If you are visiting Dublin, chances are that you have already put Malahide Castle on your must-do list. And tourists across the world would be delighted to know that the Great Hall, an integral part of Malahide Castle, is now open again.
It had received over €500,000 from Fingal County Council for the restoration work – which included upgrading the roof and rainwater goods, as well as internal restoration and conservation.
If you are already planning a visit to Malahide Castle and the Great Hall, here are a few interesting bits that will help you enjoy its beauty and rich history even more.
The Malahide Castle & Gardens and the Great Hall are one of Fingal’s leading attractions. They receive over 100,000 visitors from home and abroad each year! Certainly impressive, but you’ll see why.
The Great Hall, which dates back to 1475, was redesigned in the 1820s and what you see today of its neo-gothic style stays true to how the second Baron Talbot of Malahide envisaged it.
The Great Hall was the life of the party, if we may say so. It was the centre of feasts and banquets. And for the reopening night, the banquet table was meticulously arranged in a way that would have been the serving style of the Talbots family in the 1820s.
“The Great Hall saw a lot of feasting, drinking and toasting. Guests who were invited at the banquet witnessed true Irish hospitality – feasts were lavish, and they may have been fed till they were sick!” said Cathal Dowd Smith, the Curator for Malahide Castle, in a part of his speech.
While that was, certainly, a lighter moment in his address, and one that made the guests laugh, he also spoke about how the restoration has benefitted the Hall.
“The Great Hall at Malahide is one of the finest Medieval Banqueting Halls in the country. The works undertaken by Fingal have future-proofed the space and allow us to continue to preserve the furnishings and artworks which call Malahide Castle home. The room showcases examples of Irish craftsmanship from the past 500 years, as seen in the impressive collection of furniture at Malahide.”
While you’re at the Hall, don’t miss out on the portrait collection. Assembled over five centuries, these portraits showcase the Talbots of Malahide and their associated families. This is the most important collections of Jacobite portraits in their original setting, and it includes 31 portraits acquired by the National Gallery of Ireland.
“We are most grateful to our partners of over 45 years – the National Gallery of Ireland. Together we have been able to preserve the ambiance of the hall by keeping in situ the collection of portraits of the Talbots of Malahide and their associated families. These portraits have been assembled over five centuries and their future secured by acquisition by the National Gallery in 1976. Included in the display are two Lord Lieutenants of Ireland, an Archbishop, as well as several military leaders, statesmen, and ladies of Irish society. I think that just shows the breadth of contributions to Irish history the Talbot family have made,” said Mr Smith.
There’s also the library. A most gorgeous place with 18th century gilt leather wall hangings, it contained the manuscripts of the Talbot family and the Botanical library of the plant collector the 7th Baron, Lord Milo.
While the Great Hall will be available for private banquets, don’t forget to have a look at the various tours on offer at the Malahide Castle.
Especially, if you love a good ghost story! Did you know that the castle has its own resident ghosts and is supposed to be one of the most haunted castles in Ireland?
Reports of spooky sightings go back as long as the castle’s 800-year history. Some of these ghosts are connected to real historical figures and some are of mysterious origin.
Have you heard of phantom Puck? One of the most famous ghostly residents at the castle is the court jester Puck. As the story goes, he was unlucky in love, and continues to nurse a broken heart in the turret where he used to live. You may also have heard of the lady in white; a female apparition who wanders the rooms and corridors of the castle. Perhaps you may want a little tour for Halloween?
But it’s not just all ghosts and hauntings at the castle. If anything, they never interrupt banquets, or scare children who love the castle’s fairy trail and sculptures! They also, evidently, don’t make themselves easily known when tourists are touring the rooms and halls.
So if you are ever invited to a banquet at the Great Hall, or want to take a tour of this stunning 800-year-old medieval beauty, fret not. You can peacefully admire the frescoes, oak panelling, artwork and furniture.
But when you come to its vintage Victorian toys, especially the dolls, you may feel a slight shiver!