Dalkey Postcards

Dalkey is a heritage town and has managed to retain and preserve some of its historic past. It is famous for its seven castles, which were built in the fifteenth century and used mostly as dwellings for merchant families. One of the castles surviving today is located on Castle Street. Goat Castle became the Town Hall in 1869 and also houses the heritage centre. Dalkey served as a port for ships unloading cargo up until the 1760s and therefore held an important position.

The next milestone for Dalkey came when work began in the early nineteenth century on Dun Laoghaire harbour. The granite was quarried from Dalkey Hill and carried to Dun Laoghaire by train and so Dalkey Quarry was born in 1815. Dalkey had an abundance of granite, located close to the surface of the ground and so it was ideal for quarrying. Today, the years of toiling in the quarry have, no doubt, greatly altered the natural landscape of the area.

Whilst Dun Laoghaire harbour was being built, the workers in the quarry, lived either in small cottages, or camped out on Dalkey Common. The tracks visible in the print are of the truck railway that was constructed, from the quarry to Dun Laoghaire, three miles away. The track came to be known as 'The Metals'. The windmill was used to pump water up to a reservoir situated at the back of Dalkey Hill.

The truck railway used for quarrying rock was the first step towards the development of a transport system for Dalkey. The Atmospheric railway was constructed in 1844 on part of the existing track. It was the first railway of its kind ever built, to be followed by three others in London, South Devon and Paris. The idea was to have an iron tube fixed between the rails to act as a suction device. The train was attached by means of a piston arm. The system worked in practice but it was not cost effective and by 1860 all the lines had been closed.

Nevertheless, during this time, Dalkey attracted international attention. All that remains today as a testimony to the experiment is the aptly named Atmospheric Road, beside the former Dalkey station. By 1856 the line had been widened and the more traditional railway system had been extended from Dun Laoghaire to Dalkey and on to Bray.

Postcards often illustrate the changes in a transport system over the years. The tramline from Kingstown to Dalkey was built in 1879 and electric cars began to run in 1896 and the first one from Dalkey ran in 1898. The line turned out to be one of the most profitable and prolific of all.

Coloured symbols were introduced in 1903 so that people could recognise different trams more easily. The symbol for the Dalkey tram was a green shamrock. The last tram to Dalkey ran on 9th July 1949 and was wrecked by vandals and people looking for souvenirs.

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