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Irelands Eye - A day trip

Updated: Jul 12, 2021

Did SNL and Bridesmaids star Maya Rudolph read our review about a day trip to Irelands Eye before taking the trip with her family? Well we'll never know I suppose but we will tell ourselves that she did!

Howth in Dublin never ceases to thrill and I often forget just how blessed we are to have this little piece of heaven right on our doorstep.

I’ve wanted to venture to Ireland’s Eye, the protected island, just off Howth, for years for years and was stunned to discover it truly is a secluded paradise slap bang in the Irish Sea.

This hidden gem gives any island in the Mediterranean a run for the money.

Making our way to the dart, was the best call ever, as the traffic out to Howth on a sunny day is a recipe for disaster.

Instead of the headache of driving just hit up and plan your timings as weekend darts do tend to be less frequent.

Armed with our picnic we made a full day of it and my two year old toddler Erin echoed our sentiments by chanting, “We’re going on holidays.”

The dart from where we live in Clontarf took a rapid 20 minutes to get to Howth and we were Island bound, from city centre stations it takes 30 minutes.

Ireland’s Eye Ferries operate from the West Pier down by all the famous fish restaurants and they depart for the island every 30 minutes.

Captain Frank welcomed us onto the “Christmas Eve” boat which felt like a throwback to an old school fishing boat.

With a twinkle in his eye, he reminded me of Captain Birdseye, I felt like we were a long way from Dublin and the adventure to the desolate island was just beginning.

William the co-pilot was a character and wowed us with stories of the Asgard and gunrunning back in 1914 and as we approached the island we were blown away by the sheer volume of gannets circling the majestic rock.

Ireland's Eye is a small island lying just north of Howth. In summer it is home to large numbers of breeding seabirds including Irelands newest Gannet colony. The only access to Ireland’s Eye is by a regular small boat service that runs during the summer months from the west pier in Howth Harbour. The landing point is on the north side of the island, close to the Martello Tower. From here follow the narrow, path that runs along the north end of the island from which there are several excellent vantage points that give good view over the cliffs. The area at the back of the Martello Tower is the best area to see Puffin in summer. Care should be taken to avoid walking on eggs and chicks as this path leads through a colony of Great Black-backed and Herring Gulls. At the highest point of the island is a sea stack just offshore that holds breeding auks and Gannets. From here a path continues south and eventually leads to the beach on the west side of the island. This then brings you back to the Martello Tower. Ringed Plovers and Oystercatchers nest on the beach so care should be taken to avoid nests when walking the beach.

It is always worth asking the boatman to bring the boat around the island on the return journey. This provides excellent views of the breeding seabird cliffs and the Gannet colony. It should be noted that the paths on Ireland’s Eye are frequently overgrown by bracken in summer and that in wet weather, the cliff paths can be quite unsafe.

Birds found on Ireland’s Eye Seabirds found here in summer include Fulmar, Cormorant, Shag, Gannet, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Kittiwake, Guillemot, Razorbill, Black Guillemot and Puffin. Sedge Warblers and Whitethroats also breed on the island while offshore Sandwich, Common and Arctic Terns are found. Manx Shearwaters are often found in large numbers in late summer on the sea behind the island. Oystercatcher and Ringed Plover breed on the beaches. In winter Greylag Geese are occasionally found here.

When we returned to harbour we enjoyed a slap up seafood feast at the King Sitric located at the East end of the Marina. A truly royal way to end the day!

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