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Swords (Sord) is a town 12 km north of Dublin, with a population in 2011 of 42,738. It's historically in County Dublin, which in 1994 was divided, with Swords becoming the county town of Fingal. Dublin Airport is within the town limits and much of Swords is industrial or commuterland for the city, but with an ancient castle and Round Tower. It has lots of accommodation and other visitor facilities.

Understand[edit]

Pure as the driven snow: Swords well, blessed by St Colmcille

The town dates back to 560 AD when in legend Saint Colmcille (521–567) blessed the local well, hence sord meaning "clear" or "pure". He's also called St Columba, and founded Iona Abbey and many other churches and monasteries across Scotland and Ireland. A monastery needs a reliable unpolluted water supply, so it's plausible that he took a taste and declared "That's fine, let's build it here." The town grew up along the line of the present Main Street, along a ridge which turns the River Ward north. While Dublin was only slowly getting started, Swords looks to have been an important early medieval settlement, part of the territory of Fingal, so its status since 1994 as Fingal's county town has over a millennium brought it full circle.

Swords Village is town centre. It consists of Main Street, The Plaza, Town Centre Mall and the Swords Pavilions and Swords Central shopping centres. This area contains most of the shops, restaurants, bars, clubs and hotels. Swords Castle, St Colmcille's Well and St Columba's Round Tower are also here.

Dublin Airport is the behemoth that has grown up 3 km south. It opened in 1940, and grew and grew with the boom in air traffic, the budget carrier Ryanair, and the end of restrictions that had tied US flights to Shannon and European flights to subsidised flag-carriers. Along with it grew industry and air freight, and facilities such as hotels and inter-city coach connections that you might use even if you're not flying.

"Airside" is the confusing name of the retail and business park 1 km south of Swords Village, with hotels, restaurants and shops. The name implies that it's behind a security cordon, but it's simply an edge-of-town development with lots of jets whistling low overhead.

Donabate is a village on the peninsula north of Swords, with Newbridge House, golf and sandy beaches. It's closer to Malahide as the crow flies but with no road bridge, so it's easiest to reach from Swords and is described on this page.

Get in[edit]

See Dublin for long-distance travel options. From within Ireland, simplest is to drive or take the bus.

By plane[edit]

1 Dublin Airport (DUB IATA) is just 5 km south of the centre of Swords. There's a wide selection of flights across UK, Europe and North America, and a few to the Gulf States. You can reach Swords directly from the airport in 10 min by bus, taxi (reckon €10) or rental car - all the main operators are represented in Arrivals.

The buses to Swords depart from stop 7348 in Zone 13, signposted from Arrivals. Dublin Bus 41 runs to Swords Manor every 20 min via Pinnockhill, Swords Pavilions, Main Street, Rathbeale Road, Murrough Road and Brackenstown. Bus 102 runs to Sutton Station every 30 min via Forest Road, River Valley, Swords Pavilions and Malahide Road. Cash fare is €2.15 to Main Street and €2.60 to go further. You need exact change in coins if you pay on the bus, otherwise buy from the ticket machine near the stop or from the newsagent in Arrivals. Luggage space is limited, and drivers occasionally turn away travellers with packs that cannot be stored. This is unlikely to happen between airport and Swords, it's more of a problem between airport and central Dublin, with droves of budget travellers trying to save €4 over the fare for the dedicated airport bus.

Many hotels in Swords have a shuttle bus to and from the airport.

By train[edit]

There is no rail service to Swords. The metro line between Swords, the airport and central Dublin is supposed to be completed in 2027, but that's probably just a typo for "2207" since the budget has already escalated to squillions of euros. Until then, the closest is 2 Malahide, which has frequent DART and commuter trains from Dublin Connolly and other city stations. The commuter trains continue north to Donabate (for Newbridge Demesne) and Drogheda, for trains from Belfast, which don't stop at Malahide.

Dublin Bus 102 runs every 30 min from stop 3634 across the road from Malahide station to Swords (15 min) and the airport.

Inter-city trains from Belfast, Sligo and Rosslare run to Dublin Connolly Station. Go downstairs and exit onto Amiens Street, cross, and walk down Talbot Street until you reach Gardiner Street. Turn left here and find bus stop 1171 on the right, for the 33 or 41 bus to Swords.

