From time-to-time, we have taken side trips away from our base cities. Our trip to Howth was perhaps one of the most spectacular ones we have taken during this adventure. Howth is a former Viking village founded around 819, approximately 8 miles ENE of Dublin. The Vikings named this settlement "Howth" (which is their word for "head") because this peninsular resembles a head, attached to a body (the mainland) by a narrow passageway (the neck). For the Vikings, this settlement served as a strategic base between their homes in Scandinavia and the Mediterranean. Howth eventually fell to the Normans in 1177. By the 14th century, it had become an important trading post. One of the most important attractions in Howth is the 12th century ancestral home of the St. Lawrence family - Howth Castle. A popular legend about the castle, stems from a 1576 visit to Dublin by the pirate Grainne O'Malley. She apparently wanted to pay a courtesy visit to the 8th Baron of Howth. However, she was informed that the family was at dinner and the castle gates were closed to her. Seeking retribution, O'Malley kidnapped the Baron's grandson and heir (the 10th Baron). He was eventually released when an agreement was reached, stating that the castle gates would always remain open to unexpected visitors and an extra place setting would set at each and every meal. This agreement is still honored to this day. Walking through lush forests and heather, we came to unbelievably beautiful cliff walks with spectacular views of the Dublin coast. This side trip was definitely worth it! To add to our enjoyment, our favorite tour guide from Dublin, James, led this tour and provided us with a unique perspective of the area by his historical knowledge and stories of Howth.
Smack dab in the middle of the woods on the Howth Castle grounds,is Aideen's tomb. Wife of the warrior King Oscar, Aideen died of grief when her husband was killed during a battle in which he had killed three other kings. Her family erected this tomb, usually reserved for heroic warriors or kings, in her memory.
Carl and Lorraine Aveni are two retirees planning on traveling through Europe for at least one year.