Standing above the Fortyfoot beach in Dún Laoghaire is a Martello tower. Just like its cousins in southern England, it was built in the early nineteenth century as part of Britain's defence system against the promised invasion from Napoleon. In 1904 it was home to James Joyce for a short while and as a result starred in his most famous work, Ulysses.
When I visited the beach at the end of August, entrance to the tower was free, so it seemed churlish to miss such an opportunity to have a look a bit closer at the great man's life. Manuscripts, first editions, drawings, family photos, two death masks and explanations of Joyce's life and works fill the walls and cabinets on the first floor. Half way up the narrow stone staircase of the tower is a single room which has been furnished as it would have been during Joyce's stay. It was sparse and would have been cold in winter, but there was a palpable romanticism about the place.
At the top, where the canon track is still in place, there is a fine view across the bay. I was so inspired by the place that I bought a secondhand copy of Ulysses later that weekend.
James Joyce Tower and Museum, Fortyfoot, Sandycove Point, Dún Laoghaire, Dublin IrelandHarbour, Sandycove
+353 (1) 280 9265
Google map: bit.ly/OCF0bF
Although Dublin’s dramatic coastline can be reached within a few minutes of the city centre, the slower pace of life makes it seem like it could be a million miles away.
I suggest a trip to scenic Howth and the village of Malahide on the north side or the equally pretty Dalkey and Killiney on the south side of the city. If you like seafood, indulge in Dublin Bay’s finest in King Sitric restaurant in Howth or Guinea Pig in Dalkey village. Advanced booking is recommended.
East Pier, Howth, Co. Dublin, Rep. of Ireland.
(+353 1) 832 5235
Google map: bit.ly/K6D4Zs
17 Railway Road Dalkey, dalkey, Co. Dublin, Ireland
+353(0)1 285 9055
Google map: bit.ly/IXsYa8
* Fiona is our Been there local for Dublin. You can follow her tips here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/travellers/FionaHilliard and read her profile here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/trails/been-there-locals.jsp. She also has her own blog: www.traveledits.com
Bull Island is man-made - well, formed as the result of sand building up against the (man-made) harbour wall. A stunning long sandy beach with an important bird sanctuary at one end, and a quaint wooden bridge, harbour wall, and monument at the other. If you aim for the middle section, you'll avoid the boy racers (they're not intimidating - just a bit annoying). On a windy day you'll have some impressive kitesurfing to watch, too.
Look out for the Bull Island if you come in on the plane. The northern approach often takes you directly overhead.
Bus routes 103, 104 and 130 run next to Bull Island (ask the driver), or Clontarf Rd DART (suburban rail) station followed by a 20 minute walk along the sea wall
An inviting pub with a great pint and friendly locals. The real draw card though is the town of Malahide - close enough to get to on the bus route, it offers a great holiday feel with clean beaches, nice parks and some yachts to make you envious.
A ring of pearls that runs from Dollymount to Portmarnock and Malahide, with huge sweeps of sand and dunes perfect for bracing walks, flying kites and gawping at the horizon. Stop for a well-deserved meal in the restaurants of Malahide. Savour the view and the chips or ice creams at Howth.
Take the DART from the city centre; www.irishrail.ie/dart/home/
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