The Poolbeg Lighthouse Walk (officially known as the Great South Wall Walk), is one of the best walks in Dublin.
This is a lovely (and tough, at times!) 4km stroll that’s perfect for kick-starting an active weekend.
In this guide, we’ll take you through everything you need to know, from where to find the Poolbeg Lighthouse parking and how long it takes to where to grab a coffee nearby.
And yes… this is the walk that takes you out into Dublin Bay to see the fat little red lighthouse that you can see when you fly into County Dublin!
Some quick-need-to-knows about the Poolbeg Lighthouse Walk
Although the Great South Wall Walk is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
You’ll find Poolbeg Lighthouse on the Great South Wall (the South Bull Wall) where it has been since way back in 1768. It’s around a 20-minute drive from the centre of Dublin City.
2. Two trails
There’s two different versions of the Poolbeg walk – a long one and a short one. The first starts from the car park on Pigeon House Road, and takes between 40 and 60 minutes to complete. The second kicks-off from Sandymount Strand and takes around 2 hours and 20 minutes.
3. Poolbeg Lighthouse parking
If you’re doing the short version of the Poolbeg Lighthouse Walk, park in the car park on Pigeon House Road (here on maps) or in the nearby Shelley Banks Car Park (here on maps). If you’re doing the longer walk, try and nab a spot on Sandymount Strand here or here.
4. Difficulty level
The short version of the Poolbeg Lighthouse Walk is relatively handy, the only thing to note is that it gets extremely windy here, so dress appropriately. The longer version of the walk is also pretty handy, it’s just much longer.
The story behind the Great South Wall
The construction of the Great South Wall started back in 1716. The wall, which was then known as ‘The Piles’, was completed around 1729.
It was regarded as a considerable engineering achievement at the time and, when the Great South Wall was first built, it was an impressive 3 miles long.
It was, at the time, the world’s longest sea wall. The now-iconic Poolbeg Lighthouse was built in 1768 and initially operated on candlepower.
According to multiple sources, it was the first lighthouse in the world to do so. It later changed to oil (in 1786) and the lighthouse was redesigned and rebuilt again in 1820.
An overview of the short Poolbeg Lighthouse Walk
First up is the shorter version of the Poolbeg Lighthouse walk. This is a roughly 4km ramble that starts from the Poolbeg Lighthouse parking mentioned above.
It follows a relatively flat (although not really buggy friendly!) trail all the way out to the little red lighthouse.
If you look at the map above, you’ll see a purple line. This marks out the short version of the Great South Wall Walk.
As you can see, it couldn’t be more straightforward. Just park up and head for the start of the wall (you can’t miss it).
Keep on rambling along it, out into Dublin Bay, until you reach the red lighthouse. You can soak up some views of the surrounding coastline from here.
Finishing up the walk + coffee/food
When you’re ready, just retrace your steps back to the car. Now, if you fancy coffee or food pre-or-post ramble, you’ve a few options nearby.
The nearest is Deke’s Diner, where you can grab a hearty feed. Just down the road you’ll also find The Merry Cobbler. Bujo in Sandymount’s a good shout for a burger or, for coffee, you’ve Cafe Java.
And overview of the longer Great South Wall Walk
The second option for the Poolbeg Lighthouse walk is a longer trail that kicks off from nearby Sandymount Strand.
If you flick back up to the map above, you’ll see the red line which roughly marks out this route. As you can see, it’s about twice the length of the short Poolbeg walk.
Now, there are two ways to tackle this trail – the first is to follow the route on the above map. The second is to cut across the strand, which shortens the walk.
If you cut across the beach (note: check tide times in advance), it’ll take roughly 2 hours in total. I haven’t done the route across the beach, personally, so I’m not completely sure on how long it takes!
Finishing up the walk + coffee/food
To finish up the walk, you’ll need to retrace your steps and make your way back to Sandymount. When you arrive, there’s plenty of food and coffee options.
Mulligans is a good shout for pub grub while Browne’s and Pete’s of Sandymount are popular spots, too.
More mighty Dublin walks to tackle
If the Poolbeg walk has left you with itchy feet, you’re in luck – there’s an almost endless number of other walks in Dublin to head off on.
Below, you’ll find a handful of Dublin Mountains walks along with coastal rambles and more. Dive on in!
1. Bohernabreena Reservoir
Bohernabreena Reservoir is one of a handful of trails in Dublin that many people aren’t aware of. You’ll find Bohernabreena a 20-minute drive from Dundrum, and there’s a 1.5 hour trail to saunter along.
2. Cruagh Woods
The Cruagh Woods walk is one of the more popular forest walks in Dublin, and it’s worlds apart from the Poolbeg Lighthouse walk. It’s only down the road from the Hellfire Club and there’s a lovely 4km/1-hour trail to conquer.
3. Ticknock and Tibradden
FAQs about the Great South Wall Walk
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from how to get to Poolbeg Lighthouse to where to visit nearby.
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.
How long is the Great South Wall Walk?
If you do the short version of the Poolbeg walk, it’ll take you around 40 – 60 minutes in total. If you do the long version, allow 2 – 2.5 hours.
Which Poolbeg Lighthouse parking is the handiest?
If you’re doing the short walk, park at the main car park on Pigeon House Road (at the start of the wall) or at Shelley Banks Car Park.
Keith O’Hara has lived in Ireland for 34 years and has spent most of the last 10 years creating what is now The Irish Road Trip guide. Over the years, the website has published thousands of meticulously researched Ireland travel guides, welcoming 30 million+ visitors along the way. In 2022, the Irish Road Trip team published the world’s largest collection of Irish Road Trip itineraries. Keith lives in Dublin with his dog Toby and finds writing in the 3rd person minus craic altogether.