England Ireland Find Havens
England Ireland Find Routes
Boat
Maintenance
Comfort
Operations
Safety
Other








Howth is an artificial harbour on Ireland's east coast that lies on the north side of the Howth Peninsula that is the northeast point of entrance to Dublin Bay. Protected by Ireland’s Eye, a rocky island that lies close offshore, the harbour is a centre for fishing and yachting and it offers excellent leisure boat facilities. It receives visitors in a marina operated by Howth Yacht Club and it is possible to anchor outside the pier in fair weather conditions.

Howth is an artificial harbour on Ireland's east coast that lies on the north side of the Howth Peninsula that is the northeast point of entrance to Dublin Bay. Protected by Ireland’s Eye, a rocky island that lies close offshore, the harbour is a centre for fishing and yachting and it offers excellent leisure boat facilities. It receives visitors in a marina operated by Howth Yacht Club and it is possible to anchor outside the pier in fair weather conditions.

Howth Harbour affords complete protection and safe access in all reasonable conditions, night and day, at any stage of the tide. Some care should be taken by northern approaching vessels choosing to approach via Howth Sound, passing between Ireland's Eye and the mainland, when a swell is running during east to southeast gales. Likewise, during low water Springs, deep draft craft are advised to stay centre channel when approaching the marina.
Please note

The popularity of Howth's sailing events can often result in the club’s visitor berthing capabilities being overwhelmed. It is therefore advisable to get in touch with the club in the days preceding any planned visit.




Be the first
to comment
Keyfacts for Howth



Last modified
November 9th 2020

Summary

A completely protected location with safe access.

Facilities
Water hosepipe available alongsideWater available via tapWaste disposal bins availableDiesel fuel available alongsidePetrol available alongsideGas availableMini-supermarket or supermarket availableExtensive shopping available in the areaSlipway availableLaundry facilities availableShore power available alongsideShore based toilet facilitiesShowers available in the vicinity or by arrangementHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationCashpoint or bank available in the areaPost Office in the areaInternet via a wireless access point availableDoctor or hospital in the areaPharmacy in the areaChandlery available in the areaTrolley or cart available for unloading and loadingHaul-out capabilities via arrangementBoatyard with hard-standing available here; covered or uncoveredScrubbing posts or a place where a vessel can dry out for a scrub below the waterlineMarine engineering services available in the areaRigging services available in the areaElectronics or electronic repair available in the areaSail making or sail repair servicesBus service available in the areaTrain or tram service available in the areaRegional or international airport within 25 kilometresCar hire available in the areaHandicapped access supportedShore based family recreation in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationMarina or pontoon berthing facilitiesAnchoring locationQuick and easy access from open waterNavigation lights to support a night approachSailing Club baseSet near a village or with a village in the immediate vicinityHistoric, geographic or culturally significant location; or in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Note: can get overwhelmed by visiting boats during peak periodsNote: harbour fees may be charged



 +353 1 8392777     HM  +353 1 8322252      marina@hyc.ie      Ch.M, 80
Position and approaches
Expand to new tab or fullscreen

Haven position

53° 23.647' N, 006° 4.012' W

Howth harbour east pier light tower. A 13 metre tall white and red beacon at the end of the harbour’s northernmost breakwater F1. (2) W.R. 7.5 sec 13m W12M.

What are the initial fixes?

The following waypoints will set up a final approach:

(i) Howth Fairway Initial Fix

53° 23.665' N, 006° 3.256' W

This waypoint sets up a final approach from the southeast (south around Irelands Eye). This is located 400 metres south of the Rowan Rocks east cardinal Q(3) 10 sec and vessels approaching from the north must keep to seward of this cardinal.

(ii) Howth Sound Initial Fix

53° 24.500' N, 006° 4.665' W

This leads through into Howth Sound and passed through the fairway on a line of bearing of 158° T that may be seen by aligning the Martello Tower, situated in the southeast corner of Howth harbour 1.3 miles distant, aligned against the eastern side of the harbour entrance.
Please note

Initial fixes only set up their listed targets. Do not plan to sail directly between initial fixes as a routing sequence.




What are the key points of the approach?

Offshore details are available in eastern Ireland’s Coastal Overview from Strangford Lough to Dublin Bay Route location. Details for vessels approaching from the south are available in eastern Ireland’s coastal overview from Dublin Bay to Rosslare Harbour Route location.

  • Ireland’s Eye's north and east sides are are steep-too but not the southern end. Vessels must keep to seaward of the Rowan Rocks east cardinal, Q(3) 10 sec.

  • Make for the Howth Buoy, Fl.G5, that is the 'Howth Fairway initial fix'.

  • Then steer to pass the South Rowan, Q.G.

  • Then steer to round the head of the breakwater extension marked by a conspicuous beacon, Fl. (2) W.R. 7.5 sec 13m W12M.

  • Enter taking a central path, standing 50 metres off the head of the East Pier extension.


