Malahide - Dublin
Malahide Castle, parts of which date to the 12th century, lies, with over 260 acres (1.1 km2) of remaining estate parkland (the Malahide Demesne Regional Park), close to the village of Malahide, nine miles (14 km) north of Dublin in Ireland.
The Castle is one of the oldest in Ireland. From 1185 until 1975, it was the home of the Talbot family.
In 1169, at the time of the Anglo-Norman invasion, Malahide was under the control of Hammund Mac Turkill, the last Viking King of Dublin.
The estate began in 1185, when Richard Talbot, a knight who accompanied England’s King, Henry II 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 family for 791 years, the only exception being the period from 1649-1660, when Oliver Cromwell granted it to Miles Corbet after the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland; 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 England’s King, Edward IV, and the towers were added in 1765.
The estate survived such losses as the Battle of the Boyne, 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.
Malahide Castle and Demesne was eventually inherited by the seventh Baron, Lord Milo 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.
The Castle, along with its subsidiary attractions, is operated as a tourist attraction by Dublin Tourism, working with Fingal County Council, which oversees the Castle Demesne.
The main castle can be visited for a fee, on a guided-tour-only basis. In addition, it is possible to hire the famously gothic Great Hall for private banquets. The castle has an eating facility, and adjacent is a craft shop. The castle's best-known rooms are the Oak Room, and the Great Hall, which displays Talbot family history.
Separately, one can visit:
* Museum of Childhood and Tara's Palace. The centrepiece of the museum is Tara's Palace, built to 1/12 scale, drawing on several of Ireland's "great houses" for architecture and design. The Museum, situated in the castle courtyard, also contains antique dolls, toys and other dolls' houses, including one from 1700 and one from the family of Oscar Wilde's mother.
* The Fry Model Railway, a large (2,500 sq ft.) working miniature rail display, from the 1920s-1930s. The railway includes models of stations and Irish features. This appeared to be closed when I visited the castle. See further information below.
* The Talbot Botanic Gardens, situated behind the castle, comprising several hectares of plants and lawns, a walled garden of 1.6 hectares (2007: public access, Weds. only, groups by appointment) and seven glasshouses, including a Victorian period conservatory. Many plants from the southern hemisphere, notably Chile and Australia, are featured.
The demense is one of few surviving examples of 18th century landscaped parks, and has wide lawns surrounded by a protective belt of trees. It can be visited freely, with a number of entrances and car parking areas. In addition to woodland walks, and a marked "exercise trail", the park features actively used sports grounds, including a cricket pitch and several football pitches, a 9-hole par-3 golf course, an 18-hole pitch-and-putt course, tennis courts and a boules area. There is also a modern children's playground near the castle.
FRY MODEL RAILWAY
Most of you will not be aware that the Fry Model Railway, owned by Dublin Tourism and housed in a purpose built building in Malahide Castle grounds has been given notice by Fingal County Council, the owners of the premises.
The reason for the eviction is not clear.
Again, most of you will have visited the Fry Model Railway at some time, and would be aware of the significance of this working layout, and associated static displays. It is the only working layout on the island to represent the history of our railways over the past 170 years or so, with the main line representing Belfast – Dublin - Cork, and including the narrow gauge and such delights as the mail boat sailing from Dun Laoire, and the Guinness barges on the River Liffey.
The layout, as far as we can ascertain, is to be put into storage, following its dismantling. The deadline for this is the end of February. No further details are available, and the future of both public and enthusiast viewing is uncertain.
An alternative location should be found, if possible, and we are appealing to ALL of you to come up with suggestions, north, south, east or west, in order that this magnificent collection should be kept available for public viewing. One suggestion is that it be re-erected in the grounds of Collins Barracks Museum in Dublin, which would have the advantage that it would be on a Luas route, close to Heuston/Kingsbridge station and on numerous bus lines. This is an area which should be explored further. It must be remembered though, that the layout is effectively a living organism, and requires maintenance on a regular basis, and the possibility of a continuous upgrading, as it has had over the last 20 years or so. Money will be required on an ongoing basis to maintain it; hence, it cannot be free entrance, wherever it may end up.
Timing is somewhat fortuitous, as the politicians in the South will now be more amenable to pressure, with an upcoming election, so I appeal to all of you to exercise whatever influence you have to ensure that the Fry Model Railway has a future in the public eye.
There will be one more opportunity to see the layout in action before its demise in its current form, and when we find out when that is to be we will notify the community of modellers and railfans on the Island. We would be keen to see a large turnout for that event to ensure that the authorities see that there is a huge interest in this collection.
There is also a requirement for a more formal support group for the Fry Model Railway, and a Friends of the Fry Model Railway is now in the process of formation. You are invited to give it your support.
I also appeal to you to ensure the widest possible circulation of this e-mail by whatever means possible among the model and prototype railway community. I have no contact details for IRRS, Erne MRC or Wexford MRC.
Chairman Model Railway Society of Ireland
Interim Convenor, Friends of the Fry Model Railway