It’s the same as the silent Irish “h” in “three”. Which is appropriate because Howth is a picturesque little seaside village to the north of Dublin, accessible via the DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) – a suburban rail service. We spent a pleasant day there on Saturday last, walking through the quaint old-fashioned streets and then taking a ferry (just a large motorised dinghy really) out to Ireland’s Eye, a gannet sanctuary in the harbour. On the way back in we spotted seals frolicking in the waves. For lunch, we pushed the bowth out, so to speak, and dined at a swanky restaurant overlooking the harbour. Howth is noted for its fine seafood so we stuck to that, only to be told afterwards by a too-honest waiter that the plump prawns were from France.
About 2 o’clock we decided to head back into town, and just as well. When we arrived at the DART station, the train arrived and several hundred teenagers piled out. There was a report in the paper the next day that fighting and drunkenness on the beach marred the day for the Howth residents. It was the first weekend of the long holidays (schools and universities don’t start again until September) and all the students, fresh from sitting exams, went a bit mad. Social media had managed to bring them all together, but there are apparently also a few gangs in North Dublin who used it as an excuse for aggression, mainly towards each other.
Dublin is cut into North and South by the river Liffey running east-west. The south is the affluent area and the north is more working class. There are some northern pockets which are quite good (for instance, where we are) but further north again we have travelled through vast blocks of tenements characterised by graffiti and rubbish everywhere and no green spaces or facilities. Soulless places, quite the antithesis of the charm that we have been experiencing so far. (By the way, don’t forget to click on the photos to enlarge them.)