By the Sea

Today was the last tour I have scheduled for this trip. When I woke up1, I was tired, and it was raining, and I thought long and hard about whether I actually wanted to go. In the end, I realized that I was all dressed and ready to leave, so I figured I might as well go.

There’s this area around Trinity College that is just a nightmare at rush hour. I’m not a nervous passenger, most of the time, but the cab driver I had was… let’s call him daring. Weaving around buses and trams, cars and cyclists, talking the entire time about how the Liffey was low today because of the tides, and how that made the smell terrible.

But I made it to the tour office on time, and made it on to the tour bus. It was a tour of Malahide Castle and the coastal area of Dublin, including the fishing village of Howth. Maybe it was the fact that it was an early-ish, half-day tour, or maybe it was the fact that it was raining, but there were only ten of us on the tour. I like the smaller group tours.

There was a bit of a mad rush from the bus to the Malahide Castle welcome centre, and again from the welcome centre to the castle itself, because of the pelting rain. Malahide is, according to our guide, from the Irish phrase Mullach Íde, which he said meant “By the Sea.” 

This is Malahide Castle. It took some time standing out in front of the castle to get the picture without a bunch of people in it during a lull in the rain. The woman standing there? Yeah, all her friends said, “These people are trying to take a picture, so let’s stay out of the way,” and she walked right to where she’s standing and stood there, waiting. I gave up and just took the picture.
The Oak Room is part of the medieval section of the castle. It’s a dark room, with everything done in oak wall panels. There was a time when, due to a dream of the Virgin Mary, who said that the room should be decorated in ivory, that the columns were all painted white. That didn’t last long, because they decided that it made the place look too much like a candlemaker’s shop.

There was a panel with a carving of the Virgin Mary over the fireplace that apparently disappeared for ten years when Oliver Cromwell seized the castle and gave it to one of his favourites, but it returned when the rightful owners2 reclaimed the castle. It was touted as a miracle, and apparently no one suggested that the Talbots might have taken the carving with them when they surrendered the castle and replaced it when they reclaimed their ancestral3 home.

This is the drawing room, decorated in Georgian Style. A lot of the furniture in the castle, and most in this room, is original to the castle, and the Talbots. It was mostly auctioned off in the 70s, but several years ago, National Gallery (which had purchased most of the furniture and art) returned a lot of it for display here.
Toys in the children’s room upstairs. I just thought they were cool.
The library, off the great hall. It used to hold all the records and accounts for the castle, but those have been moved to the Bodleian Library in Oxford. These are substitute books, correct for the Victorian decor.

There are, apparently, extensive and impressive gardens at Malahide Castle, but the rain convinced me to skip them.

The bus tour continued, and our next stop was the fishing village of Howth, on the peninsula sheltering Dublin Bay. The rain had stopped by the time we got there, and we had a little time to go for a walk on the pier.

This is the lighthouse in Howth harbour.
Ireland’s Eye is an uninhabited island off the opening to Howth harbour. I like the notch in the rock.

And then it was back to Dublin, just in time for me to get rained on again, so I decided to go see a movie.

Tomorrow, it’s a free day, and my last day in Ireland. I’m going to spend some time looking around the neighbourhood, and maybe walking through the Temple Bar area.

  1. Much earlier than I really wanted to, because I had to get down to O’Connell Street before 9:00. []
  2. The Talbots. []
  3. Apparently, the Talbots held Malahide Castle for 788 years, less the ten years of Cromwell’s buddy’s residence. []