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Domhnach Bat
Donabate railway station
Donabate railway station
Donabate is located in Ireland
Location in Ireland
Coordinates: 53°29′13″N 6°09′07″W / 53.487°N 6.152°W / 53.487; -6.152Coordinates: 53°29′13″N 6°09′07″W / 53.487°N 6.152°W / 53.487; -6.152
8 m (26 ft)
 • Total7,443
Time zoneUTC±0 (WET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+1 (IST)
Eircode routing key
Telephone area code+353(0)1
Irish Grid ReferenceO225501

Donabate (Irish: Domhnach Bat)[2] is a small coastal town in Fingal, Ireland, about 20 kilometres (12 miles) north-northeast of Dublin. The town is on a peninsula on Ireland's east coast, between the Rogerstown Estuary to the north and Broadmeadow Estuary to the south. Donabate is a civil parish in the ancient barony of Nethercross.[3]


The Donabate peninsula forms a distinctive hammer-head shape. This is because each of the mouths of both estuaries surrounding the peninsula are partially closed by large sand spits stretching north to south. The northern spit contains Portrane beach which almost touches Rush South Beach but for a narrow channel entering the Rogerstown estuary. A stretch of low limestone cliffs to the south of Portrane beach leads to Donabate Beach which is the east face of the southern spit. The southern Broadmeadow estuary is likewise almost completely enclosed and is fed by the Broadmeadow river. The shelter provided by the spits had made the estuaries important wildlife habitats and both are protected under the international Ramsar Convention.[4]

Mute Swans in the Broadmeadow estuary Donabate


Donabate is reported to have had a population in 1912 of 734 persons living in 150 houses, and it remained a small village for more than a century. In recent years, however, because of the area's easy access to Dublin (improving roads and the presence of a railway station in the village), the population has begun growing significantly. In the 1996 census, the village's population was 1,868; by the time of the 2002 census it had doubled to 3,854, by the 2011 census was 6,778, and as of the 2016 census was 7,443.[1]


Administratively, Donabate is in Fingal, in the historic County Dublin. The Donabate-Portrane peninsula is in the Swords ward (or local electoral area, to give it its official title). The Swords ward is numerically the largest in Fingal county and elects nine county councillors to Fingal County Council. In terms of national elections, the Donabate Portrane peninsula is in the Dublin Fingal constituency, which sends five TDs to Dáil Éireann.

Donabate Portrane Community Council is the community council for the Donabate Portrane Peninsula.

Donabate Portrane Community and Leisure Centre is the area's newest public building, that opened in 2001. The town has an active Chamber of Commerce, Scout Group (63rd Dublin 14th Port Donabate), and two soccer clubs (St Ita's AFC and Portrane Athletic), a G.A.A club (St Patrick's), Karate and Tae-Kwon Do clubs, a snooker club, a Historical and Folklore Society, and a Tidy Towns Committee, among other groups.[5]


National schools (primary schools) serving the area include Donabate Portrane Educate-Together National School, St Patrick's Girls National School, and St Patrick's Boys National School.[citation needed] Donabate Community College VEC is a local post-primary school (secondary school). Donabate opened its first Gaelscoil primary school, Gaelscoil na Mara, in 2020.


Donabate was a distinct parish in the Fingal North deanery of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin, and now forms part of the parish of parish of Donabate, Portrane and Balheary, served by St Patrick's Roman Catholic Church.

Donabate Roman Catholic Church

There is also a Church of Ireland (St Patrick's Church); Donabate Presbyterian Church meets at Donabate Portrane Community Centre.[citation needed]



There are five courses on the peninsula: The Island Golf Club, Beaverstown Golf Club, Balcarrick Golf Club, Donabate Golf Club (a 27-hole course) and Corballis Links Golf Club (a public course). The peninsula was once home to a sixth club, Turvey Golf Club, situated on the former Turvey estate, that has since closed. Many of these have views of the estuaries or the open sea, including links courses such as The Island, which is ranked as one of the top 20 courses in Ireland.[6]


St Patrick's GAA (Cumann Lúthchleas Gael, Naomh Pádraig) club in Donabate dates from 1924. It is an active club with a membership of over 300 as of 2009.[7] The club play at Robbie Farrell Park, Ballymastone in Donabate. Gaelic Football and Hurling are played at adult level as well as at under-age levels from an expanding nursery section. The club colours are green and black.


