Again, based on the advice of an Expat in Dublin with Kids, I organized a trip to Malahide Castle located North of Dublin along the coast. Malahide Castle is one of the oldest castles in Ireland and dates back to the 12th century. Home to the Talbot family for 800 years, it website promised a glimpse into their life and history on the guided tour. On the particular weekend that we went, the castle was also hosting a Medieval Mayhem which seemed intriguing and our family loves a good festival.
For this trip, we went on our first Dart train ride. The Dart runs up and down the eastern coast of Dublin along the Irish Sea from Malahide (the north) down to Wicklow (the south). It was exciting for the kids and they found it interesting to wait on the train platform for the train to arrive.
The train ride was relaxing and interesting as it was our first chance to see the Irish coastline and our first trip north of Dublin, not counting Ikea. The kids enjoyed looking out the window and being able to move around a little bit (compared to being strapped into a car). The most challenging bit was keeping Lulu Belle in her seat. At almost two, she is most insistent at doing her own thing.
When we arrived at the Malahide train station, we exited to a little car park. There was a small tram there picking up people and giving them a ride to the castle, but we decided to walk despite the drizzle. It was a short walk to the entrance to the castle grounds and then a walk to the visitor center. From there, we found out that we could purchase tickets for the castle tour which started every half hour. The visitor center also housed the lovely Avoca Cafe and lots of interesting shopping. We decided to wait to the tour after we attended Medieval Mayhem. So, we walked down further to find the festival grounds.
After some wandering around on the large fields, we found the festival and realized that we were a bit too early. The festival was still trying to get organized and we let the kids run around the fields for quite a while while we waited. Once we got into the festival grounds, it was about 12pm and the kids were starving. It had also started raining. Luckily, the festival organizers had set up a tent with some blankets for families to hang out and several groups waited there for the rain to stop.
While we were waiting for the food booths to open, the kids decided they wanted to explore some of the other booths which included a cupcake booth, sweets, and several “Viking” related booths. There were a lot of people dressed up as Vikings and tents set up to to mimic Viking life with displays of armor, weaponry, falconry, clothing, etc.
|Playing an game with a Viking child.|
The children found it all interesting, but found the archery demonstrations the most fun. Mr Puffles paid €5 for me to participate in a demonstration and I got to shoot a few arrows off. The kids were most impressed.
|Walking to the castle.|
|A view from the side of the castle.|
|The castle is lovely from the grounds.|
To summarize the guided tour, it was definitely not what we were expecting and we were a little disappointed. Although, the guide and the ladies working the tour were very kind, the tour itself was definitely not child friendly for very young children. There are no lifts and we were explicitly told we were not allowed to touch anything (Hello? I have four kids under the age of eight and an 18 month old!). The lady at the front door kindly watched our buggy for us and we carried Lulu Belle through the tour. Unfortunately, we found oursevles huddled with the two other families with toddlers in the back corner trying to keep our children from touching anything. The acoustics of the castle made it difficult to hear the guide and our talking/screaming toddlers did nothing to help. It was not a relaxing tour. The tour was only a few rooms and after it was done, I felt like I wished I had seen more of the castle! Still, it was interesting and the kids loved the part about the ghosts the best. I think if you have older children, then it might have been very interesting and you could take time to look at the beautiful furnishings and decor and listen to the interesting history of the Talbot family and the castle itself.
We didn’t have time to play at the playground afterward, but we did stop for hot chocolates and coffee at the Avoca restaurant. It was very busy and a little bit confusing as there were several lines you could get into depending on what you were ordering. This may not have been confusing for other people, but if you have four small people wandering around in a crowded cafeteria, it can be difficult to organize them and figure out where you are supposed to go at the same time! The food was lovely and the displays of the beautiful dishes and kitchen items for sale definitely made me want to go crazy and buy the china. But I restrained myself!
It was late in the day and we headed back on the Dart. We didn’t have a chance to explore the village either, but we will have to check it out next time!