Not what you need?
Click the 'Next' and 'Previous' buttons to progress through neighbouring havens in a coastal 'clockwise' or 'anti-clockwise' sequence. Below are the ten nearest havens to Howth for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Balscadden Bay - 0.3 miles SSE
  2. Carrigeen Bay - 0.4 miles NNW
  3. Malahide - 2.9 miles NW
  4. Talbot’s Bay - 3.5 miles NNE
  5. Seal Hole Bay - 3.8 miles NNE
  6. The Boat Harbour - 3.8 miles N
  7. Dublin Port - 3.8 miles WSW
  8. Dún Laoghaire Harbour - 3.9 miles SSW
  9. Saltpan Bay - 3.9 miles NNE
  10. Rogerstown Inlet - 4.5 miles NNW
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Balscadden Bay - 0.3 miles SSE
  2. Carrigeen Bay - 0.4 miles NNW
  3. Malahide - 2.9 miles NW
  4. Talbot’s Bay - 3.5 miles NNE
  5. Seal Hole Bay - 3.8 miles NNE
  6. The Boat Harbour - 3.8 miles N
  7. Dublin Port - 3.8 miles WSW
  8. Dún Laoghaire Harbour - 3.9 miles SSW
  9. Saltpan Bay - 3.9 miles NNE
  10. Rogerstown Inlet - 4.5 miles NNW
To find locations with the specific attributes you need try:

Resources search



What's the story here?
Howth Harbour
Image: Bjørn Christian Tørrissen via CC BY-SA 2.0


Howth Harbour is situated on the north shore of the Ben of Howth peninsula, nearly 1 mile to the northwest of the Nose of Howth. It is formed by two piers, East and West, that run out from the shore towards the small barren rocky island of Ireland’s Eye that lies immediately offshore. Within its outer arms, is a central Trawler Pier Breakwater which curves out from the head of the harbour to divide the fishing port, on the west side, from a separate marina that lies behind a Marina Breakwater on the east. The town of Howth is located at the foot of the piers. The harbour is predominantly a fishing port with some processing performed in the fishing harbour area and some boat maintenance. It is also a major small craft and yachting centre.


Howth Marina
Image: Brian Lennon


The Harbour Master controls movement and berthing within the harbour and leisure craft are not accommodated in the Trawler Basin. Visiting vessels may berth in the marina that is operated by Howth Yacht Club External link. Yachts are requested to contact Howth Yacht Club before entering the harbour. The marina office maintains a 24-hour listening watch on VHF Ch M (37A) and Ch 80, Landline+353 (0)1 839 2777, E-mailmarina@hyc.ie. As the marina is subject to overcrowding it is highly advisable to contact the marina office in the days before any intended arrival.

It is also possible to anchor immediately outside of the entrance to the west of head of the West Pier.


How to get in?
Ben Of Howth as seen from the north with Dublin Bay in the backdrop
Image: Tearbringer via CC BY-SA 4.0


Convergance Point Ireland’s Coastal Overview from Strangford Lough to Dublin Bay Route location provide approach details. Vessels approaching from the south can also avail of the Dublin Bay to Rosslare Harbour Route location coastal overview.


Ben Of Howth as seen from the south
Image: Tearbringer via CC BY-SA 4.0


From seaward the Ben Of Howth is the key mark rising abruptly on the north side of Dublin Bay and is the most prominent feature of the area. The Baily Light, a white tower, 13 metres high and standing at an elevation of 41 metres, is conspicuously sited on the southeastmost point of the Howth Peninsula.


The Baily Light on the south-eastmost point of the Howth Peninsula
Image: Paul O'Donnell via CC BY 2.0


The east side of the Ben of Howth is steep-to as is most of the headland around to the Nose of Howth. The exceptions are close in about 400 to 1,200 metres north of the Bailey, and at Casana Rock situated 800 metres south of the Nose where a distance-off of 50 metres is recommended. Immediately northwest of the Nose there is a drying rock that lies about 50 metres outside Puck's Rocks. Standing out 200 metres from the shore clears all dangers.


The East Pier Light and the disused lighthouse (right)
Image: Tourism Ireland


Howth Harbour is located 1 mile to the northwest of 'The Nose' and is easily distinguished by its East Pier light tower at the entrance. This is a 13 metre tall white and red beacon at the end of the harbour’s northernmost breakwater. The prominent, and now disused, granite lighthouse stands close inside on the pier. These marks along with the small island of Ireland’s Eye is situated close north of the harbour entrance make Howth Harbour unmistakable from seaward.

Howth East Pier - Fl (2) W.R. 7.5 sec 13m W12/9M position: 53° 23.647'N, 006° 4.012'W


Ireland's Eye close north of the harbour
Image: Tourism Ireland


Howth Harbour may be accessed via two approaches:

  • • South of Ireland’s Eye, via the Howth Fairway, which is available for boats approaching from all directions.

  • • West of Ireland’s Eye, via Howth Sound, which is an alternate option available to vessels approaching from the north.

The primary approach is to pass around the island’s eastern or seaward side and approach the harbour around its southern end which is well marked, lit and has the least depth of more than 4 metres LAT. The 'Howth Fairway initial fix' sets up this principal approach.

