Howth Castle is a private residence, and although not normally open to the public, the owner-family recognises that there is strong public interest in it. Unlike many other houses of its size in Ireland it is not a museum or a hotel but a home. The castle is open to the public by appointment only. The castle’s contents include the Great Sword of Howth (allegedly wielded by Almeric in 1177), paintings (including portraits of people by Watts, Lavery, Hudson and Grant, horses by Ferneley and one of the few portraits of Jonathan Swift by Francis Bindon), furniture, fine china, photographs and books. The last Earl of Howth died in 1909.