Eco Adventures

The Great South Wall

Walking out into the Irish sea….this is definitely up there as one of my favourite walks in Dublin.

This particular area consists of 3 very iconic Dublin landmarks. The 2 Chimneys (aka: Poolbeg Stacks, The Twin Stacks), the Great South Wall itself and Poolbeg Lighthouse. These features are a welcome sight for any Irish flying home into Dublin.

While it’s a recognisable scene from the air, it’s not as easy to locate when on the ground!

In order to reach this area you have to travel through a large industrial area that consists of, alongside container, transport and recycling companies, it also consists of the large ESB (Electricity) Power Plant, the Dublin Waste plant and some wicked smells!

It is well worth the search though!

Google search for Pigeon House Road, Shelly Banks Car Park or the Great south wall – any of these will get you into the general area

A time guide – If you park at Shelly Banks car park, the return walk is just under 5km which on average can take an hour to walk

This walk comes under different names such as Poolbeg Lighthouse walk, Great South Wall walk, South Bull Wall and I’m pretty sure there would be plenty other names if I went searching..

Regular storms battering the Wall and Lighthouse

According to records the Great Wall itself was eventually built by 1795. Today as you walk the wall you will be walking along large granite rocks which were brought across the water from Dalkey quarry. The wall is uneven and broken up in parts due to regular beatings it takes from the sea during storms…. to me though, this just adds to the tremendous character of this walk.

Speaking of character, this whole area is so full of character and magnificent sights.

As you walk the wall out to sea towards Poolbeg lighthouse you can’t help but notice the heather covered hills of Howth out front to your left. While closer to your left, just beyond the North Wall and the green North Bull lighthouse, you have Dollymount Strand that stretches 5km along the length of North Bull Island. North Bull island itself is accessed by a wooden bridge (built in 1819) and holds more titles than any other location in the country. (National Bird Sanctuary, a biosphere reserve, National Nature Reserve, Special Protection Area under the EU Birds Directive and Special Area of Conservation under the EU Habitats Directive) It too, is truly well worth a visit..

Half Moon 5 Gun Battery station

“Nesting Birds. Do Not Disturb”

Continuing your walk, while breathing in the fresh sea air, you might notice the birdlife all around you.

One variety of bird seen in this area is the Tern which ranges from the Common and Artic Tern to rarities such as the White-winged Black Tern. Terns have been nesting in Dublin Port for up to fifty years. The Dublin Port company have now provided 4 structures in the area for them to nest in. Keep an eye out for them as you walk.

Further along, about one km you will come to what is now the Half Moon Swimming Club. This was originally a gun battery named the Half Moon Battery due to the shape of the gun turret. During the 19th century and english rule, the gun battery was used as further protection (alongside the Pigeon House Fort which was located nearer the start of the wall) against any incoming attacks to Dublin Port.

A further 800m from the Half Moon swimming club you will reach Poolbeg Lighthouse.

This iconic large red lighthouse was built in 1768, rebuilt and redesigned in 1820, went from candlelight to oil and is now fully automated and managed by the Dublin Port Company unlike most other lighthouses which are managed by Irish Lights. Painted red indicating Portside (left side) to incoming ships while the North wall lighthouse opposite is green indicating Starboard (right side) to incoming ships.

Take time out here to soak in your surrounding sights, looking back into Dublin port and watching for ships entering and leaving the port. Its stepping away from the main land and sitting watching the world go by.. Whatever the weather, it is one special place to visit. Switch off / time out..

The return walk back to land is equally as scenic with views of Dalkey island, the iconic Dun Leary Piers, the Sugar Loaf mountain rolling into the Wicklow and Dublin mountains all on your left.

On doing some further research as to why the wall was built it brought me in touch with interesting information..

The Great South wall was built to stop major silting issues in Dublin Port. The port was not very accessible for incoming ships due to strong weather conditions and constant silting and sand banks resulting in lack of depth for ships to sail. In 1717 they first attempted a wooden wall consisting of large wooden posts and heavy bags of boulders which over time proved ineffective against storms. They proceeded then, in 1761 to build a stone wall starting from the Poolbeg lighthouse and work back to land using large granite boulders brought across the water from Dalkey quarry.

Alongside the South wall they then built the North Wall which in turn reaches out to the green North Wall lighthouse opposite Poolbeg lighthouse. The two walls worked a treat together. They now protect entering ships from strong winds and high waves. More importantly no sand has blocked the channel entry to Dublin Port since.

