Sandymount Strand

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Sandymount Strand looking across to Howth Head

Sandymount Strand is a large beach on the inner shore of Dublin Bay, on the east coast of County Dublin. It lies adjacent to the village of Sandymount, south of the channel bearing the River Liffey into the Bay.

The beach is part of the South Bull, a sandbank which is a major component of the south side of Dublin Bay (and which has been designated as part of the 'Dublin Bay Biosphere Reserve'). The South Bull is a mirror to the North Bull sandbank, which grew into Bull Island.

Sandymount Strand is a popular locals recreational place, on foot as there is today no access by car. The strand is swept by the tide and people (and in the past cars) have on occasion been trapped by the incoming tide. A large inlet of water that remains even at low tide is known locally as "Cockle Lake".

As a wetland, Sandymount Strand has been denoted as a 'Ramsar site' protected under the international Ramsar Convention.[1]


In the 1930s, the strand was included as a suggested location for the construction of a new Dublin airport.[2]

The baths

Sandymount swimming baths

The Merrion Promenade Pier and Baths Co built Sandymount swimming baths in 1883. The baths measured approximately 45 by 45 yards, with an 80-yard pier added in 1884. The pier featured a bandstand halfway along it and summer concerts were regularly held there for many years. By 1920, the pier had deteriorated so much that it had to be demolished. The concrete baths section, which resembles a small harbour, remains.

Martello Tower

About halfway along the strand stands a Martello tower, part of a system of defences built in 1804[3] to resist an invasion by Napoleon. The Tower was used by the Dublin United Tramways Company as an office,[4] and was also a popular café back in the 1960s. An attempt to turn the tower into a restaurant led to the installation of a large window with roller blinds on the seaward side of the tower. The restaurant never opened, leaving the tower with the modified window.

Gallan Gréine

The Gallan Gréine marker stone is located at the end of the strand beside the Irishtown playing fields. Carved by Cliodna Cussen and dedicated to James Joyce in 1983, a sighting stone stands 300 yards to the west and when aligned with the marker stone to the east, indicates the winter solstice with the sun rising over Killiney Hill around 21 December each year. The face of this stone is also a sundial.[5][6]

In fiction

James Joyce set two episodes of his epic 1922 novel Ulysses at the beach:

  • In the morning, in the 'Proteus' episode, Stephen Dedalus wanders "into eternity" on the strand;
  • Later, in the 'Nausicäa' episode, Leopold Bloom sits on a rock and watches while young Gertie lifts her skirt as Bloom pleasures himself. It was this incident which led to the banning of the book in the United States for obscenity.


Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Sandymount Strand)


  1. Sandymount Strand/Tolka Estuary: Ramsar Sites Information Service
  2. McAteer, Desmond (1935). "Suggested Airport for Dublin". Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review 24 93: 73–84. 
  3. Clements, Bill (2011). Martello Towers Worldwide. Pen and Sword. pp. 214. ISBN 978-1-8488-4535-0. 
  4. "The Martello Tower in Sandymount". 
  5. Sandymount Walking Trail Map & Guide: Dublin City Council (2015)
  6. 'D4 Local Sculpture Explained': Leeza Kane in Four News 30 December 2013