The History of Killiney Hill Park
The park was once part of the estate of Killiney Castle (now Fitzpatrick's Castle Hotel), a prominent residence in the district. The original house, Miunt Mapas, was built in 1740 by Col. John Mapas. The property was owned in turn by a Mr. Maunsell, Henry Loftus, Viscount of Ely, Lord Clonmel and Robert Warren, who in 1840 enlarged the house and called it Killiney Castle. He also restored and added to the monuments on the hill.
“There was a meet of drags at Ballsbridge, and these, to the number of ten, followed the royal party to Killiney, about seven or eight miles off, where a public pleasure ground was to be opened. The journey was only broken at Blackrock, where a stoppage of a few minutes was made in front of the town hall, and an address was presented to which Prince Albert Victor, without alighting, replied.”
“In this suburban district the greeting accorded to their royal highness was very warm. Most of the houses displayed something in the way of bunting and were bright with animated faces at the windows waving welcomes. The ascent of Killiney Hill was rather tedious, for the sun was very hot and the dust very plentiful, but when its top was reached there was full reward. The hill commands a magnificent view of Dublin Bay, which lies at the foot. It was hererto been the private property of Mr. Warren and favourite place of picnics. When the required permission could be obtained, the committee formed for the purpose of commemorating her Majesty’s Jubilee purchased the hill from Mr. Warren, and it was today opened as a public pleasure ground. There was a considerable gathering awaiting the princes, who were again very cordially received. An address was presented, and Prince Albert Victor declared this hill open as a public park and named it the Victoria Hill, Killiney. Rockets were fired and cheers given for the queen, the lord lieutenant, and the princes, and then the descent was made.”
(The Times, Friday, Jul 1, 1887)
A little bit of heaven was thus made available to the populace. It is a wonderful inspirational place to walk, sit or be. It is unique amongst Dublin parks in the quality of its topography and distant views over sea, coast and land. Indeed, natural landscape of this quality is seldom experienced in such heavily populated urban areas anywhere. It is rich in wildlife. Parks and landscape services and birdwatch Ireland are conducting a habitat conservation programme in Dalkey Quarry.
There are quite spectactular views from the park, over the city, the bay and Dublin and Wicklow mountains. Killiney Bay is said to resemble the Bay of Naples and this comparison is reflected in local Italian-sounding names: Vico, Sorrento Terrace, Monte Alverno, San Elmo, Capri. In 1987 extensive reconstruction of the park's infrastructure, including the granite tower portion of the tea rooms, took place with the aid of a grant from the Department of the Environment, and the park was formally re-dedicated.
Killiney Hill Park is immediately surrounded by Dalkey, Killiney, Ballybracj and Loughlinstown. It is easily accessible from Dun Laoghaire, Blackrock, Sallynoggin, Glenageary, Deansgrange, Cabinteely and Shankill and by pedestrians from the local Dart stations at Killiney & Dalkey at each end. Dun Laoghaire Ferryport, one of the main tourist gateways to the country, is very close by.
The park’s topography is quite dramatic, its highest point, at the Obelisk, is 170m above sea level. The steepest slopes are on the eastern side, embracing the curve of Killiney bay. Slopes on the western (landward) side are more gentle, except in Dalkey Quarry where sheer 30-40m high cliffs enclose flat sheltered areas of road level.