Bulloch History and Heritage

Bullock Harbour Preservation Association works promote the heritage of Bullock.  We have run events with Dublin Port Company, exhibitions with Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council at the Lexicon Library and, also with our partners, designed and erected information boards at the harbour to explain the history of the harbour and the natural heritage that it attracts. 

Bulloch Harbour (we use Bullock and Bulloch interchangeably, as indeed is the practice in the community) developed many centuries ago around a small inlet where a stream ran down from Dalkey Commons to the south-east.

Mediaeval Castle of Bulloch

Bulloch Castle was built in the 12th century by the Cistercian Monks of St Mary’s Abbey to protect the fisheries granted to them.  the township of Bulloch developed around the castle and was defended by walls and watch towers, one of which was at the top of the steps leading up to Ulverton Road.  In return for this protection the monks collected levies in the form of fish from all catches landed at Bulloch.  The monks developed underground storage in ice for their fish.  There was a small stone quay below the castle walls, partly sheltered by a rocky breakwater in the area of the current pier.  Records show that several Viceroys embarked and disembarked at Bulloch en route to Dublin and enjoyed the monks’ hospitality.  These included Philip de Courtney, Lord Deputy in 1386, Prince Thomas of Lancaster, Lord Lieutenant, in 1402, and the Earl of Sussex, Lord Deputy, in 1559.  Following the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII in 1539, the castle was taken over by the Crown and leased to private occupiers.

Dalkey granite

Dalkey granite was highly valued for construction work and the Dublin Ballast Board (now Dublin Port Company) operated a quarry in the area which now lies between Harbour Road and St Patrick’s Church.  On early O.S. maps Harbour Road is name Ballast Office Road.  Stone was cut here and shipped from Bulloch around 1750 to build the Great South Wall which now forms the entrance to Dublin Port.  Dalkey granite continued to be cut for use on the city quay walls.

Bulloch pilots, lifeboat

Bulloch was the base for the pilot who guided ships across the shallow bay and treacherous Dublin Bar sandbank to enter the port of Dublin.  Originally these were private family operators known as hobblers who rowed out to service approaching ships in the bay.  In about 1807 Pilot Cottages were built along the harbour to house the pilots.  In 1800 Dublin Port established the first co-ordinated lifeboat service in Europe and stationed a lifeboat in Bulloch from about 1816.  Due to tidal problems and the exposed location, the station was disbanded in favour of the newly completed Kingstown Harbour.  William Hutchinson was appointed in 1817 to oversee the stone quarrying , the lifeboats and the pilots.  He lived at Bulloch Castle and later became Harbour Master for Kingstown.

The current harbour

In 1818/19 a new granite pier and walls were constructed to form the harbour we see today.  Stone was cut from the rocks east of the harbour.  The pier lies on the axis of an earlier rocky breakwater.  Cranes were installed on the pier and this facilitated the transport of stone, and later the use of the harbour commercially for importing coal.  Heavy iron rings can still be seen on the rocks outside the pier which were used to winch boats in and out of the harbour. The coal yard later became a soap factory and a boat-building yard.  This eventually became Western Marine, who sold the site in March 2016.

Bulloch Castle in the present day

Bulloch Castle and its grounds were acquired by an American order of Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm on the invitation of Archbishop McQuaid of Dublin.  Our Lady’s Manor was opened in 1965 and has been extended in subsequent years.  Restoration work was carried out on the castle but the adjoining large residence was demolished.