Ho, ho, ho, Howth is fab
I think I’m in love with the sea. Actually, I think I’m a lot in love with the sea. So when my host, Margaret, suggested I head north to Howth because they have great seafood restaurants as well as a lovely pier I was sold. First, though, how to say Howth… because, of course, it doesn’t sound how it looks! Margaret said a good way to remember is to think of Santa Claus saying ho ho ho and then just add a ‘wth’ on the end (of just the one ho – people will just look at you funny if you say ho ho howth). And there you have Howth.
Fishing & sailing in Howth
Just 25 minutes north-west of Dublin’s city centre in your Dublin Airport car, Howth is a beautiful fishing village on the northern side of Howth Head, which juts out from the main coastline giving you amazing views all around. As you drive towards Howth, you’ll find the sea on either side of you!
With spectacular sea views – particularly as you walk up and down the piers (there are three of them) as well as trails which will take you all around Howth Head along cliffs and over lush green hills, there’s hot competition as to what the star attraction is here. But for me, it’s got to be the seafood. A home in this pretty village, like Dalkey in Dublin’s south, is hot property with a member of U2 calling it home… As an aside, if you’ve read our post on exploring Dublin’s south, you’ll know those pesky U2 members rather like their seaside villages! Anyway, rock bands aside, as well as Howth being rather exclusive (you can see this in the number of yachts moored in the harbour) – it’s also very much a working fishing port. And that means really bloody good seafood!
Seafood, yes please!
Beshoffs of Howth
As soon as you get to Howth, you’ll notice the seafood restaurants and fishmongers lined up along piers (where they can) as well as along the main street. Having read some reviews before of restaurants in the area, I was hard-pushed to find a bad one. As I walked towards the western pier sneaking peeks into each restaurant I went past, I couldn’t help but go into Beshoffs of Howth. In all honesty, the smells were so good and my tummy already rumbling I didn’t get very far before having to go in one! I wasn’t disappointed.
Like your seafood fresh?
It’s a fishmonger’s, a deli, a café, a tapas bar and has restaurant, Ivans, attached to it. Now that’s just what I’d call overachieving! Beshoff’s styles itself as ‘The Market’ with a buzzy vibe from shoppers and diners and the friendliest of welcomes from staff. I loved it! As you enter, in front of you there’s a deli counter selling fine cheeses, delicious cold cuts of meat, smoked salman, olives, fois gras and other types of ‘luxury food’ items. On your right is the fishmongers – and with seafood this fresh, not at all overbearing, it smells fresh too (good fresh!). Though I guess if you’re not such a big seafood fan, you might not think so. If you need a caffeine fix, there is also a coffee and bakery corner to your left. I head straight to the Tapas bar at the back opting to sit at the bar. Big legs of ham and bunches of dried chilli hang off the ceiling and a selection of the wines they have on offer line up on shelves.
nom, nom, nom!
I decide to go for one of the fish they have on special – the sea bream. Grilled and seasoned simply and served with baby potatoes and a baby leaf salad covered in salsa verde and I was in heaven eating it! I had to pause just now so I could savour the memory it was that good.
A small group of people sat near me and had the fresh oysters which looked good too and a gentleman who must have come from Ivans next door came in to pick out a lobster from the fishmongers. You’ve got to love that kind of power with your food choices! They also serve tapas dishes – and have vegetarian and meat options too if you’re not in the mood for seafood (although, that really would be a shame!).
After filling up on delicious food and feeling stuffed but good stuffed, I decide to buy a giant chocolate chip cookie for later (I know, my head really does not listen to my stomach!) and take a walk along the rest of the west pier before checking out the views from the other piers too.
View from west pier
There’s lots more exploring you can do in Howth too – pop into the news agent close to the Dart station (close to the start of the west pier) and you’ll be able to pick up a map of the Howth head which includes trails for walks. You can follow several marked trails including one that takes you pretty much all around the Head along the coastline – you’ll find great views of Dublin County as well as Wicklow County further south.
From the piers and the northern side of the island, you can enjoy views of Ireland’s Eye – an uninhabited island (well, other than the seals occupying the rocks at various times) featuring the ruins of an old Martello Tower and church, which you can visit on a boat trip. Check at the tourist information office at the top of the west pier for details on times.
And if you like to think of yourself as a budding Tiger Woods, The Deer Park Hotel has a big golf course you could try out. There are so many beautiful things to see and enjoy in ho, ho, Howth but a seafood visit has got to be a must!
This seal thinks so too!
Beshoffs of Howth17-18 West PierHowth, Co. Dubln+35 1 – 8397555
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