I went to Howth on a daytrip by bus from Dublin. I got off the bus at the Summit Inn a few miles outside Howth, and then followed the coastline walking path down to the village.
It was a very beautiful (1 hour) walk where I passed the Baily Lighthouse (from 1814) and numerous stunning views of the cliffs and the ocean...
Although I've visited Howth quite a few times, this was the first time that I'd seen this memorial.
It was erected by the Howth Fishermans Association "To commemorate the Lives of those lost at sea, no matter where, or no matter how"
The Memorial was unveiled by President Mary Robinson on 15th March 1994.
Around the base are bronze plaques (pic 4) dedicated to those 'lost at sea' from family and friends. We noticed that quite a few were young children -presumably swept away whilst swimming or playing on the rocks, some died as part of their work - fishing or serving their country, while some were probably suicides.
The monument is full of symbolism (explained on a plaque - pic 2)
" The Cross represents the Love of God, the rope edge and shell motif(pic 5), his nets
The Anchor represents our dependance on him
The Rock .... The safety of the land
The swirling stones... The dangers of the sea
The 12 sides....The months of the year
The Hooped Railing....The Rise and Fall of the Waves"
Well St Marys church was closed, but I spent a short time looking around the surroundings, and especially this small garden of remembrance.
There was a rock with a plaque stating that the Garden was dedicated in September 2000 by Arch Bishop Walter Empey.
Nearby was a garden planted with seasonal bulbs, and a young tree - The Tree of Life, which was planted and blessed on All Saints Day 2004. This was a garden in memory of babies who died before or shortly after birth. (pic 2)
At the end of the church garden, on the wall are granite slabs inscribed with names of people in the parish who'd died. There was also a modern style cross, constructed of metal, which I'm afraid was showing signs of rusting. (pic 3)
On the floor were boxes and planters containing spring bulbs.
I liked the young tree with white flowers (pic 4), though I'm not sure of its variety, there was a tag attached, but the weather had almost erased the information of who it was in memory of, and the name of the tree.
Often Remembrance gardens are quite sombre, but this seemed to be a pleasant place where people could visit to sit and remember the deceased, or join in with tending the plants etc.
Near the end of the drive to Howth Castle and Deer Park is the church of St Mary's. The original church was built in 1816, but was replaced 50 years later by this present building, which was consecrated by the Archbishop of Dublin, with the splendid name of Richard Chenevix Trench.
It is constructed of rustic granite stonework and the architect J E Rodgers modeled it on a 13th Century English church - look for his initials on the middle column of the South side. Opposite, at the North side are the initials of William Doolin, who was the builder. Apparently other columns have carvings of animals. The church members aim to welcome all , and have an emphasis on encouraging families and the young to their services and events.
I'm afraid that the church was closed at the time of my visit. It sounds like there is quite a bit to see inside.
Fairly recently (1992) the baptismal font was moved, to enable the space where it had resided through the decades, to be converted into a side chapel. Traditionally, fonts are near the entrance of churches to signify the start of their Christian journey. However, the 'new' thought is that the congregation should be allowed to view and therefore join in the ceremony easily.
The new side chapel was dedicated in 1992 on All Saints' Day.
There is also a Holy Table, constructed of Irish Oak , which was reclaimed from Rahan church in Co. Offaly, when it closed to Worshippers.
Other features of the church, are gifts from parishioners, some are dedicated in memory of family members.
I was pleased that I came across this church, and that it was open. There are some nice stained glass windows and some interesting pieces of art inside.
The Saint Lawrence family, donated the land for the Parish church to be built on. (They were former Lords of Howth - whose family have lived in Howth Castle from the 12th Century, to the present time).
It was built in 1899 and designed by William H Byrne, in a Hiberno-Romanesque style. The stonework was carried out by William Lacy. A facing of cut stone covers the exterior.
Unusually, the axis of the church is North-South. I'm not sure if this was deliberate planning, but apparently, it gives the best light for the south facing stained glass window above the apse.
The rounded arches are also unusual, as in the 19th century, the Gothic style of architecture was common, with harsher lines.
Before entering the church, look upto the belfry, and spot the 4 gargoyles, at each corner of the tower.(pic 2) They are in the design of wild animals, typically with grotesque features, and are useful when it rains (which is quite often in these parts!) as they drain the water away from the stone walls, (thereby limiting damage to the stonework) through spouts in their mouths.
In front of the entrance door is a stone font, with engravings (pic 3)
On the east side there is a Celtic cross that commemorates the dedication of the church. Also, the final resting place of Canon Liam Thackaberry (what a great name!) who was once the Parish Priest here.
