One of the things I love about Dublin so much is the access the city affords to both coastal and country communities only a short drive away. Our life has been pretty hectic this summer so we haven’t had a lot of time to plan many explorations beyond our neighborhood, until a Sunday afternoon a couple of weeks ago. I’m trying to learn how to drive on the other side of the car, on the other side of the road, so we decided to hop in the Land Rover and head out somewhere. Thinking an hour was probably all I had in me, I suggested we drive out to the coastal community of Malahide, north of Dublin’s city center, to check out the castle and gardens and then drive back. After a white-knuckled grip drive up that way (I did great, I swear), we arrived at the castle to learn that in addition to admiring the castle’s exterior, you can also tour inside! Because the afternoon had been so busy, the docents decided to add one additional afternoon tour which we were able to snag tickets to. On the tour, we were surprised to learn the castle has such a long and rich history, dating back well over 800 years!
Malahide Castle played a central role in Medieval Irish history. Malahide Castle was built by the Talbots, an English family holding the title Earls of Shrewsbury, who had arrived in England during the Norman invasion with William the Conqueror. The French origin of the name was Tailbois or Talebot, and they had been Barons of Cleuville in Normandy before their arrival in England. Their name is thought to be first recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086. Richard Talbot arrived in Ireland in 1174, and in 1185 he was granted the lands and harbour of Malahide by Henry II for his “war-like” services in the Anglo-Norman conquest of Ireland. With the exception of a short time during the Cromwellian period, the Talbot family resided in Malahide for the next eight centuries. Their first stronghold was possibly a Motte and bailey castle, the earthwork remains of a Motte survive at Wheatfields southeast of Malahide, before a stone castle was built on the site of the current Malahide Castle. The family had an established coat of arms by the 14th century bearing a lion and a hound. Their motto “Forte-et-Fidele,” – Brave and Faithful – would appear to refer to the lion and hound respectively. The Talbots are reputed to have been a diplomatic family, carefully maneuvering between the authority of church and state and during the eight centuries between 1185 and the 1970s, their tenure at Malahide Castle was only broken for a brief interlude between 1649 and 1660 when their lands were seized by Cromwellian soldiers and the castle was occupied by Myles Corbet, Lord Chief Baron of Ireland. Although the Talbots had taken the Jacobite side, their land holdings were not confiscated after The Battle of the Boyne in 1690. Fourteen members of the Talbot family, who had breakfasted together on the morning of the battle in the Great Hall of Malahide Castle, died at the Boyne. In 1831 the Talbots were again raised to the peerage with the title Baron Talbot of Malahide. The Castle and Demesne was eventually inherited by the seventh Baron Talbot and on his death in 1973, passed to his sister, Rose. In 1975, Rose sold the castle to the Irish State, partly to fund inheritance taxes. Many of the contents, notably furnishings, of the castle, had been sold in advance, leading to considerable public controversy, but private and governmental parties were able to retrieve some. Rose Talbot, one of the last surviving members of the Talbot family died at Malahide House, Tasmania in 2009. Her closest relatives, who married into the German surname Dietsch, traveled to Canada and the United States of America. Members of the Dietsch family still live in the USA and Canada today.
The castle was lovely, naturally, but what we really enjoyed were the gardens and the large, park like grounds. Alan is now convinced he needs his very own walled gardens. When I pointed out to him that our current home *has* a walled garden something about neighbors and noise was muttered. 😉
Leaving Malahide, we realized we hadn’t eaten and decided to head up the coast a ways to a town called Skerries and The Blue Bar, voted the best wings in Dublin by several outlets. Sounds crazy, right? Traveling 45 minutes out of the way to get wings? Well, one thing you should know about me is I am *serious* about my hot wings. I’ve eaten so many of them in and around Dublin that I could probably put together a beer and wings walking tour if so inclined. So how was it? Pretty damn good! Aside from the food, the hostess, when she found out we’d driven all the way up from Dublin, managed to seat us at a small table toward the back of the restaurant instead of turning us away for lack of a reservation. Moral of the story? If you’re going to a place with the best wings in and around Dublin, grab yourself a reservation before doing so.
All in all it was a lovely day exploring parts of Dublin we hadn’t seen before and hadn’t necessarily had plans to. It felt great to do something so spontaneous and cap off our weekend by playing tourist in our own town when we’d been galavanting around the globe doing it elsewhere.