If you visit Dublin, be sure to take a day or part of a day to visit the town of Howth on the Irish Sea. If possible, pick a day with little wind, so you can take the ferry around the island, Ireland’s Eye. In the town, visit the ruins of a medieval abbey, walk inside a defensive tower built to watch for potential invaders from Napoleon’s army that is now a vintage radio museum, and see Howth Castle, still inhabited by descendants of the original Lord who arrived in Howth in 1177 AD. Near the sea, watch as fishing nets are made, walk out to the original Howth lighthouse at the end of the pier, and enjoy fresh seafood as you look out over the harbor.
The maps are available in even more detail on www.walkli.com. To listen to the podcast accompanying this post, click here:
1-A – Dart Station and Bloody Stream Pub
Start by taking the DART suburban train directly from the center of Dublin just 25 minutes to Howth (rhymes with “growth”), a quaint town facing the Irish Sea. Buy tickets at the DART Station. Tickets are about 12 Euros for a full day of travel between Dublin and Howth.
The DART train station exit is just above the Bloody Stream restaurant. The Bloody Stream is a traditional Irish bar and seafood restaurant. It is open daily from noon until at least 11:30 pm.
To begin the walk, turn to the left as you exit the station or the restaurant and walk to the left. Take a left at West Pier and walk on West Pier with the harbor on your right.
2-B – Ireland’s Eye Ferry
Walk down the West Pier until you see Ireland’s Eye Ferry on your right. If the seas are calm, take a 40-minute ferry ride around the island known as Ireland’s Eye on one of two little boats that hold about 20 people. Your boat may even be named, “Christmas Eve”. Check the official website below to see if the ferry is operating on the day of your trip. Ireland’s Eye Ferries operate to and around Ireland’s Eye daily from 10:30 am to 5 pm. The cost is about 10 Euros per person. Official Ireland’s Eye Ferries website: http://www.irelandseyeferries.com/#/home
Click below to see a short video from a ferry trip:
As you circle the island you will get close up views of the prominent rock outcropping jutting out from the island called, “The Stack”. The Martello Tower on the other end of the island is one of three built in Howth in the early 1800’s to defend against concerns of a potential invasion from Howth by Napoleon’s army.
Be sure to enjoy the view of the Howth harbor as you sail back toward the dock. Maybe you will see the sun looking magical as it shines through the Ireland sky!
3-C – King George IV Footprints
Continue walking toward the end of the West Pier from Ireland’s Eye Ferries dock and turn right onto the promontory to the right. Look for the rather small footprints of King George IV, recorded by Howth’s stonemason, when he first set foot in Ireland on his 59th birthday in 1821. King George departed Ireland several weeks later from nearby Dún Laoghaire, which was renamed ‘Kingstown’ in his honor after his visit. It retained the name until Ireland gained independence from Britain in 1922.
4-D – Aqua Restaurant
When you are ready for lunch, or dinner, Aqua Restaurant is a great choice with an excellent view of Ireland’s Eye from the glass windows or deck upstairs. The fish and chips are tasty, and be sure to save room for the dessert. The restaurant is at the end of the West Pier across from the ferry dock.
5-E – Wright’s of Howth – Seafood Market
Walk back on West Pier toward the train station and you will soon see Wright’s of Howth on the right. Since 1892, the Wright family has been smoking Irish Salmon, and they are still winning awards for the quality. In 2016 they won two Star Gold Great Taste Awards. Salmon and other seafood items are shipped from here to all over the world. Stop in and take a look. You may want to order some seafood and have it sent to you when you get back home.
6-F – Pepe Trawls, LTD – Fishnets and Net Repair
Next, as you continue walking along West Pier toward the train station you will soon see Pepe Trawls, LTD. Peak inside and you may see workers weaving and repairing fishnets. The colorful nets are draped everywhere along the pier, too, waiting to be loaded onto the fishing boats. Clearly, this is a town serious about its fishing. Even the signs along the harbor indicate where to fish for various species of fish in the area.
7-G – Ruins of St. Mary’s Abbey
Cross the road and walk parallel to Harbor Road on the path leading toward the Howth Pier. Turn right and cross the road after passing the playground and walk uphill on Abbey Street to the Ruins of St. Mary’s Abbey on the right.
