One of the first destinations we determined for our Ireland itinerary was a visit to the coastal village of Howth, just 25 minutes outside Dublin by train. From the pictures we found online, plus “stalking” the area on Google maps, it looked absolutely breathtaking, and it did not disappoint. We got off the train and seemed to step into a completely different world. We had left the big city utterly behind and emerged in a seaside village… what absolute perfection. Quiet, breezy, and full of gorgeous sunlight — so much for rainy Irish weather! We walked down to the marina, where dozens of sailboats camped, and stepped all the way down to the rocky shoreline.
We had a map and knew the general direction to find the hiking trail along the cliffs and toward the lighthouse (yes, a lighthouse!), so we made our way along a residential street to the edge of the tranquil village, gradually gaining elevation until the street ended at the head of the hiking trails. I had expected cold and wind as we hiked, but instead we had blue skies and sunshine that forced us to strip off and carry our jackets instead of wearing them. But I couldn’t complain because in the sunlight, all the colors of Ireland emerged: azure blue of the ocean, white and grey and cream rocks, emerald and teal and kelly and every other possible shade of green in the grasses everywhere. The cliff trail, although easy, was most certainly a cliff trail, four feet of gravel and then 18 more inches before a deadly drop-off that turned my stomach if I looked or even really thought about it.
If I kept my eyes on the trail, though, or even on the winding curves ahead, it was pure, delightful beauty. More than almost any other place we visited, I wanted to breathe deep and take it in and never have the day end.
I stopped and tried to capture photos with my iPhone, knowing that I couldn’t do it justice but still trying to do it anyway. A perfectly-hued violet wildflower; a cove hundreds of feet down the cliff where dozens of gulls floated and dipped and called to one another and where I could have stood, fascinated, for hours.
We finally caught a glimpse of the Howth lighthouse, nestled on a peninsula jutting out in the distance, waves sparking behind it as far as the eye could see. It was truly one of the most exquisite sights I have ever seen. Had we had more time (and energy!), I would have loved to hike the trail all the way down to the lighthouse, but it would have been a fair jaunt, so we opted to turn around shortly after we caught our first view of the lighthouse.
We were all famished by the time we made it back to the village, and fish and chips had never sounded better. As we sat on a chilly stone wall that slowly soaked cold into our backsides, balancing boxes of hot chips and greasy fried fish on our laps, I felt a new appreciation for how amazing food can taste after a day of bracing exercise in fresh air. I continued to munch salty fries all the way back to the train station, and I think that lunch ranks in my top 5 favorite meals I have ever enjoyed.
I could have easily spent a month in Howth: the perfect paradise of tranquility and relaxing beauty in a timeless seaside village. Have you visited Howth? Come tell me about it in the comments!