The Murphy clan ventured out of city centre for the day to see what else could be found beyond the busy streets of Dublin. We packed a bag and hopped on the DART train heading north to catch some fresh air out of the city. Don’t get me wrong, living in City Centre Dublin has been great, but we just aren’t city people. Kieghan was excited to ride the train for the first time, and he loved counting the stops along the map that was so conveniently located above our seats. It was fun listening to him trying his best to say the names of the Irish towns we were passing through. He learned how to say them correctly when the automated voice over the intercom of the train announced the next stop. Believe it or not, he actually got a few of them right! He beamed when that happened, and every one knew he got it right by his announcement of “I said it correctly!”
We were told that Malahide would be a great place to take the kids. After all, there was a castle there! Malahide is a small coastal town that is home to one of the longest occupied castles in Ireland, Malahide Caste. This 11th century castle was home to the Talbot family who lived there from 1175-1975. That’s right, folks, that’s 800 years!
Getting off the train, the castle was a quick 10-15 minute walk. Kieghan led the way, with water bottle in hand and an eye out for maps to help navigate the way. The anticipation was building each step we took down the paths lined by stoned walls and iron gates. It was the first castle any of us had ever seen in person, so we were all pretty excited. Wouldn’t you be?
On the castle grounds, we stopped by the little shop, Avoca, and cafe to grab a bite to eat for lunch and purchase tickets for the guided tour through the castle. The shop was very cute and very vintage chic. I could have bought pretty much everything in the store. The food at the cafe was delicious and service was great. Andy and I shared a fish cake entree with rice and potato pasta. YUM!
Just outside of the shop, the old Abbey stood in ruins with an old cemetery resting peacefully within the stoned walls. You can imagine how old some of those headstones were! It was a solemn sight to see.
Around the Abbey, a winding path led us to the front of Malahide Castle. It stood prominently at the end of a long, narrow path flanked by large, green lawns. The lawns were a great place to let the boys stretch their legs and catch some fresh, cool air. The grass was so soft, that we let the baby walk around without shoes, and to burn some energy, we had Kieghan run out to the trees and back a few times. Kinsler wanted to join in the running bliss, so he began running after Kieghan. It was a good place to just “be” if only for a short time!
We took some pictures in front of the castle before making our way inside for the tour. We stood in awe! We were literally standing in front of a real castle! It was at that time, that we realized the memories we were creating for the whole family. We couldn’t wait to see what was inside the walls of this 800 year old castle!
As our tour began, the guide led us up a narrow winding staircase and into the Oak Room. This was the only original room remaining in the original tower from the time the castle was built. With stained black Irish oak, the walls had grand moldings and intricate carved artwork throughout the panels. It was said that the piece above the fireplace, The Coronation of the Virgin Mary, was thought to be about 500 years old. Wow! And to see that with my own eyes, I couldn’t believe it!
From the Oak Room, we maneuvered into the small and large drawing rooms. These rooms were original to the 17th century, when the Talbots wanted to display their wealth by the manner of the decor, according to the guide. In these rooms, portraits and artwork adorned the walls, ceilings boasted ornate moldings, and beautiful pieces of furniture lined the rooms.
In the large drawing room, the Talbots held balls and gatherings. If you look closely at the photos, there is a square screen next to a chair in front of the fireplace. As the women during this time period wore makeup made of wax, the screen provided a shield from the heat of the fire. This is where the term “saving face” came from. The women used the screens to keep their makeup from melting off, therefore, saving their faces.
Another fun fact about this room, is the couch that sits so prominently in the middle of the room. If you look closely there are two sections to the couch, a large sitting space and a separated, small sitting space. During the 17th century, single ladies were not allowed to sit together with single gentlemen without a chaperone. The remedy to this was a special sitting area, the smaller side, where the chaperone would sit and listen to the conversations to ensure that only approved topics were being spoken of. These topics typically included the weather, what the woman did that day, and light politics. Just think if we still lived like that!
Beyond the drawing rooms, we headed up the stairs that only lords and ladies would have walked. At the base of the staircase, a portrait hangs of Milo and Rose with their mother. These two kiddos would be the last living Talbots in the castle, and the last carrying on the Talbot name as neither were married. At the top of the stairs was a hall with a series of bedrooms. Each room, served as a bedroom for each member of the Talbot family. My favorite was the Nursery, where old toys from that era were displayed.
The final stop on the tour was the Great Hall. This held a large table where only the men would gather to eat breakfast. Why not the women, you may ask? The women didn’t wake until 11:00 am, therefore, missing breakfast! The Talbot family crest hangs under the balcony where the musicians would play. The morning of the Battle of the Boyne, fourteen Talbot men sat at that same table, but only one was to return at the end of the battle. That was the reality of life at the time, and still today. Time together is just so precious. Most of the castle had been set aside in its original glory, and the “modern-day” living quarters were sight unseen as you can imagine.
Milo Talbot, the one from the portrait above, grew to become a Master Gardner. In his travels, he oftentimes brought back different species of plants and flowers from the Southern Hemisphere. He built a four acre botanical garden within the walls of the castle, and many of those same species of plants and flowers remain for viewing today. We walked over to meander through the gardens, and what beautiful gardens they were!
View more photos from our time at Malahide in the Malahide Gallery!
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