Malahide Castle was both a fortress and a private home for nearly 800 years and is an interesting mix of architectural styles.
Set on 250 acres of parkland, the Demesne offers an award-winning children's playground, a fairy trail, a butterfly house, old abbey ruins, walking trails, Avoca Store & Café, guided tours of the castle interior and the Talbot Botanic Gardens with unusual specimens.
Opening to the public in the 1980s, the central Norman tower house is the oldest part of the castle. On the ground floor is an interesting Talbot Family Exhibition and interpretation area. Tours of the upper floors are given by friendly and experienced guides and last about 45 minutes. Audio guides are available in Irish, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian and Mandarin.
The house is furnished with beautiful period furniture together with an extensive collection of Irish portrait paintings, mainly from the National Gallery. Highlights of the tour include the magnificent Oak Room with its dark paneling and furniture dating back to the 1600s. Another gem is the Great Hall, which was built in 1495 for banquets and contains portraits of generations of the Talbot family. The Great Hall also contains a large painting of the Battle of the Boyne, the 1690 clash between Protestant King William III and Catholic King James II, by Dutch painter Jan Wyck. Fourteen Talbot family members died in that battle, being on the Catholic side. The painting has recently been restored.
A major feature of Malahide Castle Demesne is the beautiful Talbot Botanic Gardens. Within the visitor centre in the courtyard, an exhibition area tells visitors the story of the walled gardens as seen through the eyes of Lord Milo Talbot, the passionate creator of the gardens.