Howth is located at the edge of the Howth Peninsula about 9 miles north of Dublin city centre, and 5 miles from Dublin Airport. Originally a fishing village, this popular suburban holiday resort is home to a majestic harbour, lighthouses, beaches, walking trails, martello towers, and is very popular both for both fishing and yachting. It also boasts some of the most stunning scenery in Ireland with breathtaking views across Dublin Bay and as far south as the Wicklow Mountains. Read on for more…
The history of Howth…
Howth derived its name possibly from the Norse Word “Hoved” which translates to “Head” in English. The area was inhabited by some of the first Norse settlers in Ireland in the 9th Century AD and their descendants up until the Norman invasion of 1169. 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.
Howth was once the harbour used by the Postal Service, however heavy silting in the harbour area was only overcome by heavy dredging of the port entrance, and the service was then transferred to Dún Laoghaire. In times past, in the early 20th Century, it was the focal point for arms smuggling into Ireland. In 1914, Robert Erskine Childers, father of a future President of the Republic of Ireland, organised his boat “The Asgard” to land at Howth, where thousands of arms were smuggled into Ireland for use by the Irish Volunteers. Many of these arms were used in the 1916 Rising and Anglo-Irish War from 1919-1921. This historic event, a symbol of the change from Parliamentary Nationalism to armed rebellion, was known as the “Howth Gun Running”.
Attractions and things to do…
Howth head is located in Dublin Bay, and its position gives the visitor some remarkable views of Dublin Bay, the Wicklow Mountains and the Boyne Valley. Part of the Howth Peninsula is Ireland’s Eye, an Island located just 1km north of Howth Harbour. Another island, Lambay Island, lies just 5km to the South. Ireland’s Eye is served by two small boat companies from Howth Harbour in the summer months.
The easiest way to get around Howth is probably on foot. One of the piers along the waterfront is an excellent starting point for your discovery of the area. Such vantage points offer a terrific view of the enchanting islands offshore and the town itself.
You’ll be amazed to discover some 40 feet high forts called Martello Towers in the Howth area. These were originally built as vantage points and defensive structures during the Napoleonic era. One of these has been transformed into a visitor centre.
At the south-eastern corner of Howth Head is the Baily Lighthouse, an automated lighthouse, which is one of the major landmarks of the area. Constructed originally in 1667, it is governed by the Commissioners of Irish Lights. There are extensive cliff paths along the coastline, through Howth village and its ruined abbey, and past Baily Lighthouse.
Located inland is Howth Castle, partly ruined, which dates from the 15th Century. It has impressive and beautiful rhododendron gardens. There’s also a charming and impressive transport museum near the DART railway station at Howth. Also here is Howth’s famous open top tram.
Another tourist attractions is the 12th Century Abbey and graveyard in the heart of the town, also boasting stunning views of the harbour.
The area around Howth Bay has a bird sanctuary which is well worth checking out. It’s popular for both bird watching and sailing. Howth Yacht Club is located in the marina, along with numerous fishing trawlers. If you’re an angling enthusiast, this is the spot for sea fishing. Most types of sea fish such as mackerel and pollack can be caught there, along with cody and ray. Sea mammals such as seals are common sights in and around the marina area as well. Indeed, sea fishing is an integral and important part of Howth’s economy. The harbours are always full of trawlers and smaller craft used for the amassing of shellfish, crab and lobster.
Howth is a popular area for trekking and walking, so if you’re a fan of the outdoors, this area is a must! Howth is a beautifully scenic sea area with a wide range of differing terrains from paths around the coast and rocky hill walks to lush woodlands with well maintained garden areas. Given the compact nature of the area, you can experience all these in a couple of hours walk. Enjoy a leisurely stroll around the harbour and marina to see the fishermen at work. Or fancy a swim? Claremont and Burrow beaches are situated along the peninsula.
If golf is your game, Howth boasts three golf clubs, namely Howth Golf Club, Deer Park Golf Course and Sutton Golf Club. The esteemed and world famous Portmarnock and Royal Dublin courses are within a twenty minutes drive of Howth.
If you’re based in Howth, and a theatre fan, Dublin’s newest theatre, The Helix in Drumcondra is just twenty minutes away. The city centre with the Abbey and Gaiety theatres is just half and hour away.
Where to eat and drink…
There’s no shortage of quality restaurants in the Howth area, many with fresh seafood on the menu. These include the Aqua Seafood Restaurant, the Bloody Stream (at the Dart station), the newly refurbished King Sitric Restaurant, Italian food at Casa Pasta on the Harbour Road, Mexican food at Kruger’s Lounge Restaurant, The Four Earls at the Deer Park Hotel, The Wheelhouse on Harbour Road, and Dee Gees café.
For a creamy pint of Guinness, visit the Bloody Stream at Howth Dart Station, the Findlater Bar, the Waterside Bar and Lounge, across from Howth Yacht Club, or for a night of traditional Irish music visit the Top House beside Howth Church. Near the top of the hill at Howth Summit is the well known Summit Inn with beer garden and stunning views of the north coast of Dublin.
How to get to Howth…
By bus: A number of bus routes operate from Dublin city centre to Howth. You can take the number 31 or 31b from Eden Quay, just off O’Connell Street, to Howth Summit – journey time is roughly 1 hour. The number 31c goes from Sutton Station to Howth DART Station – the journey time is about 30 minutes depending on traffic.
By train: You can take the DART directly from Connolly Station or Tara Street Station to Howth DART station.
By car: Take the N81, then verge onto the N11 and follow this onto the R105 after Eden Quay. The R105 regional road will take you directly into Howth.
You never know who you might meet in Howth…
Howth is home to many celebrities, Irish TV legend Gay Byrne once lived there, along with former Thin Lizzy leader Phil Lynott prior to his death, and multiple Eurovision winner Johnny Logan. It’s now home to some famous musicians including Barney McKenna of the Dubliners, Dolores O’Riordan of the Cranberries, and Larry Mullen of U2. Hollywood Actor Stuart Townsend was born in Howth.