Malahide Castle is very unique in Ireland because the Talbot family managed to keep control of the castle for 791 years. The Talbot family began their reign in 1185 and ended in 1976 despite a short interlude, 1649 to 1660, while Cromwell marched through Ireland. The lands and harbor of Malahide were granted to Richard Talbot in 1185, one of the knights who arrived in Ireland with Henry II in 1174. According to Burke's Peerage, Richard Talbot or de Talbot was the common ancestor of the Lords of Malahide and of the Earls of Shrewsbury.
The history of the Talbot family is recorded in the Great Hall,where portraits of generations of the family tell their own story of Ireland's stormy history. Many additions and alterations have been made to this romantic and beautiful structure, but the contours of the surrounding parklands have changed little in 800 years,retaining a sense of the past. Malahide Castle is operated by Dublin Tourism Attractions in conjunction with Fingal County Council. The hall of the castle is one of the purest specimens of Norman architecture but it is not known whether it dates from the reign of Henry IV or from that of Edward IV when the original building was considerably enlarged and embellished. The circular towers flanking the facade were added in 1765.
At the heart of the medieval castle is the Oak Room, approached by a winding stone staircase and lit by Gothic windows added in 1820 when the room was enlarged and the front hall below was created. The room is lined with carved oak from floor to ceiling, representing scriptural subjects, now black with age and polishing. Some of the carving is of Flemish origin, including six panels representing biblical scenes opposite the window; their religious theme suggests that the Talbots, who remained Roman Catholics until 1774, used this room as a chapel in penal times. Over the mantelpiece is a fine representation of the coronation of the Blessed Virgin which according to tradition disappeared when Cromwell seized the Castle and miraculously sprang back to it's place when the Talbots were reinstated.
An ancient baronial castle, in good preservation and still inhabited by the lineal descendant of its original founder, is a rare object to find in Ireland; and the causes which have led to this circumstance are too obvious to require an explanation.
In Malahide Castle we have, however, a highly interesting example of this kind; for though in its present state it owes much of its imposing effect to modern restorations and improvements it still retains a considerable portion of very ancient date, land most probably even some parts of the original castle erected in the reign of King Henry II. If considered in this way, Malahide Castle is without a rival in interest, not only in our metropolitan county, but also perhaps within the boundary of the old English pale.
The Castle of Malahide is placed on a gently elevated situation on a limestone rock near the village or town from which it derives its name, and of which, with its picturesque bay, it commands a beautiful prospect. In its general form it is quadrangular and nearly approaching to a square, flanked on its south or principal front by circular towers, with a fine "Gothic" entrance porch in the centre.
Its proportions are of considerable grandeur, and its picturesqueness is greatly heightened by the masses of luxuriant ivy which mantle its walls. For much of its present architectural magnificence it is however indebted to its present proprietor, and his father the late Colonel Talbot. The structure, as it appeared in the commencement of the last century, was of contracted dimensions, and had wholly lost its original castellated character, though its ancient moat still remained. This moat is however now filled up, and its sloping surface is converted into a green-sward and planted with Italian cypresses and other evergreens.
Interesting, however, as this ancient mansion is in its exterior appearance, it is perhaps still more so in its interior features. Its spacious hall, roofed with a timber-work of oak, is of considerable antiquity; but its attraction is eclipsed by another apartment of equal age and vastly superior beauty, with which indeed in its way there is nothing, as far as we know, to be compared in Ireland.
This unique apartment is wainscotted throughout with oak elaborately carved, in compartments, with subjects derived from Scripture history, and though Gothic in their general character, Some of them are executed with considerable skill; while the chimney-piece, which exhibits in its central division figures of the Virgin and Child, is carved with a singular degree of elegance and beauty. The whole is richly varnished, and from the blackness of tint the wood has acquired from time, the apartment, as well observes, assumes the resemblance of one vast cabinet of ebony.
The other apartments, of which there are 10 on each floor, are of inferior architectural pretensions, though some of them are of lofty and spacious proportions; But they are not without attractions of a high order, being enriched with some costly specimens of porcelain, and their walls covered with the more valuable ornaments of a collection of original portraits and paintings by the old masters. Among the former e most remarkable are portraits of Charles 1. and Queen Henrietta Maria, by Vandyke; James II. and his queen, Anne by Sir Peter Lely; Queen Anne, by Sir Godfrey Kneltner; the Duchess of Portsmouth, mistress to Charles II.; the Duke of Richmond (son of the above duchess) when a child ; Richard Talbot, the celebrated Duke of Tirconnel, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, general and minister to James II. by Sir Peter Lely; the Ladies Catherine and Charlotte Talbot, daughters of the duke, by Sir P. Lely; with many other portraits of illustrious members of the Talbot family. The portraits of the Duchess of Portsmouth and her son were presented by herself to Mrs Wogan of Rathcoffey, from whom they were inherited by Colonel Talbot.
Among the pictures of more general interest, the most distinguished is a small altar piece divided into compartments, and representing the Nativity, Adoration, and Circumcision. This most valuable and interesting picture is the work of Albert Durer, and is said to have belonged to the unfortunate Mary Queen of Scots. It was purchased by Charles II. for £2,000, and was given by him to the Duchess of Portsmouth, who presented it to the grandmother of the late Col. Talbot.
As already observed, the noble family of Talbot have been seated in their present locality for a period of nearly 700 years! According to the pedigree of the family, drawn up with every appearance of accuracy by Sir William Betham, Richard Talbot, the second son of Richard Talbot, Lord of Eccleswell and Linton, in Herefordshire, who was living in 1153, having accompanied King Henry II. to Ireland, obtained from that monarch the lordship of Malahide, being part of the two cantreds of Leinster, in the neighbourhood of Dublin, which King Henry had reserved, when he granted the rest of the province to Richard Earl of Strongbow, to be held as a noble fief of the crown of England.
