Monday, February 17, 2014

Howth Village

Back to Howth

Howth, the peninsula north of Dublin, is famous for its breathtaking (in more ways than one!) hiking trails, but a beautiful and bustling village welcomes visitors as they get off the handy DART coach.

The first noticeable sight on the Howth skyline (after the mountain, of course) is the ruined abbey on the hill above the harbor.  The ruins are of St. Mary's Abbey, and date to the early 1400s.  Before that, Viking King Sitric had built a church on this same hill.  We were on a bit of a time and energy crunch on this visit, so photos from inside the ruin will have to come from another Howth visit...  Darn.

St. Mary's Abbey From the Harbor in Howth, Co. Dublin
St. Mary's Abbey From the Harbor

Sailboats in Howth Harbor Co. Dublin
Sailboats in Howth Harbor
The harbor itself looks much like the two-pronged structure in Dun Laoghaire.   The West Pier is home to Howth's lively fishing industry, with a small fleet of boats returning with their catch each day to be sold in some of the famous small fishmongers and large commercial seafood suppliers.

The East Pier is a bit longer and less bustling than West Pier.  It has a wide walking path and gives the visitor the closest view of the famous island Ireland's Eye.  At the very end of the East Pier sits a short and functional lighthouse.

East Pier and Lighthouse in Howth, Co. Dublin, Ireland
East Pier and Lighthouse
East Pier from the Trail in Howth, Co. Dublin, Ireland
East Pier from the Trail
Of course, the most noticeable feature of Howth Head is the small mountain rising south of the village.  The mountain shields the view of Dublin and its characteristic smokestacks, giving the visitor a real feeling of rural isolation just outside the city.  From the harbor level, the lower rise of the mountain shields the true top of the hill, giving the adventurous hiker a false sense of security.

Part of the Mountain from the Pier

Post-Hike Refueling

After our big day of hiking, we were hungry and ready for something greasy and delicious.  The main street on harbor level has no shortage of pubs and restaurants, most of them seafood-themed and serving fresh seafood from the large fish markets just across the street.  Not having the time or money to drop in at a nice restaurant, we thought something take away would fit.  We noticed one place in particular had a long line out the door of people speaking with Irish accents.

"A chipper (fish and chips shop) busy with locals? Jackpot!"

Beshoff Bros. claims Howth as its original home, but they have locations elsewhere in the Dublin area.  The Howth shop is a characteristic classic chipper, meaning no inside seating.  Just a storefront, a counter, and a small menu of different cuts of fish, different sauces for the chips (curry sauce is a popular favorite here) and a kids menu of chicken goujons (strips) and burgers.  

Box of Beshoff Bros Fish and Chips in Howth, Co. Dublin, Ireland
Beshoff Box

Cod Goujons and Chips from Beshoff Bros in Howth, Co. Dublin, Ireland
Cod Goujons and Chips
 We stood in line, ordered our cod goujons, stood in the pickup line, and grabbed our warm fried finger friendly meal.  Howth has no shortage of outdoor seating, with a pleasant harborside park full of benches right across the main street.  Unfortunately, it was late December- and cold.  The sun had been shining brightly (and directly into our eyes) on our hike, but when we came down from the hills, the clouds and wind rolled in in force, amplifying the chill in the air. We had to eat our fish and chips quickly sitting in the cold, and they were delicious.  Looking to our left and right, we saw other couples and families doing likewise, huddling together over the warmth of fresh-fried goodness.

After our chips, we took another quick stroll to the end of East Pier for a better photo of the lighthouse and a look out into the sea.  Not pictured here is a seal I saw in water entering the harbor.  I don't think I will ever bore of seeing seals while I live here- although I know they are common and are probably a pest for the fishers bringing in their catch every day.

With the day (and our stamina) waning, we headed back to the DART station and back to our part of Dublin.  There is still more for us to see in Howth. In this trip we skipped the interior of St. Mary's Abbey, Howth Castle and Gardens (now a private residence), some of the longer hiking trails, more famous bars and restaurants, and the extensive fish market.  Guess we'll have to come back again.

...Maybe in the summertime.

East Pier Lighthouse in Howth, Co. Dublin, Ireland
East Pier Lighthouse

Totally Unsolicited Travel Tips

  1. When enjoying Beshoff's (and you should), prepare to wait.  It's a busy place, even in the midafternoon in December.  I can't imagine what it must look like in high summer.  Keep in mind you'll be eating outside and plan according to the weather.
  2. This bears repeating from the last Howth post-  Take the DART train northbound from anywhere in Dublin.  Take the train terminating in HOWTH (not MALAHIDE) and get off at the end of the line.  There is only one line returning from Howth to Dublin, and its termination point will be either BRAY or GREYSTONES- and both of these trains will go through Connolly and the other major Dublin stations.  Unless you are heading farther south, any train will get you back to Dublin proper.
  3. Beyond the chipper, check out that seafood.  Howth is well known in Ireland as the east coast center for fresh seafood.  Even though we didn't have time or funds to check out the restaurants, try to sneak in for a sniff.  At least have a drink before visiting the fish markets and getting yourself a nice fresh haddock, ray, or mackerel.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please leave a comment, we'd love to hear what you think! Comments are word verified to prevent SPAM.