Vessels approaching from the north have the additional option to pass inside the island and approach the harbour via Howth Sound. Passing through Howth Sound, that lies west of the island and east of the Baldoyle Spit extending from the mainland, is a little more involved but nothing overly complex. At low water, Howth Sound is about ½ a mile wide with depths decreasing towards each side. The west of Ireland’s Eye is shallower with not more than 2.7 metres of water in the middle. On account of this, mariners with vessels drawing more than 1.8 metres should not use this approach at low water after a strong easterly gale that has developed a swell. Apart from this, the approach should not present any difficulty and the 'Howth Sound Initial Fix' sets up this route.


Approaching Via Howth Fairway

Ireland's Eye and the Rowan Rocks east cardinal buoy
Image: Kevin Decherf via CC BY-SA 3.0


Initial fix location The 'Howth Fairway initial fix' sets up an approach via the principal channel that lies between the harbour entrance and Ireland's Eye. This is the position of the starboard hand Howth Buoy, Fl.G 5.

Vessels approaching from the north will find the north and east sides of Ireland’s Eye are steep-to, with 8 and 12 metres water at a 100 metres out from the rocks. Not so the southward end and vessels must keep to seaward of the Rowan Rocks east cardinal, Q(3) 10 sec.


Thulla as seen from Ireland's Eye
Image: Sonsa via CC BY SA 2.0


It is moored about a ¼ of a mile southeast of Ireland’s Eye, or more appropriately Thulla. This is a 2 metres high, sparsely vegetated outcrop island that is surrounded by an extensive area of bedrock, heavily covered by brown seaweeds, that exposes at low tide between Thulla and the main island.

South Rowan Buoy
Image: Tourism Ireland


The Howth Buoy is moored ¼ southwestward of the Rowan Rocks east cardinal buoy. From the Initial Fix, set at the Howth Buoy, access is very clear-cut. Steer from the starboard Howth Buoy to the second starboard South Rowan, Q.G. on a bearing of about 285° T about 400 metres west-northwest. Keeping these buoys to starboard passes south of the shoals extending from Ireland’s Eye.


South Rowan as seen over the breakwater extension
Image: Brian Lennon


The entrance is the less than 400 metres from the latter South Rowan buoy where all that is required is to round the head of the new breakwater extension made conspicuous by the beacon at its head. At night this Fl. (2) W.R. 7.5 sec 13m 12M it shows a white light 256° - 295°, red elsewhere. The white-sector leading safely through the passage clear of Rowan Rocks and to the northeast of the pierhead.


Fishing boat entering from the north
Image: Brian Lennon


The entrance within is 100 metres wide with a least charted depth of 3.7 metres and 3.4 metres in the harbour. On final approach do not turn into the harbour until it is well open and enter taking a central path, keeping an eye out for departing fishing vessels. It is essential to stand 50 metres off the Head of the East Pier extension. In easterly gales, a heavy sea can be experienced outside the entrance, but once around the breakwater extension, a leisure vessel is well protected.


Approaching Via Howth Sound

Lateral marks in the outer harbour leading into the marina
Image: Brian Lennon


Initial fix location Vessels approaching from the north have the option of using the 'Howth Sound Initial Fix' to pass inside Ireland's Eye. When closing on the fix identify The Steer on the north-westernmost end of Ireland’s Eye, close north of the Martello tower.

Ireland’s Eye Martello tower - position: 53° 24.500 N, 6° 04.200W


Ireland's Eye Martello and The Steer as seen from the east
Image: Asinka Photography via CC BY 2.0


Keep two hundred metres off the northwest corner of the island as although the island is steep-to there are a couple of off-lying dangers on this corner. A rock dries to a height of two metres approximately one hundred metres northeast of The Steer. There is also another sunken rock close to the west of The Steer.


Martello on Ireland's Eye as seen through the entrance to Howth Harbour
Image: Tourism Ireland


The initial fix is set on the line of bearing of 158° T that leads through the sound to the entrance. This aligns the mainland Martello Tower, situated in the southeast corner of Howth Harbour, against the eastern side of the harbour entrance.


Howth Martello standing on the high ground over the harbour
Image: William Murphy via CC BY SA 2.0


This transit may be difficult to see owing to the building infrastructure in the harbour area. If the transit cannot be located simply keep ½ mile off the west side of Ireland’s Eye and in about 2.5 metres LWS. Maintain a careful depth sounder watch to make certain the vessel is not coming inshore and proceed with caution. On closer approaches, the tower coming into line with the outer end of the pier will be more readily apparent.


Carrigeen Rock extending from Ireland's Eye to the Sound
Image: Asinka Photography via CC BY 2.0


The transit passes to the west of Carrigeen Rock, a rocky outcrop extending from the southwest side of Ireland's Eye, and to the west of South Rowan Light buoy.


