On August 18th, the Dublin Branch celebrated Heritage Week when a strong group of 35 people, led by Sarah Rubalcava, joined together to explore and learn about the rich heritage of Howth Head. We followed one of the way-marked trails named the Black Linn looped walk. This takes in the cliffs, the summit and heathland areas.
Howth Head is one of Ireland’s Special Areas of Conservation, designated under the EU’s Habitat’s Directive. Two important habitats are found on Howth Head, one being dry heathland which is mainly found in the most western areas of Europe and secondly sea cliffs which provide essential areas for sea birds.
|Howth Head’s dry heathland protected under EU|
Habitat’s Directive. Ireland’s Eye in background.
We came across recently burnt areas of gorse, which the NPWS has identified as one of the threats facing this area. It was interesting to see areas that had previously been burnt slowly recover. Other threats include recreation and the spread of invasive species. The importance of using and protecting the long used paths now managed and maintained will help the natural vegetation in the long run. The two hour walk was interspersed with amazing views of Ireland’s Eye, a popular yearly destination organised by the Dublin Branch, views of Baily Light House, sea birds on the cliffs. One of the highlights though was visiting the goats.
|Grace O'Malley, Maggie May and Delilah of the Goats for Howth Head Project |
managing the birch/bracken/gorse scrub
The ongoing encroachment of bracken, birch and gorse is also seen as a threat to the heathland habitat. In 2012, Fingal County Council with the help of Heritage Council funding, and Newbridge House and farm introduced goats onto Howth Head. In their second year now, it is hoped that they will help to keep the birch/bracken/gorse scrub under control. It is early days yet and one project worth following!
Many thanks to Thomas Byrne for taking the photos.
For more information on the goats: http://www.goatsforhowth.ie/
Howth Walks : http://howthpathways.com/loopwalks.html