Howth Head

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Howth Head
Ceann Bhinn Éadair
Ceann Binn Eadair.jpg
Aerial view of Howth Head looking south.
Adjacent bodies of water
Area11 km2 (4.2 sq mi)
Highest elevation171 m (561 ft)
Highest pointBen of Howth
Population8,294 (2016)
Pop. density754 /km2 (1,953 /sq mi)
Map of Howth Head with peaks

Howth Head (Ceann Bhinn Éadair in Irish) is a peninsula northeast of Dublin City in Ireland, within the governance of Fingal County Council. Entry to the headland is at Sutton while the village of Howth and the harbour are on the northern shore. Most of Howth Head is occupied by the Hill of Howth, though there are other regions, such as the tombolo at Sutton, and various beaches. The Baily Lighthouse is on the southeastern part of Howth Head. Nearby are the districts of Baldoyle and Portmarnock.


The earliest mention of the peninsula may be on a map attributed to Claudius Ptolemy, where it was called Edri Deserta or in Greek Edrou Heremos (Εδρου ἐρῆμος, Edar's isolated place). Here it was portrayed as an island, but it is not clear if this was due to actual separation from the headland or inaccurate information available to the cartographer. Other writers think that Edrou was actually Lambay Island, from Greek ἑδρα (hedra) "sitting place [for ships]".[1]

Location and Transport[edit]

Originally an island[2], Howth Head is connected to the mainland via a narrow strip of land, or tombolo, and forms the northerly bound of the great crescent of Dublin Bay, roughly corresponding to Dalkey Hill and Killiney Hill in the south.

There are two railway stations on or near the head. Sutton station is on the mainland not far away and Howth station is on the head in the village of Howth. Both are served by Dublin Area Rapid Transit trains and have regular services to and from Dublin city centre. Historically the Hill of Howth Tramway ran between the stations around the head between 1901 and 1959. Additionally Dublin Bus routes serve the head.


Most of the headland is hilly, with peaks such as the 171 m Black Linn, by the Ben of Howth, on a side road beyond the Green Hill Quarries at the Loughereen Hills, Shielmartin Hill (163 m) overlooking Carrickbrack Road and Carrickbrack and Dun Hill. There are also craggy areas such as Muck Rock (Carrickmore), and Kilrock, and there are steep sea cliffs around parts, especially on the north coast. Gorse grows in many places on the headland. Fires are frequent during dry summers.

The cliffs support a large colony of seabirds, notably razorbills, common guillemots, fulmars, kittiwakes and great cormorants. The scrubland above supports several heathland species including skylarks, meadow pipits, whitethroats, linnets, stonechats and whinchats. The most commonly seen birds of prey are kestrels, peregrine falcons and common buzzards.[citation needed]



Howth is a popular destination for day-trippers from the capital, accessible by car, bus and one of the northern termini of the Dublin Area Rapid Transit train system (DART). Hikers can choose from a wide range of routes, including the Cliff Walk, the Cliff Path Closed Loop, or making for the ancient cairn on one of Howth's several summits. On clear days, the Wicklow Mountains can be seen, with Dublin city below. Slieve Donard, an 852 metre peak in Northern Ireland may also be visible - a distance of 90 km (56 mi). Quite frequently, Snowdon (1,085 m) in Snowdonia National Park in Wales can also be seen - a distance of 138 km (86 mi).

Popular culture[edit]

Howth Head is the location where Leopold Bloom proposes to Molly in James Joyce's Ulysses. In the short story Eveline, another work of James Joyce's from the collection, "Dubliners", it is mentioned that Eveline and her family once had a picnic on the Hill of Howth. Howth Head is also central to Joyce's final work, Finnegans Wake, in which one of the principal characters, HCE, is, among other things, representative of the mountain.[citation needed]

Howth Head is mentioned in the lyrics of the title track of Kate Bush's 1989 album, The Sensual World: '...took six big wheels and rolled our bodies / off of Howth Head and into the flesh, mmh, yes...'. The song is inspired by Molly Bloom's soliloquy in Joyce's "Ulysses".[citation needed]

The peninsula also features in the backdrop of multiple paintings by Irish artist William Orpen (1878-1931).[citation needed]

Howth head is the setting of two scenes from from the Tony Award winning musical "Once."[citation needed]


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 53°22′45″N 6°04′19″W / 53.37923°N 6.07201°W / 53.37923; -6.07201