Ireland's Eye? What an intriguing name. Ireland's Eye island is situated just 15 minutes by ferry boat from Howth Harbor outside of Dublin reminding us yet again that some of the most beautiful nature spots in Ireland are literally within commuting distance of Dublin. We make it a point to turn every day into a vacation (my husband is the blogger behind VacationCounts, after all). When we are home, this means exploring cool things to do outdoors in Dublin in and around our neighborhood (e.g., birdwatching on Bull Island or a hike on the River Dodder). We jumped at the chance on a sunny Sunday to make the day trip to Ireland's Eye island for a few hours of hiking and birdwatching in the shadow of Dublin City. Here's what we found on our Ireland's Eye ferry adventure.
Dueling Ireland's Eye Ferries
First, I have a public service announcement. We found out the hard way that there are actually two Ireland's Eye ferries. We thought there was only one and prebooked our places on the boat. The DART train arrived in Howth about 10 minutes before the ferry was scheduled to depart so we ran to the boat using Google Maps as our guide. We ran up to the dock as a ferry was sailing away. We waved frantically and the captain turned around to get us.
It was only when we were halfway to Ireland's Eye and our phone started to ring that we thought 'uh oh'. The skipper of the ferry we were supposed to be on was calling. Turns out that we had inadvertently boarded the other ferry company's boat! The two companies making the trip to Ireland's Eye island are Island Ferries (orange boat) and Ireland's Eye Ferries (blue boat). They both make the boat trip to the Ireland's Eye about once an hour on a slightly offset schedule.
SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Don't forget to make some time to see Dublin City. Check out our huge list of one day Dublin itineraries to keep you busy.
Map Of Ireland's Eye Ferry Departure Points in Howth
Click on the image of the Howth map below to open up an interactive version in Google Maps so you can get a better idea of where the different ferry companies depart.
The Stack on Ireland's Eye Island
Making Landfall on Ireland's Eye After the 15 Minute Ferry Ride
We rounded Ireland's Eye and pulled into a cove near a historic Martello tower perched on the rock face. We scrambled up a slippery rock staircase excited to see what we'd find in this wild uninhabited place.
Empty Nests on Ireland's Eye
Dive-bombing Seagulls on Ireland's Eye
The Prickly Meadows of Ireland's Eye
We did our best to run the gauntlet of seagull nests on our walk around Ireland's Eye. Our target was to hike to the other side of the island to take a closer look at The Stack. We couldn't hike up and over the craggy rocks (too many seagulls). We found a path through a small valley and emerged in a grass meadow. Great, we thought... it will be an easy hike from here. That was until we started walking through the grass and found out that it was incredibly prickly and the nettles were stinging us through our thin trousers. We beat a hasty retreat to the other side of Ireland's Eye.
Flocks of Guillemots on Ireland's Eye
We never did see The Stack from land but did find a most excellent vantage point for bird watching on Ireland's Eye not far from where our ferry landed. We were able to hike up fairly high and look down upon a rock simply covered in Guillemots. They are such beautiful and majestic birds. I've never seen so many!
Pairs of Razorbills on Ireland's Eye
Training my camera a bit further out, I spotted a pair of birds off by themselves that looked a bit different. Turns out it was a pair of razorbills! These guys are so cool. I love the white accent lines on their plumage.
Nesting Cormorants on Ireland's Eye
The Martello Tower of Ireland's Eye
Quiet Beaches on Ireland's Eye
Ireland's Eye Colorful Lichen
The Curious Seals of Ireland's Eye
As we were waiting for the Island Ferries boat to pick us up, we spotted movement in the water just off the coast of Ireland's Eye a fair distance away. A seal soon popped its head above the waterline. We love birds (and apparently so do the seals...) and were excited to learn that there is other wildlife to be found in the waters surrounding Ireland's Eye.
As we boarded the Island Ferries vessel on Ireland's Eye for the 15 minute return trip to Howth, we reflected on an amazing day out. I love that we were able to turn a simple outing close to home in Dublin into a spectacular 'vacation day'.