One of Dublin’s Best Walks: A Tiny, Red Lighthouse

Faced with a sunny spring weekend over the Easter holiday, with level five lockdown restrictions, I decided to make the most out of the warm (ish) weather by exploring more of Dublin on foot.

On my list of things to see since moving to Dubin a year ago?
One of the city’s most recognizable landmarks, the Poolbeg Lighthouse along the Great South Wall.

If you’ve flown into Dublin from the east, you may have spotted a small, red lighthouse out your plane window. Built in the early 1700s, the Great South Wall, which Poolbeg sits at the end of, was considered a great engineering achievement. At the time of its construction, the Great South Wall was the world’s longest sea wall, clocking in at over three miles long. When the lighthouse was added in 1768, it operated on candlepower.

Today, the wall and lighthouse are part of a gorgeous coastal walk, connecting through Irishtown Nature Park and Sandymount Strand.

Since Ireland re-entered level 5 lockdown with 5 km movement restrictions in January 2021, Gardaí have closed the access road to the south wall to encourage people to stay within their km restriction zone. Because I live in the docklands, it’s feasible to walk- although a long jaunt.

If you’re visiting in non-COVID times, you could either try to park in the lot near the south wall (take note, it’s tiny and likely fills up quickly), or park along the Sandymount Strand, and walk over via the beachside and nature trails.

Whether you’re walking or driving part way, Google maps will give you two options to get to the south wall- either via parking at Sandymount Strand and walking from there, or by driving to the small parking lot near the start of the south wall, which leads through an industrial estate.

Starting in the docklands, we decided to walk one way out and another back to see what both routes were like. Heading to the south wall, from the docklands, we walked through Beggar’s Bush to Sean Moore Park, and followed the main road through the industrial estate. There wasn’t much traffic on the day we visited, which was nice, because the ‘sidewalks’ along the road through the industrial park leave a bit to be desired.

On the way back to the docklands, we routed through the Irishtown Nature Park, including a quick jaunt along Sandymount Strand, which was an especially lovely route at sunset.

If I head back to Poolbeg, and I’m walking, I’d walk both ways via the nature park- it’s a lot more scenic, and a much better vibe than walking along industrial property, although the multicolour shipping containers were a vibrant delight.

Whether you’re walking from Sandymount or starting closer from the parking lot, the walk out to the lighthouse is deceivingly long.

We clocked return to the docklands just shy of 9 miles, with it being approximately 5 km each way out to the lighthouse from Sandymount Strand. On the way out, the wind was behind us, propelling us along. But, on the return, not so much- the wind whipping across Dublin Bay can be intense- I’d estimate it took us nearly 2x the amount of time to walk back to land as it did to walk out to the lighthouse.

The lighthouse itself is lovely, tiny and red with cool street art accompanying it. With benches along the tip of the wall, it’s a lovely place to sit and watch the waves break as you look back on Sandymount and further, to Howth and Dún Laoghaire. You’ll spot seagulls bobbing in the waves, and likely even a few brave sea swimmers.

On your walk back along the wall, if you’re thirsty, there’s usually a coffee cart perched at the beginning of the wall path. From the south wall to either the main road of the industrial park or nature park, you’ll pass the Poolbeg Strand, a large expanse of soft sand, which I’d imagine would be idyllic for lounging in summer months.

Walking back through the Irishtown Nature Park is a beautiful pathway through the bush. The trail is straightforward, and for most of it, you’ll have sea views. There are a couple of trails off path, where you can explore a bit more.

We timed our walk perfectly, so that we hit Sandymount Strand just as the sun was setting. Sandymount beach is one of my favourite places in Dublin for a sunset stroll- the tide is out, and there’s usually dozens of people around, playing, running, walking their dogs, it’s the epitome of joyful relaxation.

Depending on the day of week you visit & time you arrive back in Sandymount, Strand Fare is great for oat milk mochas, and BuJo Burger is perfect for the appetite you’ve likely worked up from your walk. Nearby Bath Pub would be a must stop in non-COVID times for a post-walk pint, if you’re heading back towards the docklands or Dublin centre.

A few parting tips for an optimal walk experience- 

  • Check tide tables before you head out, depending on the time of year and weather, part of the wall can be slightly submerged.
  • The great south wall is cobbled and quite bumpy in parts- not exactly ideal for strollers/buggys, bikes or scooters.
  • Definitely wear trainers, it’ll make the long walk more enjoyable.
  • Timing wise, plan to spend a few hours walking both ways. Best to plan for a half day adventure if you want to take your time as you go.
  • If you’re short on time or only want to walk one way, you can walk out to the main road in the industrial park and call a taxi with the Free Now App.

Would you walk out to Poolbeg lighthouse on a visit to Dublin? 

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One thought on “One of Dublin’s Best Walks: A Tiny, Red Lighthouse

  1. What a scenic hike! It’s unfortunate that Ireland re-entered lockdown with restricted movement, but for the better good, it is…it’s fortunate you live close enough that you still can head over to the lighthouse, and its cherry-red exterior is certainly an eye-catching wonder to check out! Hopefully, lockdown restrictions loosen as the COVID-19 situation is controlled in Ireland, and hopefully you can resume adventures a bit further out!

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