In the summer of 2019 our family had the chance to spend almost three months in Dublin and I’ll try to tell you about everything interesting, popular or not, in the city. Overall, I wouldn’t say that I liked Dublin much, unlike Ireland. If you go out of the city everything is gorgeous, but Dublin itself not so much… There were amazing places, of course, and I will tell you about one of them now.
Howth Head was immortalised in James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’, and it’s not difficult to see why – prose, poetry and song are worthy tributes to the coastal beauty of the area.
Originally a small fishing village, Howth has grown to be a major coastal area with a busy fishing port. The town, with its maritime influences and historic roots, is full of variety, with wild moorland, and stunning cliff and coastal walks within easy reach.
Howth is on the DART line, meaning it’s super accessible from different parts of north and south Dublin, and even Bray and Greystones. The 31a bus also heads out that way from Talbot Street.
Howth Harbour dates back more than 200 years, with the West Pier being the eldest of the two that we have here. The harbour is one of the oldest working ones to date here in Ireland so although you’ll find that restaurants seem to have taken over. They have trawlers and smaller shellfish boats coming in and out of the harbour day in and day out, hauling fish whenever a boat lands. Howth is after all a traditional fishing village.
Very often you can see some seals on the West Pier, just swimming around and waiting for someone to throw food. Their begging practices got better through the years… If you throw a fish you will have them waving at you 🙂 Actually, I think that only one of them waves and locals have called him Sammy.
We went to Howth on several occasions, but saw the seals only once. My pictures are no good at all, so this one is from google. You can search for yourself and will find a lot more.
The East Pier, Howth’s more scenic of the two was built in 1807. With the ever popular lighthouse right at the end having been fully completed in 1821.
Additionally, the same year the lighthouse was finished, King George IV was said to have visited the town. Rumoured to have enjoyed his time here so much, a local stonemason carved his footprints into the stone at the end of the west pier. Those foot prints still remain there to this day and are popular among our visitors.
Through the years Howth harbour became one of the busiest in Ireland. Now, its fish restaurants are one of the best and you can taste fresh food every day. We tried the popular fish and chips and crab claws.
There are a few attractions in Howth and here are some of them:
The Hurdy Gurdy Vintage Radio museum is housed inn Dublin’s only renovated Martello Tower. It was reopened as a museum in 2003 by Pat Herbert, a local man who was on the lookout for a safe space for his huge selection of gramophones, radios and other vintage paraphernalia. Fingal county Council offered him the location to exhibit his collection. The museum is open daily from May to October, where in you will receive a guided tour by Pat himself and his generous team of volunteers who will happily give introductions about the equipment that’s laid out in this unique location.
The fee is 5 euro and you can see the working hours here.
You simply just simply cannot miss out on this cliff walk in your lifetime. The expansive panoramic views along with the fresh seaside air give you a new lease of life. Howth Cliff Walk isn’t too hard of a hike. For a walk that brings you so high and gives you such good views, I’d say it’s intermediate in terms of difficulty.
On the way you can see the Balscadden house, where between the ages of fifteen and eighteen, the poet Yeats lived. The house has spectacular sea views and views over the harbour and Ireland’s Eye. It was during this period as a seventeen year old that Yeats started writing his first works with his first poem being published shortly after in 1885.
After seeing the cliffs and the gorgeous sea, you can visit the town’s castle. Howth Castle and estate are known to be one of the longest ancestral homes of one of the oldest Irish families in Ireland. The estate has belonged to the St. Lawrence family since the Norman Invasion of 1180. The castle went through what history says to be nine lords and fifteen Barons. Wherein the last, Thomas St. Lawrence then created the title of Earl to which four more succeeded him. The last Earl died in 1909 and since then the castle and estate has been in the hands of the heirs the Gaisford – St. Lawrence family.
The Gate Tower and Keep date from the 15th century and it is a unique illustration of how historic houses have evolved in Ireland over the centuries. Pirate queen Grace (Gráinne) O’Malley once visited the Castle in 1576. Legend says she was not welcome and she abducted the Earl’s son. He was eventually released when a promise was given to keep the gates open to unexpected visitors, and to set an extra place at every meal.
There are tours from time to time, but I couldn’t find any information. If you just walk around the gardens and the castle, it’s free.
Close by is The Transport Museum Society of Ireland. It began with an abortive 1949 effort to preserve three Dublin trams. Totally voluntary, the Society became a limited company in 1971 and is now a registered charity, operating to international museum standards. Sixty out of the 100 vehicles currently in Howth are on display, and others can be inspected by prior arrangement. The oldest items date from 1883 and the newest 1984. The entry fee is 3 euro and you can see the working hours here.
After seeing so many places you can hop on a peaceful trip with a boat around Howth. This way you can see beautiful views and a bird and seal colonies on the Ireland’s Eye island.
The trip takes about 40 minutes and costs 15 euro for adults, 10 for teens and 5 for children under 12 years. If you wish you can hop off on the island, stay a few hours and hop on again in a time, arranged with the boat captain.
Ireland’s Eye, a beautiful and mostly untouched island. The only signs of human activity are two structures: a Martello Tower and the ruins of a church. It’s a hive of activity otherwise; the wildlife on offer is incredible, notably the many species of nesting birds. The most spectacular natural feature is the huge freestanding rock called “the Stack”, at the northeastern corner of the island, which plays host to a large variety of seabirds, including thousands of guillemots, razorbills, fulmars and gulls. There’s even a few breeding pairs of puffins. Grey seals are abundant in the sea around the island too.
As you can see, you can spend a whole day in Howth and it may not be enough to see everything. For us, it was a lovely weekend stroll, but one of the best thing in the town is the seafood. So, don’t forget to taste some of the delicacies in the restaurants by the harbour 🙂
Stay tuned and don’t stop travelling!