Bouldering in Blackrock

by Peter Tom McMahon. 'Ped' is an aspiring white van man and this is his first (and probably his last) article for theshortspan. He is an expert on long walks and short climbs in the South Dublin area. What follows below are probably two of the worst bouldering areas in Ireland (though Seapoint would be a good spot for beginners to do some bouldering and traversing in their runners).


There are three approaches to Either Seapoint or Blackrock DART station are the handiest. As you may guess the area is between the two. You will have to go through the ticket office in Seapoint to access their bridge. It involves hopping the barrier which should be no trouble to a Boulderer; outdoor type, fit and all. Alternatively; in the estate next door to the station there is another bridge but as the estate is private admission is exclusive and the gate is locked half the time. The other approach is by boat at full tide but realistically thatís just a half assed idea. By far the bridge beside Blackrock DART station is the best.

Once over the bridge turn right and keep walking. Nod politely to the strange man who'll be sitting beside a whiskey bottle or a flagon of scrumpy, depending what end of the week it is. If you come at the right time of day you'll see a strange school boy reading Salingers classic, its best not to disturb him. Halfway down there is an abandoned derelict bridge. Its offers a simple treat for the wholehearted Boulderer. Itís a simple ladder technique on lovely granite blocks, though you'll need a mat and a spotter here as its highball. Keep it brisk, up and down then on you go. Don't hang about up there on the ledge too long as a "nobody" DART driver may take you for a no good vagabond. Then you get inquisitive cops, sometimes hassle from ambulance paramedics, the worst I had was the Fire Brigade doing a rope ladder drop down onto the far side of the tracks from the road above.

So easy even your bird can climb here!

You'll come to a dilapidated Martello Tower; itís a red brick construction, not at all like the usual grey coloured jobbies; it's a Blackrock thing. There is a flat patch of grass here, the climbing is on the beach just beneath. The small old dwelling bet into the hillside provides adequate shelter for a few campers and the sun shines a fine dawn across the bay, rising over the Dun Laoghaire piers.

Take the steps down to the beach. History teaches us that this was where the Vikings first landed in Ireland. They cut the stairway into the rock for ceremonial purposes.

The area in front of you is called Glass, to the left is Pretty then Freedom which traverses around the corner into Seaweed then Shells then Stones which brings you up and back to the start of Glass. The back wall is most commonly referred to as The Back Wall. Thatís basically it. The climbing is makey upy as you go along. It's mostly un-graded circuit traversing, and position clutch climbing. A few things to watch out for: loose rock on the back wall, and seals if the tide is in. You won't need a mat here as the beach is nice and sandy.

The Obelisk

by Dave Flanagan

Phil Carroll unleashing the mild physique on the South Arch (yes that's a finger in the shot).

Dave Flanagan on the East Arch.

While we are on the topic of bouldering in Blackrock allow me to indulge myself and reminisce about one of the first place I ever climbed, bouldered really. The Obelisk is on the grounds of St John of Gods in Stillorgan and when I was a young man and everywhere was fields we used to clamber all over the large granite blocks that make up the base of the Oblisk. The East arch was our finest acheivement involving a long reach across the small roof to a jug on the lip, a mandatory one arm hang on this and it was over.

"Stillorgan obelisk was built in 1727, possibly at the instigation of Lord Allen, to provide local employment that year, during the famine. It was also built a monument to Lady Allen, although she was not buried there. The obelisk measures one hundred feet in height and is made of granite. The gardens surrounding the obelisk have since disappeared, together with the splendid views. Legend has it that the second Viscount of Stillorgan, Joshua Allen, had his favourite horse buried beneath the obelisk. from

So now you know.