Lonely Planet Writer

Historic Howth Castle in North County Dublin opens its doors for first ever public tours

Tourists are about to get the chance to have a look inside the historic Howth Castle in North County Dublin, as it prepares to open its doors to the public for the first time.

Howth Castle
The grounds of Howth Castle stand by the sea in North County Dublin. Image by Chris Yunker / CC BY 2.0

Where previously access to the castle was only permitted to specially organised groups, guided public tours are now due to take place on Sundays during August and September. The tours will last 70 minutes, with tickets costing €20 with discounts available for families, students and senior citizens.

Howth Castle
This month marks this first time that the castle will be open for public tours. Image by Chris Yunker / CC BY 2.0

Howth Castle is the private residence of the Gaisford-St Lawrence family, who first came to Howth in 1177. Legend has it that on 10 August, John de Courcy won a victory at the nearby Evora Bridge which secured him possession of the Howth peninsula. In gratitude for this he is said to have taken the name St Lawrence, with his descendants still owning and living in the castle today. It is among the few houses in Europe to have been continuously lived in by the same family for such a period.

Howth Castle
Parts of the historic castle date back to the 15th century. Image by Ana Rey / CC BY 2.0

The existing structure of the castle dates back to the 15th century, with the Gate Tower and Keep from that period still standing. It has evolved over the centuries and offers a unique illustration of how historic houses have changed in Ireland.

Howth Castle
The castle is still home to the St Lawrence family, who have lived there for generations. Image by Chris Yunker / CC BY 2.0

“We are delighted to welcome visitors for Guided Public Tours for the first time. We understand that there is a lot of interest in Howth Castle as it is one of the oldest residential castles in Ireland and we are offering a tour which will provide a real insight into the grounds and it’s residents over the centuries,” said Julian Gaisford-St Lawrence who currently lives in the Castle.

Howth is a seaside village in North County Dublin. Image by Michael Foley / CC BY 2.0

Visitors will see the formal rooms which have welcomes guests such as Ireland’s Pirate Queen, Grace O’Malley, Queen Victoria, Joan Rivers and Bing Crosby.

Tickets for tours are available to book online at the Howth Castle website.