The St Lawrence family came to Howth in 1177 and Howth Castle is one of the longest continuously-inhabited private homes in Europe. The Gate Tower and Keep date from the 15th century and it is a unique illustration of how historic houses have evolved in Ireland over the centuries. Pirate queen Grace (Gráinne) O’Malley once visited the Castle in 1576. Legend says she was not welcome and she abducted the Earl's son. He was eventually released when a promise was given to keep the gates open to unexpected visitors, and to set an extra place at every meal.
The estate includes much of the peninsula of Howth Head, including extensive heathland and much of the famous Howth Cliff Walks, with views over Dublin Bay, light woodland, and the island of Ireland's Eye. On the grounds near the castle are golf, pitch and putt and foot-golf facilities, a former hotel, formal gardens and a pond, rhododendron walks - and several small streams.
Howth Castle and the adjoining estate have been sold to developers with a view toward upgrading the Deer Park Hotel and golf courses into a luxury destination. This will ensure that the Castle is preserved and maintained to the highest standard. You can still see the Castle from the outside.
There are a dozen or more references to the estate in Joyce's Ulysses. And it was used as a film location in the 1963 Roger Corman and Francis Ford Coppola B-film "Dementia 13" (a.k.a. The Haunted and the Hunted), where it was the setting of numerous scenes and called "Castle Haloran". Flashback scenes from the Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western, "Duck, You Sucker" were shot here. The castle was used extensively for exterior shots in "Love & Friendship", Whit Stillman's adaptation of Austen novel "Lady Susan".
Pass the Deer Park Hotel/ golf course to find a path that leads to Aideen's grave, an ancient dolmen, and continue up and under huge rhododendrons that bloom in late May and June. You will find a great view in the clearing at the top of the hill.