This is a decent walk, allow 3 hours (daylight) to enjoy this excursion, as it is a full-on walk. Don’t even think about doing it if you have a dodgy knee or bad walking shoes, as you need to be in the full of your health for this one!
It is a definite must if you want to explore a different angle of Dublin city and to see for yourself the workmanship that went into making Dublin into the port that it is today. What is stunning about this walk, is the peace and tranquillity as you make your way out along the Great South Wall and into the Irish Sea.
Poolbeg Lighthouse is at the very end of Dublin Port’s Great South Wall. The wall was the biggest single construction project in 18th century Ireland and was built from 1740 – 1780 as Dublin’s first breakwater (the second was the North Bull Wall built in 1816) which allowed Dublin to become a significant port. The lighthouse is painted red to signify portside for incoming sea traffic. See here for more info on the construction of the wall and lighthouse.
Walking from the gibson hotel, you cross the East Link Bridge and we recommend you to walk via Ringsend village and Irishtown onto Sean Moore Park and then take a left turn following the coastal route out to the start of the South Wall.
As you take that coastal route, you will be amazed that you are just a stones-throw from the city and the urban sprawl of Dublin. If you are lucky, the tide will be in, but it is just as stunning when the tide is out as its hard to believe that how far the tide travels out at low tide. This is a really popular spot for locals and you can see Sandymount Beach across the way.
Unbeknownst, you will pass the giant incinerator behind the left bank as you walk along the path, which thankfully is hidden from sight. A bit further on you will come across the Irishtown Nature Reserve on the left-hand side.
The path wraps around to the left as you pass a sandy Poolbeg Beach, which looks inviting on a warm summers day when the tide is in. The path straightens out again for a while and bears left again. If you decide to drive to this point there is car parking, but it gets really busy during the good weather and people tend to park everywhere. Just after you pass what is called locally the Shelly Banks on your right-hand side, you will see the red lighthouse in the distance. At this stage you will come to the starting point of the Great South Wall. If you have cycled to this point, you may want to park-up the bike and start on foot as the giant granite paving on the wall is not great for wheels.
As you start to head out on the wall (its approx. a mile out) you will come across a very welcome sight – a mobile coffee van! Mr Hobbs is here most days, serving a really excellent hot chocolate, coffee, tea, soft drinks and a selection of biscuits and chocolate.
The walk out to Poolbeg Lighthouse feels like you are walking out into the sea! You get up close to the ships as they pass in and out of Dublin Port and you realise just how busy the port is as the ships come and go with cargo and the ferries carrying trucks, cars and buses.
You will see the original granite stones used to build the wall back in 1740 and you realise the hard labour that went into the construction of the wall and what an engineering feat it was at that time and still is to this day.
Once at the lighthouse you have a bird’s eye view of Dublin Bay looking onto Howth in the near distance and back into Dublin City behind you and the full expanse of the Irish Sea in front of you.
The lighthouse itself is a great spot to take a few photos and selfies as you congratulate yourself on getting to this stage, so relax for a while and savour the moment. The artwork at the base of the lighthouse changes from time to time and we took heed of the words of wisdom on our visit out there this time!
As you embark on the return journey you have a different view of the city and you get an close-up view of the Poolbeg Chimneys. These iconic structures are a bit the worse for wear, but still amazing to see them from this angle.
As you get closer to the city you will get a great view of Sandymount and the Dublin Mountains in the background.
Again we recommend to walk back to the gibson hotel via Ringsend Village and cross over at the Eastlink Bridge.
If you wish to break up the walk, you could hop on a Dublin Bike (pick-up spot on North Wall Quay opposite the 3Arena) and cycle to the start of the wall and then walk out the granite paving to the lighthouse. Ask at reception to borrow a bike lock.
Some top tips about this walk:
- Have good walking shoes
- Bring a good jacket/hat as it can get windy on the walk on the wall itself
- Go to the loo before you leave as there are no easily accessible loos along the way
- Have your mobile phone fully charged so you can consult Google Maps for the route through Ringsend.
- If the long walk is too much, borrow one of our bike locks at Reception and take a Dublin Bike to the start of the wall
- Its almost 14km round trip so probably not ideal for small kids