Aoife Bradshaw looks at the places to visit – and the many events, activities and attractions on offer – in the often wonderfully picturesque north Dublin county of Fingal.
A look at the many attractions that make Fingal a must-visit destination.
Fingal is one of the four counties of Dublin. It is in effect the bulk of North Dublin, where bustling suburbia meets rich farmland; and where vibrant coastal villages and towns, bursting with energy and life, offer a wonderfully welcome refuge from the city.
Both urban and increasingly rural as it stretches to the north, the scenic Fingal coastline runs from Kilbarrack to the Co. Meath border near Laytown, twisting in and out of villages, beaches and ports, from Sutton through Howth, Portmarnock, Malahide, Portrane, Rush and Skerries, on to Balbriggan.
As be ts a coastal area, there is a deeplyrooted maritime tradition in these towns and villages. Indeed, the whole of Fingal is rich in history and attractions. The long and diverse story of the area that can be traced back to the Vikings, its very name deriving from the Irish ‘Finn Gall’ – meaning foreign tribe or territory of the foreigners. And with that narrative comes a rich and rewarding cultural heritage.
As a result, there is plenty to do, see and explore in Fingal. The calendar also has plenty of exciting events and festivals running throughout the year, combining the best of music, food and crafts.
The coastal villages of Fingal are some of the most scenic in Ireland, full of great food, atmosphere and character. Here, we throw a spotlight on some of the villages that are perfect for a day-trip – or better still a longer stay!
Nestled between Portmarnock and Swords, Malahide is a beautiful village, boasting a breath-taking marina. It is one of the most popular towns, both for tourists and daytripping Dubliners. Malahide’s centre is where Main Street meets Church Road – also known as the diamond. It’s a hub for shops, restaurants and, of course, great pubs.
Malahide is also home to the iconic medieval Malahide Castle, as well as a tranquil beach. The best place for a family excursion is Low Rock, which is sheltered: the water is shallow enough to swim there. Malahide’s most famous pub is Gibney’s, where the addition of a new rooftop bar means you can now enjoy a leisurely drink in the sun. There’s great live music in the evenings. Directly across the road is the more recently built Fowler’s, while Gilbert and Wright’s is another great spot, luxuriously designed and serving up some of the best cocktails around. Meanwhile for food, Café Provence offers an excellent brunch menu; there’s a branch of the alwaysexcellent Avoca Café in Malahide Castle;
Bon Appetit and Nautilus (what a view!) are both top of the range; and Scotch Bonnet and McGovern’s are family-friendly and well worth trying.
The marina at Malahide brings a very special atmosphere to this lovely village.
The DART or Dublin Bus routes 32, 32x, 42 and 102 will all take you to Malahide village.
“Howth Market showcases organic local produce, handmade jewellery and vintage antiques.”
Howth is a charming shing village surrounded by suburban houses and rugged countryside. With the trawlers setting out every day, this is a community that retains a distinctive sense of identity, and the wonderful seafood served in nearby restaurants couldn’t be more local. Known for its lovely, bracing walk around Howth Head, and strolls along the pier, it’s one of the most popular seaside areas of Dublin – and for good reason. There’s plenty of eyecatching attractions to explore, including Howth Castle and Ireland’s Eye – a distinctive uninhabited island off the coast. For a more unusual attraction, visit the Museum of Vintage Radio and Gramophones!
Meanwhile, the remains of Howth Abbey, founded by Viking settlers in 1042, are still visible. Howth Market showcases organic local produce, handmade jewellery and vintage antiques, alongside hip stalls with strong coffee, cheese toasties and cupcakes, among many other genuine homemade culinary delights. You’ll also nd regular live music at places like the Abbey Tavern, the Bloody Stream and the Summit Inn. Top it off with some traditional sh and chips at Beshoff Bros, tapas-style dishes at the Brass Monkey Restaurant by the harbour or a brilliant feast at Aqua Restaurant, overlooking the sea. Further into the village, the legendary King Sitric is a wonderfully