After the walls were built, the sand that normally entered and blocked Dublin Port was now being pushed north of the port. It created what is now known as North Bull Island (mentioned above)

During the building of the Great South Wall, a storehouse was built to store materials. The caretaker who lived in this storehouse, John Pigeon later converted it into a tavern and then a hotel The Pigeon House Hotel. The Hotel provided food and bed to travellers and sailors coming in from long sea voyages. It also became a very popular restaurant to Dubliners.

Soon after, just at the end of the 18th century the english army requisitioned this whole area “The Pigeon House Precinct” and used it as a military fort with drawbridge entry. It became known as The Pigeon House Fort. Further defended by the Half Moon 5 gun Battery located along the wall towards Poolbeg Lighthouse. During this time the Pigeon House Hotel became the officers quarters. Alongside the quarters was an armory, a hospital, a prison, a magazine & store house. The fort remained under military control until the end of the 19th century when the land and buildings were then bought by the Dublin Corporation. The remains of the Pigeon House fort are a protected structure.

Old Poolbeg House Fort. The Great South Wall is actually 4.8km. Most now lies within Port facilities and ESB plant. 1.5km is accessible to public.

The tall chimneys (aka Poolbeg Stacks, The Twin Stacks, Laurel and Hardy) were built in 1971. They were designed to minimise atmospheric pollution coming from the ESB Power Plant. They became and still are to-date a famous landmark on the capital’s skyline and have featured in many films, TV adverts and even in one of U2’s music video’s (In the name of love). Decommissioned in 2010, the Irish people nearly lost their reason when the ESB announced they were thinking of knocking these two “ugly obsolete relics”. Much to the peoples relief, the Dublin icons are now, since 2014 listed as protected structure’s.

All photos and images are property of Linda Jordan © (except for black white image of Pigeon house fort, Image of storm hitting Poolbeg lighthouse and Nesting birds image)

Moonlighting at the Hellfire Club

Sounds weird and wonderful? 👻😀

Its actually a super evening walk in the Dublin hills. With a little planning you can make the experience even more special. Experience sunset in the west, moonrise from the east and a full moon all in one evening! (check online for sites that will tell you sunset and moonrise times in Ireland)

A little note of caution.. If planning a moonlight walk – always travel with people or let people know where you are going. Bring torches. Spare layers for temperature drops. A drink and a small snack. Know your route well before going anywhere in the dusk! Have a phone and spare battery pack (or spare phone) with you. Use your head and don’t put yourself in any risk or danger. Be prepared for “just in case”. What would you need if you were to get lost or have an injury on route?

This is a beautiful natural local amenity nestled in the Dublin mountains. It is visited by locals on a regular basis. Park at the Hell Fire Car park. Anyone can easily negotiate the forest trail to the top where they will find the ruins of the Hell Fire House standing looking out over amazing views stretching out over Dublin city and the east coast.

The land is owned by Coillte. It is called Mount Pelier Hill but better known by locals as the Hell Fire Club.

The main route up to the Hell Fire Club is forest path. You can at any stage disappear off into the many small forest tracks with the hope of spotting wild deer, fox, red squirrels, rabbits or hares. Kids (and adults of course!) always love these little trails in amongst the sky high spruce trees. It adds to the excitement of being outdoors.

Any walk around the Hell fire will not need huge fitness levels. It is a beautiful natural wild habitat, generally used by families, dog walkers & locals who visit to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

The HellFire Club house itself (originally called Mount Pelier but known mostly to the locals as The HellFire Club) dates back to the 18th century. It was originally built as a hunting lodge by a man called William Conolly who at the time was Speaker at the Irish House of Commons.

The House itself was built on top of a Passage Grave which after further excavations in 2016 is now believed to be similar in size to the Passage Grave in Newgrange and possibly dating back over 5000 years. At the time Conolly built the House he used stones from the passage grave in the construction. Soon after the house was built a great storm hit and blew the original roof off the building. Local superstition believed this was an act of revenge by the aggrieved spirits for disturbing the ancient Cairn. I mean who can blame them!

Today, what remains of the passage grave can be seen to the rear of the house in the form of a circular mound with a dip at the centre.

