Dun Laoire? Dun Leary? Or Dun Laoghaire? How the harbour town got its name

Dun Laoghaire, a harbour town approximately 12 kilometres south of Dublin city, is often known as Dún Laoire or Dun Leary. How did this vibrant harbour town get this unusual name?

Getting its name from the Irish translation for Fort (Dún) of Laoghaire (Leary), the town was once the seat of King Laoghaire, the ancient High King of Ireland.

King Laoghaire maintained the stone fort in the centre of the town in about the year 480A.D. The fort was demolished in 1803 to make way for the construction of a Martello tower which was later replaced in 1834 by the first suburban railway line in the world. Some of the stone from the original fort is today still preserved in the Maritime Museum.
From this changing landscape, the town eventually evolved into the bustling sea port that it is today.

What’s in a name?

Dun Laoghaire is often spelt Dún Laoire, which is the modern Irish spelling of the word, and can also be seen in anglicised form as the name Dun Leary.

Although the Irish spelling of Dun Laoghaire or Dún Laoire is almost always used, it is pronounced in Irish as Dun Leary.

And to add confusion to the story of the name of this town, it is worth noting that between 1821 and 1921 the town was officially called Kingstown!

Dun Laoghaire (Dún Laoire, Dun Leary) is a popular spot for residents and tourists alike.

Some popular activities include:

  • Sailing – take part in crewing a 54-foot ocean-going yacht with Go Sailing Dublin Bay.
  • Fishing – Dun Laoghaire is a popular fishing port with good shore fishing available all year round.
  • Swimming – The Forty-Foot is an open-sea bathing place ideal for a refreshing dip.
  • The East Pier Walk – The 2.6km return walk takes in great views of the marina.
  • The Metals – a 6km return walk that takes in some of Dun Laoghaire’s most historical and scenic points of interest.

Come and explore the town for yourself and discover all that Dun Laoghaire (Dún Laoire or Dun Leary!) has to offer. Visit www.dunlaoghaire.ie for more information.

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