The entrance to Howth Harbour
Image: Brian Lennon


Haven location Inside the entrance there are swinging moorings and two channels as the harbour is divided into two halves. To the south is the marked channel into the yacht club marina and to the west, between two lit bull nose marks, is the entrance to the trawler dock. The western fishing fleet is based in the western inner harbour, and the adjoining eastern and southern section of the harbour is the pleasure boat area.
Please note

A speed limit of 4 knots is in force in the Harbour and Marina area.



The marina’s dredged channel is clearly marked with a series of port and starboard markers. It is important to keep between these as the harbour dries on either side at low water. Depths of 2.6 metres are available in the marina area but deep-draft vessels should stay in the middle of the entrance fairway at low water springs.


The marina and its approaches
Image: Brian Lennon


Berth as directed by the marina office, Howth Yacht Club pontoon plan and facilities External link, and upon arrival register at the Marina Office at the top of the Marina Bridge.


Why visit here?
Howth, pronounced to rhyme with 'both', derives its name from the old Norse word of 'höfuth' meaning 'head' or 'rocky headland'. Its name speaks of its peninsula nature, jutting out almost island-like into the Irish Sea, and a long Viking heritage. Its Irish name of Benn Étair predates this referring to the ancient Irish name for the Hill of Howth Benn Étair meaning 'Éadar's peak'.

The Vikings first invaded Howth in 819 and it was not long after that Howth was colonised as part of a chain of east coast bases, which included Dublin, to provide a strategic pathway from Scandinavia to the Mediterranean. The 'Danish' occupation reign came to an end in 1014 when Brian Ború, the High King of Ireland, managed to unify the Irish regional leaders to overthrow the Vikings. Howth, however, was to be the last Viking holdout as many fled to regroup here after the defeat. Their power remained in force until a final defeat in Fingal in the middle of the 11th-Century and the area then came under the control of a localised Norse-Gaels leadership.


Howth Castle as depicted in the 18th-Century
Image: Public Domain


In 1169 the Anglo-Normans landed in Wexford and began to extend their conquest in earnest the following year. Without the support of either the Irish or Scandinavian powers, Howth was isolated and fell to the Normans in 1177. The winning Norman, Armoricus, or Almeric, Tristam took his prize of the lands between the village and Sutton. In accordance with a vow made with God before the battle of the hill of Howth, Tristam took on the name St. Lawrence after his victory, the feast day of the saint on which his battle was won. Henry II of England bestowed the title of 'Baron of Howth' to Almeric St. Lawrence in 1181 and he built his first castle near the harbour. The family has owned the land ever since though the unbroken chain of male succession came to an end in 1909.


The ruins of St Mary’s Abbey
Image: psyberartist via CC BY 2.0


Within the castle grounds are the ruins of St Mary’s Abbey originally founded in 1042 by the Viking King Sitric, who also founded the original church on the site of Christ Church Cathedral. The church was replaced around 1235 by an abbey and amalgamated with the monastery on Ireland's Eye, and then rebuilt again late 14th century. Some parts of the ruins date from that time, but most are from the 15th and 16th centuries. The tomb of Christopher St Lawrence (Lord Howth), in the southeastern corner, dates from around 1470.


Howth in 1880
Image: National Library of Ireland on The Commons


By this time Howth had developed as a trading port which can be seen in the duty collections that officials supervised from Dublin. The substantial harbour encountered today was commenced in 1807 to receive the packet boats, or postal service vessels, from England. It was completed by John Rennie in 1809 at the cost of nearly half a million pounds, a sum that did not include the construction of Howth Road to Dublin that was built to ensure the rapid transfer of mail to the city. After this extensive investment, Howth started to take off, but Howth’s period of importance would be short-lived.


Imprint of George IV's footsteps on the west pier
Image: William Murphy via CC BY SA 2.0


The replacement of sailing packets with steam packets in 1819 reduced the transit time from Holyhead to seven hours and spelt the end of Howth. It was a shallow harbour with a rocky bottom that precluded any dredging so the introduction of the deeper bigger steam packets made it increasingly unsuitable. Worse, as early as 1813 the harbour was already showing signs of silting up and needed to be frequently dredged to accommodate the packet. The 'writing on the wall' came for Howth in 1807 with the tragic loss of the 'Rochdale' and 'H.M. Packet ship Prince of Wales' in Dublin Bay. This created the catalyst for the creation of a safe deep water Dublin Bay harbour in Dún Laoghaire. Dún Laoghaire's construction commenced in 1817 and lasted until 1859. As early as 1833 the packet service had relocated to Dún Laoghaire.

Erskine Childers in uniform 1899
Image: Public Domain
One of the largest advocates for the Dún Laoghaire harbour was King George IV. Nevertheless, on his famous visit to the Emerald Isle in 1821 he first touched Irish ground at Howth. His Howth visit was noted for how he weaved his way off the boat in an intoxicated state and the footprints at the point where he stepped ashore are recorded to this day on the West Pier. He later departed from Dún Laoghaire after examining the work and giving the harbour the new name of Kingstown.

