The King of Dalkey welcomes you to the Guinea Pig Restaurant


King Mervyn 1 was crowned with due pomp and ceremony in July 1986, attended by his Princes, Pages and Maids of Honour and in the presence of his loyal subjects, after which there were festivities lasting a whole week. The Origin in the 1790's of this delightful nonsense is recorded below, but the following extract from "The Dalkey Gazette Extraordinary" of September 22nd 1972 is worth mentioning:


"The deputation from the states of Lambay, Ireland's Eye and the Muglins, and from the Holy Knights of the Magee, came to lay their annual tribute at his Majesty's feet, consisting of three milk white rabbits, three young sea-gulls, three large lobster, a firkin of mushrooms, a firkin of oysters, do. Cockles, an antique mether of whiskey, a wreath of mistletoe and a robe of sea-wrack"


With a note that sea-gull no longer features in our menu, we have reproduced below some details published in 1867 on the origin of the Kingdom about 1790, followed, on a more serious note, by some details of Dalkey's mediaeval origins written by Harry Latham, our noted local historian.

"THE KINGDOM OF DALKEY" and its officers of State etc., etc., eighty years ago

(Harry Latham 1986)

In the last century, a curious convivial society or club was established in Dublin, which existed for a considerable time, until it became the parent of secret democratic societies, in connection with the French Revolutionists. Most of the wits and gay fellows of the middle and liberal class of society were members of it. Its president was styled "King of Dalkey, Emperor of the Muglins, Prince of the Holy Island Magee, and Elector of Lambay and Ireland's Eye, defender of his own Faith and Respecter of all others, and Sovereign of the Most Illustrious Order of the Lobster and Periwinkle." Proclamations in connection with this mimic kingdom were issued from "The Palace, Fownes'-street". The last and most popular King of Dalkey was a very respectable bookseller and pawnbroker of Dublin - Stephen Armitage, who reigned under the title of

"King Stephen the First."


"George has the wealth the dev'l and all,
Him we may King of Diamonds call;
But Thou hast much persuasive arts,
We hail thee Stephen, King of Hearts."

The members of this society met once a year on Dalkey Island, to choose a king and state officers, the monarchy being elective. Strictly limited - that is, to extend - the people were averse to foreign conquest and standing armies. The point and intention of this original travestie of fun and festivity, was to relive, in a humourous and satirical vein, the events of the past year, and to discuss the question of interest affecting political topics of the day, the short-comings of the the government, and the state of European affairs generally. All the nobility of this petit kingdom were at one time wits, orators, and generally first-rate vocalists, and the royal visitors were supposed to be similarly gifted. The proceedings of these summer reunions, with a full report of the coronation sermons, as preached in the ruined church on the island, which was call Dalkey Cathedral, pere published in most of the Dublin papers - more expecially in Cooney's Morning Post, the politics of which were very democratic. The Dalkey Gazette formed a portion of this journal. This paper is now difficult to be met with. At the conclusion of the coronation revels, which generally took place on a a Sunday in the end of August or beginning of September, an ode, composed for the occasion, was sung by all the people, and the whole ceremony finished by a feast on the rocks; after which his Majesty and his officers of state embarded in pomp, followed by his people.


Harry Latham

Dalkey, (Deilginnis) takes its name from the island just off the coast, hereabouts. It means Thorn Island - in fact the island is the shape of a thorn, and the Book of the Four Masters in A.D. 727 mentions that "a cow was seen at Deilginnis-Cualann, having one head and one body as far as the shoulders, and two bodies from her shoulders hinderwards, and two tails; she had six legs, was milked three times each day, and her mild was more adundent each time".
The next mention of Dalkey is under A.D.938, recording the drowning of Coibhdeanagh, Abbott of Cill-achaidh, in the sea of Deilginnis-Cualann, while fleeing from the foreigners (Vikings). A few years later (A.D. 942) the same foreigners were defeated by the Irish, their capital, Ath-Cliath, was destroyed, "by killing and drowning, burning and capturing, excepting a small number who fled in a few ships, and reached Deilginnis".
In early Christian times, the mainland district of Dalkey was known as Kilbegnet - the Parish of St. Begnet. In the calendars of two ancient manuscript Breviaries, now in the Library of Trinity College, Dublin, she is commemorated under November 12th, and is styled Virgo non Martyr.
Dalton in his "History of Co. Dublin" states that in 1176 Hugh de Lacy gave Dalkey to the Archbishop and that in 1200 the latter was granted a weekly market and an annual fair here. In 1230 the Archbishop received a confirmation of his right to Dalkey and the Island, c.1272 his prise of fish and the pasturate of the Island are mentioned.
Dalkey attainded the importance that it held for 400 years (12th-16th century) because the Norman ships could not negotiate the entrance to the River Liffey owing to its shallowness or to a bar near its mouth. The ships anchored in the Sound of Dalkey (St.Begnet's Sea) which have shelter, especially in the N.E and S.W. gales. They unloaded their passengers and cargoes into little shell-boats - some boats went direct to Carnan (Ringsend) within the Liberities of Dublin, others landed on the coast opposite the Island from whence they were brought to the walled Norman town of Dalkey, which contained seven castles. A few of these castles were warehouses to hold goods for later transfer by road six Irish miles to the City of Dublin.
The first mention we have of a Mayor (Bailiff) of Dalkey is this account:- "In 1260 a man called de Sivoreford (possibly Icelandic 'Seythisffordr') following the theft of an anchor, fled to the chapel on Dalkey Island and, in the presence of Simon the clerk and of the Bailiff of Dalkey, gave a solemn undertaking not to reside on the Archbishop's lands". Another account in 1360 states that "the Sheriff of Dublin and the Provost and bailiff of Dalkey town received the royal command to permit the departure of a Spanish ship that had been stopped to convey the Prior of St. John of Jerusalem, Chancellor of Ireland, as he was not then prepared to travel".
In 1387 Sir John de Stanley, Deputy to the Marquess of Dublin, Lord Lieutenant, landed here, as did, in 1414, Sir John Talbot (later Lord Shrewsbury) Lord Lieutenant, whose brother Richard Talbot, Archbishop (1418-1449), was granted by royal decree that his bailiff should be Admiral of the Port of Dalkey.
In 1451, King Henry VI of England appointed James Prendergast, alias Collyn, Clerk of the Hanaper (Stocks), to be Bailiff of Dalkey. A few years later Mayor Prendergast was to be fined by the Crown for not keeping the stocks in good repair.