Exploring Howth: The Viking Village of Dublin

The Norse Origins of Dublin

About nine miles north of Dublin lies the proverbial fishing village of Howth.

Not an unknown or hidden village by any means, though Howth with its stunning coastline and cliff walk that offers some of the most spectacular scenery on the entire east coast of Ireland, is not to be missed for history buffs, the culturally curious and the adventure inclined traveler.

Location:Northeast Ireland
Population:8,706 (2022)
Established:819 A.D
Language:English, Irish Gaelic
Basics of Howth, IE

Once a quaint village with a rather violent origin story, today Howth harbour is the busiest fishing port on the east coast of Ireland.

From Dublin, the best way to get to Howth is to take the train from Connolly Station in downtown and from there, its about a 30 minute trip for less than 10 Euros.


Howth Promenade (2019)

It is here in 819, that the Vikings first arrived in Ireland and began their three century incursion and contribution to Irish society.

It is written in the old historical Chronicle, “The Annals of the Four Masters,” that individuals of unknown origin appeared offshore in 819. They raided the local township at Howth, killed the Gaelic leader known as Eadair, and took the women as slaves.

In the coming years, the Vikings would use Howth to expand into the area of modern Dublin where they would develop a city that would become the Administrative hub of the whole island.

In the eleventh century, Sitric Silkenbeard the Norse king of Dublin, built a church in Howth that was later turned into an Abbey. The ruins of the structure still stand to this day and bolster an already strong, Norse vibe in the village.

It was here in 1914 where the Irish Volunteers trafficked in over 900 rifles that would be used in the prolific Easter Rising in Dublin in 1916, that would ignite the cause of Irish independence.

Howth Cliff Trail

Overlooking Howth, from the Cliff Walk Trail (November 2019)

Though it has spectacular restaurants, a quaint harbor and charming B&B’s, walking the stunning Cliffs of Howth that tops out at about 6 miles long, is the best way to experience the natural beauty of the eastern part of Ireland.

The trail is doable for all who possess a reasonable level of fitness and is fairly safe as welll, despite walking very close to steep drop offs into the ocean.

From the DART station, you will first head along the seafront, along the harbor and next to the (often busy) main street. Beyond the entrance to the East Pier, the path then begins following the coastline, climbing a modest incline, and finally reaching the “Nose of Howth.” Here, make a right turn at the end of the promenade, onto Balscadden Road. This will bring you to the Kilrock parking lot and the beginning of the well-defined cliff trail. Though it might sound like a lot of steps, it is very easy to follow in person.

At this point, you will have reached the clifftops and can enjoy the view, especially of Ireland’s Eye and Lambay Island. On the other side, the whole of Dublin Bay will be in view, along with parts of the Wicklow Mountains. The Howth Cliff Path Loop then continues on through a thick undergrowth of heather and gorse (but thankfully, the path is so well used that it never becomes overgrown). You can take in the beauty of the plants without traversing through them.

A variety of birds and seals, make their home on the sea cliffs of Howth (Nov 2019)
On the South side of the Cliff walk trail (November 2019)

Howth Castle

Howth Castle has long been known to belong to one of the oldest families and clans in Ireland; The St. Lawrences. This castle and estate has belonged to the St. Lawrence family since the Norman Invasion of 1180.

Howth Castle (2019)

Through many centuries, the castle has been ruled by nine lords and fifteen Barons. Wherein the last, Thomas St. Lawrence established the title of Earl to which four more succeeded him. The last Earl died in 1909 and since then the castle and estate has been in the hands of the heirs the Gaisford – St. Lawrence family. 

In October of 2018, St. Lawrence family announced that they had sold the castle and its estate. The estate also includes much of Howth Head and Ireland’s Eye. The land was sold to the Tetrarch Investment group. Since then, they have released a statement saying they plan to turn the estate into a luxury resort destination. More so a plot of this land, located at the gate to the estate was sold to Glenveagh Homes and it’s their intention to build up a residential development by 2023.

The estate is full of some of the most beautiful heathland and flora that Howth hs to offer. Known for its beautiful rhododendron gardens, they’re a must see for anyone during their bloom. They flower huge bright mauve, purple, pink and red flowers during the months of May, June and July. 


King Citric, seafood restaurant near Howth Harbor

King Sitric– In 2000, the old harbour masters house which houses King Sitric, was extensively renovated and the dining room was moved up to the first floor where it commands sweeping views into Balscadden Bay and across the harbour from its large windows. There are eight nautically decorated guest bedrooms that were added, all with sea views.

Through the years, this signature Irish restaurant has won many accolades and countless awards for its high standards.

Aidan MacManus opened The King Sitric in 1971 with a desire to source and serve the best of fish and shellfish that Ireland has to offer. This passion and commitment drove The King Sitric to an international reputation for excellent seafood.

Fresh fish picked daily from Howth Pier, oysters and mussels from the west, lobster caught by fishermen in Balscadden Bay are among the unique specialties of this restaurant

The Summit Inn-

The Summit Inn, as its name suggests, is located at the summit of Howth Hill. The inn was originally built in the 19th century as a thatched cottage and has been in the Gaffney family for generations.

The view from the front of the bar overlooks the magical islands of Ireland’s Eye and Lambay and, further north, The Mountains of Mourne in County Down. Inside, the bar is traditional and cosy with a turf fire in the corner. The pub grub menu caters for all tastes. Fresh, natural ingredients, including fresh fish, are the order of the day. 

The Summit Inn is a unique pub where all ages meet together to enjoy a pint, a snack and relax and watch the world go by. There is a good mix of both local and visitor clientele all struck by the timeless ambience that is The Summit.

With a well-appointed and spacious seating area out front where one can drink or dine the feeling is one of freedom and the views simply breath-taking. Sunny days are made for this! Inside and the pub doesn’t disappoint. The bar is traditional and cosy with a turf fire. The pub grub is excellent and the perfect accompaniment to a few drinks. The menu is select but caters for all tastes.

Howth, IE (2019)

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