Almost a century later, in July 1914, another extraordinary Englishman, with an equally remarkable wife, stepped over King George IV’s footsteps risking his life to set Ireland free from England and King George V. This was the keen sailor and ardent Republican Erskine Childers the author of the sailing favourite 'The Riddle of the Sands'. He arrived in Howth with his partially handicapped wife Mary 'Molly' Alden Childers in his 51-foot (16 m) 28-ton yacht Asgard. Aboard was a cargo of 900, elderly but serviceable, Mauser Model 1871 rifles and 29,000 black powder cartridges to arm the nationalists called the 'Irish Volunteers'.

The Volunteers unloaded the arms in daylight at the harbour, in front of a crowd. The Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP), aided by troops of the 2nd King's Own Scottish Borderers, tried unsuccessfully to confiscate the weapons. On their return to their barracks in Dublin, some troops baited by a hostile crowd killed three people and wounded 38. A fourth man died later. Nationalists interpreted the contrast between the inactivity of the police and military in Larne Click to view haven, that took place in the middle of an April night, and the heavy-handed response in the middle of the day in Dublin, that authorities were biased in favour of the UVF. The corresponding episodes heightened tensions in Ireland, pulling it closer to the brink of north-south civil war. Partition prevented the north-south war from occurring but brought instead a civil war within the Free State that would, in turn, embroil Erskine.


Erskine and his wife cruising Asgard in 1910
Image: Public Domain


Eight years later, in 1922, a bitter twist of fate caused Erskine to be arrested by the nascent Free State forces for being in possession of a small semi-automatic pistol. At the height of the civil war, this was in violation of the Emergency Powers Resolution that banned firearms. Childers had vehemently opposed the Irish Treaty agreement, particularly the clauses that required Irish leaders to take an Oath of Allegiance to the British King and went against the agreement. Ironically the pistol had been a gift from Michael Collins, the leader of the pro-treaty Provisional Government, and had been given to him when the two men were close friends on the same side. Court-martialled by his former comrades he was sentenced to execution which was carried out by firing squad on November 24th. Before his execution, in a spirit of reconciliation, Childers shook hands with each of the firing squad. He also obtained a solemn promise from his then 16-year-old son, Erskine Hamilton Childers, to seek out and shake the hand of every man who had signed his father's death warrant. His last words to the firing squad, were characteristically in the nature of a joke: "Take a step or two forward, lads. It will be easier that way. "


Molly, Erskine and the Volunteers offloading the guns at Howth
Image: Public Domain


The Asgard was acquired by the Irish government as a sail training vessel in 1961, stored on dry land in the yard of Kilmainham Gaol in 1979, and finally becoming a static exhibit at The National Museum of Ireland in 2012. The Asgard is often confused with the 'Dulcibella'; the boat referenced in Robert Erskine Childers's classic novel 'The Riddle of the Sands'. The 'Dulcibella' was a totally different vessel. His son Erskine Hamilton Childers became the fourth President of Ireland serving from 1973 until his death in 1974.


Robert Erskine Childers Asgard memorial on Howth pier
Image: William Murphy via CC BY SA 2.0


Today Howth is a much less war-like suburb of Dublin, a busy fishing and yachting port, that has all the cafes, hotels, fish restaurants and public houses that one would expect of a popular suburban resort. Of particular interest here is the Howth Head peninsula for the more energetic. Coming up from the pier and taking the leftmost road from the harbour will lead to a signposted walking trail commencing to the east of the town. From here hikers can choose from a wide range of routes, including the Cliff Walk or make for the ancient cairn said to mark a 2000-year-old Celtic royal grave on one of Howth's several summits.


Howth's old western granit pierhead light
Image: Giuseppe Milo


The southern part of the cliff walk as a whole takes between 3 and 4 hours but it is well worth the walk as the views it presents are breath-taking. On clear days, the Wicklow Mountains can be seen, with Dublin city below. Along the way, at the southeastern corner, walkers will come across Dublin's most visible lighthouse, the 1814 Baily Lighthouse on the site of an old stone fort.

Baily Lighthouse terminating the southeast extremity of the Ben of Howth
peninsula

Image: Tourism Ireland


Closer to the harbour and lying slightly inland the 16th-century Howth Castle, which is partly in ruins, is also worth a visit. Constructed in 1564 but much changed over the years, most recently in 1910 when Sir Edwin Lutyens gave it a modernist makeover. It is one of the oldest occupied buildings in Ireland and today it is divided into four very posh and private residences. The grounds of its estate with fine rhododendron gardens and the Deer Park are open to the public and key features of the area. Within the castle is a small, but impressive, voluntary run transport museum.


Howth Castle and environs today
Image: O'Dea via CC BY-SA 4.0


In the grounds of castle lies an ancient collapsed Dolmen (tomb chamber or portal tomb made of vertical stones topped by a huge capstone) known locally as Aideen's Grave and the ruins of the 16th-century Corr Castle. The Martello tower overlooking Howth harbour is now open as a visitor centre containing the 'Ye Olde Hurdy Gurdy' Museum of vintage radio. It offers a fine collection of exhibits chronicling the history of telecommunications from the 1840s to date.