Trains from Waterford, Cork, Limerick and Galway converge on Dublin Heuston Station in the west of the city. From Heuston ride the tram towards The Point or Connolly for 5 stops and get off at Abbey Street. A little further up that street are bus stops OW and OX on the left, for buses to Swords.

By car[edit]

Better to hire a car at the airport than in town

Best for car rental is the airport, rather than Swords or Dublin city centre.

Swords is along the M1 motorway between Dublin and Belfast. From Dublin head north, pass the M50 junction and airport and take exit 3 into Swords. From Belfast, Lisburn, Newry, Dundalk or Drogheda follow A1/M1 towards Dublin and take Exit 4. From Derry, Letterkenny, Omagh or Monaghan follow A5/N2 towards Dublin; at Ardee turn off onto the N33 link road to join M1 south until exit 4.

All other routes across Ireland converge on Dublin's ring road M50. Join it northbound till it meets M1, then follow signs for Belfast and take exit 3.

Car parking in Swords is seldom a problem.

By bus[edit]

Inter-city: Dublin Airport is in effect the area's coach hub, as services across Ireland run from here, so even if you're not flying it's more convenient to come this way rather than via Dublin city centre. The main operator is Bus Éireann but they have several competitors. Buses run to Belfast, Derry, Letterkenny, Donegal Town, Sligo, Ballina, Galway, Limerick, Cork, Waterford and Wexford; see each individual city's "Get in" for other operators. Between Swords and the airport take bus 41 or 102 as above.

Bus Éireann 101 runs every 20 min from Swords north to Balrothery, Balbriggan and Drogheda. Southbound it runs to the airport and city but is not available for journeys just between the city, airport and Swords.

Go Ahead Bus 197 from the airport runs hourly via Swords west to Ashbourne.

Central Dublin: Swords Express is the quickest and easiest. These bright red buses run at least every 30 min from Eden Quay via North Wall Quay and East Wall Road (for the port) then dive through the tunnel. They take 30 min to Swords, stopping at Holywell, Boroimhe, Forest Road, Swords Pavilions, Applewood and Brackenstown. Cash fares are €3.20 (€4.20 at peak times, €5.20 late night). Leap fares are €3 (€4 at peak times, €5 late night).

Dublin Bus routes 33, 41, 41b and 41c from the city are frequent, congested and slow. These run every few minutes from Lower Abbey Street (stops OW and OX) via Gardiner Street, Drumcondra Road and Swords Road. They take about an hour and all serve Swords Main Street; buses 41 and 41b also serve Rathbeale Road while bus 41c runs to Boroimhe, River Valley and Applewood. The fare is €3.05 cash (exact coins only) or €2.50 by Leap card.

Around Dublin: Dublin Buses to Swords from around the city are:

  • 33 / 33a from Balbriggan, Skerries, Rush and Lusk
  • 33b from Portraine and Donabate
  • 41b from Rolestown
  • 41x from UCD Belfield and Donnybrook
  • 43 from Eden Quay, Artane and Malahide Road
  • 102 from Sutton, Portmarnock and Malahide

By boat[edit]

See Dublin for details of ferries to Dublin Port from Liverpool, Holyhead and Isle of Man; the port of Dún Laoghaire is no longer used.

From the port, with your own car follow signs for the M50 Tunnel. Tolls are €10 peak, €3 off-peak. Continue north on M1 (signed for the airport and Belfast) until you see the exit for Swords. On foot, walk to East Wall Road near the tunnel entrance for the bus stop for the Swords Express as above.

If you're using Swords as a base for touring the north, another ferry route is the short crossing from Cairnryan near Stranraer to Belfast, then drive south on M1.

Get around[edit]

Constable Tower, Swords Castle

Walking is the easiest way to travel around the centre of Swords, and all of town is within a 2.5-km radius.

Cycling is also a good option; several roads have bike lanes. There's no bike hire in Swords.

Buses are frequent - route 41 / 41c is generally the most useful. Exact change only, and it's cheaper with a pre-paid Leap card - see Dublin#Get around. Leap cards are not valid on Swords Express.

Donabate railway station is near Newbridge Demesne and has frequent commuter trains from Dublin Connolly via Malahide, heading for Drogheda. This isn't convenient for Swords but is the simplest way to reach Newbridge from central Dublin.