It is at all events certain, as appears from the chartulary or register of Mary's Abbey, now in the British Museum, that this Richard Talbot granted to St Mary's Abbey in Dublin certain lands called Venenbristen, which lie between Croscurry and the lands of Hamon Mac Kirkyl, in pure and perpetual alms, that the monks there might pray for the health of his soul and that of his brother Roger, and their ancestors; and that he also leased certain lands in Malahide and Portmarnoc to the monks of the same abbey.
From this Richard Talbot the present Lord Talbot de Malahide descends in the 20th generation, and in the 24th from Richard Talbot, a Norman baron who held Hereford Castle in the time of the Conqueror. The noble Earls of Shrewsbury and Talbot are of the same stock, but descend from Gilbert, the elder brother of Richard, who was Lord of Eccleswell and Linton, and was living in 1190.
There can be no question, therefore, of the noble origin of the Talbots de Malahide, nor can their title be considered as a mushroom one, though only conferred upon the mother of the present lord; for Sir William Betham shows that his ancestor, Thomas Talbot, knight and lord of Malahide, who had livery of his estate in 1349, was summoned by the sheriff of Dublin to the Magnum Concilium, or Great Council, held in Dublin in 1372, 46 Edward III., and again to the Magnum Concilium held on Saturday, in the vigils of the holy Trinity, 48 Edward III., 1374, by special writ directed to himself by the name of "Thome Talbot, Militis."
He was also summoned by writ to the Parliament of Ireland in the same year. It therefore it could be ascertained that this Thomas Talbot actually took his seat under that writ, it would be clear that his lineal heir-male and heir-general, the present baron, has a just claim to the honours and which he has so recently acquired.
The manor of Malahide was created by charter as early as the reign of King Henry II., and its privileges were confirmed and enlarged by King Edward IV. in 1475. This, we believe, still remains in the possession of the chief of the family, but various other extensive possessions of his ancestors passed to junior branches of his house, and have been long alienated from his family.
Among the most memorable circumstances of general interest connected with the history of this castle and its possessors, should be mentioned what Mr Brewer properly calls "a lamentable instance of the ferocity with which quarrels of party rivalry were conducted in ages during which the internal polity of Ireland was injuriously neglected by the supreme head of government:- On Whitsun-eve, in the year 1329, as is recorded by Ware, John de Birmingham, Earl of Louth, Richard Talbot, styled Lord of Malahide, and many of their kindred, together with 60 of their English followers, were slain in a pitched battle at Balbriggan (Ballybragan) in this neighbourhood, by the Anglo-Norman faction of the De Verdons, De Gernons and Savages: the cause of animosity being the election of the earl to the palatinate dignity of Louth, the county of the latter party.
At a later period the Talbots of Malahide had a narrow escape from a calamity nearly as bad as death itself – the total loss of their rank and possessions. Involved of necessity by their political and religious principles in the troubles of the middle of the 17th century, they could hardly have escaped the persecution of the party assuming government in the name of the parliament.
John Talbot of Malahide having been indicted and outlawed for acting in the Irish rebellion, his castle, with 500 acres of arable land, was granted by lease, dated 21st December 1653, for seven years to the regicide Miles Corbet, who resided here for several years after, till, being himself outlawed in turn at the period of the Restoration, he took shipping from its port for the continent.
More fortunate, however, than the representatives of many other families implicated in the events of this unhappy period, Mr. Talbot was by act of explanation in 1665 restored to all his lands and estate in the county of Dublin, as had had held the same in 1641, only subject to quit rents.
It is said that during the occupation of Malahide by Corbet it became for a short time the abode of Cromwell himself; but this statement, we believe, only rests on popular tradition – a chronicler which has been too fond of making similar statements respecting Irish castles generally, to merit attention and belief.
Our limits will not permit us on the present occasion to enter on any description of the picturesque ruins of the ancient chapel and tombs situated within the demesne and immediately adjacent to the castle; and we shall only add in conclusion that the grounds of the demesne, though of limited extent, and but little varied in elevation, are judiciously laid out, and present among its plantations many scenes of dignified character and beauty.
More History and Tidbits
Malahide Castle, with over of remaining estate parkland (the Malahide Demesne Regional Park), lies close to the village of MalahideMalahide
Malahide is a picturesque suburban village of Dublin City located in Fingal, County Dublin, Ireland....
, nine miles (14 km) north of DublinDublin
Dublin is the capital and the largest city of the Republic of Ireland , located near the midpoint of Ireland's east coast, ...
in IrelandRepublic of Ireland
The Republic of Ireland is the official description of the sovereign state which covers approximately five-sixths the islan...
The estate began in 1185, when Richard Talbot, a knight who accompanied Henry IIHenry II of England
Henry II of England ruled as Count of Anjou, Duke of Normandy, and as King of England and, at various times, controlled pa...
to Ireland in 1174, was granted the "lands and harbour of Malahide". The oldest parts of the castle date back to the 12th century and it was home to the Talbot familyBaron Talbot of Malahide
The title Baron Talbot of Malahide was created in the Peerage of Ireland in 1831....
for 791 years, from 1185 until 1976, the only exception being the period from 1649-1660, when Oliver CromwellOliver Cromwell
Oliver Cromwell was an English military and political leader, best known for making England a republic and leading the Comm...
granted it to Miles CorbetMiles Corbet
Miles Corbet was a puritan MP for Yarmouth, England, and played a part in the regicide of Charles I, as the 59th of the sign...
after the Cromwellian conquest of IrelandCromwellian conquest of Ireland
Oliver Cromwell landed in Ireland with his New Model Army on behalf of the English Parliament in 1649....
; Corbet was hanged following the demise of Cromwell, and the castle was restored to the Talbots. The building was notably enlarged in the reign of Edward IV, and the towers added in 1765.
The estate survived such losses as the Battle of the BoyneBattle of the Boyne
The Battle of the Boyne was a turning point in the Williamite war in Ireland between the deposed King James VII of Scotland ...
, when fourteen members of the owner's family sat down to breakfast in the Great Hall, and all were dead by evening, and the Penal Laws, even though the family remained Roman Catholic until 1774.
