At the start of the year, I made a pledge to myself to see more of my home city. View it like a tourist as it were. So this weekend, instead of hitting the shops again, and seeing as the weather was dry n’all, the Mammy and myself drove out to (in guidebook lingo) the picturesque coastal village of Malahide. Malahide village is 16km north of the city if you’re buying petrol, or a mere half an hour trip on the bus or DART from the city centre. Within the village itself there is a plethora of independent shops and restaurants plus a couple of schneaky little sightings of a Starbucks and Boots (oh well). Donnybrook Fair have also recently opened up a new fancy schmancy supermarket to keep you stocked up on macarons and asparagus spears. From the village, you can walk along the sandy beach which leads to the neighboring beach in Portmarnock, or listen to the jostling of the boats in the marina (I’m really getting into this guidebook lark).
On this particular day, we focused our visit on Malahide Castle and grounds. The Mammy had never been, and despite initial ambivalence, was positively enthusiastic (although that could have been the sight of an Avoca Cafe). The 270 acre grounds are beautifully maintained and would make the perfect location for a picnic on a sunny day. The grounds also host manicured walled gardens and a small but perfectly-formed Victorian glass house, similar to that in the Botanical Gardens in Glasnevin. Over €12 million was spent on the Castle and gardens to create a more enjoyable tourist experience, and this is particularly evident in the Courtyard visitor centre which hosts a souvenir shop, bike rental, and the Mecca of all yummy mummies (and actually just yummies) – Avoca! As our tour of the castle was not due for another hour, we took the opportunity to have our Sunday dindins in one of our favourite eateries. As with all Avoca restaurants, the noise level is equivalent to the decibel whoosh you get when first entering public swimming baths. Lots of kids, lots of chatting, but somehow that’s all part of the Avoca experience. The Cafe in Malahide is self-service with the specials made to order. I ordered the Lamb Tagine with couscous and flatbreads, and the Mammy had the fish cakes with salad. Both dishes were a triumph and the portions, as always, were huge and at 14.95 each, very good value. And of course, it would’ve been rude not to finish off with a slice of vanilla cheesecake with caramel. So, in the interests of politeness…
With our bellies full, we made our way over to the castle for the beginning of the tour. Our tour guide was Mary, who took us through the history of the castle and its original owners, the Talbot family (they of Talbot Street and Talbot Bridge fame). Somehow I don’t think her real name is Mary, just as the call centre rep. who called from Bangalore last week, probably isn’t really called Steve. Anyhoo, “Mary” was charming and informative, and engaged her audience with genuine interest in her subject. The enjoyable tour took us through the rooms of the castle and lasted 45 minutes, and finished off with a copy of the Proclamation of the State, as it was the 1916 commemoration day. Tickets for the tour cost €12 for adults and €6 for children. After the tour, we took a leisurely stroll around the gardens, and further down to the truly delightful village which was just closing its doors for the day, ready for the pubs and restaurants to take over the evening shift.
Why not make your own pledge this year to take in all that Dublin has to offer. Take a trip out to Malahide this summer. You know where it is!
Main photo courtesy of www.malahidecastleandgardens.ie