The electrified train known to Dubliners as DART is one of loveliest ways of exploring coastline of Dublin
We start our scenic DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) trip in Malahide, a town with a very defi nite sense of its own identity. A short, walkable distance from station lies Malahide Castle, built on estate given to Richard Talbot in 1185 by Henry II. The family was connected to many major events in Irish history. On morning of Battle of Boyne in 1690, fourteen members of family sat down to breakfast in Great Hall; by nightfall all fourteen were dead. The seventh Baron, Lord Milo Talbot, died in 1973, leaving estate to his sister, who sold it to Fingal County Council two years later. Milo was a superb botanist and former UK Ambassador to Laos. Today Malahide Castle is a magnet for visitors, with its gardens, tours of castle, Avoca store and other attractions. Malahide itself has a fi ne range of shops restaurants, sporting facilities and hotels, as well as an excellent marina.Moving through north Dublin suburbs towards city center, past stations of Howth Junction, Kilbarrack, and Harmonstown, we come to Raheny, which is worthy of a stopover.
The barony of Raheny began its known life as Rath Eanna, Irish for Fort of Eanna, around 570 AD, and had monastic connections, traces of which remain in its old graveyard. Raheny sits at apex of one of former Guinness estates; its 500 acres (202 hectares) were donated to city and it’s now known as St. Anne’s Park. Features include an artifi cial pond and a number of follies, a fi ne collection of trees and rose gardens, a playground, parklands walks and recreational facilities. A pleasant stroll through St. Anne’s brings us to seafront 23 and Bull Island, which is accessible by a bridge and a causeway. One of Europe’s leading bird sanctuaries, it was created by Captain William Blight of Bounty fame to keep entrance to Dublin Port free from silting up. Its superb beach is very popular with Dubliners and there are two golf courses on island.Continuing from Raheny through Killester we come to Clontarf, which marks innermost part of Dublin Bay, and offers fi rst sight of port and International Financial Services Center, a key part of Ireland’s economy.
As we roll from there towards Connolly, one of seven stations named for signatories of our 1916 Proclamation and Rising which ultimately led to independence, we can see on right what is effectively our major Celtic cathedral – Croke Park, massive sports stadium which is home to Gaelic Athletic Association. From Connolly station, we can walk up Talbot Street to O’Connell Street and General Post Offi ce, where most of 1916 fi ghting took place. The spiritual and physical center of Dublin, O’Connell Street is our version of Champs-Elysées, albeit with a greater range of tacky stores. Back on DART, moving out of Connolly, suddenly we see glory of one of James Gandon’s masterpiece buildings, Customs House, now a Government department. We cross River Liffey, and into Tara Street.
This station faces back across Liffey to Dublin’s fi rst high rise offi ces, Liberty Hall. In 1916 James Connolly mustered his Citizen Army in front of previous building, which was destroyed by artillery from British gunboat Helga anchored in front of Customs House. Next stop is Pearse, named after Patrick Pearse, chief fi gure of 1916 Rising. It’s a quick stroll to Trinity College, our oldest university, founded in 1592 by fi rst Queen Elizabeth. Home to world-famous Book of Kells, it has a wonderful ambience. One of its most famous students, Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde, was born in a house just facing Pearse Station, now occupied by Trinity’s Oscar Wilde Center.