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Howth harbour was constructed between 1807 - 1809. There is a West Pier, and an East Pier and a smaller Middle Pier. Between the piers you will find colourful fishing boats and a marina with sailingboats. At the end of the East Pier is Howth Lighthouse.
When I walked out on the East Pier it was very windy. I first walked up on the “wall” but realised the wind was going to knock me down, so I jumped down to the safer walkway.
There are two lighthouses to be seen on the East Pier.
The older one dates from 1817. It reaches 10 m (33 ft) and is a round tower constructed from ashlar granite in three stages, with lantern and gallery. Cast iron railings surround its' glass lantern. The tower is unpainted, while the lantern is painted white, with a red gallery rail. Stone corbels support the observation platform. Square sash windows let in natural light to the tower.
Attached to the lighthouse is a keepers cottage, which was converted to a 2 storied building in 1856. It is also constructed of ashlar granite. The windows seen today are in UPVC frames, and plastic window boxes rest on the sills and either side of the timber door. I don't think anyone lives here anymore, but it appears well maintained. There is a plaque nearby with the date 1817.
The station is partly surrounded by a semicircular stone sea wall, which formerly protected an artillery position. So the lighthouse had a defensive purpose too.
The lighthouse was converted to unattended electric lighting in 1955.
In 1982, a new lighthouse was opened, nearby, so this model was de- commissioned.
Howth Harbour lighthouse (2)
This newer lighthouse is also 33ft (10metres) high, and is formed from concrete. The cylindrical tower is painted white, and topped by a gallery, with a red painted rail.
It flashes twice every 7.5 seconds - South Easterly, over the harbour entrance it is seen as a white light, but red in other directions.
Neither lighthouse is open to the public, but a plaque (pic 5)states that ' Visitors are not admitted to the lighthouse premises without a permit from the Irish Lights Office Dublin. By Order.' Not sure if this applies to maintainance staff, or if visits can be arranged.
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Howth East Pier - Warnings
Before climbing up onto the upper wall of the East Pier, I was confronted by these numerous Warnings signs- Blimey!
So first of all, whilst walking on the pier keep your eyes and ears open for anything drug related !!!!
- Beware of Wires and Hawsers Paint and Oil being used (its OK to trip over wires, left paint cans or touch the paint to see if it really is wet! as long as it's not being used!
Control Dogs - (Even if they don't belong to me? ) and clean up dog litter ( yes, I do get a bit peeved when I see those hounds leaving their cans of pop and fish and chip wrappings everywhere - and as for the smoking beagles flipping their tab ends and cigarette packets onto the floor - Hmmmmm! )
- I did spot some bins along the footpath on Harbour road specifically for 'dog litter' with free pooper scoopers, and in one of the souvenir shops/ cafes there were free corrugated cardboard scoopers
Then - Heed the Uneven surfaces notices (not the uneven surfaces - but the NOTICES! - Oh yes, next to this notice is one to heed!!! - Caution!Uneven Surface - The public are urged to exercise care when walking on the upper level.
It can only be a matter of time before the 'No Smoking' signs are installed!
In case of tripping on the uneven surfaces and grazing your knee-
Mc Dermotts Pharmacy
5 Main St
Fire/ Ambulance/Police - 999 or 112
Beaumont Hospital -8377755
Raheny Veterinary Hospital 122 Raheny Rd 847 8044 !
Another sign tucked away near the steps advertised Boat Trips to Irelands Eye at 10.30 daily.
I'm not sure if is the same trip as this one that I found-
Trips to Ireland's Eye, Scenic Coastal Trips, Seal Feeding Trips, Bird Watching Trips, Fishing Trips
Charter Hire etc. from East Pier Howth on board M.V.Adam Patricia
Contact - 11 Balglass Rd, Howth, Co. Dublin. Telephone: 087 2678211
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Walking around the harbour
Not that long ago, Howth still was a small fishing village, so it should come as no surprise that the harbour is still the focal point of the town. There is a variety of seafood restaurants around the harbour, and you can also walk on the pier for great views of Ireland's Eye, Howth Lighthouse and Howth Head. Another really fun thing to do is to buy some fish from the local fish shops and feed the seals that come in the harbour - I'd never seen such "domesticated" seals before in my life! They'll literally follow you as you walk up and down the pier, in hopes that you might have a little tasty treat for them :o)
Howth East Pier Breakwater
So having heeded the warning signs (see my previous tip) I set off to walk along the pier.
