The beautifully maintained Dalkey Castle is one of the more unique castles in Dublin.
And, believe it or not, there used to be seven castles in Dalkey! Through the sands of time though, they were all destroyed or dismantled except for one – Dalkey Castle.
Sitting proudly on Castle Street, a stone’s throw from many of the area’s other attractions’ it’s a great spot to spend a few hours on a rainy day.
In the guide below, you’ll discover everything from the history of Dalkey Castle and its opening hours to the Dalkey Castle tour and more.
Some quick need-to-knows about Dalkey Castle
Although a visit to Dalkey Castle, like many Irish castles, is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
You’ll find Dalkey Castle located on the north side of vibrant Castle Street in central Dalkey. The town is easily reached from Dublin via the DART and the 7D, 59 and 111 Dublin Bus services. It’s also close to Dun Laoghaire and Killiney.
If you’re coming by car, then you might want to consider parking at Dalkey DART station as parking in Dalkey itself can be more trouble than it’s worth. You’ll find the train station just south of the bottom of Castle Street on Sorrento Drive.
3. Opening hours
Dalkey Castle’s opening hours are listed below. Keep an eye out for any announcements regarding whether they’re open on bank holidays:
- Monday – Friday 10.00 – 18.00
- Saturday & Sunday 11.00 – 18.00
Adult tickets are €13.95 while concessions/students are a touch cheaper at €12.95. Children between 4 and 10 are €10.95 while a family of two adults and two children comes to €38.00 (prices may change).
The history of Dalkey Castle
Did you know Dalkey Castle was once known as ‘Goat Castle’? We’ll get to that odd name a little later but the castle was actually pretty important during the Middle Ages. In fact, the charming village of Dalkey was once Dublin’s most important medieval port!
A story of seven castles
During this period the river Liffey was silted up and most large ships would offload their goods at Dalkey’s deep seaport and thus a total of seven castles were built in the town by merchants to protect the goods before transportation to Dublin.
One of which was Dalkey Castle. Some of the most valuable goods the castle stored were wine and tobacco, so it had to be well defended!
The castle was fortified with battlements as the area was at the outer edge of The Pale and so was constantly under threat of attack from displaced Gaelic clans such as the O’Byrnes and the O’Tooles.
Goat Castle and the Victorian era
Oh yes, the silly name! Goat Castle took its name from the Cheevers family who owned the castle in the 1600s (‘Chevre’ being the French word for goat).
By the time of the Victorian era, most of the castles were demolished to provide handy building materials for new houses and to form new premises (one was turned into a carpenters shop).
Thankfully, ‘Goat Castle’ stuck around in its original form and now has new life as the exceptional heritage attraction that we see today. Although it’s probably best just to call it Dalkey Castle!
What to expect on the Dalkey Castle tour
If you’re looking for things to do in Dublin on a rainy day, the Dalkey Castle tour is well worth doing, as the many rave reviews online will attest.
1. A quick overview
A visit to Dalkey Castle isn’t just a quick walk around with a bit of dry history thrown your way. No, a trip to Dalkey Castle goes much further than that! The great team here offer an interactive Living History experience taking you from the basement to the battlements, while also presenting a look at Dublin’s creative heritage at the Writers Gallery.
On top of that, you’ll also be able to check out an early 8th-century Christian church and graveyard. If you want to get an insight into life in Dalkey before you head to one of its fine pubs or restaurants, visit the Castle first!
2. The guided tour
As we all know (or at least should know!), the best way to understand any museum or historic attraction is to take a guided tour and hear from experts who truly know their history. Take the group tour at Dalkey Castle and meet some cooks, archers and coin minters along the way who’ll show you what life was really like 600 years ago!
You’ll also be shown the Heritage Centre where interactive screens in 12 languages will go into vivid detail about everything you haven’t already learnt about this fascinating castle.
3. The writers gallery
Did you know the opening scenes of James Joyce’s greatest work took place less than 2 km from Dalkey Castle? The example of Joyce using the nearby Forty Foot promontory is an example of writers over the years using Dalkey (and the local area) as inspiration and forms part of the Writers Gallery.
This is all explored through portraits and interactive panels and there’s also an enlightening wall-mounted Writers’ Trail Map with site-specific quotes from the likes of Samuel Beckett, George Bernard Shaw and Hugh Leonard.
4. The guided walk
You don’t have to stay within the confines of the castle to learn about historic Dalkey either! Take the Guided Historical Walk and enjoy a picturesque ramble from Dalkey to Coliemore Harbour, while learning about the Viking slave trade, how Dalkey got its name and why large ships anchored in Dalkey.
You’ll also hear about the origins of the term ‘daylight robbery’, how retired tram horses were duped, and a young woman led the Dalkey Gold Rush! Walks take place at 12:00 from Monday to Friday and tickets must be pre-booked.
Things to do near Dalkey Castle
One of the beauties of the Dalkey Castle tour is that, when you’re finished, there’s plenty more to see and do nearby.
Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from Dalkey Castle (plus places to eat and where to grab a post-adventure pint!).
1. Food in the town
From fabulous French bistros to charming old pubs like Finnegan’s of Dalkey, you won’t be short of fine hospitality in Dalkey. There are loads of great places to eat and if you’re lucky (or unlucky?) you might find yourself sidled up to a celebrity or two on the right night. See our Dalkey restaurants guide for more.
2. Dalkey Island
Lying around 300 metres off the coastline just north of Killiney Beach, the 25 acre Dalkey Island is uninhabited though there’s evidence of human occupation dating back thousands of years. Jump on one of the Dublin Bay Cruises or a kayak and make the short trip over to discover its ancient secrets.
3. Sorrento Park
A great spot for views is Sorrento Park, just north of the Vico Baths. Though it’s less of a park and more of a small hill, you won’t be thinking about trivial details like that when sitting on one of the benches and taking in the gorgeous views out to Dalkey Island and the Wicklow Mountains.
4. Killiney Hill
For a nice little ramble and further stunning views, make the short walk down from Dalkey to Killiney Hill. And taking just 20 minutes from the car park to the summit, you get some serious bang for your buck as you’ll be treated to stunning views out over Bray Head and the Wicklow Mountains on one side and of Dublin city on the other.
FAQs about the Dalkey Castle tour
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Who built Dalkey Castle?’ (the Cheevers family) to ‘How many castles are in Dalkey?’ (there was 7, there’s 1 now).
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.
Is the Dalkey Castle tour worth doing?
Yes. Especially if you’re in Dalkey on a rainy day. There’s a fine bit of history attached to this area, and the tours are delivered brilliantly.
How much does the Dalkey Castle tour cost?
Adult tickets are €13.95 while students are €12.95. Children between 4 and 10 are €10.95 while a family of two adults and two children comes to €38.00 (prices may change).