Maybe you have visited the lovely harbour town of Howth on the north side of the city of Dublin. If not you should oblige yourself to visit. It is a lovely harbour town. The West Pier is an active work place for fishermen, fish shops, cafés and restaurants - serving the freshest fish in Ireland. You can also pick up boat trips to Ireland’s Eye and Dublin Bay. If thats not enough for you then wander from the West Pier towards the East Pier for a gentle walk. Here you pass Howth Yacht Club and the marina, a kiddies playground and dramatic views of Ireland’s Eye, Lambay Island and Howth Head. If you would like a more challenging walk you can head for Howth Head cliff walk with tremendous panoramas, depending on the weather, of the Irish Sea from the Mountains of Mourne, Dublin Bay and all the way to Wicklow Head.
But, in late spring and early summer, one of the annual highlights of Howth, if not Dublin, must be the display of rhododendrons on Howth Head accessed via Howth Castle Demesne. And now, the beginning of June, the season is coming to an end. This is a spectacular sight and botanical wonder. Access is free. How wonderful.
When you walk or drive up the avenue you pass the castle, family home of the Gaisford St Lawrence family for 800 years, pass the public golf course and make your way towards the summit you are in for a visual treat. The rhododendron of many different shades from purple to pink to red to white cascade down the rocky slope. You can walk along the edge and enjoy the view of the different species up close. Their petals cover the paths like vibrant carpets in some places. If you clamber under the cover of the foliage you are transported back to some ancient epoc with giant ferns and tree roots like dinosaur tails dragging along the ground.
Keep on your walk to the top - follow your instinct - most of the paths will lead you up and then from one moment to the next your are taken from the primordial jungle like scene to a spectacular view of Howth itself, the north coast of Dublin and southwards the city of Dublin. Time to open your flask or just sit and contemplate for a while.
But beware the rhododendrons are coming to an end this season - so get there fast. And probably more scary, the Gaisford St Lawrences have put a statement on their web site announcing the sale of their castle and demesne to Tetrarch Capital who develop hotels( Mount Juliet and Powerscourt). So this might be the death knell for access to see this really beautiful rhododendron forest. But hopefully not.
So go there today. Bus 33, Dart, bike(new cycle path from Clontarf to Sutton), car, foot - so easy to get to.
If you would like to discuss any aspect of photography do feel free to contact me.
Eugene Langan Photography, Studio Eight, 32 North Brunswick St., Dublin 7. D07 TWX3
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org - tel: 353(0)872597907 - web: www.eugenelangan.com