There was quite a breeze, so it was nice and bracing. In the distance I could see the small island known as Irelands Eye. To my left was Howth Harbour and Marina, where yachts and fishing boats were bobbing about and a group were being instructed on kayaking skills.
Overhead seagulls were squawking and Mexican sounding music was being snatched away by the wind. There was a group of men playing instruments further along the harbour wall.
To my right, looking back, I could see Balscadden Bay, and below me - Stoney Beach. (pic 2)
The house where WB Yeats lived is somewhere above this bay. At the end of the Bay are Pucks Rocks and Nose of Howth. From here, the cliff sides become much higher and steeper. The Cliff Path walks start at the end of Balscadden Road. (Free maps from Tourist Info Office on West Pier)
Along the pier are seats, someone had stencilled characters such as Charlie Chaplin and The Blues Brothers onto some of these
Howth has been recognized as a port of trade going back as far as the 14th Century, although the actual harbour was not built until the early 19th Century (Between 1807 and 1812).
The need for a harbour was identified in 1800, plans were submitted for the harbour, piers and lighthouse at an estimated cost of £86,400.
In 1805, an Act was passed by the British Parliament authorising the expenditure of £10,000 at Howth “to make a fit situation for His Majesty’s packets.
Captain George Taylor was hired as the engineer.
A storm in January 1809 caused the destruction of nearly 80 yards of newly built pier.
In 1811, construction was halted, as 300 of the 600 labourers involved in the building project engaged in a riot that had to be quelled by the authorities!
Records from the time state that
“The completed harbour is a close harbour formed by two piers connected with the land opposite the town.”
The principal or eastern pier has three arms, and is a total of 2,450 feet long; the west pier is 1,900 feet long, with a roadway of 42 feet in width; and the entrance to the harbour is 350 feet wide".
The harbour was built as the official mail packet station on the Dublin - Holyhead route. In 1816, the first steam packet to Britain left from Howth
However it was prone to heavy silting, which was only overcome by heavy dredging of the port entrance. This became to expensive a procedure, and so the service was transferred to Dún Laoghaire.
With the construction of the harbour, came the building of a road to connect this coastal village to Dublin City.
Howth harbour was modernised in the early 1980's
Howth Fishery Harbour Centre is divided into two halves. The west side is the trawler basin entered between two-bull noses. The east side is for yachts with swinging moorings and a marked channel to the yacht club marina.
Apparently there is a free exhibition in the tourist office on the West Pier to commemorate the construction of Howth Harbour.
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Let me start by saying it was a really windy day when I was in Howth. My friend and I decided it would still be fun to walk to the lighthouse.
You have two options to walk to the lighthouse. You can walk along the pier or on the walkway below the pier. There are benches along the pier and came in handy to hold on to when I was getting hit with serious crosswinds.
After nearly getting blown off the pier, we headed to the walkway below the pier (which isn't quite as windy.
It's a nice walk with whatever path you chose. Oh, and if you have long hair you may want to pull it up ... unless of course you like the knotty look.
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West Pier Howth (2) Meet the Seals
A crowd of people on the piers edge, were peering into the water and pointing excitedly. I was quite surprised to see a couple of seals bobbing around in the water, looking further, I could see another bobbing about beside one of the moored fishing boats, then another immerged from underwater.
