Perhaps, the biggest lighthouse in Ireland and its function is and has been for centuries to guard the northern entrance to Dublin bay from its high advantageous position on the hill of howth and to alert ships to the rocky and dangerous coastline below by night and under foggy conditions by day. The present structure was built in 1814 on Duncriffan promontory, which apparently up to that time bore clear remains of King Criffan's fortress from 2,000 years ago. It was here that the King had his palace and treasury.
, the second century A.D.Alexandrian seafarer, on his ancient map of Ireland marked a small island, which he called Edron Hermos, meaning the Desert of Edar, at the place which we now know as the Peninsula of Howth; in fact,joined to the mainland by a low narrow isthmus at Sutton cross unremarkable from far out at sea, for the Alexandrians dared not come too near the irish savage Picks.
Its high vantage point overlooking Dublin bay made it indispensable as a look-out post for defenders of this city and many battes were fought for its possession, including an assault by Sir John De Courcy and his fellow Normans in 1177. The Norman victors built the first lighthouse here to guide their fellow travellers away from the steep Needles and crags of the coastline.
The celtic chief Criffan is said to have had his fort at Duncriffan, Ben Edar around the time of Christ according to the Annals of the Four Masters and Aideen, the daughter of Aengus, who died of grief at the loss of her lover, Oscar, 300 years later is said to be burried under a large Cromlech here.
Aoibhinn bheith i mBinn éadair
Aoibhinn bheith i mBinn éadair,
Fír-binn bheith ós a bánmhuir;
Cnoc lánmhar, longmhar, líonmhar,
Beann fhíonmhar, fhonmhar, ághmhar.
Beann 'na mbíodh Fionn is Fianna,
Beann 'na mbíodh cuirn is cucha;
Beann d'á rug ó Duibhinn dána
Lá Gráinne do dhruim ruaga.
Beann tonn-ghlas seach gach tulach,
'S a mullach crann-ghlas corrach;
Cnoc lannach creamhach crannach,
Beann bhallach bheannach mhongach.
Beann ia áille ós úir éireann,
Glé-bheann ós farrige faoileann;
A tréigean is céim cruaidh liom,
Beann álainn éadair aoibhinn.
Howth head is a wonderful uncluttered nature friendly place to walk and swim in its beautiful coves such as atRedrock bay
which, by the way, would be called Golden Rock because of the colour of the stones if it was anywhere but among the deprecating
Dubliners; and at Balscadden bay strand
if you are fit and bold enough to negotiate the dilapidated remaining steps and the builders rubble on the approach also an example of how little we Irish appreciate the wonderful sea all around us. It shows how this generation is willing 'to sell for one shilling' all the rights that were given to us by Nature and for whose use many people fought and died right down since the time of Edar the founder of Howth.
"Far away in the west the sun was setting and the last glow of all too fleeting day lingered lovingly on the sea and strand, on the proud promontary of dear old Howth, guarding , as always, the waters of the bay, on the weedgrown rocks along the Sandymount strand and last, but not least, on the the quiet church whence there streamed forth at times upon the stillness the voice of prayer to her who is her pure radiance a beacon over the storm tossed heart of man, Mary Star of the sea."