Prior to the present harbour being constructed, a small 17th century quay existed mainly for local fishermen of Howth village and was also used to off-load "coal, fuel and other necessaries and conveniences" for conveyance up to the original lighthouse on Howth Head.
At the beginning of the last century it was decided to supersede the Pigeonhouse as a Packet Station and build a harbour at Howth. The first stone of the new harbour was laid in 1807. The granite stone for the harbour was quarried nearby at Kilrock above Balscadden Bay. The usefulness of Howth Harbour was however short lived, sand and mud filled the harbour rapidly and it was with considerable difficulty that sufficient depth could be maintained for the Holyhead packets. Consequently construction of the harbour at Dun Laoghaire went ahead from 1817 to the design of John Rennie who was also responsible for Howth Harbour.