by Malahide Historical Society
Up until the 1930s only a narrow track ran between Seabank and the Velvet Strand at Portmarnock. The dangerous nature of the road is illustrated by this 1904 newspaper report:
“A Kilkenny tourist was cycling back from the Irish Automobile Club races on Portmarnock Strand and within fifty yards of the Martello Tower (later known as Hick’s Tower) he lost control of his machine, and was thrown over the cliff, a distance of twenty foot, sustaining a broken arm and serious internal injuries. At the place where the accident occurred the cliff has been shored up by a concrete wall, the top of which is level with, and practically a part of, the roadway, so that anyone unacquainted with the locality would run serious risk”.In another later and more tragic incident a postman, John Hatch, died when early one foggy morning due to poor visibility his bike went over the edge. The track was of such concern to the local authority that it sought permission to close part of the road owing to its dangerous nature running alongside the sea cliffs. Permission was granted and the required prohibition sign was erected at both ends of the closed section. At that time it was unique in being the only public road in Ireland to be officially closed to motor traffic. In 1914 a Swords man was fined 5 shillings with 10 shillings costs for riding his motor-cycle along the prohibited road. When the sea wall at Robbs Walls suffered ‘sudden damage’ in November 1928, presumably storm damage, the Council agreed to spend £150 on a retaining wall, the contractor being Messrs. Bissett. The following year the Council accepted the tender of Patrick Bissett for the construction of a sea wall at Robbs Walls in Portland cement at a cost of £1-11-6 per cubic yard or £4-6-3 per lineal yard. Motor traffic was restricted to residents along the way and to emergency services including the clergy and local doctors. Dublin County Council agreed, in 1931, to spend £200 and employ fifteen men and four horses to widen the part of the road running from the baths behind the Grand Hotel to Muldowney. Some more widening was done the following year but the Council received a deputation on behalf of a number of carters using horse-drawn vehicles who had been dismissed from carting stones from Feltrim Quarry and had been substituted by motor haulage. In 1933, approval was received for the expenditure of £5,600 on the continuation of widening, new road construction, etc. on the Portmarnock-Malahide road, which became the road as we know it today.