Killiney Hill (153mts) in Dublin and Mweelrea (814mts) in Mayo are intimately bound up in perhaps my most memorable mountain experience.
It was from the still and lonely summit of Mweelrea on 31st December 1999 that I watched the last of the reds and crimsons and yellows of an Atlantic sunset give way to the deepest of black starry nights; and it was from Killiney Hill, about 15hrs later, on 1st January 2000, that I and hundreds of revellers watched the same sun rise out of a different sea, and kick off a new Millennium.
And ever since, I’ve loved this little Co Dublin hill – its wild tangled woods, its Victorian parkland feel, its historical connotations and especially the panorama it gives of mountain, islands, sea and city.
It's where I bring friends from outside Ireland and formally introduce them to Dublin and the Ancient East – but first I bring them down to beautiful, secret little White Rock beach!
And on a recent sunny November morning, I parked on the Vico Road and descended the steps and paved path, over the railway line, and immediately entered that wonderful morning microclimate of White Rock!
The great granite bulk of Dalkey and Killiney Hills, rising steeply behind the beach, cut off the cold north-westerly winds and allowed an undisputed sun to warm sand and stone and calm a shining sea.
I hung out for a while “feeling” the peace of the place and admiring that “Bay Of Naples” view towards Bray Head and the line of little Sugarloaf and Vesuvius-like Sugarloaf Mountain.
Then it was a bit of aerobic exercise up the steep steps, back up to and across the Vico Road and into that tangle of oak and furze and pine towards the hill top. The panel just before the Obelisk explains its origin and history, noting especially its construction in 1742 as a famine-relief project.
At that time, we were in the grip of the Little Ice Age and the winter and spring of 1741 had produced an incessant, dry and cold east wind that persisted for months, preventing growth and precipitating a famine that may have killed 400,000 of our people!
Then, ensconced on the Obelisk seats and out of the North West Wind, it was time to admire an incomparable vista from Bray Head, through the Dublin and Wicklow Mountains and right around to the city.
I was tempted to drop down to the excellent coffee shop at the Victoria Gate entrance on Killiney Hill Road but instead I slowly descended the way I came up, admiring the Dalkey islands, once a base for Neolithic hunter/fisherfolk, and the row of fine, and very expensive, Victorian houses at Sorrento Point – where a Roman-style burial spot was found during construction in the early 1800s.
I reluctantly drove home, having sat on the wall for a few moments to take in the sight, smell and sound of a gentle sunlit sea below me.
Walk: Killiney Hill, Vico Road, Co Dublin
Map: see panel at park entrance on Vico Road
Start/Finish: see panel, my favourite is Vico Road entrance opposite White Rock beach entrance
Suitability/Effort: easy paths, 3 to 4kms, 1hr (including looking around) and 150mts of climbing from beach.