Dalkey Island is an uninhabited island about 16km south of Dublin, near the village of Dalkey 3km south of Dun Laoghaire Harbour.
From archaeological remains it appears the first people to arrive in this area settled on Dalkey Island about 3000 B.C.
St. Begnet’s Church on this island is thought to have originated as a timber structure in the 9th or 10th century. There are unusual carved stone crosses nearby which are thought to predate the church and are possibly from the 6th century. A few steps south from the church will bring you to a Holy Well which was reputed to have curative properties.
Besides these ecclesiastical remains, the most prominent military structure is the Martello Tower, part of a series of such installations built circa 1800 as coastal defences against a possible Napoleonic invasion. The gun battery at the southern tip of the island is of the same vintage. The “Promontory Fort”, a far more ancient building, once stood at the northern end of the island.
In terms of natural heritage there are Terns, some of the most endangered sea birds in Europe, as well as other significant bird species. Two species of tern, the Common Tern and the Arctic Tern, have regularly nested on the Dalkey islands. There are usually 20-40 pairs of Common and 10-20 pairs of Arctic; the former primarily nest on the bare granite islet known as Maiden Rock, whereas the Arctics occupy both Maiden Rock and sometimes also the better vegetated Lamb Island that is connected to the main Dalkey Island at low tide. The Roseate Tern is the rarest of our terns breeding in Ireland, and is of special conservation importance to Birdwatch Ireland who initiated a breeding programme to develop a colony on Dalkey Island. Only one other colony exists in Ireland. This colony is at Rocabill and is the largest in Ireland.
Rabbits also inhabit the island in large numbers. There are several colour variations which indicate a possible mixture of wild and domestic varieties. A herd of goats resides here and usually numbers about twenty to thirty. Boat trips are available from Coliemore Harbour throughout the year, and if you are lucky, you may also view the local seals at play on your trip.