- Killiney Hill Park was a private estate until June 20, 1887. On that day, Prince Albert Victor opened Victoria Park in honour of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. John Fergus O’Shea drew this cartoon depicting Queen Victoria ignoring poverty and eviction in Ireland to indulge in the exceedingly lavish Jubilee celebrations, which involved inviting fifty foreign kings and princes to wine and dine in Buckingham Palace.
2. The origins of the obelisk and follies
Speaking of poverty, the obelisk on top of Killiney Hill is a famine folly dating from in 1741, when a food shortage struck Ireland, which was not as severe as the horrific, so-called ‘Great Irish Famine’ of the 1840s.
An inscription on the obelisk reads: “Last year being super hard with the poor, walls about these hills and this were erected by John Mapas, June 1742.”
3. Depeche Mode video shoot
The obelisk featured as a location for a Depeche Mode video entitled A Question of Lust in 1986, where the band are filmed performing on top of the hill.
A Question of Lust was the second single from Depeche Mode’s fifth album, Black Celebration. It was their last video collaboration with Clive Richardson, just before they started working with Anton Corbijn, and subsequently recorded two of their best known albums, Music and the Masses and Violator.
4. Red squirrel stronghold
Killiney Hill is a stronghold for the red squirrel, a native Irish species and one of our most loved animals, which was on the brink of extinction until recent years.
The red squirrel population of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown is largely confined to just two areas, Killiney Hill Park, and a larger concentration in the coniferous forests of the Dublin Mountains, including Carrickgollogan, Barnaslingan, Balledmonduff, Ticknock, Kilmashogue and Tibradden.
5. Summer solstice
Every year on Midsummers Day (June 21) a crowd gathers at the obelisk to watch the sun rise at dawn on the longest day of the year.
Killiney Hill is a perfect place to watch this annual spectacle, as the sun slowly rises and floats over the Irish Sea. I’ve attended once and it’s an absolutely lovely occasion with people passing around croissants and basking in the Midsummer sun (weather permitting, of course).
The gathering starts before sunrise, around 4am.
6. You can (sometimes) see Wales
Dún Laoghaire is only 99 kilometres to Holyhead, making it much closer than Wexford, Athlone or Newry. In very clear conditions Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) and the Welsh mountains can be seen. This wonderful picture published by Cambrian News was taken from Howth.
7. Remnants of yesteryear: An old ballroom and Obelisk Hill railway station
As you walk up Killiney Hill from the tearooms, you will come across the ruined layout of an old building that doubles as an ad hoc viewing platform on the right hand side of the footpath about half way up the hill. Once upon a time a small ballroom stood here, which was a popular venue for tea dances.
When the railway was extended from Dún Laoghaire to Bray in 1854, there was stop between Dalkey and Killiney called Obelisk Hill, which only had one platform. This was located near the pedestrian footbridge that provides access to White Rock beach today.