Since my first visit to this church, I've visited here every time I'm in Howth. It has such a nice peaceful atmosphere, and I enjoy looking at the wooden carvings and stained glass.
I was surprised to find out very recently, that this is the church where Phil Lynott used to attend mass with his daughters, and it was where his funeral service was held (I'd assumed that the service was in Sutton, as he is buried here in St Fintans cemetery)
I first noticed the bust outside this building, and was surprised to see that this was the HQ of the Olympic Council of Ireland.
Previously known as Howth House, it opened as the Olympic Council of Ireland HQ on 18th January 2005. As well as serving as the HQ, it also houses a museum of memorabilia of the late Lord Killanin, the 6th President of the International Olympic Committee (1972-1980) and President of the Olympic Council of Irealand (1950-1973)
It is Lord Killanin who is commemorated in the bust outside Olympic House. The monument was Sculpted by Paul Ferriter, and was unveiled by Dr. Jacques Rogge, the Eighth President of the International Olympic Committee on May 20th 2009.
The Olympic Council of Ireland was formed in 1922 (The exact date is unknown, as the minutes from the meeting were lost) and is now one of the leading National Olympic Committees in the world. The mission of the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) is to develop and protect the Olympic Movement on the Island of Ireland, in accordance with the International Olympic Committee’s guiding document - the Olympic Charter.
Ireland was given formal recognition as an independent nation in the Olympic Movement at the IOC session in Paris in 1924 and it was at the Paris Games that Ireland made its first appearance in an Olympic Games as an independent nation.
John Pius Boland, a native of Dublin,was the first Irish-born winner of an Olympic gold medal.
He won the Tennis Singles at Athens in 1896 and also won a second Olympic gold medal with Fritz Traun in the doubles. For many years, Boland was credited as winning Gold for the United Kingdom, but it is now recognised that he competed independently for Ireland.
Our first stop is this piece of sculpture by Sean O' Dwyer. It measures 4m x 1 m and is formed from pigmented Reconsituted Granite.
The Sculpture was unveiled by Gay Byrne (a well known TV Broadcaster, and resident of Howth) in September 1996.
It received unexpected publicity, following an act of vandalism, when the covering, hiding the sculpture prior to the ceremony, was set alight!
Traditionally, the sea has played an important role in Howth, bringing a living for its people, but also taking lives away.
One story is that after losing an important battle, the Tuatha De Dannan promised that a boat would always be kept at the ready in Howth for any emergency.
O' Dwyer has represented this boat at the top of his sculpture. The figures surrounding the boat are waiting to offer assistance should it be needed one day!
The Sculpture consists of 14 elements - besides the pillar itself and the boat sculpture, there are 4 portrait panels (top row of panels). The faces are of characters from the mythology of Howth. 4 story panels (middle) and the lower row has 4 Repeat panels.
The 4 sides of the column represent different ages in the history of Howth - These being Ancient, Early Christian, Medieval and Modern.
So, starting on the top row, and on the Ancient History side, you can see Portrait panel 1 'The Bride' - This is Cesair, who was the daughter of one of Noahs sons, who came to Howth to escape the great flood!
The next panel down is Story panel 1 'The Siege'
Portrait panel 2 -- Son of Nessan
Story Panel 2 - The Temptation of the son of Nessan
Portrait panel 3 - The Wounded King
Story Panel 3 - That Which Heals
Portrait panel 4 - The Daughter of Today
Story Panel 4 -The Hill of Oaks
Worthwhile taking a minute or two to look at
Continuing on our walk around Howth, we leave the Abbey behind and turn right out of the gateway. Heading down hill, we pass a few sites worth a 2nd glance. Take care descending this street, as cars race up and down, and there are parts without paving.
Photo 1 -I was quite attracted to the row of small cottages in the picture. I'm presuming that these were originally workers cottages.
Picture 2- A piece of Street Art/Graffiti or Vandalism?Take your pic! The artist was so proud of his work (He called it a mural) that he published his contact details on the side of the hoarding.
Picture 3 - Victorian Wall post box. This is out of use now. I'm still not used to seeing green post boxes, and this is what caught my eye. Apparently post boxes came into use half way through Queen Victoria's reign.
Picture 4 -The Garda Station - a solid austere looking building.
Near the end of the street, we can see across to the harbour and Irelands Eye.
We'll head across to the harbour area, with its fish restaurants and fishmongers.
