Renowned for its beautiful beach and picturesque waterfront, Sandycove is one of the most beloved seaside resorts in the East of Ireland. The area was previously most well known for its “gentlemen’s bathing space” – The Forty Foot. What was once a primary bathing space for men only is now a very popular bathing place where thousands of men, women and children flock to in order to enjoy the view and catch some rays.
Sandycove is set around a beautiful harbour and is a great place to walk about and enjoy some pleasant seaside scenery. The area is renowned for water sport activity and sailing and was in fact, the location of the very first lifeboat station in Ireland! Although the beach is the primary attraction for tourists, Sandycove also offers some key historical attractions and stunning architectural structures.
One of the most famous landmarks in Sandycove is Martello Tower. The Martello towers were built in previous centuries by the British to watch out for incoming enemy attacks coming in across the sea. What is even more significant about Martello tower is that the famous Irish writer James Joyce once inhabited it for a short period of time. Joyce lived in the tower with Oliver St. John Gogarty. Gogarty subsequently went on to become a significant figure in Irish history as a surgeon, politician and writer. The first scene of James Joyces’ Ulysses was set in Martello Tower where the character Stephen Dedalus lives in the tower with a medical student, Malachi “Buck” Mulligan. Given that Oliver St. Gogarty was still in medical school when James Joyce lived in Martello Tower with him, it is believed that the character of Malachi Mulligan was indeed based on Oliver St. John Gogarty.
Today, Martello Tower in Sandycove is called the James Joyce Tower and it is home to a great little museum dedicated to James Joyce. The museum is only open in the summer and if you are planning a visit to Sandycove during the summer months, it is certainly worth a visit to learn all about one of the most important and celebrated figures in Irish history.
In fact, if you’re planning to visit in early summer, Sandycove hosts a special day of events each June known as “Bloomsday” to celebrate the life of James Joyce. Another great famous resident who previously lived in Sandycove was Roger Casement, a famous Irish diplomat and Irish republican, who was executed by the British in 1916 following his involvement in the rebellions in Ireland against the Great British rule.
Another key piece of architecture to note in Sandycove is a landmark house located close to Martello Tower that was designed by celebrated architect Michael Scott in the 20th century. Given the time period in which it was built, the design of the building really pushed the boundaries of architecture, with the design paying tribute to its marine surroundings. The house consists of a series of decks, railings and portholes, with one even closely resembling the stern of an ocean liner. It really is a fascinating building that still wows architects to this day!
From providing the opportunity to admire unique architecture, learn about great Irish historical figures and take in the views of the beautiful seaside, a trip to Sandycove allows visitors to accomplish a lot of things in one day. What’s not to love?