Malahide Castle is a medieval fortress in Ireland near the village of Malahide, a coastal community in Fingal, County Dublin, about 14 kilometers north of Dublin City.
The castle, set on more than 260 acres of parkland known as the Malahide Demesne Regional Park, has belonged to the Talbot family since the late 12th century. It was the family’s principal residence until 1976.
Malahide Castle has a history of alleged ghost hauntings going back centuries.
Sir Richard Talbot
In the late 12th century, King Henry II of England granted the Talbot family an extensive estate in Malahide, north of Dublin.
The founder of the Talbot dynasty, Sir Richard Talbot, was a Norman knight, native of Shrewsbury, who distinguished himself in the service of his king during the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland in the late 12th century (c. 1169-1177).
The Anglo-Normans conquered much of Ireland during the reign of Henry II. Norman mercenaries landed in Ireland in May 1169 under the pretext of helping Diarmait Mac Murchada (Dermot MacMurragh), the deposed King of Leinster, regain his kingship.
They reinstated Diarmait as king. In return, he pledged loyalty to Henry and made generous land concessions to the Norman nobles.
In 1170, Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke, nicknamed Strongbow (1130-1176), led a second wave of invasions that expanded Anglo-Norman territory in Ireland. The expedition ended with Strongbow laying claim to the throne of Leinster after Diarmait died in 1171.
Following the success of his generals, Henry II landed in Ireland in October 1171 with a large force to assert his royal authority over the newly conquered territory. The founder of the Talbot family, Sir Richard Talbot, was one of the young knights who accompanied Henry to Ireland in the early 1170s. The king granted him the Malahide estate in reward for his services.
Malahide Castle in the 12th century
The oldest sections of Malahide Castle go back to the late 12th century. It suggests that Richard Talbot settled in Malahide and began developing the estate immediately after King Henry II granted it.
Generations of the family resided on the estate from the late 12th century until 1976.
However, the family’s possession of the property suffered a rude interruption in 1649 when Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) transferred it to Miles Corbet (1595–1662), the former Recorder of Great Yarmouth, later MP for Yarmouth (1640 to 1653), and clerk of the Court of Wards.
King Edward IV
The Talbots prospered under King Edward IV (1442-1483) and increased in power and influence. Malahide Castle had new extensive sections added during Edward’s reign.
The king also granted Thomas Talbot the hereditary powers of Admiral of the Malahide Port, meaning he could levy duties on merchandise passing through the port and convene admiralty courts to settle maritime disputes.
Oliver Cromwell granted Malahide to Miles Corbet
In 1649, Cromwell granted the estate of the Malahide Castle to Miles Corbet after he (Cromwell) conquered Ireland following a brutal campaign (1649–50).
Cromwell advocated for the trial and execution of King Charles I in opposition to those who, swayed by the established doctrine of the divine right of kings, resisted the push to kill the king. Corbet was one of 59 commissioners, including Cromwell, who signed King Charles I’s death warrant (1649) after the Rump House of Commons indicted him for treason in the wake of defeat by the Parliament’s New Model Army.
The execution of King Charles I abolished the monarchy and established the Commonwealth of England as a republic, with Cromwell ruling as Lord Protector from 1653.
Charles II restored Malahide Castle to the Talbots
However, Cromwell’s death in 1658 marked the end of the Protectorate and paved the way for the restoration of the monarchy under Charles II in 1660.
Retribution followed the restoration of the monarchy. The royalists declared the 59 commissioners regicides. Corbet fled to the Netherlands with two other regicides, John Okey and John Barkstead. However, Sir George Downing, the English ambassador to the Netherlands, arrested Corbet, Okey, and Barkstead and sent them back to England.
In April 1662, a trial court found Corbet guilty of regicide and sentenced him to death by hanging, drawing, and quartering. The Crown then returned Malahide to the Talbot family.
Traditions claim that no one in Malahide shed a tear over Corbet’s death. During his short tenure, he incurred the wrath of locals by persecuting Catholics and trying to outlaw the Catholic Church.
The Talbots ceded their property to the state in 1976
Milo John Reginald Talbot, 7th Baron Talbot of Malahide, died in April 1973 at 60. His sister, Rose Maud Talbot, inherited the estate at his death. In 1975, she ceded the castle to the Irish State to cover inheritance taxes.
The castle and surrounding parkland (demesne) have become a tourist attraction.
The Fingal County Council Parks manages the Malahide Castle and grounds, consisting of 260 acres of parkland. The Malahide Demesne Regional Park is open to the public. Visitors may book guided tours to see the castle’s rooms and learn about the Talbot family history. Visitors may also learn about the ghosts that allegedly haunt the mansion.
They may also explore the extensive botanic gardens, including the 7th Baron Talbot of Malahide’s famous collection of plants from the Southern Hemisphere.
According to tradition, the ghosts of people from Malahide’s long and turbulent past haunt the castle.
Besides the ghosts, visitors also reported experiencing various paranormal activities. Some felt ghostly hands touching them, doors swinging shut mysteriously, and curtains and furniture moving.
Some of the ghosts from Malahide Castle include:
Corbet suffered a painful death. A court found him guilty of the regicide of Charles I and sentenced him to death by hanging, drawing, and quartering in 1662.
