It’s The Weekend – Malahide, Co. Dublin

Malahide is a small coastal town in north Dublin on the estuary of the Broadmeadow River.  The town fans out from the 800-year-old castle down to the estuary and the marina.  Boats bob in the sun and people enjoy walks along the coastal paths. 

Malahide Castle was the home of the Talbot family for many hundreds of years. In 1973 the Talbot family gifted the castle and its grounds to the Irish State. It is now a major attraction in North Dublin and a lovely day out for families.  

There are over 260 acres of demesne, parkland and gardens at Malahide Castle to explore, as much of it outdoors, it is not impacted by Covid-19 restrictions. It is open all year round and there are various places to sit, have a picnic, let your dog off its lead, or meander around the gardens. 

The Walled Garden 

The demesne is free to roam around, however, there is a charge to enter the walled gardens, the West Lawn and Fairy Trail. Within the walled gardens are a series of winding paths leadings to smaller gardens, a pond, greenhouses, borders of shrubs and unusual trees. You may even come across the peacock as he lazily picks around for insects. 

Peacock looking for dinner in the Walled Garden, Malahide Castle

Gardeners will love the gardens which are beautifully managed. Some of the Talbot ancestors were avid gardeners and there is a wide range of unusual flora gathered from around the world. Make sure to visit the Victorian Conservatory with its stunning ironwork. Here  you can see tropical and unusual plants. 

It is a gardener’s delight here, with so many unusual plants, shrubs and trees to see. Each has a label, so you can learn as you go around.  The Victorian Greenhouse is a perfect example of Victorian ironwork. 

All around the gardens and demesne are striking sculptures carved from wood, they could be warriors, a bird and a kangaroo seat. And worth watch out for. 

The Butterfly House 

Colourful Butterfly in the Butterfly House

The Cambridge Glasshouse is the only butterfly house in the Republic of Ireland it is a fascinating place to visit.  When you enter through the double doors it is humid and full of tropical plants.  It takes a minute to see the butterflies, often they are resting on a leaf and then suddenly fly away.   

There are more than 20 species of colourful butterflies to see and you can get a leaflet to help you identify them.  Walk around it a few times, as each time you will see yet another species. 

West Lawn and Fairy Trail 

A dancing fairy on the Fairy Trail

When you cross the castle courtyard passing a stern wooden warrior on duty, you can enter the West Lawn.   Here are the best views of the castle, it rises like a stone monolith from the grassy lawns.  

 Here also is the Fairy Trail and there are lovely areas to see and take photographs.  There is a booklet you can buy in advance to explore the trail solve some clues. It can be bought at the Admissions Desk for €2.  It takes about an hour and a quarter to complete the trail. 

Model Railway Museum   

Model Railway Museum at the Casino.  The railway collection of Cyril Fry is on display at what was a former hunting lodge for the castle.  It is a lovely place to explore Ireland’s railway heritage from the mid 18th century. https://www.modelrailwaymuseum.ie/ 

There is even a little choo choo train that take children on a visit from the train station up to the castle grounds.  

The Choo Choo Train

Where to Eat and drink 

There are dozens of places to eat in Malahide from fine dining at Bon Appetit to ice creams parlours. As it is a fishing town, fish and seafood figure high on the menus of most restaurants. 

I tried the Fish Shack on New Street and had delicious fresh prawn tacos with a glass of crispy Spanish Albarino. The menu had a good range of dishes and prices, with chowder from €8 and fish burgers from €12.50. 

Like any seaside town there are a number of ice cream parlours. One to try is the OMG on Old Street. There is a constant queue for the huge range of ice creams with a big selection of toppings. The freshly made waffle cup is delicious way to enjoy your favourite flavours and toppings. 

New Street has been closed to traffic during Covid-19 and there is a great range of places for on-street dining, including the popular Gibney’s Pub.

Getting to Malahide 

Prawn Tacos with a glass of Albarino at the Fish Shack

The easiest way toget to Malahide is to take the Dart or the Irish Rail service from the city centre. It takes about 35 minutes. I took the H2 bus from Lower Abbey Street, Dublin.  It is a big longer but the route follows the picturesque coast from Baldoyle through Portmarnock to Malahide.  

There is plenty of parking in Malahide on the outskirts of the town, but weekends are busy. Tickets for the Walled Garden, Butterfly house and west lawn cost €8, with a tour of the castle entry is €14. Family tickets for two adults and three children cost €39.99, book here. 

Joan Scales
Award-winning journalist, Joan has been writing about travel and tourism for many years principally for The Irish Times and lately for travel2ireland. Joan has appeared many times on television and radio talking about the business of travel and all its component strands. She is also a public speaker and has appeared at many international conventions and conferences.

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