Taxi stands are at County Hall, Chapel Lane and Pavilions Shopping Centre. Journeys within Swords and to the airport cost €10-15. Firms in 2020 were:

See[edit]

St Columba's Church and Round Tower
  • 1 Swords Castle, Swords Town Park (entrances on Bridge St and North St), +353 1 890 5600. Mar-Sep: Tu-Su 09:30-17:00, Oct-Feb: Tu-Su 09:30-16:00. Built as a residence for the Archbishop of Dublin in the 13th century; not primarily defensive but a curtain wall encloses a large pentagonal courtyard. The building interiors are closed for interminable renovations, though group tours can be arranged. The surviving buildings include the northern tower (the Constable's residence), the chapel, and the southern gatehouse. The courtyard is open to visit and is often used for events, and the castle as a film and TV location. Free.
  • 2 St Columba’s Church, Church Road, Swords Glebe. Closed. The C of I church was built in Gothic style 1811-18 over a monastic settlement founded by St Colmcille / Columba. Its Round Tower, occasionally open in summer, is probably 9th century, and the square Clock Tower is 14th. The church has lost its roof and has been closed for repairs for some years.
  • 3 St Colmcille’s Well may be where Swords got its name - the sord (clear or pure) water source blessed by St Colmcille. It's on Well Road at the base of the little triangular park bounded by Church Rd. All you see from the street is a hand-pump and a locked chamber with a cross on its gate.
  • 4 Swords Museum, Carnegie Library, North St, +353 1 840 0080, . M-F 14:00-16:30. Within the 1909 Carnegie Library, Swords Historical Society run a small museum and genealogy centre. Free.
  • 5 St Colmcille’s Church, Chapel Lane, Swords Demesne, +353 1 840 7277. RC church built in 1827 - at some peril, for although support for Catholic emancipation was gaining ground, the Penal Laws weren't repealed until 1829. The graveyard contains many interesting headstones, including one for Andrew Kettle (1833-1916), a key supporter of Parnell’s campaign for land reform. Another, to Patrick Carey who was only 30 when he died in 1879, has become enfolded by the tree planted at his grave. Free.
  • 6 Fingal County Hall, Main St, +353 1 890 5000, . M-F 09:30-16:30. This plate-glass affair facing the castle was built in 2000 on the site of Swords House, the home of the Norman family of Taylors of Swords. It won an architectural award so it's probably a mercy that it's screened by mature trees. Just to make sure, they put one within, a Himalayan cedar in the courtyard. The County Council have a branch office in Blanchardstown. Free.
  • 7 Ward River Valley Park is a pleasant green strip, with multiple access points 24 hours. The small river flows east almost to Main Street, then turns north through town to join the estuary.
  • 8 Glasmore Abbey is a scrappy ruin in a park. It was founded in 660 AD by St Cronan Mochua, but he was killed in a Viking raid. 150 m southwest is the site of St Cronan's Well.
  • 9 Broadmeadow Estuary is the tidal lagoon and nature reserve northeast of town, bounded by the railway embankment, with many resident and migratory birds. Simplest access is along its south bank, Estuary Rd, taking the footpath towards Malahide to get away from the din of the M1 flyover.
  • 10 Newbridge Demesne, Hearse Rd, Donabate (Bus 33b from Swords or train to Donabate), +353 1 890 5629, . Apr-Sept daily, Oct-Mar Tu-Su, 09:30-17:00. The House is a plush Georgian villa, built in 1747 for Charles Cobbe, Archbishop of Dublin. It remained in the Cobbe family until 1985, when they sold it to the County Council but are still resident. Entry by guided tour; this ticket also includes the Traditional Farm, which you can buy separately. There's also a walled garden, and extensive parkland (free, open daylight hours). Lanestown Castle is a scenic stump within the grounds. House adult €12, child €7, conc €8.50.
  • Donabate the village east of Newbridge Demesne is on a peninsula between the Broadmeadow and Rogerstown estuaries, with long sandy beaches and five golf courses.
  • Portrane is 1 km north of Donabate, with a small medieval castle (no access), a Martello Tower, a tumbledown medieval church and a Round Tower. The coast here suffers from erosion.