According to legend, Corbet’s ghost haunts Malahide Castle. It has the unpleasant habit of roaming the castle at night during the anniversary of his execution. Alleged eyewitnesses claimed the ghost wore battle armor and would suddenly fall and break into four pieces.
Sir Walter Hussey, Young Lord Galtrim
The ghost of Sir Walter Hussey, Young Lord Galtrim (son of Lord Galtrim), haunts Malahide Castle, according to folklore.
Walter Hussey fell in love with Miss Maud Plunkett, the beautiful daughter of the Baron of Killeen. Maud and the Young Lord Galtrim arranged to wed at Malahide Castle.
According to one version of the legend, Hussey and Maud married in 1429. Immediately after the wedding, the young soldier mounted a horse and rode to battle. A few hours later, news reached the bride that the bridegroom had died during combat.
Another account claimed that a rival waylaid Hussey and stabbed him to death while riding to Malahide Castle. Maud allegedly married the murderer after the Young Lord Galtrim died.
Alleged eyewitness accounts say that Sir Walter Hussey’s ghost roams the halls of Malahide Castle, seeking to reclaim his bride from his slayer. The ghost groans in pain, clutching at the wound in his side.
Maud Plunkett (Lady Matilda “Maud” Plunkett), the daughter of the Baron of Killeen, also haunts Malahide Castle.
After the tragic death of her first husband, Sir Walter Hussey, she married the rival who murdered him. But the marriage didn’t last long. She then married a third time to the Lord Chief Justice. The marriage proved turbulent. According to legend, Maud’s heart went cold after multiple disappointments of love, and she was abusive toward her third husband.
Castle servants and visitors said that she and the Lord Chief Justice often got into violent quarrels. Maud would chase him through the halls and corridors of the castle.
Visitors claimed to have seen her ghost in her wedding dress. Others reported seeing the ghost in hot pursuit of the Lord Chief Justice through the halls and corridors of the castle.
Lord Chief Justice
People also reported seeing the ghost of the Lord Chief Justice. According to the legends, he was a fitness freak who spent much of his spare time performing exercises such as lifting weights and jogging.
Visitors have reported seeing his ghost exercising in the castle or jogging on the grounds.
Puck the court jester
Puck, a four-foot-tall dwarf, was the court jester. He lived in the castle turret and served as the watchman.
He had a crush on Lady Eleanor Fitzgerald, a woman King Henry VII imprisoned at Malahide Castle for alleged involvement in stirring trouble against the king.
There are various accounts of Puck’s death. One claims that Puck committed suicide after Lady Eleanor spurned his love. Another claimed his duty was to guard the king’s prisoner. But he hung himself after letting her escape.
According to a third version of the legend, a rival murdered Puck with a knife through the heart. People who allegedly found him dying outside the castle walls on a December night reported he vowed to haunt his killers at Malahide Castle.
Since Puck’s death, people have reported seeing his ghost dressed in his jester suit, playing mischievous but harmless tricks. His ghost nurses a broken heart and haunts the castle turret where he lived.
He also plays photobombing pranks. Some said he appeared in the photos they took while visiting the castle.
The U.S. pop singer Lizzo claimed to have encountered Puck while visiting Malahide Castle in 2019. She claimed in an interview that Puck stole her phone and placed it in the pocket of one of her dancers (Laura Granger, Dublin Live, October 8, 2022).
The White Lady
The White Lady is a female ghost allegedly seen wandering the rooms, corridors, and castle grounds at night.
People know her from a painting of a mysterious young woman in a white dress hanging in the castle’s main hall. No one knows who she was, whether she was related to the Talbots or lived in Malahide.
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|Address||Back Rd, Broomfield, Dublin, Ireland|
|Activity reported||Haunting, Poltergeist, Shadow Figures|
Where to find
Top image courtesy of William Murphy used under Creative Commons license CC BY-SA 2.0.
In the media
https://www.authenticvacations.com/the-five-ghosts-of-malahide-castle, “The story of Malahide Castle’s Irish ghosts,” accessed on April 17, 2023.
https://www.malahidecastleandgardens.ie/castle/castle-ghosts/, “Castle ghosts,” accessed on April 17, 2023.
https://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/middle_ages/henryii_empire_01.shtml#:~:text=Henry%20landed%20in%20Ireland%20in,him%20in%20the%20Irish%20fashion., “Henry II: An Imperialist King?” accessed on April 17, 2023.
https://www.pepysdiary.com/encyclopedia/3959/#:~:text=Miles%20Corbet%20(1595%E2%80%931662),recorder%20of%20Yarmouth%20and%20Regicide., “Miles Corbet,” accessed on April 17, 2023.
https://www.dublinlive.ie/news/history/scorned-lovers-king-killer-prankster-25204623, “The haunting of Malahide Castle: Scorned lovers, a king killer and a prankster who stole Lizzo’s phone,” accessed on April 17, 2023.
https://www.irishshop.com/blog/malahide-castles-heartbroken-ghost/, “Malahide Castle’s Heartbroken Ghost,” accessed on April 17, 2023.