Recommended Tour: Ireland's Eye
Did you know Ireland is surrounded by 574 small islands (source: Oileáin)? With this fact in mind, I decided it would be worthwhile to visit one of the most well known, Ireland's Eye. It's closer to home than most and easily accessible to visitors so it is as good a starting point as any for the budding adventurer.
Ireland's Eye is a small uninhabited island located off the coast in Howth, County Dublin. It is accessible by boat and yesterday we made the trip using Ireland's Eye Ferries. They operate two blue boats out at the East pier in the harbour and for just €15 per person they will take you across to the island to explore new territory. Luckily, weather conditions were perfect and I was spoilt for choice with my photography.
As we left the harbour we passed the notably beautiful Howth harbour lighthouse. Constructed back in 1817, it served to warn boats of danger but was also used as a defensive structure. It remained occupied until 1955 when it became electrically automated. You can see the edge of Ireland's Eye on the horizon in the image below as it's only about 1km from the shore.
As we approached the island, it offers impressive views of the untamed landscape. There is no obvious sign of habitation anywhere and it's clear nobody has lived here for a long time.
As we approached the island, an impressive Martello tower came into view. These defensive structures were used to guard the coast from intruders and were usually occupied by up to 25 soldiers.
The cliffs of Ireland's Eye are dramatic and foreboding. The drop-off point for visitors was in a cove to the right. It's hard not to be taken aback by the beauty of this magnificent location.
Once we landed on Ireland's Eye, we made our way around to the pebbled beach. The view back to Howth from here is amazing.
Aside from the Martello Tower, the only evidence of previous inhabitation is the Church of the 'Three Sons of Nassan'. Built in the 8th century, it now lies in ruins. It amazes me that Ireland has so many ancient sites. The building pictured below was constructed over 1200 years ago and yet remains mostly intact.
Following on from a nice stroll along the beach, we hiked up to the viewpoint for some amazing views across to the Howth Peninsula, Sutton & Portmarnock.
This picture I took of Howth harbour was one of my favourites of the Day. A telephoto lens came in handy to take in the distant features of the Dublin coastline.
Pictured below are the Poolbeg Stacks with the Dublin mountains in the background.. These chimneys have become an iconic feature of the Dublin skyline. Travelling to Ireland's Eye gave me the opportunity to capture them from a unique perspective.
As we made our way back to the collection point after an awe-inspiring afternoon, it's hard not to fall in love with the island. If you are feeling energetic, there is even an option to scale a five metre rope to enter the defensive Martello tower at this desolate location.
As we left the island, we were treated to further amazing views of this incredible place.
The captain of our boat pointed out the baby sealion basking on the rocks next to some native birds.
On our way back from the island we had another great view of the foreboding rock-face known as the stack.
Finally we returned to Howth harbour. I must say I really enjoyed visiting this island. I would highly recommend it to anyone visiting Dublin and for locals alike. It is truly a unique experience. Just remember to leave nothing but footprints in order to preserve the beauty of this unspoilt location.
- Mark Sheils,
Founder, Picture Ireland