiration for many writers, poets, musician and creative people, as seen in our Writers’ Gallery.