St Ita's Athletic Football Club has been active in Donabate Portrane from the early 20th century. They currently play in the Leinster league and field many underage players.[citation needed]

The main pitch is the grounds of the St Ita's Hospital and they also play on pitches in Portrane and Balcarrick Road. Club colours are green and white.[citation needed]

Portrane Athletic FC were the Dublin cup winners in 2012.[citation needed]

Water sports[edit]

Chasing a Kite Donabate Beach

Although Ireland's east coast is not ideal for surfing, surfers are regularly seen at Donabate beach.[citation needed] Kayaking, sailing and wind surfing are popular water sports especially in the Broadmeadow estuary with access from Donabate and Malahide. There are marinas in Rush and Malahide. Kite surfing is rising in popularity on the beaches of Portrane, Rush and Skerries.[citation needed] The use of jet skis and fast powerboats is restricted by law in the estuaries and beaches and regulated by permit.[8]

Both Donabate and Portrane beaches are staffed by lifeguards during the summer months. In 2009 Portrane beach was among several Irish beaches to lose its blue flag status for beach excellence due to poor water quality,[9] but subsequently regained blue flag status and from 2011 to 2015 had a status of Good or Excellent.[10]


Portrane Hockey Club was founded in 1919 and plays in the Leinster senior league. The club suffered from the introduction of compulsory synthetic pitches in the 1990s as they were unable to continue using their grass pitch in St.Itas hospital.[citation needed] However, the club had remained active and hoped to move to an all-weather pitch on the site of the Secondary School scheduled for September 2010.[citation needed] But a flood caused the pitch to be unsafe for play. In 2015 the pitch was up and running again.[citation needed]


The hunter trials of the Ward Union Hunt are held at Corballis Farm in Corballis Donabate.[11]


The cliffs between Donabate and Portrane have recently become known as a site for bouldering[12]


Newbridge Estate[edit]

Newbridge House, Donabate

Donabate has a fine historical "Big House and Estate" at Newbridge Estate. Newbridge House is a Georgian mansion built for Charles Cobbe, Archbishop of Dublin in 1736. It sits on 370 acres (150 ha) of eighteenth-century landscaped parklands with perimeter woodland belts and fine vistas across lawns and wildflower meadows. The grounds also include a late medieval castellated tower house named Lanestown Castle. The estate was bought by Fingal County Council in a unique arrangement with the Cobbe family in 1985 and is now a public park, playground and model farm, while the family continue to maintain an apartment within the main building on a part-time basis.[13] The park is a popular recreational area all year round, and also contains playing pitches used by local sports clubs.

Newbridge House was a location for the 1965 film The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (film).[14] In 2009 a previously unrecognised rare portrait of William Shakespeare was found to have been hanging in the drawing-room of the house.[15]

The Farm at Newbridge can be found to the west and north of Newbridge House and beside the Walled Garden. Between 1989 and 1990 the County Council Parks Department undertook the renovation, reconstruction and restoration of the Courtyard, Haggard and adjoining buildings restoring it to its 19th-century Victorian character. A wide range of farm animals and fowl are now housed here, including many rare or show breeds, and it is a popular visitor attraction.

Transition Town Donabate Portrane[edit]

Donabate has a vibrant Transition Town movement. There are currently a number of projects running in the Donabate area including a local weekly food market, and also to transform the disused St Ita's Gardens & Farm into a working community farm and orchard.[16]


In 2008 Fingal County Council published an ambitious plan to develop a large wildlife park and natural amenity that would span both sides of the Rogerstwon estuary.[17] Fingal Parks Department gave a summary of some of the features of the plan as:

The proposed development will include new entrances, a car park with 120 car parking spaces, 250 allotments, 3 km (2 mi) of walkways, a new bridge adjacent to the railway bridge, woodland and hedgerow planting, hay meadows,

reintroduction of cattle to graze the grasslands and interpretative facilities.[18]

The plan includes: bridges over the estuary; pedestrian links with Newbridge and the village; parking facilities; allotments; look-out towers; a new park on the old baleally landfill on the north side of the estuary; picnic areas;and 8 kilometres (5 miles) of woodland and grassland trails.

