Kingstown Harbour

In Brief

Atop the Martello tower in Telemachus, Stephen looks northwest to where a ship is leaving "the harbourmouth of Kingstown." The suburb of Kingstown, today called Dún Laoghaire (Dunleary), lies several miles southeast of Dublin very near Sandycove, the rocky point where the tower is sited. Two granite walls, referred to as the "pier" in Telemachus and Nestor, project out into Dublin Bay from Kingstown, forming a large artificial harbor.

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In the second decade of the 19th century work began on creating a harbor at the coastal town of Dún Laoghaire by erecting two immense walls called the East and West Piers. The town was later renamed Kingstown to honor an 1821 visit by King George IV in his yacht. After independence its Irish name was restored. The western pier is nearly a mile long, and together the two walls enclose an area of about 250 acres, with water depths from 15 to 27 feet. It is one of the world's best manmade harbors.

In Telemachus a young man swimming in the Fortyfoot tells Mulligan that he has seen a friend of theirs hanging out with a girl "on the pier." In Nestor, Armstrong refers to "Kingstown pier," and when Stephen asks him what he knows about Pyrrhus, the boy can only think of a silly pun: "Pyrrhus, sir? Pyrrhus, a pier." The heavy use of the East Pier by people enjoying themselves (walkers, musicians, lovers, yachters, children at play) poses quite a contrast to the dismal story of Pyrrhus. Armstrong indeed does not "know anything about Pyrrhus," and has other things on his mind.

JH 2018
Low aerial photograph of Dun Laoghaire harbor from the north, looking away from Dublin. Sandycove, Dalkey, and Dalkey Island are visible toward the upper left corner. Source: www.dlharbour.ie.
The East Pier at Dún Laoghaire. Source: Wikimedia Commons.
The East Pier on Sunday. Source: www.dlharbour.ie.