Fingal’s Shore


Sunday was glorious day here in the Emerald Isle. I ran, of course, like a fool, in the midday heat. Oh, not that it was excessively warm, mind. But I could have done with ditching the base layer and winter leggings. Instead, I sweltered and cursed and whined around the five mile trail. And gratefully glugged my bottle of lukewarm water on my return to the car.

Delighting in our rare Spring heat later that day I ventured along by Fingal`s shores. The world and his mother were there, of course: Dublin Bay on a sunny Sunday is always a crowd pleaser.

Teen Girl came along too, once lunch in Avoca was guaranteed.

Malahide is part of an area known as Fingal. A placename can whisper a lot about an area’s history and this is certainly true of the word Fingal.  Translated from the Irish, it means “Land of the Fair Haired Stranger” and is a reminder of the time in the 8th century when Vikings invaded the land.

Our first stop then, was at Malahide Castle grounds for the prerequisite eats in their popular Avoca café. A short drive afterwards took us to the beach and the start of our ramble.

Walking along the shore, it amused me to imagine those fair haired foreigners wading to shore with shields and swords in their initial conquest of Ireland in the 8th century. The seas are relatively calm along this part of the Irish coast, and, having neither cliff nor mountain nor woodland to negotiate, the land and its people must have been easily accessed by these expert invaders.

But all was calm last Sunday. Drawn now by the sight of Howth head, we drove on through Portmarnock, Baldoyle and Sutton on to Howth itself, the better to get a view of the harbour and Ireland’s Eye.

Howth harbour is the place to be of a warm Sunday. The Viking longships are long gone and in their place, moored yachts bob in the harbour.  The only marauders were tourists who had invaded the town, the better to climb Howth Head or, like us, get a view of Ireland’s Eye from the pier. All about we could hear a variety of languages and, indeed, several varients on Dublinese.

Reaching the lighthouse, it is impossible not to admire this granite structure. Built in 1817, it looks set in all its granite splendour to stand guard over the south harbour for at least another two hundred years.

Further out, on Ireland’s Eye, I caught sight of a Martello Tower. Part of Dublin’s defence system of Martello towers, built early the 19th century, the one in Ireland’s Eye is in ruins now much like it’s sister tower further south on Dalkey Island.

Also from the shore, one can see the ruins of an eighth century church, the church of St. Nessan. I wonder if it had fallen prey to the Vikings. Eye is the Norse word for Island, so they had at least left their mark on the island’s name and a reminder of their conquests here.

The sun was considering its descent by now, into the westerly skies. Would it go down in a blaze of pink sodden glory? Or tease the camera wielding folk with a sudden departure behind a blackening cloud? I would have lingered another hour or so, just to find out.

But Teen Girl had used up all her patience by then. I would have bribed her with a triple scoop ice cream from Maud`s but that would be entirely selfish and not in her very best interests. The fact that the ice cream and patience might be gone long before sunset had nothing to do with my decision.

Anyway, I told myself, the harbour will always be there and there’ll be other Sundays, perfect Sundays with ice-cream and crowds, and sun glinting on stone and water and thoughts of days long gone.




11 thoughts on “Fingal’s Shore

  1. Yes, I use to love a fine Sunday in Howth though one or two of the traders there are looking to skin the unsuspecting tourist. By contrast the walks and views are free and always worth the visit.

    • I can’t comment on the traders as I don’t have the patience for shopping but yes, the very best things there are free. Glad you got to enjoy it all in your time here.

  2. Definitely made me want to go back to Ireland again – you sell your country very well! 🙂 I didn’t know Fingal meant ‘land of the fair-haired stranger’ – I love your language snippets, and the history.

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