Howth: Day Trip to Ireland’s Eye

On Sunday, it was a beautiful sunny day in Dublin we thought we’d do something different so we decided to visit Ireland’s Eye – the small uninhabited island just 10 minutes north of Howth Harbor. For the past two years, we’ve looked at the island nearly daily yet this was our first time out there and I’m sure it will not be our last.

There are a couple different boats leaving from both East & West Pier – and they are about 15. per adult and 10 for kids – though you don’t have to be too concerned with which one you come back on as they both return you to Howth. [Though I have read online of some tourists get all fired up as they are not where they were originally.]

When we first had to get on the “ferry” (and by that I mean a simple boat which holds 15 or so) you have to walk down steps on the water’s edge… then it’s even worse as when you arrive at the island I was instantly overcome with panic as the steps were so small and dangerous.  This would NEVER fly in the US.  I know several kids who should NOT be taken onto this island for safety purposes.  🙂  In fact, I said to Nils, perhaps we just not get off…. overruled!  I guess I assumed we were pulling into a pier or jetty – nope!   Thankfully we were safe and no injuries in our party! 

Yep, walk up those lovely rocks my kids – don’t fall! 🙂

See what I mean, where in the US will a boat let you off on a side of a cliff and say walk up. lol
Thankfully I was wearing sneakers as Nils was in FLIP FLOPS! 🙂

Once we managed to get up we came to a lovely small rocky beach just left of the Martello Tower, were I knew instantly I could find sea glass so my nerves were calmed (at least for a a bit until we started to explore more).

 


While Nils and the kids paddled a bit in the sea (Soren’s fractured elbow prevented a proper swim), our student spent his time on the phone – grrrr – teenager!

This was my haul in less than 1 hour – will post a photo the rest at the end.

After some time on that one beach, we climbed a bit of the path and went around to a much larger, more sandy beach.

While I collected glass, Maebh collected rabbit bones thanks to myxamatosis.

As we turned around the beach area, we were up on the cliffs over looking seals below and a guy in a yellow kayak, who had a very up close experience.  If you look closely next to him in the water, you can see two white seals.

The people way out on the edge made me so nervous – one google search and you’ll find dozens of stories of people falling off the cliffs and having to be rescued by the Coast Guard and RNLI.
From here we turned around and backtracked our same steps as we were not going to walk through the high grasses with nettles and brambles and we are not experienced hikers, etc.
A TIP WHEN RETURNING:  When you are ready to come back from the island, head down to the steps and start forming a queue as you might have to wait for a few boats if you are towards the back. With kids this can be a long wait.


Here is where we waited – and sure enough a boat arrived packed with people who only went on the journey around the island – they did’t get off so only 5 of us could return and 20 others had to wait behind for the next ferries to come get them.

On the journey back, the boat takes a different path – around the backside of the island past all the birds – we were luck enough to see a Puffin – but with my phone’s camera, you can’t even see it.

When we arrived back in Howth, it was packed with tourists all enjoying the beautiful weather.

Here is a promotional video from Ireland’s Eyes Ferries  – you can get a great idea of the island from it…

and one of a drone – you really see the great beaches on one side and “the stack” area where the birds are mainly located, though the seagulls are all over and can be very vicious.

There is a bit of history on the island in that there was a murder there.

In 1852 William Kirwan, an artist and a gentleman, came to Howth on holiday with his wife, Sarah. They were rowed out to the island by a local boatman. He planned to do some painting, while she was going to soak up rays. As the sun set, the boatmen returned to collect them. Sarah was missing. Her body was later found washed up on rocks at a place known as the “long hole”, the place we have just passed.
Kirwan said she had drowned, but was charged and convicted of her murder and sentenced to death. The evidence was largely circumstantial. Kirwan had been in dispute with locals over unpaid bills, and was having an affair with a woman in the city. His sentence was subsequently commuted to a life term and he served 27 years of hard labour before setting off to America to meet the “other woman”
We were there for about 4 hours – time really went quickly.  Next time I would bring a picnic and our swimsuits …. if we only had friends with a boat who could take us there more frequently!

Almost forgot, here is the second haul of sea glass (20 minute walk back to boat)

Glad we made the trip out, it was a a great adventure and we’ll do it again.

Dublin Bay Prawn Festival – Howth – 2016

Our family returned this year to the Howth Prawn Festival, which we attended last year too.    This year was extra special as I won a Facebook competition, so I received 5 punts – each is valid for one item of food  a 35. value!!


The kids went into the fun mirror house and as instructed, took their time, put their hands out in front of themselves.  However, two different sets of kids over took ours, running and laughing – seconds later a girl runs full-force, face first into the glass – blood everywhere.    About 10 minutes later another boy same deal, face first.  The guy working whispered no matter how many times he says no running, there is always some who don’t listen and just go crazy.


The kids of course, played a few games like hook a duck and horse racing.
 
Soren won a gun (replaces the one he broke when we lived in UK), Maebh requested a bow and arrow and Nils the beauty hair set for his in-the-making man bun.
 