A small terrior dog was barking at the seals, while running up and down the pier, and even tried to get down the harbour steps to get nearer - the seals weren't bothered by this. Some children were throwing scraps of fish to the seals, which they obligingly caught. I found out later that one of the nearby fish shops was selling bags of fish for 2 euros to feed the seals (pic 2) this included a glove (so your hands didn't smell)- I'm not sure if feeding the seals is considered a positive thing or not-as the seals become used to humans, so they're less wary when in the wild, and might also approach humans expecting to find food.
UPDATE ......A notice has been posted near the West Pier by harbour officials -"A person shall not feed a seal from the quayside or from any other place in this port. A person who contravenes this Bye-Law is guilty of an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding Euro 5,000". In the window of Dorans is a newspaper article about this (pic 4) and on the pavement is a board explaining that they can no longer sell food to feed the seals with (pic 5)
There is some uncertainty as to the reason for the ban-Health and Safety is a suggestion -as someone could slip and fall into the harbour!!! as one of the interviewees reasoned-if so, why aren't there barriers in place. Also, no one has been known to slip while feeding the seals!
I spent quite a while watching the seals, taking photos and videos.
(When I returned to Howth in July 09, there was a torrential downpour, I was already soaked to the skin by the time I reached this harbour, so decided that I'd have another look for the seals, before heading for shelter - there was just one miserable looking seal swimming around, and I didn't hang around too long.
For more information about the seals, and for the sterling work carried out by The Irish Seal Sanctuary (ISS) check the website below. This organisation aims 'To Provide Shelter, Treatment and Rehabilitation for Rescued Marine Wildlife Found in Difficulty around Ireland's Coast'
Seals are released into the wild often from Howth. Donations and volunteers are welcomed-again see the web page
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West Pier Howth (3)
Leaving the seals (for awhile) we head towards the end of the pier, stopping along the way to look into the fish merchants such as Dorans and Nickys Place, to see their fresh fish and seafood displays.
The businesses on this pier are mainly related to the fishing industry, whether selling raw fish, or prepared meals in the restaurants, boat suppliers/ maintainance etc. Some are purpose built, others are converted buildings. The building in pic 2 appears to have been a chapel or school house at one time.
The building in the main pic holds a restaurant and Howth tourist information office. I called into the TI (even though I didn't have too long, before having to return to Dublin) There was a display of maps and some things to do around Dublin. I'd read a VTers tip on Howth that had mentioned the footprints of King George could be seen on this pier(yes, I rated it!), so decided to find out where they were. There were 2 members of staff sat in the inner office - the door was half open, and I could see that one was eating her lunch. I knocked on the door, and was eventually acknowledged. I explained that I was trying to find these footprints. One of the women looked quite puzzled and didn't seem to have heard of them, the other had heard of them, but wasn't sure where they were-she vaguely indicated the end of the pier and said they were somewhere there. -Thanks! Not too helpful.
I wandered around up and down, but didn't find anything resembling the photo I had in my travel planner. There were some people standing/ sitting on the wall and steps, so they could have been obscuring the elusive foot prints.
This appeared to be a popular spot for fishing from the seaweed covered rocks. Pic 4 There are many varieties of fish and seafood to be caught off this coastline (pic 5)
Returning along the pier, there was just enough time to watch the seals again, and pop into Wrights of Howth to gawp at the huge displays of fish and seafood piled high -( I think this was some of the freshest looking fish that I've seen (apart from the living creatures!) and there was just a fresh smell of the sea-rather than overpowering fishiness!) before heading back to catch the DART back to Dublin (leaving enough time for a pint of Guinness at the Bloody Stream first)
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If you get into trouble, no worries here!
Walk out onto the Howth Pier as far as you like, to the end, even on the windiest and/or wettest day. You just have to hope that if conditions are such that a big wave wipes you off the wall and starts sending you off to sea, there's at least one other walker on the pier who is still standing and who is able to throw this handy lifeline and life-ring out to you. If not, well, you can swim, can't you, just see where the current takes you!
Here's a look down at the pier at Howth. This is from where many leisure boats as well as fishing boats head off into the sea.