In the 1920s the private papers of James BoswellJames Boswell
James Boswell, 9th Laird of Auchinleck was a lawyer, diarist, and author born in Edinburgh, Scotland....
were discovered in the castle, and sold to American collector Ralph H. Isham by Boswell's great-great-grandson Lord Talbot of MalahideBaron Talbot of Malahide
The title Baron Talbot of Malahide was created in the Peerage of Ireland in 1831....
Malahide 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.
Malahide Castle County House, County Dublin
Such was the troubled state of Ireland's past that few Irish country houses were ever continuously inhabited by the same family for more than a few centuries. A rare exception to this rule was Malahide Castle - home of the Talbots for 791 years. Granted in 1185 to Richard Talbot, one of the knights who arrived in Ireland with Henry II in 1174, the property remained in Talbot hands until 1976 when it was acquired by Dublin County Council. Unfortunately, the Irish government was unwilling to accept the property in lieu of death duties, and its remarkable collection of portraits and furniture, which uniquely reflected Ire land's historical and cultural development, had to be sold by auction. Fortunately, Ireland's tourist board, Bord Failte, managed to purchase much of the furniture at the sale together with the castle's carpets and curtains, and these remain at Malahide alongside thirty-five portraits bought by the National Gallery of Ireland. Further important acquisitions of Irish furniture have been added to the collection so that Malahide's interior still retains much of its old beauty and magic.
The core of the medieval castle is the oak room, approached by a winding stone staircase and lit by Gothic windows added in 1820 when the room was enlarged and the front hall below was created. The room contains fine carved panelling, mostly of sixteenth-century date, which has darkened to a gleaming ebony. Some of the carving is of Flemish origin, including six exquisite panels representing biblical scenes opposite the window; their religious theme suggests that the Talbots, who remained Roman Catholics until 1774, used this room as a chapel in penal times. According to tradition, Malahidethe Flemish carving of the coronation of the virgin over the mantelpiece disappeared when the castle was occupied by the Cromwellian Miles Corbet between 1653 and 1660.
Fortunately for the Talbots, the unsavoury Corbet was one of the regicides who signed the death warrant of Charles I and after the Restoration he was duly hung, drawn and quartered at Tyburn. Samuel Pepys recorded the occasion in his diary on 19 April 1662: 'This morning before we sat, I went to Aldgate and at the corner shop, a draper's, I stood and did see Barkestead, Okey and Corbet drawn towards the gallows.' The Talbots returned to Malahide and the figure of the virgin made a miraculous reappearance above the fireplace. Until 1976 the room contained James Boswell's ebony cabinet in which were found over 1,000 manuscript pages of Boswell's Life of Johnson in the 1920s.
The thick walls of the oak room are flanked on the east side by the great hall, added to the castle around 1475. Unique in Ireland, this great hall not only retained its original form but also remained in domestic use as a dining-room until 1976. Its vaulted undercroft and corbel heads of Edward IV are original, but during the nineteenth century it was given a new roof, mantels and a minstrels' gallery. The furniture and pictures are of mostly seventeenth- and eighteenth-century date. The magnificent thirty-five-foot table comes from Powerscourt but many other items are original, including the nucleus of the Talbot ancestral portraits acquired by the National Gallery - a collection that is unusual since most of the Talbots' ancestors were Jacobites rather than the supporters of King William who usually decorate Irish country houses.
Some valuable pictures were lost to this room in 1976, but the National Gallery managed to acquire a very fine John Michael Wright of Lady Catherine and Lady Charlotte Talbot. To replace lost pictures along the side wall, the National Gallery loaned the huge 'Battle of the Boyne' by Wyck - a superb picture that not only suits this room visually but is historically appropriate; on the morning of the Battle of the Boyne fourteen Talbot cousins, all followers of James II, gathered here to dine- none survived the carnage of the day.
he west side of the castle is occupied by an early seventeenth-century addition which once contained four tapestry-hung chambers. The wing was burnt around 1760 and these rooms were subsequently replaced with two fine drawing-rooms, while externally the architect added round corner turrets, giving the house a Georgian Gothick character. The two rooms were given splendid rococo plasterwork ceilings; the life-like mouldings in the coves of the smaller drawing room are attributable on stylistic grounds to the great Dublin stuccodore Robert West.
Above all, however, these drawing-rooms are famous for their wonderful nineteenth-century painted orange-terracotta walls that many have apparently attempted to reproduce without success over the years. The colour makes an ideal background for the gilt frames of the fine pictures that grace the walls. Of particular note is the splendid portrait of Nathaniel Hone and Sir Joshua Reynolds' portrait of Edmund Burke.
The larger drawing-room retains its lovely Chinese carpet and also boasts two French-style gilt settees circa 1770 and a pair of George II Irish giltwood sideboards with black lacquered tops. The sideboards had been acquired at the auction by an international art dealer who was just about to pass them on to an Iranian client when he was persuaded to sell them back to Malahide. The delightful little turret rooms with ogee Gothic windows beside the two drawing-rooms have long been used to feature small pictures and miniatures. In one hangs a set of Trench family portraits - six pastels and twelve oils by Hugh Douglas Hamilton in frames possibly designed by Gandon.
The famous gardens around the castle are largely the creation of the late Lord Talbot de Malahide who died suddenly in April 1973. They have been well restored by Dublin County Council and are certainly worth visiting. Also in the castle yard is the Cyril Fry Model Railway Exhibition with its model engines, rolling stock and replicas of railway stations in Dublin, Belfast and Cork.
Located in Malahide, 9 miles north of Dublin.
NGR: O 220452. Open daily. Toilet facilities.
Admission charge to castle and model railway.
Tel: castle (01) 452655; model railway (01) 452758.
Ghosts of Malahide Castle
As befits the oldest inhabited castle in Ireland, Malahide Castle has many ghostly traditions. Many historic castles and houses have one ghost, some have two or three, but Malahide Castle has five. Fist there is the spectre of young Lord Galtrim, Sir Walter Hussey, son of the Baron of Galtrim, who in the 15th Century was killed in battle on his wedding day. This Lord Galtrim wanders through the Castle at night pointing to the spear wound in his side and uttering dreadful groans. He is supposed to haunt the Castle to show his resentment towards his young bride, who married his rival immediately after he had given up his life in defence of her honour and happiness.
