Malahide Castle is one of Ireland’s oldest castles dating back to the 12th Century. Set on 260 acres, the castle has been home to the Talbot family for over 800 years. The guided tour allows one to get a feel for the history of the house, and to admire the period furniture and an extensive collection of Irish portrait paintings.
Malahide Castle was built by the Talbots, an English family holding the title Earls of Shrewsbury. 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.
The Talbots are reputed to have been a diplomatic family, carefully manoeuvring between the authority of church and state. 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.
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 on the battlefield.
The Talbots left an extraordinary legacy in Malahide and beyond. Among the family members were noted statesmen, churchmen and scholars and one great member of the family, Sir John Talbot, was immortalized in Shakespeare’s play ‘Henry VI’. Thirty individual Talbots had their seat at Malahide, from the first Lord Richard Talbot to Lord Milo Talbot, the 7th Baron, who died in 1973.
In 1975, Rose Talbot sold the castle to the Irish State, partly to fund inheritance taxes. Many of the contents had been sold in advance, leading to considerable public controversy, but private and governmental parties were able to retrieve some. Rose died in Tasmania in 2009.
The ornamental gardens adjoining the castle cover an area of about 22 acres and were largely created by Lord Milo Talbot, an enthusiastic plant collector who brought specimens from around the world to create the gardens here. In all, there are in excess of 5000 different species and varieties of plants present.
The extensive system of pedestrian paths throughout the estate are perfect for walking and exploring the picturesque tree-lined park.
Open 7 days: 9.30am – 5.30pm
Last guided tours at 4.30pm from Apr to Oct, or 3.30pm Nov to Mar.
Closed 24 – 26 Dec.