Coordinates: 53°29′13″N 6°09′07″W / 53.487°N 6.152°W / 53.487; -6.152
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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; -6.152
CountyCounty Dublin
Local government areaFingal
8 m (26 ft)
 • Total9,669
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 County Dublin, Ireland, about 21 kilometres (13 miles) north-northeast of Dublin, within the local government area of Fingal. 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 Portrane–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 Balcarrick[4] or Corballis 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 makes the estuaries important wildlife habitats and both are protected under the international Ramsar Convention.[5]

Mute Swans in the Broadmeadow estuary Donabate


The 1911 census recorded that the town had a population of 734 people who lived in 150 dwellings. It remained a small village for more than a century. In recent years, the area's access to the capital city of Dublin has improved with upgraded roads and the re-opening of a former railway station. The census of 1996 recorded that the population was 1,868; by the time of the 2002 census it had doubled to 3,854. The most recent 2022 census results record a population of 9,669.[1]

"Donabate & Portrane - a history" was first written and published in 1988 by Peadar Bates, Donabate/Portrane historian, at the promptings of the local Historical Society (p4). The book was revised with added knowledge in 2001. It includes information on the beginnings of Donabate in Turvey around the 7th century A.D. (p12), the building of Lanistown Castle, probably around 1376 when the Bathe family first came into the possession of the lands (p99), the building of Newbridge House between 1698 and 1705 (p113) and the subsequent purchase of 1490 acres of land, including the house, by the Cobbe family in 1736 (p88). In 1846, Charles Cobbe forwarded a petition for the establishment of a relief committee during the Great Famine (p147-150). The book includes the reproduction of maps, photos, paintings, letters (p154-168), as well as other documents.[6]

In July 2022, a tunnel was found by accident in the Corballis area of Donabate, on land subject to a planning application later granted in November 2022,[7] when a farmer turned a stone on his field. The stone covered the entrance of a chamber and a tunnel, possibly dating from the Early Medieval period, 7th-Century A.D. to about 1100A.D.[8] [9] [10]


The Donabate–Portrane peninsula is in the local electoral area of RushLusk, which elects five councillors to Fingal County Council. Donabate is in the Dáil constituency of Dublin Fingal, which elects 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.[11]


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. 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. It is currently part of the grouped parishes of Donabate, Portrane and Balheary. It is served by the church of St Patrick.

Donabate Roman Catholic Church

Other churches in the area include: Church of Ireland (St Patrick's Church), since 1968 it is part of the Group of parishes which include Swords and Kilsallaghan[12] (Donabate having also been merged with St. Catherine's Church, Portrane, since 1835) and Donabate Presbyterian Church, which meets at Donabate Portrane Community Centre.[13]



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.[14]


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.[15] 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 (AFC) has been active in Donabate Portrane from the early 20th century. They currently play in the Leinster league and field many underage players.[16]

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.[17]

Water sports[edit]

Chasing a kite on Corballis Beach

Although Ireland's east coast is not ideal for surfing, surfers are regularly seen at Balcarrick / Corballis 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.[18]

Both Balcarrick / Corballis 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,[19] but subsequently regained blue flag status and from 2011 to 2015 had a status of Good or Excellent.[20] Corballis / Balcarrick beach has an area used by naturists.[21]


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. Ita's 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.[22]


The cliffs between Donabate and Portrane have recently become known as a site for bouldering.[23]


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.[24] The park is a popular recreational area all year round, and also contains playing pitches used by local sports clubs. Donabate has had a traditional market sale of lemon drizzle cakes by the church since 1969

Newbridge House was a location for the 1965 film The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (film).[25] In 2009 a previously unrecognised rare portrait of William Shakespeare was found to have been hanging in the drawing-room of the house.[26]

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.[27]


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 Rogerstown Estuary.[28] 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.[29]

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. BirdWatch Ireland owns land on both the 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.[30] The Fingal Branch of BirdWatch 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).[31] 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 Belfast–Dublin line 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.[32] The train passed over the bridge before it collapsed and the driver alerted authorities.[32] This was later determined to be caused by scour[33] A major catastrophe was avoided but commuters faced significant subsequent disruption. A bus service was added between Donabate and Malahide train stations to facilitate passenger transport.


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 "Interactive Data Visualisations: Towns: Donabate". CSO Ireland. Retrieved 26 September 2023.
  2. ^ Origin of name Donabate on
  3. ^ Placenames Database of Ireland - Donabate civil parish
  4. ^ "Balcarrick Beach". Fingal County Council. Retrieved 27 August 2023.
  5. ^ Ramsar Convention "The Annotated Ramsar List: Ireland". Archived from the original on 29 June 2008. Retrieved 12 June 2009.
  6. ^ Bates, Peadar (2001), Donabate & Portrane - a history, p. 263
  7. ^ "Developers commit to preserving important archaeological site in Donabate".
  8. ^ "Ancient 'lost' chamber uncovered on Corballis site in Donabate".
  9. ^ "Donabate archaeological find at risk of losing protection".
  10. ^ "Ancient tunnel vandalized just one month after discovery in Dublin suburb".
  11. ^ "Donabate Tidy Towns Committee".
  12. ^ St. David's Church, Kilsallaghan, Swords (St. Columba's), Donabate (St. Patrick's) and Kilsallaghan (St. David's), Diocese of Dublin and Glendalough.
  13. ^ Donabate Presbyterian Church
  14. ^ Golf Digest Ireland
  15. ^ St. Patrick's GAA, Donabate
  16. ^ Soccer Ireland
  17. ^ St. Ita's AFC
  18. ^ Fingal County Council: Bye-laws 2006 regulating recreational craft (incl. fast powerboats) and personal watercraft (jet-skis),20659,en.doc Archived 22 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ The Irish Times: Four Beaches Lose Blue Flag Status
  20. ^ Splash is the national bathing water information website for identified bathing waters around Ireland - Portrane Beach Status
  21. ^ "Leinster". Irish Naturist Association. Retrieved 27 August 2023.
  22. ^ Ward Union Hunt "Ward Union Hunt / Hunter Trials". Archived from the original on 29 March 2009. Retrieved 13 June 2009.
  23. ^ Bouldering Ireland
  24. ^ Fingal County Council, Parks and Heritage, Newbridge House Archived 14 June 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  25. ^ Internet Movie Database: The Spy who Came in From the Cold: Locations
  26. ^ The Irish Times 'Shakespeare' portrait hung for years in Irish big house
  27. ^ "Transition Towns Donabate Portrane". Archived from the original on 8 January 2014. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  28. ^ Fingal Independent: Plans to Transform Rogerstown Estuary
  29. ^ Fingal Parks Department: 'Nature on Display' Plans for Turvey Wildlife park and natural amenity Archived 3 June 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  30. ^ BirdWatch Ireland Fingal: Rogerstown Estuary "Rogerstown Estuary". Archived from the original on 18 November 2007. Retrieved 14 June 2009.
  31. ^ National Parks and Wildlife Services: Conservation Sites "National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) - WebsiteConservation Sites". Archived from the original on 17 December 2007. Retrieved 19 June 2009.
  32. ^ a b Tracks to be closed for several weeks Archived 18 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine, The Irish Times, 22 August 2009
  33. ^ New Civil Engineer