Howth is a peninsula, specifically a tombolo, which means it's an island connected to the mainland by a narrow sandbar (amazing what a little web-based research can produce).
The port is quite picturesque, with recreational boats and fisher's ships sharing the same piers. Actually, there were much more recreational boats and yachts than anything else. I reckon Howth days as a fishing village had gone long ago. The port also has a beautiful marina
West Pier Howth
We're now back onto Harbour Road, near to where we started this walk. Crossing the road we'll head to the West Pier.
West Pier is an interesting place to visit. It's the working area of the harbour. Fishing boats land their daily catches here, nets are tidied and mended, and this is where the fish is auctioned and sold (pic 4). One of Howths most established businesses is to be found here too- Wrights of Howth - fish specialists, who's motto is 'If it Swims we have it'! (pic 5)
Looking into the water, there was a large area covered by a petrol spillage - which I was quite mesmorised by- Something so wrong, yet the lustre of the purples, greens and blues were quite attractive (pic 3)
I was quite hungry by now, and was enticed by the cooking smells from a nearby stall in the style of an old tram that was serving fish chowder, and soup (see my restaurant tips)
I walked a bit further along the pier to eat my lunch, and saw a crowd peering into the water......
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I left Abbey Tavern and walked down to the waterfront to take photos of the lighthouse. I didn't get a lot of photos because my camera battery died.
There are two lighthouses here - the old stone one and the new white concrete one.
The old one looks like a lighthouse. It was build in 1818 and was inactivated since 1982. It is a 33 ft tall round stone tower with a lantern and gallery, which is attached to a 2-story stone keeper's house. The lantern is painted white, and the gallery rail is painted red. The station is partly surrounded by a semicircular stone sea wall, which formerly protected an artillery position. It is located at the eastern entrance to Howth Harbour, which is accessible by a bridge from the foot of Watermill Road, Dublin
The keeper's quarters in the tower were very cramped, so a separate single-story residence was built in 1821 and a second story added some years later. In the early 1980s, Howth Harbour was modernized be building the modern tower at the end of the East Pier Extension. Since 1982, this has been the active lighthouse which shows white southeast over the harbor entrance and red in other directions. It is a slender cylindrical concrete tower.
The actual pier was constructed between 1807-09, and is frequented by yachts and fishing-boats. In 1914, Howth was the scene of the gun-running incident in which 900 rifles and 25,000 rounds of ammunition were landed there from Germany by Robert Erskine Childers
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Howth Lighthouse is standing in the harbour in the end of the East Pier. It was built in 1818 and was working until 1982 when it was replaced by a more modern lighthouse standing on the East Pier Extension.
A small heaven
I have no pics of this place, or, at least, I can't find them at the moment.
I still want to talk about a magical evening I spent in Howth.
Howth is a very small village north of Dublin. You can reach it taking the road by the coast. Sea is east of you so the sun, in the evening, is behind you. Nothing blinds you preventing the sight of the coastline.
Arriving there I saw a panorama I will never forget.
The village, with its small colourful houses, climbs the hills surrounding a small bay.
Hills are also covered by long grass, waving by the wind.
Silence and peace everywhere, a small number of inhabitants slowly walks along the steep small roads. A small harbour is there, and the masts of docked white boats gently wave by the wind.
Long piers protect the harbour from the foaming sea, and beyond them, in front of the bay, there is a small green island, dominated but a smooth hill. An ancient, abandoned house is also there.
The landscape and the magical atmosphere cannot be described by writings or photos, you must go there, remain silent for a while, and feel...
We had dinner in a small restaurant. Food was superb, and while we were eating, a young wonderful woman with dark red long hairs came in.
She was pregnant, and started playing old celtic ballads with her harp, sweetly singing.
I stopped having dinner, took my glass of wine, and sat alone for at least two hours in exstasy listening to her music. She also played a song from Kate Bush (and I'm a great fan of her!). I can't remember her name, she was from Colorado, and she married a lucky man from Howth.
Oh God! What a place!!
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