The second spectre is that of the Lady Maud Plunkett who does not appear as she did on the day of her marriage to Lord Galtrim, but as she looked when she married her third husband, a Lord Chief Justice. At this time she had become notorious as an un-equalled virago, and in her ghostly appearances chases her husband through the corridors of the Castle.
The third ghost is that of the Chief Justice himself, who merely appears to furnish his spectral spouse with an opportunity of taking a little nocturnal exercise.
The fourth ghost is more interesting, historically speaking and is that of Miles Corbett, the Roundhead to whom Cromwell gave the Castle and property during his protectorate. At the Restoration Miles was deprived of his property and made to pay the penalty of the many crimes he had committed during his occupancy, and which included the desecration of the chapel of the old abbey near the Castle. He was hanged, drawn and quartered and when his ghost first appears it seems to be a perfectly whole soldier in armour, but then falls into four pieces before the eyes of anyone who has the unpleasant experience of meeting it.
The story of the fifth ghost has a certain amount of pathos. In the 16th Century, as befitted a family of importance, the Talbots always had a jester among their retinue of attendants. One of these jesters, “Puck” by name, fell in love with a kinswoman of Lady Elenora Fitzgerald, who was detained at the Castle by Henry VIII because of her rebel tendencies. On a snowy December night the jester was found close to the walls of the Castle stabbed through the heart, a tragic figure in his gay jester suit and cap and bells. Before he died he swore an oath that he would haunt the Castle until a master reigned who choose a bride from the people, but would harm no one if a male Talbot slept under the roof.
Poor little Puck and his last appearance were reported during the sale of the contents of the Castle in May 1976. His little dwarf figure makes its appearance in many photographs of the Castle and one outstanding photograph shows his old bewitching and wrinkled face peering out of the ivy on the wall. The Castle with its 800 year old family history is haunted with many unseen and unknown spirits and their presence is felt in every room.
From: Malahide Castle Spooks, Newsletter No. 32, Malahide Historical Society
Baron Talbot of Malahide
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Baron Talbot of Malahide, in the County of Dublin, is a title in the Peerage of Ireland. It was created in 1831 for Margaret Talbot, widow of Richard Talbot, heir of the ancient Lords of Malahide. She was succeeded by their eldest son, the second Baron. In 1839 he was created Baron Furnival, of Malahide in the County of Dublin, in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. However, this title became extinct on his death while he was succeeded in the Irish barony by his younger brother, the third Baron. The latter was succeeded by his son, the fourth Baron.
In 1856, the fourth Baron was created Baron Talbot de Malahide, of Malahide in the County of Dublin, in the Peerage of the United Kingdom, and later held office as a government whip in the Liberal administrations of Lord Palmerston and Lord Russell. When he died the titles passed to his eldest son, the fifth Baron, but this line of the family failed on the death in 1948 of the latter's son, the sixth Baron.
The peerages were inherited by the late Baron's first cousin, the seventh Baron. He was the son of Hon. Milo George Talbot, fourth son of the fourth Baron. Lord Talbot of Malahide was a diplomat and notably served as British Ambassador to Laos from 1955 to 1956.
The Talbot Home
When the first lord Richard Talbot came to Malahide in 1170, his family were also lords of Shrewsbury in England. This was in the reign of Henry II. Talbot’s lordship of Malahide was confirmed by the King's son, Prince John, who subsequently became King of England. Also confirmed on Richard was the Advowson for the Church of Malahide and when he died in 1193, he presented his brother, Walter Talbot with that benefice. Where did the Talbots live when they first came to Malahide? Through the local historical society's research, it seems highly probable that they lived at Wheatfield, opposite the Community School. Here stands today the remains of a Motte and Bailey in an excellent state of preservation. It must be realized that in those very early days the Talbot estate extended to over 600 acres. The Motte and Bailey is a distinctive Norman trademark and, of course, the Talbots were originally Normans from France. This home would have been quite extensive containing stables, barns, workshops as well as a wooded home all protected by a stockaded ditch. There is no exact date as to when the Talbots moved to the site of the present day castle. The earliest portion of the present day castle is a keep-like tower of three storeys which dates to the fourteenth century.
Within this tower a circular staircase remains. We can assume that the first edifice to appear on the present site would have been around 1250.
We know that the Talbots founded the monastery of the Holy Trinity at Templeogue in 1259 and in 1262 Richard Talbot was Archbishop of Dublin.
By 1330, the family established themselves in about half the counties of Leinster, were Members of Parliament, County Sheriffs and were entrusted with the defense of many English garrison towns. So it is fair to assume that by 1350, Malahide Castle was a structure of some importance. The earliest reference available is at the top of a Patent granted by Edward IV to Sir Thomas Talbot in 1486 where a sketch of a castle exists.
A manuscript of the early sixteenth century lists the Castles and Garrisons of County Dublin and it includes Malahide and Belgard Castles.
There is also written evidence in existence today of repairs carried out between 1605 and 1609. The Down Survey of 1657 gives an important reference to the Castle and its 605 acres when it was owned by "John Talbot of Malahide, Irish Papist". Accompanied by a sketch, it is described as "a good stone house and orchards and gardens and many ash trees with other houses in good repair".
It is difficult to visualize today that the castle was once surrounded by a fortified wall with front and back gates. There are recorded references to the gate of the wall being forced by Wicklow raiders in 1534. This outer protective wall had a ditch, the very evident depression in the field south of the front door marks the site of this old wall and ditch. Over the years the wall was allowed to run into disrepair and was used as a quarry whenever stones were required. The stones were used for the walls of the garden, stables and farm buildings. A story goes that some of the Dublin Garrison assisted Myles Corbet's relations in an attempt to recapture Malahide Castle and besieged the wall with cannon. A cannonball was found imbedded in the wall in 1798 which leads credence to this story. The old tower in the garden would have formed part of the wall fortifications and has been used as a detached post to cover some farm buildings. Twenty years ago, it was used as an apple loft. The remains of the original ditch can still be seen running parallel to the railway.
