Killiney Beach Chalets

August, 2015: I was in Loughlinstown this morning in August, and after finishing what I had come to do at about 10am, I drove down to Killiney beach, parking across from the Dart Station and taking the underpass onto the beach itself. I hadn't been there for over twenty years and even then only once or twice since the late 1960s, when I was first visited. This morning was very pleasant, sunny and warm: the sky above blue, while in the distance it continued to burn off a haze; the sea was clear, blue and mild - the waves lightly breaking on the pebbled beach. There was a few early walkers and one woman just had a swim and was preparing to sunbathe on the grass verge, but otherwise very little was happening. Looking south were the familiar outlines of Sugarloaf - which we started climbing from the mid 1990s every Easter with the children, friends, and their children, until the Foot and Mouth outbreak caused a prohibition of rural access - and also to the left Bray Head, where in the 1960s, as young children ourselves, we climbed most summers, following our swim and walk along Bray Promenade where my brothers bought cockles from the dome-shaped blue and white huts, and later we all had red lemonade and Perri crisps before getting the last 9pm train home.  

   When we were growing up my father never took summer work holidays and worked them instead to bring home more income; during the mid sixties however the company he worked with was based in Blackrock, so for that summer he rented a chalet on Killiney beach for a week for my mother, myself and my two younger siblings, Owen and Eilish, who was still an infant, while he commuted daily to Blackrock. 

   Killiney beach was, and - as evident from the photographs - remains an idyllic setting: a place quite apart from what we were used to; it was both different and very memorable: a quiet pebbled seashore with the sweep of Killiney Bay it was like Yarmouth in a Dickens novel. The chalet was one of about eight on a raised wooden structure above the beach, but is now a ruin. It was tiny, minimalist and yet our chalet was the largest of them all; my father explained that it cost £5 per week, £1 more than the others. The structure was a hive of activity back then as too was another wooden structure that sold tea and sandwiches. 

   In the mornings Owen and myself would be up early playing on the beach, paddling and skimming stones and we would then sit and watch the inshore fishermen load their small, wooden boats and push them out to sea. We would often see them later in the chalet complex mending nets and having chit chat. At nighttime there was a social in the common area, with food, drinks and games and everybody was welcome. My older brothers would take turns to take the train down on different days to visit, play with us on the beach and buy us choc-ices and stay a single night. The passing trains were fewer than today, although the visitors were more. Instinctively we would know when trains out from Dublin were due and we would climb the ditch behind the chalets so we could wave as they passed, particularly at 6pm when my father was due to arrive. 



The week in Killiney was a milestone as thereafter my mother was determined to holiday each summer, and when the following year my father got his first car there was no holding her back, as they made B/B trips to Carlingfird, Bundoran and Tramore, and then later camping trips to Achill, Aran Islands, and Connemara. Gradually we pulled away from going too, but they continued and later it was London, Lourdes, Seattle and Rome - which my mother visited alone in her late '80s. Once she got the holiday bug that week fifty years ago in Killiney, once she got the pleasure of being somewhere different, there was no stopping her. And my father, of course: he complied.


Gentl© Barry Cullen 2018