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.
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
Leaving Howth train station, you'll see this sign post.
The green, blue, red and purple arrows are direction indicators for the various looped walks that can be enjoyed around Howth (and throughout Ireland).
These circular routes offer walks to suit all abilities, ranging from 5km - 17km.
CLICK HERE for info about loop walks around Howth and the Howth Coastal Path
Hopefully next time I'll get to enjoy the coastal walk. However, as I was only here in Ireland for the day, and had to return to Dublin in a few hours, I was intending just strolling around, re-visiting the places that I'd seen on my first short visit, and exploring some new ground.
So, come with me, and we'll head down towards the harbour.
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.
Howth Marina is owned by The Howth Yacht Club (which is the largest yachting club in Ireland, with over 2,000 members).
The Club was formed at least as far back as 1895, and plays an important role in Howths social calendar.
For land lubbers like myself, the marina is a pleasant place to wander around, admiring the smart vessels moored here, wondering why the owner chose the name that they did for their yacht, and looking for the swishest 'gin palace'and trying to guess who could own it!
There are often Regattas and races held, which can be quite exciting.
Information for those mooring here etc
CLICK for more info for sailing conditions etc
The club offers temporary membership to those spending the winter here.
Howth Yacht Club Marina
Harbour Road, Howth , Co Dublin
Tel:+21 (353) 1839 2777, Fax:+21 (353) 18392430, VHF Channel Ch 80/37
Situated on the northern side of Dublin Bay. Available at all states of tide and offer excellent protection from every wind direction.
Prior to arrival, intending visitors are requested to call Howth Marina on Channel M (37 A) or 80 so that a berth may be allocated to them. On arrival please register at the Marina Office at the top of the Marina bridge.
Complete marina services including 24 hour toilets and showers, 24 hour laundry and water and electric. Good provisioning, fuel and LPG are available locally.
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.
The Old Courthouse dates from the 1870's . As well as being the Village Court house, this single storey building has also been used as a prayer hall, and a tax collection point.
Nowadays, it is the local branch of An Taisce, (Irelands National Trust), as well as holding Bric a Brac sales etc.
On the day that I was visiting, there was a Second hand Book sale.
I had a quick look in, to have a peep at the Old building- nothing much to see, and to look for a book or 2 - Couldn't find anything that interested me, and they were quite expensive - 3.50 euros for a tatty paperback.. There were quite a few books about Irish History, and religious books.
Harbpour Road, is home to some of Howths best known Restaurants and shops. It carries on from Howth Road, until , opposite the childrens playground, it curves into Abbey Street.
At both ends of the road are apartment blocks for rental, and some offer self- catering facillities for holiday makers. As you can imagine, with views over the Marina, Harbour, Irelands Eye and beyond, these 'To Lets' aren't cheap!
Some of the shops here include
The Gem Newsagents
De Stafford Bridal
Susan Eve - Clothing
Hair and Beauty
Moda Vida -
No 10 - El Paso (Tapas)
No 12 Casa Pasta (Mediterranean)
The Waterside Bar and Wheelhouse Restaurant
Beshoffs Traditional Fish and Chips
Mauds Cafe -Ice Creams
Dee Gees Cafe.
Car Parking, Childrens Play ground, seating, Public toilets at East Pier end
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
Near the lighthouse on the East Pier, is this plaque.
It reads- in Gaelic and English
On Sunday 26th July 1914 Erskine Childers and the crew of the yachy "Asgard" landed here with guns and ammunition for the Irish Volunteers to fight for the freedom of Ireland.
Robert Erskine Childers was born in England in 1870. An orphan, he spent school holidays at his Aunts home in County Wicklow. Graduating from Cambridge University, he became a civil servant, working as a Clerk for the British House of Commons.
He also served during the Boer War in a horse artillery company in Africa, and in
1914 in the Royal Navy(where he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross)
A keen sailor, his yacht was often to be seen sailing around British and European waterways. Another of his interests was writing, his novel, 'The Riddle of the Sands' is considered to be the first thriller ever written!
His visits to Ireland had foistered an interest in its politics and saw Ireland as an integral part of Great Britain, the same as Wales and Scotland.
A liberal, he supported Gladstone's 1911 Home Rule proposal. The Irish of Ulster opposed the notion, with The Ulster Volunteers forming as a militia force. The importing of weapons was prohibited, but their arms were smuggled in from Germany, with Great Britain doing little to stop these activities.