This pleasant restaurant/Bistro/Deli etc is renowned for its comfortable atmosphere and Locally sourced and cooked food. It's open 7 days a week for coffee, breakfast/brunch, lunches and evening meals. -You can read more about this in my Restaurant tips though!
However, it was the former home of Captain William Bligh! The cruel sea captain remembered from the historical Mutiny on the Bounty
The Mutiny took place on April 28th 1789, and Bligh was left to his chances in a small open boat. Despite only having a sexton and pocket watch, he travelled a distance of 6710km. I'm not sure how he ended up in Ireland, but he found work in Dublin, designing the North Bull Wall. During this period, he occupied the building, that is now The House
Ireland's Eye is an island that you can see from the piers in Howth, it's a seabird sanctuary that also has a ruined 6th century monastery and a Martello Tower. My guidebook says that are boats leaving from the pier to Ireland's Eye in the summer but I just didn't have enough time to do that. You can see the Martello Tower from the pier but not the monastery.
Martello towers are small defensive forts built built along the coastal areas in Ireland, and other parts of the British Empire during the 19th century, from the time of the Napoleonic Wars onwards. There are two near Howth, the one on Ireland's Eye and the other on the southwestern coast of Howth Peninsula.
Malahide Castle was the home of the Talbot family for almost 800 years, except for a brief period when, yes, you guessed it, Oliver Cromwell commandeered it and gave it to Miles Corbet who was promptly hanged after Cromwell's demise. In 1975, the last of the Talbots, Rose, sold the castle to the Irish State, you can see her portrait as a little girl with red shoes as you walk up the stairs. The guide said that she died earlier in 2009 and that she was the last heir of the Talbot family.
After leaving the dark wooded Oak Room, the tour becomes an audio tour pumped through speakers in each room. The Great Hall at the end of the tour is the most memorable room in the Castle, the audio tape points out the portrait of Cromwell that is oddly still hanging in the room along with the portraits of 14 members of the family that were killed in the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 which may help explain why there are no remaining heirs today.
Visiting the Castle is by guided tour only, admission is currently 7.50€ for adults. It was not included on my Heritage Card but appears to be included on the Dublin Pass
If you find yourself with a nice day, taking a walk along the cliffs of Howth is a fine idea. The various paths all start at the DART station and are very subtly marked (by this I mean not marked very well) with different color arrows-yellow (cliff path), blue (tramline), red (Black Linn) and purple (bog of the frogs) although somehow the yellow path from the map ended up having green arrows. The paths vary in length from 6-10 kms and are estimated to take 1.5-3 hours and ranging in difficulty from easy-hard.
I was able to find the start of the Cliff Walk by using the map in the Howth is Magic brochure, once I found the King Sitric restaurant, I followed Balscadden Rd to the start of the path. All of the paths share the 1st part of the cliff walk and then go in different directions around when you spot Bailey Lighthouse. At that point, I had enough of walking along the cliffs and followed the shorter yellow (green) or blue path back to town.
For a good portion of the Cliff Walk, I saw no people at all and then a couple here and a couple there, some people were driving up to the parking lot near the lighthouse and starting the walk from there and doing it in the opposite direction. And just like on Irish roads, there's frequently only room for one on the path and someone has to give right of way!
At no point on the walk was it scary because of the height, you are far enough back from the cliff's edge for it not to seem like you are up that high. Part of the trail was muddy and lots of it covered in fairly dense vegetation so I recommend wearing good shoes and long pants. It's not a paved path so it is not handicap accessible. You can see a part of the path in picture #3.
The Howth is Magic map also had a spot that was marked "feed seals" on west pier, when I went by there around 1 or 2 pm, someone had bought some fish from a store across the street and there were 4 or 5 seals pleading for food with their big brown eyes. When I returned after dinner, there were no seals to be found so if you want to see them, earlier in the day is probably better. I think the sign said 2€ for seal food, if someone else hadn't been doing it, I certainly would have.
In addition to the friendly common seals in the harbor, Howth is home to a variety of birds, the sign at the start of the Cliff Walk mentioned fulmar, kittiwake, guillemot, and razorbill nesting along the cliffs, gannets, puffins, peregrine falcons and cormorants at Ireland's Eye and grey seals, porpoises and minke whales off the coast.
As you can probably tell from my previous 2 tips, I enjoyed looking around this church. For most of the time, I was the only person in the building, which enabled me to wander around without disturbing anyone wanting to pray.
One of the most striking parts for me, was the beautiful colours of the stained glass in the South and North windows.
In the apse of the Sanctuary are a series of three windows dedicated to The Blessed Virgin Mary (pic 2)
Left - The Annunciation to Mary, by The Angel Gabriel, that she was to conceive and bear a son (From Luke1.31-32). It is considered to have a pre- Raphaelite appearance.