Howth fishermen repairing their nets on the quays
Image: William Murphy via CC BY SA 2.0


Those who loved Ireland’s rock legend Phil Lynott (1949 - 1986) may also take the opportunity to pay their last respects to the artist during a visit to Howth. Lynott was an Irish musician, singer and songwriter and his most successful group was 'Thin Lizzy', of which he was a founding member, the principal songwriter, lead vocalist and bassist. He later also found success as a solo artist. Sadly his last years were to be dogged by drug and alcohol dependency that caused his life to end at the young age of 36. Lynott's final resting place is in St. Fintan's Cemetery located in Sutton on the opposite side of the Ben of Howth that looks over Dublin Bay. It is just off a circular walk of the Ben of Howth and around 4 KM, or 50 minutes’ walk, from Howth.


The welcoming light of Howth Harbour
Image: Giuseppe Milo via CC BY 2.0


From a coastal sailing perspective, Howth has just about everything a visiting boater could want. It is a national centre for yachting with easy access, excellent protection, copious facilities, a direct connection to the capital via a regular commuter rail service plus it has an attractive surrounding cruising area. This is an ideal location to attend to boat work, provisions, and to explore not only Howth but Dublin itself. Howth Yacht Club is particularly welcoming and can trace its origins back to 1895. Today it has the largest yacht-club membership in Ireland combining the modern with the traditional.


What facilities are available?
From a boating perspective lift-out, repair, fuel, provisioning, chandlery, and general shopping etc. are all available. Howth is a major yachting centre and it has virtually everything.

Freshwater can be obtained at the Club Marina, electricity at the pontoon, toilets and showers are available, and diesel is supplied 24 hours a day. Local shops, supermarkets and restaurants will cater for food supplies.

Howth is at the end of a regional road from Dublin City and is one of the northern termini of the DART ( Dublin Area Rapid Transport) +353 1 836 6222; www.irishrail.ie) provides quick train access to the coast as far south as Greystones in County Wicklow. It is also served by Dublin Bus. Dublin international airport is very close to Howth and is only a short taxi ride away, ideal for crew changes.


Any security concerns?
Access to the Clubhouse and Marina, and to the Marina gate, is gained by using the intercom system located at the main entrance and by security keys.


With thanks to:
Charlie Kavanagh - ISA/RYA Yachtmaster Instructor/Examiner.














































An aerial overview of the harbour area.




Phil Lynott and Thin Lizzy performing their rock version of 'Whiskey in the jar'


About Howth

Howth, pronounced to rhyme with 'both', derives its name from the old Norse word of 'höfuth' meaning 'head' or 'rocky headland'. Its name speaks of its peninsula nature, jutting out almost island-like into the Irish Sea, and a long Viking heritage. Its Irish name of Benn Étair predates this referring to the ancient Irish name for the Hill of Howth Benn Étair meaning 'Éadar's peak'.

The Vikings first invaded Howth in 819 and it was not long after that Howth was colonised as part of a chain of east coast bases, which included Dublin, to provide a strategic pathway from Scandinavia to the Mediterranean. The 'Danish' occupation reign came to an end in 1014 when Brian Ború, the High King of Ireland, managed to unify the Irish regional leaders to overthrow the Vikings. Howth, however, was to be the last Viking holdout as many fled to regroup here after the defeat. Their power remained in force until a final defeat in Fingal in the middle of the 11th-Century and the area then came under the control of a localised Norse-Gaels leadership.


Howth Castle as depicted in the 18th-Century
Image: Public Domain


In 1169 the Anglo-Normans landed in Wexford and began to extend their conquest in earnest the following year. Without the support of either the Irish or Scandinavian powers, Howth was isolated and fell to the Normans in 1177. The winning Norman, Armoricus, or Almeric, Tristam took his prize of the lands between the village and Sutton. In accordance with a vow made with God before the battle of the hill of Howth, Tristam took on the name St. Lawrence after his victory, the feast day of the saint on which his battle was won. Henry II of England bestowed the title of 'Baron of Howth' to Almeric St. Lawrence in 1181 and he built his first castle near the harbour. The family has owned the land ever since though the unbroken chain of male succession came to an end in 1909.


The ruins of St Mary’s Abbey
Image: psyberartist via CC BY 2.0


Within the castle grounds are the ruins of St Mary’s Abbey originally founded in 1042 by the Viking King Sitric, who also founded the original church on the site of Christ Church Cathedral. The church was replaced around 1235 by an abbey and amalgamated with the monastery on Ireland's Eye, and then rebuilt again late 14th century. Some parts of the ruins date from that time, but most are from the 15th and 16th centuries. The tomb of Christopher St Lawrence (Lord Howth), in the southeastern corner, dates from around 1470.