Enter Childers, who decided to even the score, with some pursuasion from Padraic Pearse, a plan was hatched that must have appealed to the 'Boys Own' adventurer. He was to sail to Germany, to bring back weapons for the Irish Volunteers. As he was seen so often sailing between Britain and Ireland, it wouldn't look too suspicious.
His crew were his wife Mary A. Osgood, her friend, Mary Spring-Rice, and a British aviator.
Securing 900 rifles (of quite an age, but still deadly) and 25, 000 rounds of ammunition, they left Germany, on the pretext of taking their load to Mexico. Despite hitting one of the worst storms in the Irish Sea, Asgard entered Howth Harbour, and the weapons were distributed to Irish Volunteers, before Childers sailed back to Britain.
The Irish Volunteers plan to march to Dublin, was thwarted by the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) and a Scottish Regiment who'd been consigned for the purpose, by setting up a road block at Clontarth.
to be continued......
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)
Baily Lighthouse is the lighthouse standing on the south eastern part of Howth Head. There has been a lighthouse on this site since 1667, but first the lighthouse was standing higher up, which often made it obscure by fog, so a new lighthouse was built closer to the sea in 1814. After several shipwrecks in the area the lighthouse finally got a fog bell in 1853. Through the years modernisations was done.
The lighthouse has been a training facility for new lighthouse keepers.
In 1996 Baily Lighthouse was the last Irish lighthouse that became automatic.
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
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.
I'm pleased that this church was open, and that I got the chance of a good look around, as there were some unexpected treasures inside.
The church contains a belfry, nave, transepts, sanctuary porches and a sacristy. Entering through the door (North side), I was surprised to see how light and airy the church appeared. The wooden timbered barrel like ceiling caught my eye. This is supported by stone corbels, which are carved angels heads. The part above the transept is supported by 4 polished granite columns. These have Corinthian capitals, which have finely carved acanthus leaves and scrolls, which are in the style of Greco - Roman.
The angels can be seen to be holding open scrolls with words.(pic 4) They form the verse from Psalm 91:11 "He hath given his angels charge over thee to guard you in all thy ways"
The pair of angels above the choir loft (which I missed) are in dedication of the Archangels Michael and Raphael.
In the choir loft (pic 2) is the church organ, which has 13 pipes.
The High altar (Central) is flanked by 2 smaller side altars. If you look on the high altar you can see the IHS monogram, (This is a medieval Latinised Greek symbol of the name of Jesus Christ)
In the apse is a tabernacle, where the Blessed Sacrament is kept. Here is another Christian symbol - The Ichthys, or fish symbol, which has been used as a symbol from as early as 1 AD
to denote Christians, sometimes as a secret sign, or more publically as today, when it appears on car window stickers and jewellery etc.
Why a fish though? It could have been due to the number of fishermen amongst the disciples, though it could be that Ichthys is an acrostic (where the first letter of a poem etc. read downwards forms a word) of Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour.
- Stand by for a quick Greek lesson, with help from Wikipaedia!!
Iota (i) is the first letter of Iēsous (Ἰησοῦς), Greek for Jesus
Chi (kh) is the first letter of Khristos (Χριστóς) "Christ" or "anointed".
Theta (th) is the first letter of Theou (Θεοῦ), that means "God's
Upsilon (u) is the first letter of huios (Υἱός), Greek for Son
Sigma (s) is the first letter of sōtēr (Σωτήρ), Greek for Savior
Ichthus ( or ΙΧΘΥΣ) is Greek for fish.
The Left side Altar is dedicated to 'Our Lady' (pic 5) Beneath the attractive Byzantine canopy is a statue of the Virgin Mary, standing on a crescent moon, which is traditionally associated with her Assumption into Heaven. This is described in Revelation 12:1-2.
The letters M and I ( Maria Immaculata) are intertwined on the altar. This is to denote the Immaculate Conception of the future Mother of God. The Greek Α (Alpha) and Ω (Omega ) can also be seen - these are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet and signify that ' God is the beginning and end of all things'
The Altar on the Right side is dedicated to The Sacred Heart of Jesus (pic 3). The main tabernacle of the church resided here between 1981 and 2006, which meant that the statue of The Sacred Heart was ousted to the shelf which is to the right of the altar.
By now I'd forgotten that I was in a Catholic church in an Irish fishing village, it felt more like I'd been transported to Italy or Spain!
This church had still more of interest to see, so onto my next tip...
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