Realt Na Mara, Windsor Terrace, Dun Laoghaire, County Dublin, Ireland

Realt Na Mara, an 1860's seaside hotel near Dublin in Dun Laoghaire, owes its legacy to the unnavigable waters of Scotsman's Bay in the Irish Sea.

A harbor was created after two troopships ran aground there in 1807, with a loss of over 400 lives. The new port was still being constructed when, in 1821, England's King George IV announced he was coming for a visit. This created a flurry of excitement, because it had been hundreds of years since the last monarch had been to Ireland, and also because George wasn't bringing an army along with him.

At the time, Dun Laoghaire was known as Dunleary (both pronounced the same way), but quickly changed its name to the less imaginative one of Kingstown. (It changed back in 1920.) They spruced up the village and created a beautiful garden near where George was scheduled to arrive at their new pier on August 12th. Unfortunately, he landed in Howth instead.

George finally made it to Kingstown on September 3rd, where he was presented with a laurel wreath crown and an obelisk was later erected in his honor.

Soon after, the Royal Victoria Baths were created along the bay on Windsor Terrace.

Once railroad service was service was added, Kingstown/Dun Laoghaire became a popular Victorian seaside getaway. Accordingly, it needed seafront hotels.

Realt Na Mara was one of them.

Realt Na Mara translates to Star of the Sea. It, along with the building to the left of it were the original hotel, and stayed as such at least through the 1930's. Later, it was divided into three flats, one at basement level and two on the upper stories.

This view from the back of the property shows its perfect location near the baths at the point on the left:

The front door is probably used to being propped open like this, all the better to enjoy the view:

At first I thought the dark green walls of the living room didn't seem coastal enough for the setting...

but they grew on me...

My photoshop was inspired by similar images/elements in designer Alessandra Branca's portfolio.

If the green walls eventually do seem too dark, we can always go the lighter side of coastal decorating in the other living room in the downstairs flat. It currently looks like this: 

If it were mine, it would have more ocean references, like this:

{Victoria Hagan}

Because the house was divided into separate units, there are two bedrooms on the street level. This one has a view of the bay.

It reminded me of this bedroom decorated by Victoria Hagan:

{I featured it before, here.}

The second main level bedroom faces the garden and also currently has twin beds. Is it because the younger residents like having quicker access to the beach?

The rest of the bedrooms are upstairs. The house has a total of six bedrooms and three bathrooms in 3,132 square feet.

While the rear of the property doesn't face the sea, it does have a stone walled garden with southern exposure and lots of potential.

Of course I had to find a pretty garden image to pair with it:

This aerial view shows exactly how much gardening potential the front and back yards offer:

The front yard garden can be a little simpler than the back garden, because most of the attention will be drawn toward these views instead:

The pier where King George didn't dock and the 1847 East Pier Lighthouse to the left...

and Sandycove Beach to the right:

We can't forget the views in People's Park, with its gardens created for the royal visit, because it's right next door to Realt Na Mara. Some of the park's Victorian era iron railings, stone walls, and flowerbeds still remain. 

And, if you crane your neck way out toward the north you might see another Realt Na Mara, the statue in Dublin dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Mary has been known as the Star of the Sea (Stella Maris in Latin) since the 5th century, and many coastal churches all over the world bear this name.  

I thought I could get away with writing about Dun Laoghaire attractions without mentioning author James Joyce, but apparently I can't. There's an unflattering reference in Ulysses to Scotsman's Bay at Dun Laoghaire. Let's just say he didn't like the color or the temperature of the water.

Despite its early unnavigable waters and Joyce's choice words about it, Realt Na Mara wouldn't be the Star of the Sea that it truly is without them.

I've written about the James Joyce Tower in Sandycove and their Star of the Sea church here. The listing is here.

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