Dún Laoghaire Harbour Race

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:

The Dún Laoghaire Harbour swim was run as a scratch race from its inauguration in 1931 through 1963. On the occasion of the 7th Harbour Race in 1937, a sealed handicap was introduced to add interest to the proceedings. The result of the sealed handicap was only revealed after all the competitors had finished. The Evening Mail Cup, the first men’s trophy, was presented to the winner of the scratch race, while a prize was awarded to the winner of the sealed handicap. In addition, a club competition feature was added to the Dún Laoghaire Harbour Race with the introduction of a team prize. From 1964 the Harbour Swim has been an open handicap race, except for 1977 when the Harbour Swim reverted to a scratch race for the men, the winner of which received the Irish Times Cup (Patrick Mullally). There was a prize for the winner of the sealed handicap that year. The Evening Mail was bought by the Irish Times in 1960, but was closed down on 19 July 1962. The Irish Times trophy was inaugurated in 1964. A Harbour Race for woman started in 1967. The woman’s Irish Times trophy was first presented in 1970.

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.

Race Course

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.

Past Winners

  Men Ladies
Year Name Club Name Club
1931 James P. Wallace Dublin University    
1932 Stanley J. Scully Sandycove    
1933 Diarmuid Murtagh Dublin SC & Pegasus    
1934 Diarmuid Murtagh Dublin SC & Pegasus    
1935 Diarmuid Murtagh Dublin SC & Pegasus    
1936 Leo O’Brien Sandycove    
1937 Richard Nicholls Case Clontarf    
1938 Richard Nicholls Case Clontarf    
1939 Richard Nicholls Case Clontarf    
1940 William H.H. Deane Sandycove    
1941 William H.H. Deane Sandycove    
1942 William Haskins Ashmore Dublin University    
1943 William Haskins Ashmore Dublin University    
1944 Richard Nicholls Case Clontarf    
1945 Desmond Corbett Bray Cove    
1946 Richard Nicholls Case Clontarf    
1947 William Patrick Hawkins Dublin    
1948 Desmond Corbett Bray Cove    
1949 William Patrick Hawkins Dublin    
1950 JPD “Jack” Cassidy Clontarf    
1951 Joseph Christopher Hogan Pembroke    
1952 JPD “Jack” Cassidy Clontarf    
1953 Ronald J. Wilson Sandycove & UCD    
1954 Gerard Francis Callanan Pembroke    
1955 Ronald J. Wilson Sandycove & UCD    
1956 Gerard Francis Callanan Pembroke    
1957 James O’Connor Sandycove    
1958 James O’Connor Sandycove    
1959 James O’Connor Sandycove    
1960 Rory O’Connor Colmcille    
1961 Rory O’Connor Colmcille    
1962 Nicholas Smith Dublin    
1963 Donnacha O’Dea Colmcille    
1964 Desmond Carney Colmcille    
1965 Liam Mortimer North Dublin    
1966 Liam Mortimer North Dublin    
1967 Donnacha O’Dea Colmcille Catherine Strecker Cormorant
1968 Frank O’Dwyer Guinness Helen Sterry Guinness
1969 Francis White Guinness Carmel Satel Cormorant
1970 Francis White Guinness Brenda McGrory Cormorant
1971 Peter McKenna Nomads Terry Mason Otter
1972 Francis White Guinness Brenda McGrory Cormorant
1973 Thomas P. Farrelly Half Moon Bernadette Byrne Guinness
1974 Francis White Guinness Barbara Conway Glenalbyn
1975 Joseph Browne North Dublin Michelle Garway Glenalbyn
1976 Patrick Quinlan Guinness Antonette Finlay Terenure
1977 Patrick Mullally Templeogue College Deirdre Harkness Dublin
1978 David Cummins Cormorant Cliona Johnstone Cormorant
1979 Kevin Williamson Terenure Ann Cummins Cormorant
1980 Michael McCann Terenure Sarah O’Doherty Glenalbyn
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
2016 Josh Reilly Sandycove Yvonne McCarthy Eastern Bay
2017 Frank Chatham North Dublin Sarah Browne Glenalbyn
2018 Gavin Nolan North Dublin Clodagh Kiernan Garda

