For up-to-date race information, entry fees and registration click here.
The Dún Laoghaire Harbour Race along with the Dublin City Liffey Swim are rightly considered the two most prestigious swimming races on the Leinster Open Sea Calendar. For swimmers winning the Dún Laoghaire Harbour Race is akin to winning an All Ireland Final. Sea swimmers aim to win one of the big two races in their swimming career.
The Dún Laoghaire Harbour Race caters for swimmers as young as 14 years of age up to senior citizens. There are also two children’s races of 100 metres and 200 metres for children 13 years of age and younger which are held before the men’s race.
As the Dún Laoghaire Harbour race is a handicapped race every swimmer has a chance of winning so you do not have to be a former Olympian to either compete or win.
The Dún Laoghaire Harbour Race was first run in 1931 and it has run every year since, making it the second oldest continuous race in Ireland. There were however swimming races run in Dún Laoghaire Harbour before 1931. See YouTube clip of a swimming race in Dún Laoghaire Harbour in 1926:
Irish Olympians Donnacha O’Dea, Kevin Williamson and David Cummins have won the men’s race. English Channel Swimmers Anne McAdam and Lisa Howley have won the ladies’ race.
The Dún Laoghaire Harbour Race comprises a 2,200 metre race around the circumference of Dún Laoghaire Harbour battling fellow swimmers, reaching marker buoys, avoiding any number of obstacles and taking on the might that is the Irish Sea.
The race starts at the RNLI slipway beside the East Pier. The Swimmers then swim out by the National Yacht Club of Ireland, the RNLI lifeboat and out along the Carlisle Pier. They then swim across from the Carlisle Pier to the mouth of the Harbour and the East Pier Lighthouse. This is roughly the half way point. Friends, family and spectators then can walk or run along the East Pier and follow the swimmers as they battle the last 1,000 metres home, past the anemometer, the Boyd Memorial, the Band Stand and finally the last gruelling two hundred metres from Berth No 1 back to the finish line at the RNLI slipway.
In many sea races swimmers are swimming out to sea around a course marked by marine marker buoys. Spectators on the shore have difficulty in identifying individual swimmers, and swimmers certainly cannot hear the commotion and the noise of the crowd.
The Dún Laoghaire Harbour Race is different to most sea races as there is considerable interaction between the crowd and the swimmers. There is an opportunity for the crowd looking down from the East pier to clap and cheer on swimmers as they start their journey out around the Harbour. The swimmers in the water can see and they certainly can hear the crowds on the return journey along the East Pier. The louder the crowd cheer the closer a swimmer is to the front of the race. Friends and family can identify individual swimmers as they swim past from the East Pier. The only other swim which has the same interaction between swimmers and spectators is of course the Dublin City Liffey Swim.
|1931||J.P. Wallace||Dublin University|
|1932||Stanley J. Scully||Sandycove|
|1933||Diarmuid Murphy||Dublin University|
|1934||Diarmuid Murphy||Dublin University|
|1935||Diarmuid Murphy||Dublin University|
|1942||W. Hashmore||Dublin University|
|1943||W. Hashmore||Dublin University|
|1945||D. Corbett||Bray Cove|
|1948||D. Corbett||Bray Cove|
|1965||Liam Mortimer||North Dublin|
|1966||Liam Mortimer||North Dublin|
|1970||Francis White||Guinness||Brenda McGrory||Cormorant|
|1971||Peter McKenna||Nomad||Terry Mason||Otter|
|1972||Francis White||Guinness||Brenda McGrory||Cormorant|
|1973||T.P. Farrelly||Half Moon||Bernadette Byrne||Guinness|
|1975||J. Browne||North Dublin||Barbara Conway||Glenalbyn|
|1977||Pat Mullally||Templeogue College||Michelle Garvey||Glenalbyn|
|1978||David Cummins||Cormorant||Deirdre Harkness||Dublin|
|1979||Kevin Williamson||Terenure||Cliodna Johnston||Cormorant|
|1980||Michael McCann||Terenure||Anne Cummins||Cormorant|
|1981||Peter Sinclair||Terenure||Audrey Martin||Dundrum|
|1982||Nicholas L. O’Meara||Clontarf||Linda Howard||Dundrum|
|1983||Robert O’Leary||Clontarf||Jacqueline Whelan||Dublin|
|1984||Ray Kearney||Terenure||Mairead Doran||Dublin|
|1985||Michael A.F. O’Meara||Clontarf||Hilda Grace||Dundrum|
|1986||Larry Mooney||Metro||Helen Fitzgerald||Half Moon|
|1987||Paul Kealy||Half Moon||Tara Gerrard||Dundrum|
|1988||Alan Dwyer||Guinness||Sarah Bolger||Trojan|
|1989||Bert O’Brien||Sandycove||Louise Keogh||Glenalbyn|
|1990||Paul Emmett & Gareth Clinton||Half Moon||Sandra Trappe||Dublin|
|1991||Frank Carroll & David Turner||Sandycove & St. Vincents||Sandra Trappe||Dublin|
|1992||Shane Moraghan||Glenalbyn||Marianne Comer||Otter|
|1993||Arthur Dunne||Half Moon||Jennifer Nestor||Trojan|
|1994||Tony Cruise||Terenure College||Maeve Chaney||Polar Bears|
|1995||Bob Bushell||Half Moon||Claire O’Dwyer||Dublin|
|1996||Matthew Hickmott||Glenalbyn||Heidi Kinsela||Glenalbyn|
|1997||Diarmuid O’Brien||ESB||Susanne Kelly||Otter|
|1998||Matty Waine||Guinness||Clare McDonough||Terenure|
|1999||Jerry Kiersey||Viking||Rachael Lee||Guinness|
|2000||Tony O’Brien||Millennium Masters||Karen Molloy||Claremorris|
|2001||Brian O’Dwyer||Guinness||Carol Finlay||Half Moon|
|2002||Greg O’Dwyer||Guinness||Tracey Telfort||Phoenix|
|2003||John Fortune||Phoenix||Helena Butterfield||Glenalbyn|
|2004||Gerard Carty||Aquatec||Niamh Dunne||Dublin|
|2005||David Cherry||Garda||Siobhan O’Brien||NAC Masters|
|2006||Tadhg Murphy||St. Vincents||Linda Clarke||Glenalbyn|
|2007||Lorcan Shelley||Terenure College||Annmarie Kendrick||Phoenix|
|2008||Rene Kral||Aquatec||Julie Roche||Wicklow|
|2009||David Farrell||Sandycove||Anne McAdam||Phoenix|
|2010||Shane Drumm||Aer Lingus||Lisa Howley||Glenalbyn|
|2011||Patrick Corkery||NAC Masters||Lucy Gaynor||Glenalbyn SC|
|2012||Aidan Hickey||Phoenix||Afric Creedon||NAC Masters|
|2013||Brian Nolan||Clontarf||Rachel Galvin||Coolmine SC|
|2014||Gabriel Byrne||Templeogue||Lilly O’Brien||Corribh|
|2015||Brian McLoughlin (“Jap”)||Half Moon||Roisin Hennessy||Wicklow SC|
Dún Laoghaire has a long association with sea swimming as Dún Laoghaire Harbour is beside the Forty Foot which is the home of all year round sea swimming.
The Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company are planning to build an urban beach or Badeschiff facility in the harbour which will further enhance the harbour as a sea swimming location.