About Dalkey Island

Dalkey Island lies less than 300 meters off the coast, only five minutes by boat
across Dalkey Sound but the surrounding tidal currents are extremely
dangerous. Anyone trying to swim the short distance to land would need to be
a very strong swimmer to make it alive. The earliest inhabitants lived there
over 6000 years in the Mesolithic or Middle Stone Age. In later times Viking
raiders used it as a base and a refuge after defeat in battle. They also used it
to house the slaves they captured in raids on the coast knowing how difficult it
would be for anyone to escape.

The old Irish name for the island was Deilg Inis meaning Thorn Island. This was
changed to Dalk-Ei by the Vikings and later anglicised to the familiar Dalkey.
The mainland also became known as Dalkey.

Today the 22 acre island is uninhabited except for a rich variety of wildlife;
feral goats, rabbits, seals, numerous terns, seagulls, and cormorants. There are
remains of an Iron Age promontory fort, a 7th-century church named after
St.Begnet, and a Martello tower and gun battery built in the early 1800s. and
two holy wells.

The island can be reached by boat from nearby Coliemore Harbour (Cola
Mhor). It is hard to believe now but this quiet little harbour was the most
important trading spot for goods on the east coast of Ireland between 1200
and 1600 when there was no other safe harbours. Large sailing ships could
dock in the deep waters of Dalkey Sound, and passengers and cargo were
rowed into the harbour on long boats.