Overall the funfair was not as good as it was last year – no cotton candy (aka candy floss), ice cream, bumper cars, water gun game, ferris wheel, etc.   Soren (yes our 8 year old oyster-loving boy) and I both got 3 oysters each and then later we returned and he got chili prawns and Maebh got french fries.    I think he’s going to be the next Jamie Oliver. 🙂

 

 
After that we headed home on the DART! 

Lucky for us, we are only TWO stops away from this fantastic village.  Perhaps one day we’ll live there – as we’re always there and our son plays soccer there, but there are a few issues. 1) Further away from school, house prices are incredibly high to buy, some homes are tiny (with a hubby of 6’8′ that is a problem!) and there are not much options in terms of family home rentals so for now we stay put.

This is the Facebook review which I left for the people who run the event.

“Great atmosphere in Howth, as always. Loved the bigger tent with picnic benches this year. Loads of delicious food stalls – but would recommend two lines, bigger booths or duplicate huts – as waiting an hour in line is quite tough with little ones and then trying to find a place to sit was a challenge. Those not interested in eating the food in the pavilion, can always venture to nearby cafe or pub or bring a picnic. Live music and good entertainment for families like a fun fair, face painting and bouncy castle and friendly staff. Miss the giant Ferris wheel. Next year though, I hope it’s in late April or even in the summer for better weather, but could not be possible due to the prawns being in “season”? Fab family day out!!”

Would we go back – YES!

Chilly Afternoon in Howth

The four of us took a short but cold walk around Howth Pier before heading up to Abbe Tavern for a “drink in the pubbie.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Afterwards we headed to Leo Burdocks for a quick bite to eat – but it was HORRIBLE!  I have no idea how or why it stays in business.  Actually, it’s folks who do not know what good fish & chips are think this place, along with loads of teenagers.

I have eaten Fish & Chips all across England, Scotland, Ireland and back in the US.   All I can say about Leo Burdocks in Dublin is that it is BELOW AVERAGE and this place is WAY OVERRATED, OVERPRICED and NOT WORTH ALL THE TOURIST HYPE.

I know it’s new in Howth but it’s official, I’ll never go back again. Worst food ever – but nice staff.

As we live in the town over so we are luckily able to visit it often, especially in the summer!!  Love where you live!

I don’t suspect we’ll live here forever so take advantage of Howth’s beautify offerings winter or summer, rain or sunshine!

Dublin Bay Prawn Festival – Howth 2015

On Sunday, we headed up to one of our favorite places, Howth.  There is just something about the village we love – it’s a mix of Rockport and Gloucester.  Home of the local RNLI and our two favorite “local” pubs.  So while we don’t live in Howth (yet as we may one day), we are the next town over and thankfully closer to school.

Once a year, they host a festival.  In the past it was a Jazz Festival and about five years ago it was changed to celebrate something local which the fishermen catch which is Dublin Bay Prawns and fish.  Personally I thought it was a bit like the Cromer Crab Festival and the RNLI Open Day in Cromer with some differences.They didn’t have the large local crafting/small business stalls – only a few including a the Yacht Club.  The food demonstration tent was pretty cool with the head fishmonger of a local shop, Nicky’s Plaice, out on the pier demonstrated filleting hake and other fish, along with how to peel a Dublin Bay Prawn. After he did his demonstration, he told people in the audience they could help themselves as all the fish was donated by the local fishermen but please leave a donation for the RNLI.  There was some awesome huge pieces of hake, which I would love to have for dinner but that meant for the next four hours, I’d have to carry a wet bag of fish around and I know Nils would be annoyed so I didn’t .  But if I lived up the street I would have popped it into my fridge or dinner – but I will be back to that shop to buy some fish which comes off boats less than 60 feet from the front door. Oh yeah, I wish I got a photo but suddenly people started appearing from the back rows and outside and were like scavengers. They were to take “a piece” and leave a donation but it was like one lady putting in four large pieces and I saw her 10 minutes later getting more and only a few were putting a donation in the pot.

One of the features of the event is the huge food tent, with stalls from all various local restaurants.  It was of course, packed all the time and as it was evident we were not going to stand in long line for a small bowl of food then find a place to stand an eat it.  So Soren and I split 9 very delicious oysters and we had some lunch in a local pub.
Of course the RNLI presence is huge, local music, a pretty big fun fair section with a huge ferris wheel which I did get in – so was able to get some lovely photos.  10 years ago  I could go on an upside down loopty, loop roller coaster and love it, but now,older, wiser and a mom of two kids, I hate all those “dangerous” things. So naturally when Soren started to spin the basket on the ferris wheel, I hated it!

Maebh rode a car which she called a “barbie car” and Soren and Nils went on the bumper cars….

and then Soren and I played the water shooting game – which was packed so the prize was a large one.  And .. I won! So we ended up with Allabelle the Elephant for Maebh for 6.00 euro 🙂   Later we learned it was called “Anxious”.

Some cotton candy to get them very sugared up and then head home on the DART just as the rain started to fall.

It was a lovely day out and I was happy the sun came out on Sunday so we could enjoy the day dry.

Would we go back – YES!

Favorite part for the kids:  Everything!   Maebh’s:  Ferris Wheel  Soren’s: Bumper Cars

 

I just think it needs to be later in the season in the warmer weather so the businesses and visitors enjoy it more!