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The Dublin and Kingstown (now Dún Laoghaire) Railway was the first suburban railway in the world. The line began operating in 1834 and was built by William Dargan, an engineer from County Laois.
The idea for the railway arose from proposals by the merchants of Dublin to link the city with Dún Laoghaire Harbour, because the levels of silt at Dublin Port meant that large ships could no longer dock there and instead called at Dún Laoghaire. The line ran from Westland Row (Pearse Street) to Seapoint and shortly after was extended to Dún Laoghaire. Blackrock Station opened on 17 December 1834.
Blackrock once had a natural coastline which ran along the Rock Road. This disappeared when the train line was built in 1834 making the space between the road and the track into a marsh. Before the line was built, the locals used the beach as a bathing area.
This marsh area was the cause of local nuisance, as even though water would flow in and out with the tide, it was not enough to wash the area out. This made the marsh very unpleasant to the nose. It was later decided by the Blackrock Towns Commissioners to fill in the area and construct the Blackrock Park in 1873. The granite gates at the main entrance once belonged to a house called Vauxhall and the gardens at the entrance were part of the gardens of the old house.
In 2007, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council published plans for the conservation and development of the park. The plans include extensive redevelopment of the course of the Priory River, as well as refurbishment of several of the buildings within the park.
Blackrock baths were provided for by the railway company in 1839 and were built beside the Blackrock train station. A special train ticket also permitted entrance to the baths. In 1887, the baths were rebuilt in concrete with a large gentlemen’s bath and a smaller ladies’ bath. In 1928, the Urban District Council bought the baths for £2,000 and readied them for the Tailteann Games. The baths, with a 50-metre pool, were well known for their swimming galas and water polo and could accommodate up to 1,000 spectators. Eddie Heron lived in Sandycove and is known for his achievement as 36 years undefeated Springboard and Highboard Diving Champion of Ireland. A plaque commemorating him is on the railway bridge that crosses over to the baths.