Howth is a peaceful little fishing town just a subway ride away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Dublin. A popular weekend retreat for city dwellers, Howth exemplifies postcard perfection with its picturesque marina, quaint sea side shops and cafés, and historic namesakes.
Tom and I hopped on the subway early that morning south of the Liffey River, and rode through the industrial parts of Dublin out through the countryside to the last stop in Howth. The inviting town displayed an array of colors, from the green grass and stark-white sea wall, to the brick buildings and brightly painted fishing boats. It was a sunny, but windy day and we took our time window shopping along the promenade and exploring the church ruins of Howth Abbey and its graveyard on the hill overlooking the marina.
The 12th century church remains were just corner stones and some walls. Some of the grave markers were ornate, marking whole family lineages, while others had succumbed to natural erosion over time. The churches prime location overlooked the modern day marina filled with leisure sailboats and mini yachts. Further out, the green island preserve of Ireland’s Eye, part of the Howth Estate, weathered the turbulent sea.
We enjoyed a traditional Irish lunch of fish ‘n’ chips with a traditional Irish Guinness, at a traditional Irish pub, The Abbey Tavern. The dark wood beams and tables stood in contrast to the white stucco walls created the perfect atmosphere us travelers were seeking. The crusty old Irish fishermen gulping their beers in a dimly lit corner almost seemed to glower at us foreigners as we made our way to a table in the back.
With our bellies full, we made our way to the sea wall, and walked out to the lighthouse. The wind was strong, and many times we both had to stop and plant our feet hard against the concrete to not get blown down the side. Howth Lighthouse was constructed in 1818, but decommissioned in 1982 after the more modern lighthouse was built on the East Pier extension.
After a hot chocolate reprieve, we braved the wind again along the cliffs for about a mile on the Howth Cliff Walk trails. Yellow wildflowers and green lichens covered the hillside. The path was small with loose rocks, and in some places, only one person could pass at a time. The trail twisted along the cliffs past Bailey Lighthouse on Howth Head, first built in 1667, but because of the dense fog, it was relocated further downhill in 1814.
Back in town, we rested our tired legs and wind burned faces at another pub before our dinner reservation at King Sitric, named after the 11th century Norse King of Dublin. When we arrived, the chefs invited us into the kitchen to meet our dinners. King Sitric’s is a fantastic seafood restaurant serving local oysters, Dublin Bay prawns, and lobster prepared three ways. A final clink of champagne glasses, and it was the perfect end to a perfect day.