Do[edit]

Swords courthouse
  • Gaelic games still reflect the traditional county structure, with a single County Dublin GAA. Local club side Fingallians play football, hurling and camogie, based at Lawless Memorial Park, one km north of town centre on R132. If these games seem a little violent to the new spectator, it's because you've strayed into the area used by Kyokushinkai Karate Association.
  • Cinema: Movies@Swords is within Pavilions Shopping Centre.
  • Gym: Integrity Fitness are on Main St by the castle. Their shortest membership package is one week.
  • 1 Kilronan Equestrian Centre, Kettles Lane, Cloghran K67 W822, +353 87 259 6020, . Tu-F 10:00-20:00, Sa 09:00-17:00. This offers lessons and treks for all standards and ages.
  • Lots more equestrian centres in the vicinity, Swords is where Dublin comes for horse riding.
  • 2 Balheary Shooting, Pitt Rd, Balheary K67 ER20, +353 1 807 8814, . W-Su 10:00-20:00. This has two Olympic skeet ranges, two down-the-line ranges, 10 English sporting stands, Compak sporting and a 120 ft tower.
  • Sailing: see Malahide, the Swords BC and Malahide YC are 500 m apart along the estuary south shore.

Golf[edit]

Events[edit]

  • 8 National Show Centre is in Cloghran, off R132 between Swords and the airport. Frequent events, mostly open to the public, eg the Irish Kennel Club hold a dog show here most weeks.
  • St Patrick's Day is on 17 March, whenever that falls in the week. The Swords parade starts at noon, heading down Dublin Road, Main St and North St. It's followed in the afternoon by Irish dancing, events at the Castle and a Fun Fair.
  • Flavours of Fingal is the County Agricultural Show (livestock, equestrian events, equipment displays, and horticulture) combined with a Food & Drink Fair. Plus music and family entertainments. It's held at Newbridge Demesne (see above) on the last weekend in June. The next is probably 26-27 June 2022 but tbc.
  • County Flower Show is held on the early August Bank Holiday in St Colmcille’s GAA on Glen Ellen Road. The next is Mon 1 Aug 2022.

Buy[edit]

Fingal County Hall
  • Swords Central is the shopping centre on Main St in town centre. The Post Office is in here.
  • 1 Swords Pavilions, Malahide Rd, +353 1 890-4580, . This shopping centre is one block back from Main Street. The largest shops are Dunnes Stores, Superquinn, TK Maxx, Zara, H&M and River Island.
  • 2 Airside Retail Park is no such thing, it's ground-side of course, on R125.

Eat[edit]

  • Butlers Chocolate Café, Swords Pavilions Shopping Centre, Malahide Rd, +353 1 807 4020, . Daily 08:00-19:00. Coffee, cake, chocolate and light bites, whenever you're ready for a sit-down in the shopping centre.
  • 1 Wine House Restaurant (formerly Dowler's), 18 Main St, +353 1 813 7876. Daily 12:00-22:00. Mediterranean food.
  • 2 Eddie Rocket's, Main St, +353 1 840 5969. Daily 12:00-22:00. US retro-style chain diner: burgers, wings and similar fare.
  • 3 Gourmet Food Parlour, Unit 2 St Fintans, North St, +353 1 897 1496, . M Tu 09:00-17:00, Su W 09:00-20:00, Th-Sa 09:00-21:00. Bright modern restaurant with Med-style meals.
  • 4 The Italian Kitchen, Stockhole Lane, Swords, Clonshaugh (off M1 / M50 junction, take R139). M-Sa 17:30-22:00, Su 16:30-21:30. Italian restaurant near Dublin Airport. €13-28.
  • McLoughlins Restaurant is within Roganstown Hotel, see Sleep. It's open daily 18:00-21:45.
  • 5 Old Schoolhouse, Church Rd, Swords K67 Y935, +353 1 840 2846, . M-Th 10:30-23:30, F Sa 10:30-00:30, Su 12:30-23:00. Locally-sourced steak, game and seafood are specialties. Limited menu but great quality and service, sometimes has live music. The bar has TV sports and there's a beer garden.
  • 6 d'Chilli Shaker, 32-36 Main St, +353 1 840 9080, fax: +353 1 840 9081, . M-Sa 12:00-14:30, 17:00-23:00; Su 13:00-23:00. Indian restaurant gets consistently good reviews for cuisine and service.
  • 7 Indie Spice, Burgundy House, Forster Way, +353 1 807 7999, fax: +353 1 807 7535. Daily 17:00-22:30. Good Indian restaurant, all the classics and vegetarian choice, though limited options for vegans.

