If you’re planning a trip to Louth, the scenic town of Blackrock is a charming base to explore the many things to do in Louth from.
Once a small fishing village, Blackrock is a gorgeous seaside resort to visit with award-winning recreation, high-end restaurants and lively pubs.
It has a lovely beach (actually, it has three!) and a promenade lined with shops and eateries and places to kick-back and soak up the views.
In the guide below, you’ll find everything from things to do in Blackrock and the history of the area to where to eat, sleep and drink.
Some quick need-to-knows before visiting Blackrock
Although a visit to Blackrock in Louth is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
Blackrock is a coastal village 5.7km southeast of Dundalk in northeast Ireland. It is just south of the border and has been a popular seaside resort in summer since Victorian times. It has sweeping views across Dundalk Bay to the Cooley Mountains.
2. A beautiful town to explore Louth from
3. Home to a fine bit of history
When it comes to history, Blackrock dates back to the Book of Dundalk records of 1752. It was still a tiny fishing village in the 19th century, but that changed with the building of a seawall, several pubs and the Blackrock Hotel by Thomas Fortescue. It grew rapidly as a seaside resort in Victorian times, thanks to its proximity to both Belfast and Dublin.
Blackrock is a lively seaside resort with over 3,000 inhabitants. The beach, promenade and coastal views attract many tourists in summer and it has award-winning recreational facilities.
It has a good number of pubs, cafes and restaurants and is part of the new Sea Louth Seafood Trail. The passport highlights scenic viewpoints, places to stay and three of Blackrock’s finest seafood eateries on Main Street.
In summer, Blackrock hosts several annual festivals, fundraiser and fun events including a Raft Race. The main landmark is the 3-metre-high Blackrock Millennium Sundial in the centre of the promenade.
Featuring the silhouette of a female diving figure, it is the largest of its kind in Ireland.
Things to do in Blackrock (and nearby)
There’s a handful of things to do in Blackrock, and there’s endless places to visit a short spin away.
Below, you’ll find everything from places to grab breakfast to what to do in the town and nearby.
1. Grab a coffee to-go from Rocksalt Cafe
The olde world interior at Rocksalt Cafe belies the fact that the cafe opened in 2018. Since then, it has been delighting the tastebuds of locals and visitors alike.
Thye serves tasty brunches, lunches and its a go-to for speciality coffee. In fact, they have created their own special house roast and are passionate about taste and quality.
Check out their tasty chicken stuffing sandwiches and avocado smash!
2. And then head for a ramble along Blackrock Beach
There’s not one Blackrock Beach – there’s three! The main beach is south of the village and the quieter Priest’s Beach and Ladies Beach are further north.
The promenade is lined with shops and cafes and connects the beach with the town. Where better for a ramble in all seasons?! Enjoy scenic views across Dundalk Bay and watch kites urfers and windsurfers mastering the waves.
3. Followed up with a nosey around some of the town’s interesting features
Beyond the beach and Millennium Sundial, Blackrock has several historic pubs on Main Street, Victorian homes at The Square and the spectacular McKeown’s Outpost.
Nearby, there are remains of a 7th century monastery founded by St Fursey, including an ancient church and graveyard with headstones dating back to 1729.
There’s also a Links golf course, a football pitch, an award-winning playground and a Sensory Garden. Birdwatchers will appreciate the diversity of species at the Wetlands and Wildlife Sanctuary.
4. Step back in time at Cú Chulainn’s Castle
It’s believed that an ancient Gaelic dun (a medieval fort) known as ‘Fort of Dealgan’ once stood on this site many years ago, however, the current structure was built in 1780.
5. Visit Roche Castle
20 minutes away, Roche Castle is one of the most striking Anglo-Norman Castles remaining in Ireland. It marked the boundary of the Gaelic Ulster Province and the Anglo-Norman Pale and guarded an ancient route.
The walls still show the huge windows, towers and a great hall which was three storeys high. The castle was built by Lady Rohesia de Verdun in 1236. She promised to marry any architect who could build her a castle.
Once it was complete, she threw him to his death from the “Murder Window”.
6. Tackle the Cooley Peninsula Drive
The start of the breathtaking Cooley Peninsula Drive is 20 minutes from Blackrock and takes about two hours to complete (allow a day if you want to do the various walks).
Rich in natural beauty and ancient sites, it passes Cú Chulainn’s Castle and detours to the Hill of Faughart before continuing on remote roads through charming villages before arriving in the lively town of Carlingford.
7. Have a gander at Proleek Dolmen
Head to Ballymascanlon Hotel 20 minutes away to see the ancient Proleek Dolmen. This portal tomb stands 3m high and the capstone alone weighs 35 tons.
Known as the “Giant’s Load”, the stone was said to have been carried to Ireland by a Scottish giant named Parrah Boug McShagean. Legend has it that anyone who throws a pebble onto the capstone and it stays there will be granted a wish – it’s worth a try!
