One of the highlights of Malahide is the Malahide Castle and Demesne. It used to belong to the Estate of the Talbot's de Malahide , and is located just a short walk from the Malahide Village and train station. Parts of the Demesne originated in the 12th century, and it's grounds are over 270 acres (1.2 km squared) of field and forest covered parkland.
The Malahide Castle Estate began in humble beginnings around 1185a.d., when the lands of Malahide and its harbour were presented to Richard Talbot for his loyal service as a Knight to Henry the Second of England. The oldest remaining parts of the castle date back to this era, when the castle, which was more of a fortified keep at the time began. The original structure has been extended and developed over the centuries and has provided a home and a sanctuary for the Talbot family for over 790 years. The only time during this extended period that the Talbots did not own the castle was from 1649 to 1660 when Miles Corbet took residence of the castle. He was given ownership of the castle and grounds, temporarily as it turned out by Oliver Cromwell, after the Cromwell invasion of Ireland. Following the end of the Cromwell reign Miles Corbet was executed and the Castle once more returned to the ownership of the Talbots. During King Edward IV reign in England the Castle was greatly extended and the famous towers were added to the four corners of the original structure.
Like many notable families in the region in 1690 the Talbots suffered at the Battle of the Boyne. 14 family members were killed fighting for the King James (Catholic) against the King William (Protestant) for the combined thrones of Ireland, Scotland and England. King William the won the Battle by leading to the continuation and ultimately devastating protestant rule over Ireland.
Malahide Castle and Demesne was eventually inherited by the seventh Baron Talbot and upon his death in 1973, it passed to his sister, Rose. In 1975, Rose sold the castle to the Irish State to help fund her inheritance taxes. Much of the contents, notably furnishings, of the castle, had been sold in advance, leading to considerable public controversy. But private and governmental parties did retrieve some and the castle has added a collection of similar period furniture to account for what was never retrieved.
Beside the castle are the ruins of Malahide Abby, now just a shell, it still provides an picturesque backdrop to the castle inself. In the early fifteen hundreds the Abby would have been at the height of its glory , and the graveyard around it is actual proof that it has served as a typical parish church in its day. Now in the Irish Spring time if you are quiet it is a wonderful place to spot the spring bunnies that are so evident throughout the castle Demesne.
To learn more about Malahide Castle and Talbot Family visit the Malahide Heritage site, click here.
Malahide Castle has just undergone an ambitious redevelopment plan that has reasserted it as one of the top tourist destinations in the country. Over €12 million was spent over the winter and spring of 2011 and 2012 creating a much more engaging and memorable visitor experience. The Castle itself received some necessary restoration work as well as a serious upgrade and improvement of its facilities from both a tourism and mobility aspect. A new lift was carefully incorporated into an existing unseen interior shaft that offers wheelchair access to the upper floors, and an interpretive exhibition has been installed in the wonderful vaulted space that formerly housed the old gift shop.
The grounds of the castle have also seen a lot of improvement with the paths and signage throughout the demesne undergoing an upgrade. The castle is better linked to the village of Malahide with a more direct and picturesque route opened through the centre of the park that was originally the main path that connected the castle to the village in medieval times.
The Secret Gardens will be a particular draw for tourists, featuring walled gardens and a beautiful Victorian glass house similar to that in the Botanical gardens in Glasnevin. These gardens have remained unseen by the public since the castle was handed over to the state by the last Talbot to inhabit the castle in the 1970's.
A new shooping and cafe centre has been added to the current Castle Courtyard located to the rear of Malahide Castle adjacent to the ruins Malahide Abbey, and house an Avoca Cafe, as well as a souvenir shop and museum. This retail area also includes access to the walled gardens, and an intergrated ticket booth for all the tours featued in the Demesne.
Read more on the bright future for Malahide Castle.
Read our overview of Malahide Castle.