Howth in 1880
Image: National Library of Ireland on The Commons


By this time Howth had developed as a trading port which can be seen in the duty collections that officials supervised from Dublin. The substantial harbour encountered today was commenced in 1807 to receive the packet boats, or postal service vessels, from England. It was completed by John Rennie in 1809 at the cost of nearly half a million pounds, a sum that did not include the construction of Howth Road to Dublin that was built to ensure the rapid transfer of mail to the city. After this extensive investment, Howth started to take off, but Howth’s period of importance would be short-lived.


Imprint of George IV's footsteps on the west pier
Image: William Murphy via CC BY SA 2.0


The replacement of sailing packets with steam packets in 1819 reduced the transit time from Holyhead to seven hours and spelt the end of Howth. It was a shallow harbour with a rocky bottom that precluded any dredging so the introduction of the deeper bigger steam packets made it increasingly unsuitable. Worse, as early as 1813 the harbour was already showing signs of silting up and needed to be frequently dredged to accommodate the packet. The 'writing on the wall' came for Howth in 1807 with the tragic loss of the 'Rochdale' and 'H.M. Packet ship Prince of Wales' in Dublin Bay. This created the catalyst for the creation of a safe deep water Dublin Bay harbour in Dún Laoghaire. Dún Laoghaire's construction commenced in 1817 and lasted until 1859. As early as 1833 the packet service had relocated to Dún Laoghaire.

Erskine Childers in uniform 1899
Image: Public Domain
One of the largest advocates for the Dún Laoghaire harbour was King George IV. Nevertheless, on his famous visit to the Emerald Isle in 1821 he first touched Irish ground at Howth. His Howth visit was noted for how he weaved his way off the boat in an intoxicated state and the footprints at the point where he stepped ashore are recorded to this day on the West Pier. He later departed from Dún Laoghaire after examining the work and giving the harbour the new name of Kingstown.

Almost a century later, in July 1914, another extraordinary Englishman, with an equally remarkable wife, stepped over King George IV’s footsteps risking his life to set Ireland free from England and King George V. This was the keen sailor and ardent Republican Erskine Childers the author of the sailing favourite 'The Riddle of the Sands'. He arrived in Howth with his partially handicapped wife Mary 'Molly' Alden Childers in his 51-foot (16 m) 28-ton yacht Asgard. Aboard was a cargo of 900, elderly but serviceable, Mauser Model 1871 rifles and 29,000 black powder cartridges to arm the nationalists called the 'Irish Volunteers'.

The Volunteers unloaded the arms in daylight at the harbour, in front of a crowd. The Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP), aided by troops of the 2nd King's Own Scottish Borderers, tried unsuccessfully to confiscate the weapons. On their return to their barracks in Dublin, some troops baited by a hostile crowd killed three people and wounded 38. A fourth man died later. Nationalists interpreted the contrast between the inactivity of the police and military in Larne Click to view haven, that took place in the middle of an April night, and the heavy-handed response in the middle of the day in Dublin, that authorities were biased in favour of the UVF. The corresponding episodes heightened tensions in Ireland, pulling it closer to the brink of north-south civil war. Partition prevented the north-south war from occurring but brought instead a civil war within the Free State that would, in turn, embroil Erskine.


Erskine and his wife cruising Asgard in 1910
Image: Public Domain


Eight years later, in 1922, a bitter twist of fate caused Erskine to be arrested by the nascent Free State forces for being in possession of a small semi-automatic pistol. At the height of the civil war, this was in violation of the Emergency Powers Resolution that banned firearms. Childers had vehemently opposed the Irish Treaty agreement, particularly the clauses that required Irish leaders to take an Oath of Allegiance to the British King and went against the agreement. Ironically the pistol had been a gift from Michael Collins, the leader of the pro-treaty Provisional Government, and had been given to him when the two men were close friends on the same side. Court-martialled by his former comrades he was sentenced to execution which was carried out by firing squad on November 24th. Before his execution, in a spirit of reconciliation, Childers shook hands with each of the firing squad. He also obtained a solemn promise from his then 16-year-old son, Erskine Hamilton Childers, to seek out and shake the hand of every man who had signed his father's death warrant. His last words to the firing squad, were characteristically in the nature of a joke: "Take a step or two forward, lads. It will be easier that way. "


Molly, Erskine and the Volunteers offloading the guns at Howth
Image: Public Domain


The Asgard was acquired by the Irish government as a sail training vessel in 1961, stored on dry land in the yard of Kilmainham Gaol in 1979, and finally becoming a static exhibit at The National Museum of Ireland in 2012. The Asgard is often confused with the 'Dulcibella'; the boat referenced in Robert Erskine Childers's classic novel 'The Riddle of the Sands'. The 'Dulcibella' was a totally different vessel. His son Erskine Hamilton Childers became the fourth President of Ireland serving from 1973 until his death in 1974.


Robert Erskine Childers Asgard memorial on Howth pier
Image: William Murphy via CC BY SA 2.0


Today Howth is a much less war-like suburb of Dublin, a busy fishing and yachting port, that has all the cafes, hotels, fish restaurants and public houses that one would expect of a popular suburban resort. Of particular interest here is the Howth Head peninsula for the more energetic. Coming up from the pier and taking the leftmost road from the harbour will lead to a signposted walking trail commencing to the east of the town. From here hikers can choose from a wide range of routes, including the Cliff Walk or make for the ancient cairn said to mark a 2000-year-old Celtic royal grave on one of Howth's several summits.


