This time last year, we were on our fifth day in Ireland, so it seems fitting to get on with it and write about our second day there. 🙂
The second day started with a jolt out of bed, peering foggily at the clock, and feeling relief at having woken up at 6:00 am. Every moment in a new surrounding is precious, and we did not want to waste any time. After wrangling with the two-headed faucet which I named Orthrus after a two-headed dog in Greek mythology, we went downstairs and into a lovely room for breakfast. It was so airy and roomy, while having a traditional feel to it. I told Alex that we needed to have a room like this when we move into our own home. We thought it was darling that our host quietly dashed into the back, and turned on some light classical music to provide the perfect ambiance. And then… we were presented with an Irish breakfast. It started off all calm-like, with an elegant bowl of fruit salad, and orange juice to drink. Then the onslaught came –this whirlwind consisted of two slices of Irish bacon (thick, substantial slabs of meat!), sausages, a slice of tomato each, eggs done to our liking, toast and soda bread, with creamy butter on the side to spread on them. I almost burst just looking at it!
Skipping ahead a bit just to keep on the topic of breakfast, we tried to lower our intake drastically –Alex asking only for ham, and I for sausages, but it would not do. Our Canadian tummies were too tiny! I ended up having only a bowl of fruit salad for breakfast by the fourth day, and for the remainder of our stay. Alex meanwhile, settled for a bowl of muesli with milk, and soda bread. That bread was so filling and yet (to me) rather bland, which is saying something since it is bread. I don’t know how he enjoyed it so much, but I’m glad he was able to! I felt I was missing out on being authentically Irish due to my finicky taste-buds.
After breakfast, we decided to catch the bus and go to Malahide Castle, which was recommended to us by our host, Pat. It was owned by the English aristocratic Talbot family, and goes as far back as 1175. I heard someone mention this was the usurper’s castle, but if I’m not mistaken, almost all castles in Ireland were built by the English, so I’m not sure how this castle is distinguished above the rest. Were they the first? At any rate, the bus was late in coming, and it was nippy and breezy. I didn’t mind, but Alex decided that we were wasting valuable time, and I agreed. Off we went back to the house, to wait for the other bus which would take us to the airport so that we could rent a car. Pat heard about our plans, and kindly drove us to Dublin Airport. He was a really nice gent throughout, and we were very grateful. Here’s another video of Alex getting used to the idea of sitting on the other side of the car, and driving on the other side of the street. Our nerves were like paddling ducks in a river! Please note that my ‘helpful’ suggestions may not have been practical, but they certainly bolstered his determination to drive, for fear of my taking over the wheel. 😛
Well, we made it past those tricky Irish roundabouts (I firmly believe the Irish as a nation are proud of their prowess in engineering and maneuvering ridiculously multi-laned, multi-exit roundabouts –Canadian ones are so tame by comparison!) and drove where we ought to, and parked where we ought to at Malahide Castle.
The grounds were vast, impressive, and the lawns beautifully manicured. The castle seemed smaller than I had expected, when viewed from afar, and it looked to be the no-nonsense type. Built for withstanding battles by wealthy people; no fairy-tale architecture here!
As the castle was built in stages, the entrance is decidedly medieval –dark, damp, and very austere.
The furniture pieces are painstakingly ornate, but they look incredibly uncomfortable… possibly because they are. Nobody in those days would have complained of poor posture, though, as it would be impossible to slump comfortably!
The great hall/dining hall is impressive and carries with it two sad tales. One is how prior to the Battle of the Boyne, fourteen brothers/relatives sat down at this table for breakfast. By nightfall after the battle, all of them had died.
The other tale is of Puck (the Talbot’s jester) –a four foot tall, mischievous yet reclusive character who fell in love with Lady Elenora Fitzgerald as he gazed at her from the balcony above the dining table, cracking his jokes and telling his stories during the dinner hour. This love went unrequited. My memory gets a little hazy here… I had thought that the tour guide had mentioned he killed himself because of this tragic affair of the heart, but on researching the internet, it seems he was murdered just outside the castle walls because someone had mistaken him for an intruder. Whatever the truth is, poor Puck! He allegedly still haunts Malahide Castle.
Here’s where Puck lived, in this tiny room beside a stairwell –very Harry Potter-esque.
Subsequent generations of Talbots enlarged and added to the castle, and as we progressed through our tour, the centuries flew by. One room seemed very Austen-like… I could almost see Catherine Morland writing a letter at the desk…
…or Charles Bingley, seated with Jane Bennett on one of the sofas, talking animatedly whilst being vigilantly chaperoned.
One of the paintings that is always pointed out in every tour of the castle is the one of the last Talbots, Milo and Rose, by William Carter. The eyes do follow you around, no matter where you happen to be standing.
It was intriguing to see all the old-fashioned toys in the nursery…
…and how the master’s bedroom was quite reminiscent of Downton Abbey.
The water closet had a copper tub, and I was fascinated by the toilet itself. The plumbing is hidden, so one doesn’t know if the principles are the same as its modern counterparts… and that ornate lid/seat looks like a serving dish! Ah, we are so uncivilised with our plastic lids and seats these days…
We joked about how it would be nice to have a proper room to hang all of A’s uniforms as seen here.
Is any castle tour complete without a glimpse of the Victorian greenhouse, castle gate, and family graveyard?
Feeling the need to do something modern to wipe away the musty feel of ancient times, we went to the Pavilions Shopping Centre, just to see what sort of stores were to be had. Well, malls are malls, no matter where in the world you are. However, they did have a lovely café that we ordered coffee and hot chocolate from — Butler’s Chocolate Café.
Supper was at The Old School House where, still full from our kingly breakfast, we shared a fisherman’s pie.
The description itself is mouthwatering so I will share it here: a delicious blend of smoked and fresh fish with shellfish served in a creamy white wine and cheese sauce with fresh herbs topped with mashed potato served with mushy peas.
I honestly can’t remember whether we ordered any spirits or coffee. It seems unlike me as I prefer tea, and Alex was driving that day –perhaps he asked for a glass of something, but it isn’t important, I suppose. If it were memorable, it would have been remembered, is my motto. At any rate, we had refreshing glasses of ice water.
We loved that pub! It had a very nice, heated outdoor patio, although the fireplace is fake. It would have been perfect for chillier days, when you would still rather be outside.
We decided to end our day here; our big Dublin plans would have to wait, as we agreed it was best to keep our first day of driving local. Back to Pebble Mill, and relaxing in bed together until we drifted off to sleep.