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Haunted Places

The Five Ghosts of Malahide Castle

Malahide Castle is one of the most haunted castles in Ireland, with no fewer than five identifiable ghosts gracing its halls.  Though most haunted places tend to be haunted by the many who have fought and died over them, Malahide Castle 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 and to serve as an example to those who conspired against the Crown.

And his ghost is one of the five that haunts Malahide Castle.

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 (1461-1470) and the towers were added about 1600-1650.  The castle stayed in the Talbot family, with the one exception noted above, 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.

This is not to say that the Talbots did not face any challenges or suffer any losses.  In 1690 the Talbots fought in the Battle of Boyne.  The Battle of Boyne was fought 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 was fought across the River Boyne in Drogheda, north of Dublin.  Fourteen men of the Talbot family sat down to breakfast the morning of 1 July 1690.  By that evening, only one was left 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.

Despite the family’s overall good fortune, there were tragedies.  One unfortunate soul in particular is associated with three of the five identified ghosts.  Miss Maud Plunkett.

Maud Plunkett was a lovely young woman, daughter of the Baron of Killeen.  She and a young soldier, Walter Hussey, Lord Galtrim, fell in love.  As Lord Galtrim was on duty and could not leave Malahide, 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 states that Galtrim was ambushed on his way to the wedding, stabbed and killed by his rival.  The other, more oft-told version, 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 and pointing to the grievous spear wound in his side while emitting dreadful groans.

The groans are sometimes attributed to his wounds.  But the more common reason given for the groans is Lord Galtrim’s resentment of Maud Plunkett’s decision to wed his rival shortly after his death.

Husband number two did not stay around long and Maud married a third time, to a Lord Chief Justice.  By this time, Maud had become a bit insecure.  By most accounts, at this time Maud was extremely 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.  And it is the Lord Chief Justice’s ghost that the ghostly Maud pursues down the halls at Malahide.

The fourth identified 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 started attacking the local abbey (he was rabidly anti-Catholic).  During his short tenure he managed to become uniformly hated by 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 to be executed.  His ghost reappears on the anniversary of his death, running through the halls of the castle.  His ghost will also appear other times of the year in a full suit of armor that then falls apart into four pieces.

The fifth ghost of Malahide is a visitor favorite, Puck.  Puck was a dwarf and only stood about four feet tall.  In addition to being the Talbot family jester, Puck was also a watchman who lived in one of the towers.  During the reign of Henry VIII (1509-1547), Lady Elenora Fitzgerald, a kinswoman, was confined to Malahide Castle because of her rebel tendencies.  Puck fell in love with the lady. 

There are a number of stories about what happened next.  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 even been suggested that the Talbots found the match unsuitable and took steps to end it.  Most versions of Puck’s story, though, say that Puck was mysteriously stabbed through the heart on a snowy December night, just outside the castle walls.  He was wearing his jester suit, complete with cap and bells.  Puck was found just before he died, and with his dying breath he vowed to haunt Malahide Castle.

Puck is reportedly a mischievous spirit with a penchant for photo bombing.  He has shown up in several photographs, including one picture of the ivy on the castle’s exterior walls.

There is one other ghost at Malahide, The White Lady.  In the Great Hall is a painting of an anonymous lady in a flowing white dress.  No one knows who she is or how her portrait came to be at Malahide Castle.  Nonetheless, on many occasions this young lady in white steps out of her painting and wanders the halls of the castle.

In addition to the identified ghosts, there are a number of unexplained incidents at Malahide Castle.  Doors that staff has locked with unlock themselves.  Open doors slam shut.  Unseen hands push people as they are walking down the halls.  Water taps turn themselves on and off.

For those in the mood for a ghostly visit, Malahide is open year round, with special tours offered around Halloween. To experience the numerous haunts of this stunning castle, check out our collection of Ireland vacation packages!