The House has so many facts and stories entwined within its history it’s hard to tell which is fact and which is fiction. It’s believed because the house was in such a remote area that it attracted immoral groups and meetings such as the Hellfire Club. The groups consisted of high society statesmen and aristocrats who followed a motto “Do as you will…”. There are stories of sex, drinking, prostitution, gambling, devil worshipping, satanic black masses, animal sacrifices, murders and much more… There are many favourite devil stories passed down through families over the years especially the story of how he appeared one night in the form of a stranger, joined in a game of cards only later to disappear in a ball of flame. It seems like whatever went on in these meetings within the house was never talked about openly (What happens in the meetings stays in the meetings!) and we are left only with tales of mystery and flagrant carry on lingering around the ruins of the house on top of the hill. Were these groups actual devil worshippers or were they free thinkers just vilified in this manner by gossip, rumours and media.

Whatever the stories, whatever the history, it makes for an even more interesting Moonlighting walk experience up at the Hell Fire Club!

There are currently plans for development in this area which will include a large scale visitor / interpretive centre to cater for up to 300,000 visitors per annum, an associated car park, cafe, a treetop walkway and more.

Local residents and community groups have strongly expressed opposition to this plan believing “..that this proposal by South Dublin County Council will have a catastrophic impact upon an already beautiful and natural amenity and its surrounding environs. To learn more about why they believe this, visit “Save the Hellfire

All photos and images are property of Linda Jordan © (except for black white image of Pigeon house fort, Image of storm hitting Poolbeg lighthouse and Nesting birds image)

Dublin Mountain Way

Explore a little piece of the Dublin Mountain Way..

Distance: 10km

Elevation: 283m

Time: 2 / 2.5 hours

Start Location: Park at Tibradden Wood Car Park

Walk from Tibradden Wood over to Two Rock Mountain (Fairy Hill) and return by the same route.

The Dublin Mountain Way is actually a 42km waymarked trail stretching across the Dublin Mountains. It goes from Tallaght west over to Shankill in the east (or vice versa, whichever start suits best). The highest point of this Trail is 536m (1,759ft) at Fairy Castle. If you are interested in doing the full route check here Dublin Mountain Way for further details.

This particular route I have written about is just a little slice of the Dublin Mountain Way. It is a beautiful route for visitors and native Irish to explore. A real hidden gem just 40 minutes outside from the hustle and bustle of Dublin’s busy city centre.

While travelling this route you will witness Spectacular views.

At high points along the trail you will witness the east coast of Ireland stretching both north and south of Dublin City. North of Dublin City you will see sights such as Dublin Bay, the 2 iconic chimneys , Howth Peninsula, Lambay Island and so much more. South of the city you will see Sandycove beach stretching along to Dun Laoghaire and its 2 iconic piers. Bringing the eye further south you will see sights such as Killiney Hill, Bray head, Greystones beach stretching all the way down south to Wicklow town.

When you turn your eye away from the east coastline you will be viewing spectacular views of the Dublin hills stretching out into the Wicklow mountains.

2 historic points along the route: Close to Tibradden top you will see a prehistoric site. A chambered Cairn. The burial Urn retrieved from this Cairn can be found at the National Museum of Ireland. On arrival to 2 Rock Mountain (Fairy Hill) you will see a Cairn and a Trig Pillar sitting on a raised mound covered with turf and heather. This mound is the remains of a Passage Tomb. (The entrance to this tomb can no longer be seen due to collapse)

The trail consists of forest paths, boardwalk and stoney paths. The land itself is of granite nature which can be noted along the route. You will pass through mixed woodland area’s of Scots pine, Japanese larch, European larch, Sitka spruce, oak and beech. The shrubby heather areas with no trees that you pass through are important breeding habitats for birds including the red grouse.

The walk is not hugely strenuous height wise, but a certain level of fitness is definitely required as its 10km in length.

You will be on track all the way so the walk can be done with good sturdy runners / walking shoes.

This route passes over the famous Wicklow Way (Another waymarked walking trail stretching over the Dublin & Wicklow mountains)

This is not a circular route. You return from Fairy Hill back the way you came. The views are just as stunning on the return route!

It’s Ireland so always bring a raincoat and other rain-gear if you have some. Hat, scarf and gloves if doing the walk out of summer time. A snack, sandwich and flask of tea is always nice to have! There are plenty of scenic spots along the way to stop and enjoy a cuppa and soak up the views.

Check out some photos from along the route…

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