North County Dublin has long been noted for its beautiful beaches, tranquil lifestyle and vibrant history. With increasingly numbers of people opting to live here, towns such Howth, Malahide, Swords, Skerries and Balbriggan are now favourite stopping off points for tourists and locals keen to experience what’s on offer.
Howth & Malahide
With its famous Howth Head Walk, mouth-watering Sunday food market, nearby beaches and array of restaurants and bars; Howth retains its crown as one of the capital’s best places to live and visit whether you’re keen on a blustery winter walk or some summer sailing. Nearby is Malahide Village, famed for its boutique style shopping, gourmet hideouts and very stylish surroundings.
This bustling town is on doorstep of Dublin City and home to Dublin Airport and offers old world charm, scenery, and a rich heritage. It derides its name from the Gaelic words ’Fine Gall’ or 'land of the fair-haired stranger' in reference to the Vikings who settled here.
The Swords landscape is diverse ranging from bustling villages in a rolling country landscape, picturesque seaside villages surrounded by sandy beaches and rugged coastline and vibrant urban towns of ancient heritage all offering excellent accommodation, fine restaurants, and friendly pubs. Some highlights include Swords Castle, Swords Round Tower and the River Valley Park, a favourite with dog walkers, joggers and families.
Swords is located within commutable distance to Dublin’s City Centre but also within easy reach of Malahide and Portmarnock and further north, Skerries and Balbriggan.
The picturesque seaside town of Skerries has all a terrific range of attractions and in 2017 was awarded the coveted Tidy Town award which has undoubtedly added to its charms. This town has the perfect mix of interesting things to see and do, unravelled landscapes and great places to eat and drink locally produced produce.
A top destination is Skerries Mills where flour has been milled since the 12th century. This unique location has been fully restored and brings to life the authentic workings of a five-sail windmill, four sail windmill, water mill and bakery of the 1800’s. This provides the visitor with examples of how wind and water energies were harnessed by our ancestors. You can try your hand at stone grinding flour, then see the water wheel in action all inside the mill. Take a walk across the crop field and go up inside the four-sail windmill then onto the five sail Great Windmill of Skerries which dominates the local skyline.
There are views of the town as well as the islands off Skerries and the coastline as far as the Mourne Mountains. The Watermill Café, where they bake daily, is a welcome resting place before browsing in their award-winning craft shop.
Balbriggan is another seaside town bursting with community activities including music recitals, park runs, bark in the park events, writers’ groups, Heritage Week, Christmas Day swim, summer party and Festival of Fire.
Balbriggan is home to Ardgillan Castle and Demesne, one of Ireland’s hidden gems. Set in spectacular parklands overlooking the Irish Sea with a magnificent view of the Mourne Mountains. As well as the castle, the demesne features a walled and rose garden both of which present an orderly profusion of colour.
The park consists of 194 acres of rolling open grassland, mixed woodland and gardens, overlooking the Irish Sea with views of Mourne Mountains to the north and Lambay to the south-east. Ardgillan is a sanctuary for many species of animals, mammals and birds for which the wooded areas provide a safe retreat from surrounding agricultural land. Today the demesne is a stunning visitor attraction with a range of facilities the public can avail of, including castle tours, theatre events, afternoon tea and children’s parties.
Another historic stopping off point is Baldungan Castle & Church. At the top of a hill overlooking Loughshinny stands the ruins of a Medieval church which is said to have been originally built by the Knights Templar. There was also a castle on the site which was sacked in June 1642 during the Confederacy Wars when two of the towers were blown up. The castle was never repaired and over the intervening years fell gradually into ruins, very little of which now exists.
Balbriggan is home to a beautiful sandy beach and bustling fishing harbour, which is only two minutes from Balbriggan town centre and the train station. On a fine day you can see the mountains of Mourne across the stretch of water. A large colony of seals inhabit the coastline at Hampton and can regularly be seen around the harbour, especially when the fishing boats head home after their time out at sea.