When I was reading up on Dublin, one book suggested a couple different itineraries in Dublin depending on how long you want to stay in that area. Seeing as I was staying for 6 nights, I looked into the week long itinerary in Dublin. They mentioned Howth (sounds like ‘both’), saying it was the perfect day trip, not far from Dublin.
The train ticket cost me 6.15 euros return trip, and it only took about 20 minutes to get there. End of the line towards the North so you can’t get lost. I got off the train with a lot of other tourists (seems they all read the same book as I did!) When you leave the train station you are basically in the harbour. There are hundreds of fishing boats in the marina, and there are fish markets and restaurants surrounding this area.
I hadn’t read more about Howth other than to go there, so it turns out I missed quite a lot of stuff there too, but I’m happy it gives me a reason to return to Howth. I promised an old Irish man that I would come back in the Spring. I don’t think I should break that promise. It’s probably a bad omen!
I entered a couple of the fresh fish markets (pictured in the very background of the photo above) and just took a look at what was available. They had quite an array of options available to someone who was in a position to purchase fish! There were fish fillets and whole fish, kept on ice for eager customers to pick up the daily catch. Salmon, trout, lobster, oysters, mussels, and other sea specimens that I didn’t recognize. Here is a board that lets you know what the anglers catch in that area:
I left the markets and legitimately spent the bulk of the next 5 hours walking around the different peers around the marina just looking out to the Irish Sea and really taking in my first sights of Ireland’s raw landscapes. I had seen the coast from the plane window coming into Ireland, but of course, there’s nothing like looking out into the expanse that is the landscape of the sea, and how at certain times of the day, the line is blurred between the end of the sea, and the beginning of the sky.
Looking out, you can see Ireland’s Eye, the island pictured above. Word is that during high season (summer, mainly) there are “water taxis” that take you out to this island and you can take any boat back to the main land once you’re done exploring. While it is a great area for a picnic, I am told the seagulls can be quite… demanding? Also, said water taxis are basically small wooden boats filled to the brim with tourists shuttling back and forth all day. Now where in the news have I seen a similar picture, that often ends in horrible ways…..
Anyway! I am also told that Ireland’s Eye is a seabird sanctuary (see angry seagulls above) where you can see various kinds of birds, but also seals and such, which I think is kinda neat. Apparently, there are also many amazing views where water collides with rock, so worth the trip. Just be sure to wear long pants because there is a great chance you’ll encounter some stinging nettle during your exploration.
There is also a castle in Howth. Or there was. Technically, the castle is now a home for 4 super rich families. But the grounds are open to the public to wander. The castle was originally built in the 1500s and redesigned in the 1900s. The gardens surrounding the castle are free to roam and in the spring, the bulk of the flowers are said to be blooming. There are also ruins on the grounds. The legend surrounding one of these monuments of sorts basically suggests that the woman (Aideen) died of a broken heart when her husband was lost at war in 184 AD. But it’s all bullshit, basically because the monument is at least 300 years older than that. Haha!
The old Irish man I spoke to insisted I come back to examine the gardens and the ruins in the spring, but more importantly to do the cliff walk to Howth Summit. The views, he says, are amazing, and there is a large lighthouse there that is worth the trek to check out. There is also a 2000 year old Celtic royal grave there somewhere, so really it’s a perfect reason to go back!
After you’re done all your walking, there is a strong chance you’ll be hungry. I was, anyway! So I sat down for a glass of beer and some fish and chips from a seaside pub. The meal was good, the beer was cold, and more importantly (to the bulk of the pub) the Manchester United Vs Liverpool game was on. People went ballistic over every close call or lack thereof. Such a strange comparison for the same time of year in Canada. It’s as if the gold medal game was on back home. Or the Stanley Cup. Only I imagine if the soccer equivalent was happening in Europe, I wouldn’t have been able to step foot in the door.
After my meal, I spent an hour or so wandering the streets of Howth. I stumbled upon a farmer’s market where one of the merchants told me her band had played in a pub nearby the night previous, and she was ‘fecking hungover’. Of course, I found this all to be wildly entertaining. That’s when another merchant from the booth across the way came to say hello, after hearing a familiar accent. Turns out he is an American who married an Irish woman, and has spent the past 20 some years here in Ireland. He told me tales of times past when he travelled to Canada. He also told me he wore a Canadian pin over his heart every day. I didn’t believe him, so I made him show me, which he proudly did. The pin was facing inwards, towards his heart. I swear to you. You cannot make this stuff up! He apologized for the American Election result and waved me off with a ‘See ya later, Canuck!’
And just like that, as the sun started setting, I was on the train again towards Dublin.