The stone ruins of St. Mary’s Abbey offer a nice view over Howth. The first church on the site was founded by the Viking King of Dublin in 1042. Most of what remains dates to the 16th century, and the tombs of the Baron of St. Lawrence of Howth Castle and his wife from that time period are still in a private chapel here.
8-H – Ye Olde Hurdy Gurdy Vintage Radio Museum at Martello Tower
Walk back down toward the main road, and turn right. Turn right again at Balscadden Road where you will see the Martello Tower overlooking Howth Harbor.
Ye Olde Hurdy-Gurdy Museum of Vintage Radio is located in this Martello Tower. Like the Martello Tower on Ireland’s Eye, the tower was built as a lookout for defensive purposes for an expected Napoleonic invasion. Inside the tower, the non-profit museum houses the private collection of curator Pat Herbert, who is usually available at the museum to demonstrate many of the working exhibits. These include early Morse equipment, gramophones, crystal sets, valve radios and other pieces of equipment.
The tower has historic links with Marconi and Lee de Forest, two of the fathers of wireless, who conducted early experiments from the tower in the 1900s. Lee De Forest, an American, had an experimental station here in 1903, and the Marconi Company had one in 1905. In 1898 Guglielmo Marconi himself transmitted the results of the Kingstown (now Dún Laoghaire) Regatta to the Harbour Master’s house (Moran House) from the tower using Morse Code. These were relayed by telephone to the offices of the Dublin Daily Express newspaper. This was the first use of radio to report a sporting event. This tower was also the site where the first telegraph line under the Irish Sea terminated. An Amateur radio station is located in the tower. The museum is open 11 am – 4 pm every day May through October and on weekends November through April. The cost is 5 Euros for adults and 3 Euros for students. There is no charge for children to visit the museum.
9-I – Howth Lighthouse
Walk back down the hill from the tower and continue walking along Howth East Pier to the Howth Lighthouse, built in 1818. It was the last lighthouse in Ireland to be automated. Since 1982, the harbor is lit by a new smaller tower with a more powerful light on the East Pier Extension.
10-J – Howth Market
Walk back down the pier and turn right to head back toward the DART Station. Walk to the Howth Market, on the left facing Harbour Road. The market will be on the left as you pass the harbor area. The market stalls and shops offer food, crafts, gifts, and jewelry. It is open daily from at least 9 am until 8 pm.
11-K – Cliff Path Loop Entrance
Continue walking on Howth Road toward the DART Station, but stay on the same side of the road as the Howth Market. Just past the DART Station, you will see the entrance to the Cliff Path Loop. Walk up the hill for a while along the path. For those who have more time and energy and who want to take an entire Cliff Path loop, check out this map:
12-L – Cliff Path View
When you reach the top of the hill, look over the stone wall to see the view of Howth Harbor behind the DART Station and to look out over the town. Then, wall back down the hill.
13-M – National Transport Museum of Ireland
When you return to the entrance of the Cliff Path, turn left on Howth Road. Take the first road on the left, and then take the first right. Howth Castle will be just to your left on the corner, and you will soon reach the National Transport Museum on the right. The non-profit museum documents transportation over the 100 years from 1883 until 1983. It displays 60 passenger, commercial, emergency, military and utility vehicles. The museum is open only Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays, from 2 pm – 5 pm. Adult admission is 3 Euros.
14-N – Howth Castle and Howth Castle Cookery School
While the oldest parts of the current Howth Castle date to the mid-fifteenth century, the original castle was built here in 1177. Almeric, the first Lord of Howth, came to Ireland in that year. According to legend, on the Feast Day of St. Lawrence, Almeric won a victory that included possession of Howth peninsula. In gratitude, he took the name of St Lawrence. His descendants still own and live in the castle. The family opens the castle to guided tours in the summer on Sundays in June and August and on Saturdays and Sundays in July.
The Cafe in the Castle is open in the garden during the summer from Thursday to Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm, serving coffee and treats.
Howth Castle Cookery School operates from the original Georgian kitchen in the castle. It offers cooking classes and demonstrations.
To book tours and for updated information about Howth Castle and Howth Cookery School offerings, check the official website:
Return to the DART Station at the end of your perfect day in Howth and you will be back in Dublin in less than 30 minutes!
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Until next time, I hope all your travel days are just perfect!