Much more than a castle

Set on 260 acres of parkland in the seaside town of Malahide, 16 km north of Dublin, Malahide Castle was home to the Talbot family from 1185 to 1975. The atmospheric castle – yes, there are ghosts – is furnished with period furniture and a large collection of Irish portraiture on loan from the National Gallery.

There are also gardens, playgrounds, a one-of-a-kind butterfly house and a fairy trail. Ireland’s only model railway museum is just a few minutes away too. All this makes Malahide Castle the ideal destination for families, art lovers and history buffs alike.

What to expect from the medieval Malahide Castle

Four main rooms are open to the public: the wood-panelled Oak room, the Small and Great Drawing Rooms and the Great Hall.

Here, an exhibition records the history of Malahide Castle and the family who lived here for almost 800 years.

chandeliers, portraits and antique furniture on display in malahide castle

The Drawing Room, Malahide Castle

Outside, you’ll find a splendid series of glasshouses, a conservatory and several very regal peacocks. There are some beautiful gardens to explore too. In the courtyard, another exhibition presents the story of the gardens, largely the creation of Milo Talbot, the last Lord Talbot to live at the castle.

The mysterious life of Milo Talbot

Milo Talbot was a world-renowned gardener and expert botanist. He was also a British diplomat and a one-time head of security for the UK foreign office.

He died in mysterious circumstances while on a Greek cruise in 1973. To make matters even stranger, the friend he was holidaying with was never interviewed, there was no post-mortem and his sister Rose burned all his personal papers.

While at Cambridge in the 1930s, Milo was a friend of the infamous Soviet spies Kim Philby and Anthony Blunt. One member of the family, Stephen Talbot, believes that he may in fact have been murdered – possibly by MI6.

a peacock spreads its feathers in the grounds of malahide castle

One of the peacocks at Malahide Castle

In 1976, the castle and estate were sold by Rose to Fingal County Council partly, at least, to cover Milo’s death duties. That’s how the castle and gardens came to be in public hands.

Unfortunately, however, much of the contents of the castle had already been sold – some of them to Mick Jagger, who bought several pieces of fine Irish Chippendale furniture for his chateau in France.

Malahide Castle & Gardens

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The Butterfly House

Inside the castle’s walled garden, you’ll find a Cambridge glasshouse. At first, it looks like an ordinary greenhouse, but look closer and you’ll notice a lot of movement.

Inside, butterflies of every variety, colour and size flit around among the lush and tropical greenery. There are blue, black and red ones. Furry, fluffy and sleek ones. In this warm climate, you’ll find plenty of caterpillars and cocoons about the place too.

The butterfly house at Malahide Castle is the only one in the country. A ticket to the castle covers entry here as well.

black and orange butterfly sits on leaf in the malahide castle butterfly house

Malahide Castle Butterfly House. Photo by Fabrício Severo.

Malahide Castle playground

Just a short walk from the castle is a state-of-the-art children’s playground. Open to the public as part of the estate’s 268 acre park, the playground is suitable for kids of every age. It features swings, slides and its very own castle.

Surrounded by greenery and equipped with plenty of picnic benches and seats, this is an ideal spot to while away the time on a sunny day. If you’re not heading to Malahide Castle, the playground has its own car park too.

face sculpted in wood among leaves and trees

Sculpture in the woods at Malahide Castle. Photo by Fabrício Severo.

A magical fairy trail

On the wooded west lawn of the castle, there’s a mile-long fairy trail. A booklet with questions and quests will guide you along it. On the way, you’ll find hidden sculptures, colourful fairy homes and mysterious fairy doors.

The Malahide Castle fairy trail is open year round and a variety of ticket combinations are available.

To make a booking visit the Malahide Castle and Gardens website.

Last Updated: 14th August 2022
Amy Sergison works in the advertising industry, creating social and digital content for brands in Ireland and the UK. The child of inner-city parents, Dublin is in her blood. When not writing you can find Amy screaming at a rugby match, Instagramming her dinner, or searching for solace in the quiet spots of the city.

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