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Malahide Castle

Visited  August 2023

Location Malahide, Ireland
Entrance Fee Yes
Railway Station Nearby Yes- Malahide
Parking Yes
Facilities Cafe, Gift Shop, Toilets
Map

 

Just under ten miles from Dublin is Malahide, a pleasant village with a beautiful medieval castle in its midst. Once home of the Talbot family who were Norman in origin: they owned the castle for nearly 800 years until the last remaining family member handed the castle over to the care of the local council in the 1970s.

 


 

 


Review

 

The castle was built in the twelfth century by Richard Talbot who had been granted land in Malahide by King Henry II as a reward for accompanying the King on his Irish campaign. The oldest parts of the castle date back to this era, but it has been rebuilt and added to since then, and the towers which are visible today were added much later in 1765.

 

It is a picturesque castle, surrounded by formal gardens and woodland, and makes an enjoyable day out for all the family.

 


 

 


 

Entrance to the inside of the castle is as part of a guided tour only, but the guides are very good and tailor the tour to include any children so that they don't get bored. The tour starts in the oak room, which was once the castle chapel, which had a hidden altar behind the panelling, with a priest hole. The family had decided to become protestants after the Reformation, but only as a political move, and they remained secretly Catholic and held Mass in the castle chapel. The altar could be hidden away behind the panelling if any authorities turned up during their worship. 

 

The tour also takes the visitor into the Great Hall, used by the Talbots for dining. It was here on 16 July 1690 that fourteen members of the Talbot family sat down to breakfast together before heading off to fight in the Battle of the Boyne. By evening only two were still alive.

 

Other rooms on the tour were built in a later period when the Talbots were a rich and influential family who wanted to show off their wealth with expensive marble fireplaces imported from Italy, and plaster frescoes around the drawing room depicting exotic fruits such as pineapples which the Talbots would have eaten regularly even though they were unaffordable to most in Ireland at the time. The orange paint on the  walls in the drawing room was created especially for the Talbots and it is known as Malahide Orange.

 


 

 


 

As well as the castle buildings there are plenty of outside areas to be explored. For example, the day we visited, which was during the school summer holidays, the West Lawn had been turned into Fairy Land, with wooden sculptures and lots of different fairy houses dotted around the trees. 

 

There is also a beautiful walled garden with a pond, many beautiful flower borders and a large and impressive Victorian greenhouse. A peacock was also roaming free in this area, and built up quite a few spectators when he tried to get into the Visitor Centre. Looks like he had done this before and knew there were sources of food in there for him!

 

This garden is also the site of the Bell Tower, which as the name suggests contained a cast iron bell. This was originally thought to be part of the original medieval castle, but in fact is a folly dating to the 18th centre.

 

Something else which might be of interest to children is the butterfly house. This is situated next to the Visitor Centre  and contains over 20 species of butterflies, it is billed as the only butterfly house in Ireland. They are fascinating and fun to watch, and if you are lucky, very still and wearing bright clothes you mind find one lands on you! (This happened to Mum when a butterfly took a liking to her red sunhat!) It is very hot in the butterfly house so for us it was a short visit as it was boiling outside but I imagine it is gloriously warm in the colder months.

 

There is actually so much to do at this castle we were rushing to see it all , and there were parts of the grounds that we didn't manage to see. However if you are in the vicinity of Dublin in it is an easy train ride on the DART train, so maybe you could stay all day (we unfortunately were on a tight schedule) There is a large visitors centre with a cafe, shop and toilets, so everything you need for a whole day visit is on hand.

 

 


 

 


 

More info:  Malahide Castle

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