The Castle was at one time called the "Court" and was originally square.
By 1640, Malahide Castle was gaining in prominence. It was attacked by Cromwell in 1641, after he had sacked Drogheda. When the Castle surrendered, it was immediately seized on by Corbet for his own residence, being as he observed, "the strongest Castle in the neighbourhood of Dublin". He lived in the Castle at a yearly rent of £50, until Charles II was restored to the Throne. Besides the outer wall, the Castle was also protected by a moat. This is clearly evident today if one looks to the left as the front door of the Castle is approached. The dried-up moat is perfectly obvious if one visits Malahide Gardens and views the Castle from the southwest extremity. Prior to the moat being filled in and planted with flowers and evergreens, the Castle must have presented a magnificent appearance with its drawbridge, portcullis and barbican. The present portcullis at the rear of the castle is only an imitation. When Sir John and Lady Catherine Talbot returned to Malahide at the Restoration, "the first act of this spirited lady was to order the demolition of the outworks and defences of the castle, alleging that her son and heir, Richard, that she was resolved Malahide should never again serve as a stronghold to invite the residence of an usurper". The usurpers, of course, were Cromwell and Corbet who took over the Castle when John Talbot was banished to Connaught during the Cromwellian Plantation. In the 1650's the Castle must have been in poor condition, as the original application for a grant of £50, made by Myles Corbet states: "It is an Irish Castle. I find it ruinous and must spend £500 on its repairs". Around 1700, Malahide Castle received a new lease of life and many structural changes took place. Two towers were added and many of the windows enlarged. The Great Hall was the first room to be renovated, and, needless to say, it required renovation as it dates back to 1475. It has been re-roofed and re-windowed, but its walls and supporting stone-vaulted undercroft are in their original form. The Hall measures 42' by 22' and is overlooked by a Minstrel's Gallery. In the years between 1765 and 1782, the west wing of the Castle was completely reconstructed after a fire, and the present Drawing Rooms were added. Prior to the fire, the two drawing rooms were divided into four rooms by tapestry hangings, a most unusual feature to have four rooms with no doors. At this time, also, alterations were made to the bedrooms and several floors and ceilings were raised. Off the drawing rooms two circular turret rooms were added and the North wing of the Castle developed. There is an area of mystery about the Oak Room as there is no record of the insertion of the oak paneling. Originally, the inner portions of this room would have been the principle room of the ancient tower house. There is a tradition in the Castle which states that one of the Talbots was warned in a dream that he must build a votive chamber "garnished with ivory pillars". Ivory, however was hard to get and expensive, so he put in oak columns, painted white, saying, "The Blessed Virgin will never notice the difference". However, after some time, he was unable to bear the sight of these "candles”, as he called them, and had them painted black. Today the Oak Room is one of the finest examples of a 16th century pannelled room, with the walls overlaid with richly carved oak, highlighted by a set of six very fine carved panels depicting incidents from Biblical stories. The Oak Room was enlarged to the South by Colonel R.W. Talbot in 1820, when he added on the Entrance Porch and the two small squared towers. Originally, there was no entrance on the south side, but there was a shell-lined grotto there. There used to be a statue of Edward IV over the original doorway but it seems to have disappeared during the 1820 renovations. The library and the rooms above and below were originally separate from the rest of the building. They are said to have been built by a "Mr. Talbot, who came over from Wales, meaning to leave his property to the family as his nearest heirs. But, in consequence of a quarrel which took place between the servants of the two families, he went back to Wales".
When the vaults on the ground floor were converted into the cellar by the 4th Baron, a doorway from the yard was closed and a horse's skull was found embedded in the floor, which looks as if horses had at one time been kept there.
The Castle was let for the Summer of 1825 to the Marquess of Wellesley, but that was the only time it was voluntarily let out.
So, one can see the huge changes brought in Malahide Castle, over the centuries. Today it is a square, castellated building with circular towers flanking the corners. The old moat has been drained, but like that of the Tower of London, not completely filled up. The declevities of the original wall and ditch now constitute steep banks of greenest verdure, planted, in places, with shrubs that love the shelter.
The lodges and gateways have been changed and improved over the years. Many trees had to be felled to give these buildings a finer aspect. The Dublin approach to Malahide, used by vehicles, passed in front of the Castle until the 5th Baron, wishing to avoid the expense of keeping it up as a carriageway, turned it into a walk. The public road was then changed to it’s present route, west of the castle.
Facing the 1990's, the Castle serves as an oasis in the midst of urban development. In a sense, it is a time-machine to whisk locals and foreigners back into historic days of old. Luckily, it is the aim of Dublin Tourism to preserve one of Irelands most historically important castles and to keep it open to the public.
Next, some insights will be given into the Talbot Family, who lived in Malahide for 800 years.
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The Talbot Family
So far, the history of Malahide Castle was looked at solely from the architectural viewpoint and the changing structure of the building was quite evident, over the centuries. Next we will deal with the human habitation of this fine building, and bricks and mortar will give way to human endeavour and enterprise.
The Talbots came from France to England and then to Ireland to make Malahide their home for 800 years. Their French ancestors were Barons of Cleuville in Normandy. Their name was Tailbois or Talebot. In 1066 Hugh and Richard Talebot were with William the Conqueror on his invasion of England. They received land in Herefordshire and afterwards spread to other parts of England and Wales. They retained their connections with France, however, and Richard’s son was Governor of Plessy in 1118. When his wife died, he became a monk at Beaubec there, thus foreshadowing in a small way the greater connections of his descendents with the Church afterwards, when several of this family were Bishops in Ireland.
Malahide had been a Viking settlement before the arrival of the Normans and the last Norse King of Dublin was forced to retreat to the Grange when the Normans arrived. Aerial photographs show dearly the crop marks west of Bloomfield, where the King, Hamund MacTurkill spent his last days at his ring forts.