8. Conquer the Annaloughan Loop Walk
Neighbouring Tallanstown is the start and end of the 8km Annaloughan Loop Walk. This moderate countryside walk runs beside a river with outstanding views. It takes about 2 3/4 hours to complete.
Park at Fitzpatrick’s Restaurant in Rockmarshall and follow purple arrows to a minor road and laneway before entering the forest.
9. Saunter along the Ravensdale Forest Loop
Another lovely hike 20 minutes from Blackrock is the Ravensdale Forest Loop. It runs through the forest flanking Black Mountain with a 506m summit.
There are 3 waymarked trails, but the shortest is the Ravensdale Loop, marked with red waymarkers. It detours to ancient standing stones, taking in bridges and old driving trails on the 1.5km loop walk which takes about an hour to complete.
Places to eat in Blackrock
For a small town, Blackrock excels when it comes to restaurants that dish up magic. Below, you’ll find three of our favourites.
1. Rocksalt Café
If you are fussy about your speciality coffee, Rocksalt Cafe is the place to go. It opened in 2018 by owners who are equally passionate about coffee. In fact they have created their own special house roast. As well as cakes, cookies and sweet treats to complement your latte or espresso, they also serve tasty brunches and light lunches. Located on Main Street, this award-winning Blackrock cafe has a homely interior and provides great service.
2. The Black Wok
Another popular spot, the Black Wok, serves a delicious menu of Chinese, Asian and European dishes. The restaurant is open from 5pm until 11.30pm or later seven days a week. Try the set price 2-course menu for €20.50 per head or order a take-away for an easy night in front of the TV. Located on historic Main Street, this upscale restaurant is managed by owners Ming and Yan Wong and a team of experienced staff.
3. Uncle Tom’s
Another Main Street establishment with a history almost as long as the village itself, Uncle Tom’s Cabin is a family-run bar and bistro with indoor and outdoor seating, music and a collection of sports-related memorabilia. It has 11 TVs and big screens as well as pool tables and darts. It’s a sport fan’s mecca! It also does bar food, cocktails and a huge variety of wine, beer and spirits so there’s something for every palette.
Pubs in Blackrock
There’s also plenty of pubs in Blackrock for those of you that fancy a post-adventure pint or three. Here are our favourites.
1. The Neptune
The Neptune is a cosy and welcoming pub in Blackrock with an outdoor beer garden and serving hatch as well as a spacious bar and dining area. Enjoy cocktails, summer spritzers and live music or sit back with a pint and a pizza and enjoy the ambiance.
2. The Clermont
One of three Blackrock eateries featured on the Sea Louth Seafood Trail, The Clermont has a high reputation for great food in a buzzing ambience. Located on Main Street, this historic bar, restaurant and events destination serves chef-prepared dishes using fresh ingredients from farm to plate. Cocktails meet contemporary art in the function rooms.
3. The Stone House
Another Blackrock beauty on the Louth Seafood Trail, The Stone House is located right on the seafront. It has a traditional Irish bar serving whiskeys, cocktails and more and a superb family-run restaurant focusing on seafood, gourmet burgers and premium steaks.
Places to stay near Blackrock
There are plenty of B&Bs and hotels near Blackrock for those of you looking to stay nearby. Note: if you book a stay through one of the links below we may make a tiny commission that helps us keep this site going. You won’t pay extra, but we really do appreciate it.
1. Crowne Plaza Dundalk
The Crowne Plaza in Green Park, Dundalk is a luxury hotel near Blackrock with contemporary spaces and free parking. Rooms and suites are furnished to a high standard of comfort, complemented by a well-equipped fitness centre, an Art Nouveau-style Fourteen Below Bar and Coffee Lounge. The Roof Top Restaurant offers superb views of the Mourne Mountains and Dundalk Bay.
2. Keernaun House B&B
This friendly B&B on Dublin Road, Blackrock is an attractive two storey home with well-appointed rooms and a garden. Guests can tuck into a continental or full Irish breakfast before heading out to nearby beaches, castles and towns. Blackrock promenade is a 10 minutes walk away.
3. Fairways Hotel Dundalk
Another upmarket hotel in Dundalk, Fairways Hotel offers four star standards and high-tech rooms, restaurant and event spaces. Recently rebuilt, it has tastefully furnished rooms and suites with an attractive bar Brasserie Restaurant for grabbing a coffee, afternoon tea or a full meal.
FAQs abut Blackrock in Louth
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘What is there to do?’ to ‘Where’s good for lunch?’.
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
What are the best things to do in Blacrock?
Grab a coffee and head for a stroll along the prom or along the beach. Then admire some of the towns ancient features like the remains of the monastery.
Is Blackrock worth visiting?
Yes – this is a lovely little seaside town that’s home to loads of places to eat, a gorgeous prom and several beaches.
Gillian Birch is a travel writer and published author. She has travelled the world and uses her personal journals and memories to write about her many travel experiences, particularly those that involved adventures in Ireland.