Howth's old western granit pierhead light
Image: Giuseppe Milo


The southern part of the cliff walk as a whole takes between 3 and 4 hours but it is well worth the walk as the views it presents are breath-taking. On clear days, the Wicklow Mountains can be seen, with Dublin city below. Along the way, at the southeastern corner, walkers will come across Dublin's most visible lighthouse, the 1814 Baily Lighthouse on the site of an old stone fort.

Baily Lighthouse terminating the southeast extremity of the Ben of Howth
peninsula

Image: Tourism Ireland


Closer to the harbour and lying slightly inland the 16th-century Howth Castle, which is partly in ruins, is also worth a visit. Constructed in 1564 but much changed over the years, most recently in 1910 when Sir Edwin Lutyens gave it a modernist makeover. It is one of the oldest occupied buildings in Ireland and today it is divided into four very posh and private residences. The grounds of its estate with fine rhododendron gardens and the Deer Park are open to the public and key features of the area. Within the castle is a small, but impressive, voluntary run transport museum.


Howth Castle and environs today
Image: O'Dea via CC BY-SA 4.0


In the grounds of castle lies an ancient collapsed Dolmen (tomb chamber or portal tomb made of vertical stones topped by a huge capstone) known locally as Aideen's Grave and the ruins of the 16th-century Corr Castle. The Martello tower overlooking Howth harbour is now open as a visitor centre containing the 'Ye Olde Hurdy Gurdy' Museum of vintage radio. It offers a fine collection of exhibits chronicling the history of telecommunications from the 1840s to date.


Howth fishermen repairing their nets on the quays
Image: William Murphy via CC BY SA 2.0


Those who loved Ireland’s rock legend Phil Lynott (1949 - 1986) may also take the opportunity to pay their last respects to the artist during a visit to Howth. Lynott was an Irish musician, singer and songwriter and his most successful group was 'Thin Lizzy', of which he was a founding member, the principal songwriter, lead vocalist and bassist. He later also found success as a solo artist. Sadly his last years were to be dogged by drug and alcohol dependency that caused his life to end at the young age of 36. Lynott's final resting place is in St. Fintan's Cemetery located in Sutton on the opposite side of the Ben of Howth that looks over Dublin Bay. It is just off a circular walk of the Ben of Howth and around 4 KM, or 50 minutes’ walk, from Howth.


The welcoming light of Howth Harbour
Image: Giuseppe Milo via CC BY 2.0


From a coastal sailing perspective, Howth has just about everything a visiting boater could want. It is a national centre for yachting with easy access, excellent protection, copious facilities, a direct connection to the capital via a regular commuter rail service plus it has an attractive surrounding cruising area. This is an ideal location to attend to boat work, provisions, and to explore not only Howth but Dublin itself. Howth Yacht Club is particularly welcoming and can trace its origins back to 1895. Today it has the largest yacht-club membership in Ireland combining the modern with the traditional.

Other options in this area


Click the 'Next' and 'Previous' buttons to progress through neighbouring havens in a coastal 'clockwise' or 'anti-clockwise' sequence. Alternatively here are the ten nearest havens available in picture view:
Coastal clockwise:
Balscadden Bay - 0.3 miles SSE
Dublin Port - 3.8 miles WSW
Dún Laoghaire Harbour - 3.9 miles SSW
Dalkey Island - 4.6 miles S
Sorrento Point - 4.7 miles S
Coastal anti-clockwise:
Carrigeen Bay - 0.4 miles NNW
Malahide - 2.9 miles NW
Talbot’s Bay - 3.5 miles NNE
Seal Hole Bay - 3.8 miles NNE
Saltpan Bay - 3.9 miles NNE

Navigational pictures


These additional images feature in the 'How to get in' section of our detailed view for Howth.






































































An aerial overview of the harbour area.




Phil Lynott and Thin Lizzy performing their rock version of 'Whiskey in the jar'



A photograph is worth a thousand words. We are always looking for bright sunny photographs that show this haven and its identifiable features at its best. If you have some images that we could use please upload them here. All we need to know is how you would like to be credited for your work and a brief description of the image if it is not readily apparent. If you would like us to add a hyperlink from the image that goes back to your site please include the desired link and we will be delighted to that for you.


Add your review or comment:

Please log in to leave a review of this haven.



Please note eOceanic makes no guarantee of the validity of this information, we have not visited this haven and do not have first-hand experience to qualify the data. Although the contributors are vetted by peer review as practised authorities, they are in no way, whatsoever, responsible for the accuracy of their contributions. It is essential that you thoroughly check the accuracy and suitability for your vessel of any waypoints offered in any context plus the precision of your GPS. Any data provided on this page is entirely used at your own risk and you must read our legal page if you view data on this site. Free to use sea charts courtesy of Navionics.