In 1184,Richard Talbot was granted the Lordship of Malahide from Henry II (1154~1189), while the rest of Leinster was granted to Strongbow.
Chevalier Talbot received his lands by rendering to the King "one archer with a horse and coat-of-mail forever". Richard died in 1193 and was succeeded by his son Reginald who was a minor at the time of his father’s death. At this very early stage of the family dynasty, the Talbots came close to losing their estates. Being a minor, the wardship of the property became vested in the Crown. However, Henry de Fondres, Archbishop of Dublin, acting as Justiciary, appointed a clerk to the benefice in right of the King, as set forth in an ancient Inquisition. The Crown now took proceedings to protect the family estates against the encroachments of the Archbishop of Dublin, and when Reginald died without heir, he was succeeded by his younger brother and heir, Adam. This, indeed, was only the beginning of many a dispute between Church and Crown which haunted the Talbot family over the centuries.
Next in line, in Malahide, was Richard Fitz Adam Talbot and his land was settled on him by Edward I in 1286 and when he died, his son, Sir Milo Talbot took over. He was succeeded by another Sir Richard, who was the associate in arms of Sir John Bermingham. He married Margared de Ashbourne. He was sixth of the thirty Talbots to control the Malahide estates during their 800 year tenure, and, already, the family name, Richard, is beginning to predominate.
The Talbots are always reputed to have been a highly diplomatic family and steered a very safe course between the obstacles of Church and Crown domination. In 1259, they founded a monastery of the Holy Trinity at Templeogue and Richard was Archbishop of Dublin in 1262.
Sir Thomas Talbot born in 1328 later married Agnes Kenewrich and he was succeeded by his son Sir Richard Talbot who became Sheriff of County Dublin. By now, the family had established themselves in about half the counties of Leinster, were members of Parliament, County Sheriffs and were entrusted with the defence of many English Garrison Towns, such as Kilkenny, Arklow, Newcastle etc. They weren't always successful, as Richard, along with 200 other nobles were slain by the people of Louth in 1329.
The Talbots had by now acquired their coat of arms. This custom had its origins in the Crusades. Knights, whether in battle or jousting, were clad from head to foot in armour, and, so some means of identification of fighting men became necessary. So it was, that brightly coloured patterns and emblems began to make their appearance on shields and great coats -hence, the term "coat-of-arms" and horsetrappings. The two outstanding features of the Talbot crest are the lion and the hound. The lion motif, shows the family’s Welsh connections and the Earl of Shrewsbury was referred to as "Talbott our Goode Dogge”. The poet Chaucer called his dog Talbot. The family motto is Forte-et-Fidele - Brave and Faithful - which would appear to refer to the lion and hound respectively.
During the 14th century, the family kept up their associations with their ancient holdings in England and France and took part in the English and French wars up to the time of the expulsion of the English from France. One great member of the family was Sir John Talbot, known as Lord Furnival who defended the English pale for six years, with little resources against the O'Byrnes, the O’Tooles and the O'Nolans. It was said that he struck terror into the Irish Chiefs largely by his personal presence. His mode of government was praised to the King. When recalled, he went with the English army to France about 1420 and fought with distinction there under two kings and rose to command the whole English army. An interesting fact is that he was defeated at the Battle of Patay by Joan of Arc, the Maid of Orleans. He was captured and imprisoned by the French 'till 1433. Released after the martyrdom of the French girl, he again took up his military duties and was made a Marshal of France in 1441. He became Earl of Shrewsbury, Wexford and Waterford and was literally loaded with titles. He became Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. But enough wasn't enough for Lord Fumival. In 1452, he again returned to France, but his star had set. He was defeated and slain at Chastilion. His body was brought home and buried at Whitechurch. His son was killed with him. He was referred to, by historians, as the 'Terror of the French'. His brother Richard Talbot was Archbishop of Dublin in 1443. Books have been written about Talbots exploits and his name became a household word, in England, France and Ireland. It is said that French women, to frighten their children, would tell them that "the Talbot cometh". Talbot’s death ended English hopes of dominion in France. One hundred and fifty years after his death, Shakespeare, introduced Talbot into his play, Henry VI, which must ensure him immortality, to some extent.
To return to more mundane topics, the next Malahide Talbot was a Thomas Talbot, who, again was a minor, on his fathers death. He was succeeded by Christopher Talbot who died in minority, and the Lordship developed on his great-uncle, Lord Thomas Talbot, who was next succeeded by Richard, forever associated with Maud Plunkett, the "Maid, wife and widow" on the same day.
By now, the family was becoming closely associated with the Irish, through marriage, and, on occasions, "becoming more Irish than the Irish themselves".
Maud Plunkett, whose tomb stands in the ruins of Malahide Abbey is well remembered because of Gerald Griffins Ballad, "The Bridal of Malahide".
'The Joy bells are ringing
In sweet Malahide
The fresh wind is singing
Along the seaside". etc.
There are twenty verses which tell Maud's story. She was the daughter of the Baron of Killeen and she married Thomas Hussey, Baron of Galtrim, in Co. Meath, on Whit Monday 1429. He was killed in a local skirmish, at Ballbriggan some hours after the marriage ceremony and, so, she became "maid, wife and widow" on her wedding day. Sir Richard Talbot was her second husband and that's why she lies buried in Malahide Abbey. She outlived Talbot, too and married a third time, this time her choice was John Cornwalsh, Chief Baron of the Kingdom of Ireland. "In those warlike days, pretty girls had to steel their hearts against disappointments and sudden deaths", so said the Daily Sketch of 1930, when relating her story. She outlived her third husband also, and ended her days happily receiving dowers from all three dead husbands. After many years of widowhood she died, leaving the son of her second marriage to Richard Talbot, Lord of the Manor of Malahide. Her effigy is on her monument where she sleeps peacefully beside many a member of the Talbot family.