Winners of the Dún Laoghaire Harbour Swim Sealed Handicap 1937–1963 and 1977

Year Name Club
1937 Kenneth O’Grady Clontarf SC
1938 J Quinn Clontarf SC
1939 Derek Maddison Pembroke SC
1940 Jimmy Rafter Half Moon SC
1941 C Brady Sandycove SC
1942 B Phelan Sandycove SC
1943 William H Ashmore Sandycove & Dublin University SC
1944 Stanley J Scully North Dublin SC
1945 J Cummins Sandycove SC
1946 NR†
1947 Henry B Dennis North Dublin SC
1948 T Healy Dalkey SC
1949 Edward Williams Tullamore SC
1950 Thomas Dennis North Dublin SC
1951 E English Dublin SC
1952 Not Available§
1953 Edward Williams Tullamore SC
1954 Edward Williams Tullamore SC
1955 K McCann Pembroke SC
1956 George Summerville Dublin SC
1957 P Blessing Colmcille SC
1958 P O’Kelly Sandycove SC
1959 D McDowell Pembroke SC
1960 Donald Potter Clontarf SC
1961 Paul Emmett Half Moon SC
1962 Cyril Hardy Colmcille SC
1963 Anthony O’Sullivan Guinness SC
1977 Joe McLoughlin North Dublin SC

† Result not recorded in newspaper reports
§ There was a Dublin newspaper strike from 11 July to 29 August, 1952
Compiled by Cyril J Smyth, Trinity College Dublin

Winners of the Dún Laoghaire Harbour Swim Team Prize 1937–2017

Year Club
1937 Clontarf SC/Sandycove SC tie
1938 Clontarf SC
1939 Clontarf SC
1940 Sandycove SC
1941 Sandycove SC
1942 Sandycove SC
1943 Clontarf SC
1944 Clontarf SC
1945 No team prize¶
1946 Clontarf SC
1947 Clontarf SC
1948 Clontarf SC
1949 Clontarf SC
1950 Pembroke SC
1951 North Dublin SC
1952 Not available§
1953 North Dublin SC
1954 Pembroke SC
1955 Pembroke SC
1956 Pembroke SC
1957 Pembroke SC
1958 Pembroke SC
1959 Pembroke SC
1960 Pembroke SC
1961 Pembroke SC
1962 Half Moon SC
1963 Colmcille SC
1964 Half Moon SC
1965 Not Available‡
1966 Half Moon SC
1967 Colmcille SC
1968 Half Moon SC
1969 Half Moon SC
1970 Guinness SC
1971 Guinness SC
1972 Guinness SC
1973 Half Moon SC
1974 Marian SC
1975 Half Moon SC
1976 Templeogue SC
1977 Templeogue SC
1978 Half Moon SC
1979 Terenure SC
1980 Dublin SC
1981 Sandycove SC
1982 Half Moon SC
1983 Half Moon SC
1984 Half Moon SC
1985 Half Moon SC
1986 Sandycove SC
1987 Half Moon SC
1988 Guinness SC
1989 St Vincent’s SC
1990 Half Moon SC
1991 St Vincent’s SC
1992 Terenure College SC
1993 Terenure College SC
1994 Terenure College SC
1995 Terenure College SC
1996 Terenure College SC
1997 St Vincent’s SC
1998 St Vincent’s SC
1999 Half Moon SC
2000 Millennium SC
2001 St Vincent’s SC
2002 Guinness SC
2003 Sandycove SC
2004 NR†
2005 Half Moon SC
2006 Half Moon SC
2007 Glenalbyn Masters SC
2008 Half Moon SC
2009 Sandycove SC
2010 Templeogue SC
2011 Half Moon SC
2012 NAC Masters
2013 Glenalbyn Masters
2014 Half Moon SC
2015 Sandycove SC
2016 North Dublin SC
2017 North Dublin SC

¶ Only 10 swimmers in race – 3 clubs had two finishers, 4 only one finisher
§ There was a Dublin newspaper strike from 11 July to 29 August, 1952
‡ There was a Dublin newspaper strike from 3 July to 9 September, 1965
† Not reported in newspapers
Compiled by Cyril J Smyth, Trinity College Dublin

Dún Laoghaire

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.