The Oldest Occupied Castle in Ireland – Malahide Castle


When I came the very first time to Ireland in 2006, I stayed in Swords, just north of Dublin and near to the airport. I stayed only a couple of days but had time to visit a sight. It was Malahide Castle. I even took a tour inside the castle. I liked it very much and over the years I always wanted to go back. But like very often when you live nearby you always have the feeling ‘next week maybe’. That’s why I have never been there again.

This time I wasn’t alone and I got the chance to re-visit Malahide. Plus meeting with friends right there in the beautiful park.


Malahide Castle is the oldest occupied castle in Ireland and has been in the Talbot family since 1180. It was sold to the Irish government in 1976 when the last of the Talbot family inherited the castle and had to pay an enormous sum of inheritance taxes. Since then, it is open to public and can be visited. Not only the huge gardens but also the estate itself. They give guided tours of around 1.5 hours. Our guide was hilarious, she seemed to know all about the castle history and family and talked with a lot of passion.


Malahide village was already a Northmen settlement. Vikings lived here since 795 and used it of one of their main bases. The last Danish king left Dublin to retire in Malahide when the Anglo-Normans arrived around 1171. Shortly after that Henry II granted Richard Talbot, one of his best knights, the land of Malahide, who started to built his establishment right where the castle stands today.

The family never left the castle except for the short Cromwellian conquest of Ireland when the estate was granted to Miles Corbet. But he was hanged shortly after and the ground was given back to the Talbot family.

The building was enlarged significantly during the reign of Edward IV, the towers are from 1765.

During world war I the grounds of the castle were used as a base for airships.

When the 7th Baron of Talbot died in 1973, he left the castle to his sister (also unmarried). She sold the castle to the Irish State to pay inheritance taxes.. very sad!


There are a few interesting stories I read in the castle while visiting it.

Maud Plunkett, wife of Richard Talbot, was married before. But her husband was killed in a fight right after his wedding. So Maud was maid who became a wife and a widow the very same day. After being again a widow she married a third time and lived in Malahide. She was known as a forceful character. She is buried in Malahide Abbey which is located beside the castle. But the abbey was already in ruins in 1630. The two stone-carved female figures are ancient sheela-na-gigs warding off evil and death.

It is said that Malahide Castle has 5(!) ghosts. One is the first husband of Maud Plunkett, Sir Walter Hussey who was killed on his wedding day and his young bride and widow immediately married after his death his rival.
The second ghost is Maud Plunkett herself, chasing her first husband.
The third ghost is the brief occupant Miles Corbet. He was the owner of the castle during Cromwell’s occupation and did a lot of ‘damage’ to the castle and especially to the abbey. He desecrated the chapel. He was hanged, quartered and drawn. That is the way he appears to the unfortunate ones.
Then there is Puck, a jester of the 16th century. He fell in love with a kinswoman of Lady Elenora Firtzgerald. He was killed on a cold December night and with his dying breath he swore to haunt the castle.
The fifth and last ghost is the white lady. She is from an unknown painting of an unknown artist, leaving the painting from time to time and wanders around. She wears a white flowing dress.


We did the tour without any ghostly encounters. But admired very much the rich and beautiful rooms and halls.

After that we had a look in the gift shop, we met our friends from Navan and had lunch together. Avoca is a very popular restaurant chain in Ireland at the moment and really offers great meals. There is also a good range of gluten/lactose-free choices. We were sitting outside, the weather so perfect, warm and sunny, nearly unusual for Ireland.

The park is huge and provides space for concerts in summer.

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Malahide Castle, Co. Dublin/Ireland:

For further information:
Dublin Webside
Malahide Castle and Gardens


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