Drink[edit]

Broad Meadow Estuary
  • 1 The Cock Tavern, 31 Main St, +353 1 840-5366, . M-Th 11:30-23:30, F-Su 11:30-00:30. It's been a pub since the 18th century. Done out in old-world style with Liscannor slated floors, old oak and pine beams fused together with brick and granite walls and warm wooden floors. And good beer, food an atmosphere as well.
  • 2 The Estuary, North St, +353 1 840 7499. Daily 10:30-00:30. Friendly traditional pub, often has live music.
  • 3 The Old Borough, 72 Main St, +353 1 895-7445, . Daily 07:00-23:30. Designed by Francis Johnston of GPO fame, the Old Borough School was open 1809 to 2000; it's now a JD Wetherspoon.
  • 4 The Pound, Bridge St, +353 1 840 2223. Su 12:00-23:00, M Th-Sa 10:30-23:30, Tu W 13:00-23:30. This pub has great atmosphere with food served all day and live music Saturday nights. The original Pound was the adjacent land where stray animals were held.
  • 5 The Coachman's Inn, Swords Rd, Cloghran (half a mile north of airport). Daily 09:00-00:30. Bar and grill, good Sunday carvery.
  • Rouge Nightclub is within Carnegie Court Hotel, see "Sleep", but the guests won't.
  • 6 Wrights Cafe Bar, The Plaza, Malahide Rd, +353 1 840 6744, . Tu-Su 12:00-02:30, M 12:00-23:30. The upper level lounge, with dramatic red and cream furniture, dark wood tables and chandeliers, gives a distinctive ‘bordello’ effect. Behind the bar, there’s a secluded lounge that overlooks an open-plan area below, complete with a stage for dancing to live music.

Sleep[edit]

"Lay down those Swords!" - St Colmcille or Columba lays it on the line for the Picts

See Dublin for accommodation and other amenities close to the airport, i.e. so close that you'd travel that way to reach them even if you weren't flying.

Budget[edit]

  • No campsites or caravan parks near Swords.
  • 1 Forty Four Hotel (formerly Hawthorn Hotel), 44 Main St, Swords K67 AH28, +353 1 840 1308, . Pleasant hotel with 14 rooms in town centre. Public bar is open daily 09:00-23:30, food served to 21:00. Double (room only) €75.
  • 2 Travelodge Swords, Pinnock Hill Roundabout, Swords K67 K6R2, +353 1 807 9400, fax: +353 1 840 9235, . Reliable budget chain with comfy rooms, 500 m south of Swords Main Street. Parking €5 / night during stay, no long-stay parking. It's on bus route 41 to airport and central Dublin. B&B double €90.
  • 3 Premier Inn Dublin Airport, Lakeshore Drive, Airside Retail Park, Swords K67 E4A6, +353 1 895 7777, fax: +353 1 895 7700, . Reliable comfy budget chain. It's called "Dublin Airport" but is closer to Swords, about 1 km south of town centre. Free parking during stay, but no long-stay parking. A shuttle bus runs every 30 min between hotel and airport Zone 16 in centre concourse between T1 and T2, adult €2. Double (room only) €45, breakfast €10 pp.
  • 4 San Augustine B&B, 21A Rathbeale Rd, Swords K67 ET02 (On Bus route 41 to airport and Dublin), +353 1 840 8729, . Pleasant B&B in detached, modern town house. Five minutes walk to Swords. B&B double €80.
  • 5 Evergreen B&B, 13 Balheary Ave, Swords K67 D2V3, +353 1 840 3886, . Friendly well-run B&B 3 km north of Swords. B&B double €75.
  • 6 Rathview House, 3 Rathbeale Court, Swords K67 PP98, +353 1 840 4443, . Clean welcoming B&B in a detached Georgian town house. It's in a quiet leafy cul de sac 500 m west of Swords main street, and on the 41 bus route to airport and Dublin. Closed through summer 2020.
  • 7 Seamount House, 18 Seamount View, Malahide Rd, Swords K67 Y778, +353 1 840 5933, . Comfortable and friendly B&B in quiet cul de sac on the eastern edge of Swords, 1 km from town centre. No credit cards. B&B double €80.
  • 8 Tirconaill, 2 Longlands, Malahide Rd, Swords K67 V832, +353 1 840 7962, . Pleasant B&B close to centre of Swords. Free private parking at the rear of the house. B&B double €85.
  • 9 Highfield House, 9 Forest Rd, Swords K67 CT96, +353 1 840 7989, fax: +353 1 840 7989, . Well-run B&B, clean and comfy. 100 m from Dublin Road with bus 102 and 41c to airport and Swords Express to city. Closed through summer 2020.
  • 10 Collinswood, 1A Rathbeale Rd, Swords K67 P8X3, +353 1 840 0966, . B&B with four rooms in modern home 500 m west of town centre. On bus route to airport and Dublin. Closed through summer 2020.
  • 11 Ard Cill, Rath Lane, Rowlestown K67 WK46 (5 km west of Swords), +353 1 840 5172, fax: +353 1 845 1716. B&B in peaceful setting in countryside, you need a car. Local activities include horse-riding and golf. Closed through summer 2020.