Rogerstown Estuary[edit]

Rogerstown Estuary is an important wetland habitat. It has several designations in recognition of this including that of Statutory Nature Reserve. Bird Watch Ireland owns land on both north and south shores of the inner estuary and played a large role in preserving the area in its natural state in spite of its proximity to large urban areas by purchasing tracts of land and entering into management agreements with the Council and landowners.[19] The Fingal Branch of Bird Watch Ireland operates two hides in Rogerstown which are wardened at weekends during certain times of the year.

Broadmeadow Estuary[edit]

Broadmeadow Estuary, like the Rogerstown Estuary, is designated a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Special Protection Area (SPA).[20] The estuary has an internationally important population of Brent Goose and nationally important populations of other species of birds.



Donabate train station signage

Donabate railway station, in the centre of the town, is on the Dublin–Belfast mainline and is served by Northern Commuter line trains between Dublin and Dundalk. The Transport 21 infrastructure plan envisaged electrification north of Malahide and through Donabate as far as Balbriggan by 2015, though this was subsequently indefinitely deferred.

Viaduct collapse[edit]

On 21 August 2009 the 18:07 train from Balbriggan to Connolly was passing over the viaduct when the driver noticed subsidence and the embankment giving way on the northbound track.[21] The train passed over the bridge before it collapsed and the driver alerted authorities.[21] A major catastrophe was avoided but commuters faced significant subsequent disruption.


The R126 regional road, connecting Portrane to the R127 and the M1 motorway, runs through the town. Go-Ahead Ireland service 33B from Swords to Portrane and Dublin Bus service 33D from Custom House Quay to Portrane serve Donabate. During the morning peak times some service 33 routes serve Donabate.

Owing to the proximity of the area to Dublin city, Dublin airport and major national road networks, the area houses Tesco Donabate Distribution Centre which is the eleventh largest building in the world by usable volume.

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Sapmap Area - Settlements - Donabate". Census 2016. CSO. 2016. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  2. ^ Origin of name Donabate on
  3. ^ Placenames Database of Ireland - Donabate civil parish
  4. ^ Ramsar Convention "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 29 June 2008. Retrieved 12 June 2009.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ Donabate Tidy Towns Committee
  6. ^ Golf Digest Ireland
  7. ^ St. Patrick's GAA, Donabate
  8. ^ Fingal County Council: Bye-laws 2006 regulating recreational craft (incl. fast powerboats) and personal watercraft (jet-skis),20659,en.doc
  9. ^ The Irish Times: Four Beaches Lose Blue Flag Status
  10. ^ Splash is the national bathing water information website for identified bathing waters around Ireland - Portrane Beach Status
  11. ^ Ward Union Hunt "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 29 March 2009. Retrieved 13 June 2009.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ Bouldering Ireland
  13. ^ Fingal County Council, Parks and Heritage, Newbridge House
  14. ^ Internet Movie Database: The Spy who Came in From the Cold: Locations
  15. ^ The Irish Times 'Shakespeare' portrait hung for years in Irish big house
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 8 January 2014. Retrieved 7 January 2014.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  17. ^ Fingal Independent: Plans to Transform Rogerstown Estuary
  18. ^ Fingal Parks Department: 'Nature on Display' Plans for Turvey Wildlife park and natural amenity
  19. ^ Bird Watch Ireland Fingal: Rogerstown Estuary "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 18 November 2007. Retrieved 14 June 2009.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  20. ^ National Parks and Wildlife Services: Conservation Sites "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 17 December 2007. Retrieved 19 June 2009.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  21. ^ a b Tracks to be closed for several weeks, The Irish Times, 22 August 2009