Down By The Sea: A Trip To Howth

Francesca Mouery
October 11, 2017
Study abroad in Dublin with IES Abroad

Though I have loads to tell you about The Gaiety School thus far, I wanted to take a moment to travel back in time. I want to go back. To the breeze off the grey ocean. To the pop songs playing in an empty pub at 4 p.m. To the rainbow bushes hugging the land of a rejuvinating, Irish hike; up mounatins, valleys, and cliffs.

I want to take you all back to a few weeks ago when classes hadn't started yet and Dublin was a substantially unfamiliar territory that I was just only beginning to feel out. Only a bit ago, I found myself strolling down the Liffey with my very first IES Abroad friends on a particularly sunshiney day. The breeze blew and the birds flew. And, one thing was for sure: We were on our way to the Irish seaside for a day getaway. To the lovely little town of Howth (pronounced Ho-th, much to my surprise; Gaelic/Irish pronunciations can get a bit dodgy for us Americans abroad).

We had hopped on a thin, speedy train that zipped about an hour's time away to the town. Though we passed many distinct towns along our journey, Howth gave off a special feeling that stood out, especially so. The kind of feeling that when you looked out the window, you knew you were where you were supposed to be.

The train chugga-chugged to a stop and all of us knew that we had arrived. Howth is the last train stop on the line at the very, very end of the train map. In that way, there was really an element of finality and comfort that embraced us as we stepped off into the crisp air. Down to the town we went, passing by boats at the harbor and admiring buildings painted in old Crayola looking pastels. Every sight was charming and reminded us that this was a little place that had stood strong in the coastal winds for a long time. We really felt lucky to be a part of the town, even for a day.

We ended up eating a small cafe that reminded me of a posh area of my hometown back in Florida. You know, the type of city that serves overpriced avocado toast with the added touch of an edible flower on the side of the plate at all their establishments. Don't get me wrong, that's great in it's own way! But... Well... Listen to this.

This cafe was welcoming. It was joyful and simple. The room permeated with the smell of freshly mashed potatoes. The patrons of the restaurant dressed in knit sweaters made by their Grans and hair swept back, proudly frizzed by the wind. The waitress even noticed that I was dancing happily in my seat to "Don't You (Forget About Me)" by Simple Minds, saying that "Breakfast Club was one of the best films of all time". It was all so comforting to know that gems like this place existed. And, to top it all off, they even served plates upon plates of traditional fish and chips by the minute, which I gladly partook in (My first fish n' chips of the trip! Woo!). The House Cafe was a thing of beauty that I want to come back to again and again.

After lunch, we all decided that we were ready for a long hike up the Cliff Walk; a popular tourist destination, but for good reason. Once up the hills and through a patch of rough rainy weather, we were greeted by cliffs looking down at the coastline. Every part of the hike presented something new and gorgeous to us. There were vivid patches of purple, yellow, and pink flowers up and down the beaten trails. The gigantic rocks on the cliffs had been eroded and shaped by the passing of time. The waves beneath us churned up and over, crashing foam and ferocity. It was the most beautiful hike I have been on thus far.

We were greeted with more rainy weather trailing back down to the city. We found shelter in a small pub near the dockside area of the town called The Harbour Bar. This was straight out of a movie entirely. The building was quaint and old. It smelled like all the old books that had been lined up against the main wall in the front room. You could find anything there: art books, novels on how to be personally refined, and even journals on geography and animals. The wall next to our booth was the most interesting part. It was a painted tally of every recorded shipwreck ever off the coast of Howth. There were many, which made me think why it would be a prime spot for shipwrecks? Was it the jagged rocks we had seen on the hike causing all of this? A special Celtic power protecting the land? A really ravenous sea monster? I never really asked anyone at the place about it. I guess I'll just have to go back to ask someone and have a plate of fries in a cozy seat by the fire.

After spending a few hours sitting and chatting about this and that, we left. Left the streets, quiet and settled. Left the people, warm and a bit eccentric. Left the scenery, offering up it's beautiful greenery and seascape. Getting back on the train was hard. Even though Dublin is such a home to us, Howth was something out of an old picture book. Something out of plain folktales your mother told. It sticks with you.

I can't wait to go back to Howth at some point again. It's a town that people love, and it loves you back. Ireland has just been one big warm hug to me, and this was just one of my lovely explorations thus far!

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Francesca Mouery

<p>Hello all! My name is Francesca Mouery, but a lot of people call me 'Franny'. I am a rising Junior at Denison University, which is located in a quaint, historic town called Granville, OH. Though I go to school in a very Midwestern area, known for it's farmland and pleasantly cloudy days, I am originally from sunny Orlando, FL. Now, I am ready to journey on my next adventure to Dublin, Ireland to seek out an amazing education in conservatory-style performance and theatre making.</p>

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