Maud Plunket’s son, Lord Thomas Talbot had a patent of privileges conferred on him by the Crown on the 15th November, 1459 as "Thomas Talbot. Armiger, Dominus de Malahide. He was married twice to Miss Sommerton and Elizabeth Buckley. Here, the family tree becomes somewhat complicated as there are two families, one from each marriage to follow. However, it is best to pay more attention to those who held control in Malahide Castle. Sir Peter Talbot took over at Malahide and he married a Catherine Fitzgerald. They had four children, Thomas, Walter, William and Margaret.
Foreign fields were still claiming the attention of the Malahide Talbots and they took part in the War of the Roses in England. Another son of Lord Furnival was killed fighting for the House of Lancaster at the Battle of Lancaster 1460 and a third son, Sir Christopher died on the same field. There are many written references to the family's bravery and honour in the field of war.
Sir Peter Talbot was succeeded by Sir Thomas and he, in turn by Lord William, who became Lord Chief Justice of Ireland. His son, Patrick was succeeded by Lord Richard Talbot who was born in November 1583 and who took over Malahide at the age of 11 years and 3 months. After succeeding to his estates he incurred the tyrannous jealousy of Lord Stafford, Lord lieutenant of Ireland, who tried to take the Admiralty of the Port of Malahide and other valuable rights from him. Talbot, on pleading the ancient charters of hereditary line, persuaded the court to give judgment against the Crown. Lord Richard executed a settlement of his Lordships of Malahide, Garristown and the Louth Estates on his eldest son, John. It must be remembered that, at this time, Malahide was one of the chief ports of Ireland and Dublin was extremely jealous of its status. His son, John, however, inherited even greater problems as Cromwell was about to enter the scene.
Lord Thomas' second marriage to Elizabeth Buckley, produced four sons, John, Richard, Thomas and William. William had five sons, two of whom certainly left their mark on Irish history. Most Rev. Peter Talbot SJ. and Richard Talbot, Earl and Duke of Tyrconnell. Both of their stories should suffice to complete this part of the Talbot Story.
Inside Saint Sylvester’s Church in Malahide is a plaque to the memory of Most Rev. Peter Talbot R.C. Archbishop of Dublin 1671-80. Dr. Peter Talbot was a Jesuit who studied in Portugal and then travelled through Belgium, settling in Antwerp. It was he who received King Charles II into the Catholic Church in 1656. Charles married Princess Catherine of Portugal and Dr. Talbot, with his fluent knowledge of Portuguese, was appointed domestic chaplain to the King. When Talbot became Archbishop of Dublin, Blessed Oliver Plunkett, a kinsman of his, was Primate of Armagh. A dispute arose between them as to whether Armagh or Dublin should be the Ecclesiastical Centre for Ireland. Eventually, the Pope had to intervene as arbitrator and he ruled in favour of Armagh. Refusing to be reconciled with his brother bishop, Dr. Talbot left Ireland in 1674 and settled in France. Old and sick, he returned to Ireland but in 1678, he was arrested in Malahide and charged with complicity in the Titus Oates Plot.
He was imprisoned in Dublin Castle as also was Dr. Oliver Plunkett some time later. In 1680, on hearing of Talbot’s condition Plunkett escaped his guards to give the last rites to Talbot and, so, as history records, Dublin died in the arms of Armagh.
Today, in the Great Hall of Malahide Castle, hangs Jan Wyck's Canvas of the Battle of the Boyne, 1690. 14 members of the Talbot family breakfasted in this hall on the morning of the battle, but not a single one returned when it was over. This brings us to handsome Dick Talbot, the first Duke of Tyrconnell, who ruled Ireland for King James previous to the coming of William of Orange. His job was to organise Ireland to help James win back the throne. Richard was born in 1630. By patent, dated the 2Oth of June 1685, he was created Baron of Talbotstown, Co. Wicklow, Viscount of Baltinglass and Earl of Tyrconnell. On the 2Oth of March 1689, he was advanced to the dignity of Marquis and Duke of Tyrconnell by James II and, eventually became Chief Governor of Ireland. He was captured at the siege of Derry and another Talbot Brigadier Mark Talbot was captured at the Battle of Aughrim. It was Richard’s wife who was supposed to have met James on his flight from the Battle of the Boyne (1690). James is reported to have said "the rascally Irish have run away from me" and, she replied "your majesty has won the race" It is highly doubtful if the story is true. James certainly left the Boyne early, but he was never a coward.
Some say he supped with Fagan of Feltrim. Others say he stopped in Malahide Castle, at the invitation of Lady Talbot, reputed to have been a great beauty, and a sister of the Duchess of Marlboro. She survived her husband, lived to be 92, and established a nunnery for the Poor Clares Order in Dublin.
Lord Richard Talbot, born in 1668 lived to be 100 years old. He was the perfect specimen of the Pale gentleman. It has been said of him that he was “exclusive in his attitude, preserved his own language and customs and, even his own costumes”.
It would be impossible to cover the story of Malahide Castle without paying due attention to the Malahide Abbey. There is no doubt that there was a church in Malahide when the Talbots first settled here, as King John granted the advowson to Richard Talbot in 1193. The existing Abbey ruin is of a considerably later date. Malahide’s first church, St. Fenivus, would most likely have been situated on the present Abbey site as the first road to traverse Malahide came through Feltrim, along the back road, through Baldoyle to Howth.
The Talbots built their Castle close to St. Fenivus as they realised the church s temporal value as an aid to legislation. Being staunch Catholics, they developed the church and extended it until it became one of the finest and largest of all Fingal churches. The present day ruins show that it must have been a parochial church of no mean pretensions as to the size and architectural adornment.
