Defensible hilltops and coastal sites, good fishing grounds, and Fertile farmland in the western part of the peninsula have attracted settlers to Howth for thousands of years. The most striking remnant of early settlement is the portal tomb in Howth Demesne, built more than 4000 years ago. Two thousand years later, the Iron Age promontory fort on the Baily, which has been associated with a king called Crimthan, was probably a settlement of considerable importance. However, few traces of the place now remain.

Much of the charm of the village of Howth on the other side of the peninsula derives from the surviving medieval and 19th century buildings. St. Mary's Abbey, the nearby College and Howth Castle, west of the village, all date from the Middle Ages. St. Mary's Abbey was built on the site of a church founded in 1042 AD by Sitric (Sitryggr), Norse King of Dublin. For a brief period in the 19th century Howth was the premier passenger port for Dublin.Many of the impressive coastal buildings date from this period.

In more recent years Howth port has risen to prominence again,as the main fishing port on the east coast of the country. The late 19th century and the 20th century have seen the area become a dormitory settlement of Dublin. The mature, wooded gardens of large houses are now an indispensable element of the local landscape. Frost sensitive plants thrive on the sheltered southern slopes of the peninsula. Non-native plants such as White Bryony (Bryonia dioica), Red Hot Poker (Kniphofia spp) and Echium pininana have escaped from gardens to add an exotic dimension to the landscape.

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