Middle - The Assumption of Mary, Our Lady into Heaven. As in the statue of her on the Altar (see previous tip) she is standing on a crescent moon. It shows the disciples gazing into her empty tomb, while St John the Evangelist looks towards heaven. Of note is the architectural style of both Heaven and Earth, which the artist has chosen as Romanesque.
Right - This is of Jesus crowning his Mother Queen of Heaven, watched by Angels and Archangels. The artist has shown Mother and Son, to be of similar age to depict that 'in eternity, time has no meaning'
Also in the South Window are 2 richly coloured smaller glass windows.
Above the right transept side alter is a lovely scene of The Nativity, where Mary and Joseph gaze at the infant laying in the manger. The expressions on the faces and the reds golds and blues of the robes and halos attracted me.
The window above the left transept depicts a young Madonna and Child (pic 1) Again richly coloured - (Mary is wearing robes in the royal colours of red and blue), and with tender expressions. Being seated on a throne emphasises that she is seen as the Queen of Heaven.
The artistic style, although western, follows the Byzantine icons of the Hodegetria.
Ok, back to the Greek lesson!- Hodegetria (Οδηγήτρια), literally means: "She who shows the way"; In these icons Theotokos is seen holding the Infant Jesus at her side while pointing to Him as the source of salvation for mankind.
Theotokos (Θεοτόκος or Theotókos) is one of the Greek titles of Mary, the mother of Jesus, that is commonly used in the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic Churches.
Theotocus is the English translation
Theotokos translates as God-bearer or the one who gives birth to God. Although not a literal translation, the term Mother of God is more commonly used by English speakers.
The south facing Stained Glass windows were made by the prestigious Pontificial Art Studio of Frank Mayer and Co, who have been producing high quality Sacred Art in Munich, Germany since 1847. They have provided the beautiful stained glass for many churches and Cathedrals around Ireland and other Countries including Australia and the USA.
The North Window (pic 3 and intro page), I think was my favourite, the stunning stained glass panels are set into the rose or wheel window, which is above the choir loft.
The central panel shows Christ's death on the Cross, and encircling this, are 8 smaller scenes including His passion in the Garden of Gethsemane, and people he encountered on the journey to Calvary. This piece of art was created by Mary Peart, an Irish stained glass artist, and installed in 1980.
Frank Mayers company have had another input into this church. Around the walls of the nave can be seen representations of the Fourteen Stations of the Cross - (From the Condemnation of Christ to Death, until his burial) These are well worth a close look at (pics 4 + 5)
These old works of art are painted three dimensional plaster casting, which sits in a wooden framed base. The figures are very detailed, with wonderfully expressive faces. Some are quite gruesome though!
They were created by Frank Mayers company, though I'm not sure when. They were recently restored (2006) by one of the church Parishioners, who is an artist.
In picture 4, in front of one of the Stations of the Cross pieces, is a statue. There are quite a few of these devotional statues around the church. The figures in this photograph are Saint Anthony (Franciscan) of Lisbon and Padua and the infant Jesus.
Other figures include ;A Shrine at Lourdes, with the Virgin Mary appearing to Saint Bernadette, St Anne as a mother and teacher of a young Mary, St Therese Martin (Carmelite) of Lisieux, who is known as "The Little Flower" and is the Patron Saint of AIDS sufferers, illness, missions, florists and aviators!
The 2 unpainted statues in the transept porches are of St Joseph, who is Patron of the Universal Church, and St Patrick Irelands Patron Saint.
I thoroughly enjoyed coming across this unexpected treasure. It was similar to my experience of wandering into the lesser known churches in Venice and being surprised by the art work inside.
Well worth a visit.
UPDATE- Returned to Howth 4 months later, and again enjoyed visiting this church.
Once you reach Howth Castle, if you keep walking up the same road, you'll eventually reach Deerpark Hotel, which is mostly famous for its very nice golf course (take a look at photo #3, it almost looks like that Windows screensaver!). Right to the side of the hotel, there's a walking trail that leads to the beautiful rhododendron gardens of Howth Castle, and these are open to the public. We happened to be there on the 1st of May, when the rhododendrons were in full bloom and colours, and it was truly worth the short hike!
East Pier, Howth, Ireland
Satisfaction: Very Good
Good for: Solo
I had been wanting to stay in Howth, and was pleasantly surprised, when I came across this hotel on...more
Nashville Road, Howth, 3, Ireland
Good for: Solo