The plan of this building consists of a chancel and nave, the former lying due east and being somewhat thirty feet long. The east wall of the chancel contains the remains of a really fine three-light window. There are also two small lancet windows in the north wall and one in the south. Across the building is a beautiful chancel arch, lofty, pointed, and exceedingly graceful in outline. The Church nave appears to be of a later date, being more ornate in design. The west gable is surmounted by a curious three-arched bell turret. The Trinity Bells of the Abbey would have required a gift of rhythm and a knowledge of music, and tested the player’s talents in bell ringing. The bells had no tongues so one or more bell-ringers would have stood or sat underneath and struck the bells with a hammer. A series of steps led to the belfry. The entrance doorways to the Abbey are set one precisely opposite the other, in the north and south walls. They are arched, pointed and about seven feet in height. In the south-east corner of the chancel is a small pointed door which leads into a curious two storeyed building about twelve feet square and of a much later date than the Church, which it adjoins. Possibly, it was a sacristy or it may have been the residence of a clergyman. It contains a fireplace and three small windows.
Within the Church is the tomb of Maud Plunkett, the “maid, wife and widow all in one day’; whose story has already been related. Her tomb is surmounted by a recumbent effigy of Lady Maud, very well carved in bold relief, representing her as wearing the curious horned cap which was so favourite an article of feminine attire in the sixteenth century. Maud’s tomb used to be nearly flush in the ground but was raised to its present height by the fourth Baron Talbot. Unfortunately, today, the tomb is in a sad state of disrepair.
Malahide Abbey contains many items of interest, other than the Talbot family vault and the Maud Plunkett tomb. The dripstone of the southern Abbey door is surmounted by a curiously mitred head and at one side of the door is a stoup or holy water font. The stoop is deeply scoured with ruts, scrapes and scratches. There is a possibility that at one time a red sandstone torso may have surrounded the water font at the gentlemen at arms would have thrust their swords through the figure thus causing the scratch marks. This action would have been as a defiant symbolic gesture against the suppressor of the old faith.
Sheela-na-Gig figures are grotesque monuments and carvings usually associated with old churches and castles, dating back to the Celtic period. Built into the north-east angle of the Abbey chancel is a eight-century red sandstone figure measuring 19” x 10”. A second stone of similar material and style of workmanship, measuring 10” x 10, is built into the south-east edge of the gable. The composition of the larger Sheela-na-Gig is unusually crude. The abnormally large and shapeless head, the short neck and squashed body, and the very inadequate legs suggest a caricature. While the battered nose is due mainly to weathering, the curious downcast eyes and the drooping gash of a mouth in a flat putty like face are typical of a certain class of pre-Norman native sculpture. The figure fills the frame formed by the uncut edge of the stone and, is, apparently seated. The fingers of the left hand rest on one knee, the other hand is not discernible.
Like most other Sheela-na-Gig, the Malahide stone-carved figure is female, hence the belief that it belongs to an ancient fertility cult. On the other hand, their association with early churches is undeniable and in explanation of this the theory has been advanced that the Sheelas were set up as warnings to the faithful of the horrible results of sin and excess.
A dating anywhere between the eight and the twelfth centuries is possible for the Sheela-na Gigs. The Malahide Sheela could quite easily be as old as the eight century A.D.
In the second Sheela, at the other end of the Abbey, the facial features are better defined. The mouth is open, the tongue protruding slightly, and the jaws sharply defined. Obviously both Sheela-na-Gigs are the work of the same craftsman.
Gable-lidded coffins were much in vogue in England and Ireland in the seventeenth century. Malahide Abbey contains a fine example of a gable-lidded stone coffin or mortuary chest.
The Sarcophagus is now minus its gilded brass escutcheons or name plates, which were originally set in the recesses of both sides of the gable-lid. This, of course, hinders the quest for the identity of the deceased, which more than likely would have been a pre1649 member of the Talbot Family. The coffin may have been disturbed during the Cromwellian occupation of the Castle and treasure-hunting Parliamentarian troops would have used the coffin lead-liner to make bullets. At any rate, the existence of the gable lidded mortuary chest is an added incentive for the preservation and refurbishment of Malahide Abbey.
Malahide Abbey would have been at the height of its glory in the early fifteen hundreds. The winds of change began too blow in 1535 and the Reformation and Henry VIII brought havoc to Catholic Churches throughout Ireland. There were two options now open to the Abbey, either to close down or to be converted to Protestant use. The death knell had rung and the recusants or those who refused to take the Protestant Oath, failed to turn up for service at the Abbey. By 1630 according to Arch Bishop Berkeley’s Report, “Malahide Church and Chancel ruinous”. This is hardly surprising, as Malahide Catholics, deprived of their church, would hardly be expected to keep it in repair for the benefit of those of another creed.
Whatever chance the Abbey had of making a recovery was finally dashed in 1649, with the arrival of Cromwell. The story goes that Cromwell’s troops desecrated the Abbey and stripped the lead from its roof in order to make bullets. The sacred aisles now became stables for the Cromwellian horses. From this date onwards, the Abbey never recovered its former glory.
The Celtic Side
Milo Talbot, 7th Baron Malahide was the last in a very long line of Talbots who had almost continuous connection with Malahide since they were first granted the lands in 1185. Between 1948 and his death in 1973, Milo Talbot enhanced the grounds of the castle, laying out 20 acres of gardens and introducing many rare trees and shrubs, especially species from Australasia which were his particular passion.
The castle, with its medieval great hall cloaked by a Gothic exterior, has a setting of sweeping lawns and fine old trees, among them cedars of Lebanon and a swooping boughed sessile oak under planted with cyclamen and snowdrops. Behind the castle a series of grassy rides are laid out and planted with a collection of trees and shrubs. Close inspection will be rewarded by the pleasing habits of lime loving specimens like Stachyurus praecoxwith its racemes of yellow green flowers, the violet coned Abies spectabilis, scented viburnums, Chilean holly with waxy red and yellow trumpets, and starry flowered olearias.
Hidden away in the four acres of walled garden is the holy of holies, which houses the most precious and tender species of the collection and is open only on Wednesday afternoons to guided groups. The most spectacular section is the luxuriant pond garden, while the Tresco Wall is a testament to Milo Talbots pioneering attempts to grow tender varieties such as the mimosa like pink flowered Albizia julibrissinand Acacia pravissimaoutdoors - and greenhouses shelter yet more tender specimens. An Australasian section of the garden has recently been created in honour of Milo Talbot.