Named 'site of caher' on the 1837 OS 6-inch map, this site has been referred to as 'Dun Griffen' (Shearman 1893, 451). The cashel, which had been erected at the eastern end of the headland, was removed during construction of the Baily lighthouse. Large quantities of bones were revealed. In 1890 when the Board of Irish Lights erected some cottages on the 'Little Bailey' several weapons of uncertain date were discovered in the digging of foundations. Not visible at ground level.
Compiled by: Geraldine Stout
Howth Demesne, with its monstrous capstone, has to be one of the unsung greats of Irish tombs (maybe it's not all that unsung, but it feels that way). This was my second visit here and I was once again stunned by the absolute madness of it. I struggled to explain to my companion how it was possible to construct it.
If the capstone did come from Muck Rock cliff (and from where else could it?) and was rolled here, they'd have had to have come past the front of the tomb and rolled it up from the back end as the front of the tomb does point directly at the cliff-face (that is if that's the way portal tombs are constructed). The capstone has been flattened on its underside and at its front, and it's entirely possible that the stone was rolled from Muck Rock, up a platform/ramp at the front of the tomb, which was then removed once the capstone rested on the portals, doorstone, sidestones and backstone, to reveal it in all its majesty.
You can't help but wonder when the capstone fell (if a capstone falls and nobody hears it etc...) and also admire the builders who undertook this project all those years ago. The over 2 metres tall portal stones were a job to erect in themselves. Much of the other structural stones seem to have almost exploded under the weight of the collapsing and collapsed capstone. There's a tiny 'Dolmen' signpost at the back of the golf-course that points the way down the path to the tomb – quiet, understated, and completely the opposite of what it leads to. I love this place.
A promontory fort as opposed to a hillfort, there's very little evidence of any remaining ramparts. The walls of the lighthouse grounds and its facilities seem to have been built in the most obvious position, across the narrowest part of the neck of the promontory. Great sea cliffs and their winged inhabitants make this interesting – otherwise you could take a pass and not really miss anything.
Not exactly the top of the world, and not even the top of Howth (the remains of the cairn on the Ben of Howth are higher), but still as close to floating as I've experienced recently without the ingestion of dubious substances. The remains of the cairn are secondary here – that the small cist-like chamber is frequently used as a hearth for boozy campfires seems insignificant given the stunning views all around. As has been noticed elsewhere, Lambay floats above Ireland's Eye, which in turn seems to float above Howth harbour. The view along the neck of the isthmus, across the lush vegetation below in Howth Demesne is spectacular. The Ben of Howth hides much of Dublin Bay to the south, but the mouth of the Liffey is visible, and the city itself sprawls away to the south-west. Awesome and well chosen spot.