Malahide Castle is one of the most haunted castles in Ireland, with at least five ghosts in residence. It was owned by a single family, the Talbots, for nearly 800 years. The only time the house was out of the Talbots’ control was from 1649 to 1660, when Oliver Cromwell granted the property to one of his loyalists, Miles Corbett. Corbett was later hanged, drawn, and quartered at Malahide for his atrocities during Cromwell’s reign—he was used as an example to those who might consider conspiring against the Crown. His ghost is one of the five that haunts Malahide Castle, and you might be fortunate enough to encounter one of them on your Ireland visit!
The Estate and the Talbot Family
Malahide Castle sits on 260 acres just north of Dublin. The estate began with Sir Richard Talbot, who accompanied Henry II to Ireland in 1174. For Talbot’s service in the Anglo-Norman conquest of Ireland, he was granted the lands and harbor of Malahide. The oldest parts of the castle date from the late 12th century, though it was enlarged during the reign of Edward IV, and the towers were added in 1625.
The castle stayed in the Talbot family, with the exception of Corbett, until 1976. The 7th Baron, Lord Milo Talbot, died in 1973 and the estate passed to his sister, Rose. Rose sold the castle to the Irish State in 1975, partially to cover inheritance taxes. Rose died peacefully in Malahide House, Tasmania, in 2009.
Challenges Along the Way
In 1690 the Talbots fought in the Battle of Boyne. This conflict was between Jacobite forces loyal to deposed King James II, and those of Prince William of Orange and Mary II who ascended to the throne in 1688. The battle raged across the River Boyne in Drogheda, north of Dublin. Fourteen men of the Talbot family sat down to breakfast the morning of July 1, 1690. By that evening, only one was still alive. Despite fighting for James II, the Talbots’ property was not confiscated. And, even though the family was Catholic until 1774, their property was never seized under the Penal Laws.
Miss Maud Plunkett and Love Number One
Despite the family’s overall good fortune, there were tragedies. One is associated with three of the five identified ghosts. Miss Maud Plunkett. Maud was a lovely young woman, daughter of the Baron of Killeen. She and a young soldier, Walter Hussey, Lord Galtrim, fell in love. Because Lord Galtrim was on duty, his father petitioned the Talbots for permission to marry at Malahide. The Talbots agreed.
There are two versions of Lord Galtrim’s and Maud Plunkett’s wedding day. One version is that Galtrim was ambushed on his way to the wedding, stabbed and killed by his rival. The other is that Galtrim and Plunkett were married the morning of Whit Monday, 1429. A few hours later, Galtrim was killed in battle, possibly by his rival. Either way, Lord Galtrim’s ghost haunts Malahide castle, wandering the halls, groaning, and pointing to the spear wound in his side.
The groans may be from his wounds. Most say he’s groaning because Maud wed his rival shortly after his death.
The Next Husband’s Ghost
Husband number two wasn’t around long, and Maud married a third time to a Lord Chief Justice. By this time, Maud had become more than a little insecure. By most accounts, Maud was very possessive of her new husband—some say she was even abusive. According to legend, Maud and Lord Chief Justice fought frequently, and Maud was usually the instigator. Reputedly she chased him around the house during their fights. It is believed that the Lord Chief Justice’s ghost is the person ghostly Maud pursues down the halls at Malahide.
Poor Miles Corbett
The fourth ghost is Miles Corbett. Corbett was one of the 59 Regicides—members of Parliament who signed Charles I’s death warrant. After Charles I was overthrown, Corbett was “granted” Malahide by Cromwell. He then promptly tried to outlaw Catholicism and attacked the local abbey. During his short tenure, he managed to become hated by all the locals.
After Cromwell was executed and the monarchy reinstated, Charles II called for the death of all Regicides. Upon hearing this, Corbett fled to the Netherlands and the Talbots returned to Malahide. Two years later, when Corbett was caught, he was taken back to Malahide and executed. His ghost reappears on the anniversary of his death, running through the halls of the castle. His ghost also appears other times during the year, in a full suit of armor that slowly falls apart into four pieces.
A Ghost Named Puck
The fifth ghost of Malahide is the visitors’ favorite, Puck. Puck was a dwarf. In addition to being the Talbot’s jester, Puck was a watchman who lived in one of the towers. During the reign of Henry VIII, Lady Elenora Fitzgerald, a kinswoman, was confined to Malahide Castle because of her rebel tendencies. Puck fell in love with the lady.
Some say Puck was distracted by the lady and hung himself for failing in his sentry duties. Others say Puck was rejected and hung himself in misery. It has also been suggested that the Talbots found the match unsuitable and ended it. Most versions say Puck was mysteriously stabbed on a snowy December night, just outside the castle walls. He was wearing his jester suit, complete with cap and bells. Puck was found before he died, and with his dying breath he vowed to haunt Malahide Castle. Puck is now a mischievous spirit who enjoys photobombing.
The Last Ghost
There is one other ghost at Malahide, The White Lady. There is a painting of an anonymous lady, wearing a flowing white dress, in the Great Hall. No one knows who she is or how her portrait came to be at Malahide Castle. Nonetheless, on many occasions this young lady steps out of her portrait and wanders the castle halls.