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Howth Castle

Aideen's Grave

Aideen's Grave

Aideen's Grave is a beautiful collapsed monolithic portal tomb located in the grounds of Howth Castle. The tomb dates to around 2,500 BC and comprises of a two portal stones around 2.5 metres in height, a collapsed doorstone, and a colossal roof-stone measuring 5 metres, by 4, and 2 metres in depth. The roof-stone still rests on the upper edge of the portals, above the collapsed chamber.

According to Irish legend Aideen was the daughter of Aenghus, the ruler of Howth (Beann Éadair) in the 3rd century, who was married to Oscar, the son of Oisín of the Fianna. Oscar was slain in the Battle of Gowra in 284AD and was entombed in a rath on the field of battle. It is said that Aideen died in grief at her loss, so Oisin buried her at Howth and set a cairn over her, a burial usually reserved for great warriors or kings.

Aideens Grave Howth

The great Irish poet and antiquarian Samuel Ferguson wrote

‘A clear pure air pervades the scene, 
In loneliness and awe secure; 
Meet spot to sepulchre a Queen 
Who in her life was pure

Here, far from camp and chase removed, 
Apart in Nature’s quiet room, 
The music that alive she loved 
Shall cheer her in the tomb’.  

Aideen’s Grave – Samuel Ferguson, ca 1864

Rhododendron Woodland
Howth Castle Rhododendron Walk in bloom

The planting of the Rhododendron gardens was first started in 1854 and are considered the earliest and most famous rhododendron gardens of Ireland. The first plantings, were the common Rhododendron ponticum, which was planted in peat that had been carried up to the hill and packed into crevasses in the rock face.

Over time the R.ponticum were replaced by newer hybrids and other species. Currently it is estimated that there are over 200 different species and hybrids planted in the garden.

From April to late May there is a fountain of colour over the hill, completely submerging the visitor in fragrance and shades of all descriptions. To enjoy these magnificent and historic spots follow the path up to the right of the Café Bar.