Mid-range[edit]

  • 12 Carnegie Court Hotel, North St, Swords K67 W4A9, +353 1 840 4384, . Three-star hotel on Main Street, serves a lot of functions and can be noisy especially from nightclub. Courtyard Restaurant is open daily 17:30-21:00, but it's likewise geared towards large groups and events.
  • 13 Emmaus Centre, Ennis Lane, Lissenhall K67 Y274, +353 1 870 0050, fax: +353 1 840 8248, . Spiritual retreat and conference centre in 10 acres of tranquil grounds with bosky paths, gardens and a river walk. It offers modern accommodation in 62 ensuite rooms, some of which are wheelchair accessible. Most guests are attending conferences or organised retreats but they can accommodate individuals. B&B single €70, double €110.
  • 14 Kettle's Country House Hotel, Ashbourne Rd, Lispopple K67 HC57 (8 km northwest of Swords on R125), +353 1 813 8511, . This three-star countryside hotel has 25 bedrooms and a range of special events facilities. With restaurant and bar food. B&B double €120.
  • 15 Harap Farm Self Catering, Harap Farm, Magillstown K67 D9N1 (5 km north of Swords on Balheary Road), +353 1 840 1285, . Market-garden farm with two, three and five bedroom self catering houses, open all year. You need a car. No pets, but you can put your dog in the nearby kennels.
  • 16 [dead link] Abbey Glen Cottage B&B, 47 Dublin Rd, Swords K67 CT98, +353 1 813 8721, . Friendly comfy B&B, adults only. South edge of town but just a five minute stroll to Swords town centre. Five minutes drive from Dublin Airport. B&B double €80.

Splurge[edit]

Roganstown Bridge
  • 17 Roganstown Hotel and Country Club, Naul Rd, Roganstown K67 P2E4 (R108 five miles northwest of Swords), +353 1 843 3188, . Four-star hotel and Country Club out in the rolling hills. Rooms have wifi, mini bar, laptop safe, iron and ironing board, hairdryer, TV and tea/coffee making facilities. Facilities include restaurant, bar, leisure centre, pool, 18 hole golf course, wedding and conference venues and free car parking. No public transport but shuttle bus available to Swords or airport. B&B double from €150.
  • Heyward Mews just across the road from the country club, is available to let for self-catering by the week, and guests have full access to the leisure facilities there. Tel +353 1 201 8400 or email reservations@tridentholidayhomes.ie.

Connect[edit]

As of Sept 2021, Swords and the airport have 4G from Three and 5G from Eir and Vodafone. Wifi is widely available in town.

Go next[edit]

  • The City of Dublin has attractions and amenities aplenty.
  • Nearby Malahide has an impressive castle with gardens.
  • Drogheda to the north has the prehistoric stones and tombs of Brú na Bóinne, and the site of the Battle of the Boyne.
Routes through Swords
BelfastBalbriggan  N M1 motorway IE.png S  M50 motorway IE.pngDublin



This city travel guide to Swords is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.