MALAHIDE

From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837

MALAHIDE, a maritime post-town and a parish, in the barony of COOLOCK, county of DUBLIN, and province of LEINSTER, 2 ½ miles (E.) from Swords, to which it has a sub-post-office, and 7 miles (N.) from Dublin Castle; containing 1223 inhabitants, of which number, 294 are in the town. The manor and castle were granted, in 1174, by Henry II., to Richard Talbot, the common ancestor of the Earls of Shrewsbury and Lords of Malahide, who accompanied that monarch into Ireland; and have continued in the possession of his descendants from that period to the present day, through an uninterrupted succession of male heirs. This grant was subsequently confirmed to him by John, afterwards King of England, who also conferred on him various privileges and the advowson of the church of "Mullahide Beg", which he immediately assigned to the monks of St. Mary's abbey, Dublin.

In 1372, Thomas Talbot was summoned to parliament by the title of Lord Talbot; and in 1375, the harbour of this place appears to have been of such importance that the exportation of unlicensed corn, and the departure of any of the retinue of William de Windsor, Chief Governor, from this port were prohibited under severe penalties. Edward IV., in 1475, granted to the family a confirmation of the lordship, with courts leet and baron, and appointed the lord of Malahide high admiral of the seas with full power to hold a court of admiralty and to determine all pleas arising either on the high seas or elsewhere within the limits of the lordship.

Sir Richard Edgecombe, who was sent by Henry VII. into Ireland to administer the oath of allegiance to the nobility and chieftains there, after the suppression of Lambert Simnel's attempt to gain the crown, landed from England at this port, in 1488, and was entertained at the Castle, and afterwards conducted by the Bishop of Meath to Dublin; and in 1570, Malahide was enumerated by Hollinshed among the principal post-towns of Ireland. In the parliamentary war the castle was besieged and taken by Cromwell, who resided here for some time, during which he passed sentence of outlawry upon Thomas, Lord Talbot, and gave the castle and the manor to Miles Corbet, who retained possession of them for seven years, till, on the Restoration, the Talbot family regained possession of their estates.

The town is situated on a shallow inlet of the Irish Sea, between Lambay island, to the north, and Ireland's Eye and the promontory of Howth, to the south; it has a pleasing and sequestered character, and contains many handsome cottages, chiefly occupied by visitors during the bathing season and in some instances by permanent residents. In the centre is a well of excellent water, arched over and dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. The trade of the town, never very extensive, received a great check from the privileges granted to the port of Dublin in the 16th century.

The cotton manufacture was introduced here on an extensive scale in the last century by Colonel Talbot, father of the present proprietor; but, though the Irish parliament granted £2000 for the completion of the requisite machinery, it was ultimately abandoned. The same gentleman, in 1788, procured an act for the construction of a navigable canal at his own expense, for the conveyance of the imports of this place, through Swords to Fieldstown, for the supply of the surrounding districts, to which they were at that time sent wholly by land carriage; but this undertaking was also unsuccessful.

The principal trade at present is the exportation of meal and flour, and the importation of coal from Whitehaven and Scotland, of which, on the average, about 15,000 tons are annually imported. There is a small silk-factory, and the inhabitants derive some advantages from the fishery off the coast, and from an exclusive property in a bed of oysters, which are sent to Dublin in considerable quantities, and are much esteemed. The inlet of Malahide is 4 miles north from Howth, and extends four miles up the country; it is dry at low water, but at high water, vessels drawing not more than 10 or 11 feet may enter the creek and lie afloat in the channel. At the entrance is a bar, having only one foot at low water, and the channel is divided by a gravel bank called Muldowney; both the channels are narrow and tortuous, and are of dangerous navigation without the assistance of a pilot.

The town is one of the nine coast-guard stations constituting the district of Swords, and also a constabulary police station. Near it is the Castle, generally called the Court of Malahide, the seat of the Talbot family, a quadrangular building of irregular form and height, situated on a limestone rock of considerable elevation, and commanding a fine view of the town and bay. The original buildings have been much improved and enlarged by Richard, Lord Talbot de Malahide, the present proprietor; the principal front is embattled, and the entrance defended by two circular towers. The interior contains numerous superb apartments, of which the most curious is one called the oak chamber, wainscoted and ceiled with native oak richly carved in scriptural devices and lighted by a pointed window of stained glass. To the right of this chamber is the grand hall, a spacious and lofty room with a vaulted roof of richly carved oak, lighted by three large windows of elegant design, and having a gallery at the south end. To the left of the hall is the drawing-room, a stately apartment, richly embellished, and containing some very valuable paintings, among which is an altar-piece in three compartments, painted by Albert Durer, and originally placed in the oratory of Mary, Queen of Scots, at Holyrood House.

There is in the castle a very large collection of portraits of royal and distinguished personages, among the latter of which are several members of the Talbot family, also paintings by the most celebrated masters of the Italian and Flemish schools. The demesne is extensive and richly embellished with groups of stately trees and plantations, and the gardens are tastefully laid out and kept in fine order.

The parish is of very small extent, comprising only 1070 statute acres: the soil is fertile and the system of agriculture improving. The strand abounds with marine shells in great variety, and with sea-reeds, which, in conjunction with the carex arenaria, grow profusely. There are quarries of black, grey, and yellow limestone; and on the south of the high lands, towards the sea, lead ore has been found. There are several handsome seats and pleasing villas, of which the principal are La Mancha, the residence of M. M. O'Grady, Esq., M.D.; Sea Mount, of K. C. French, Esq., from which is a view of Lambay island, the hill of Howth, and the bay of Dublin, with the Dublin and Wicklow mountains; Sea Park Court, of W. Cosgrave, Jun., Esq., commanding a fine view of Malahide creek and bay; Gaybrook, of the Rev. F. Chamley; Mill View, of Captain Ross, R. N.; and Auburn Cottage, of M. A. Dalton, Esq.

The living is a perpetual curacy, in the diocese of Dublin, and in the patronage of the Dean and Chapter of St. Patrick's, Dublin, by whom it is endowed with the whole of the tithes of the rectory (which is appropriate to the economy fund), amounting to £120. The glebe, in the adjoining parish of Swords, comprises 8 acres of cultivated land. The church was erected in 1822, at an expense of £1300, of which £900 was a gift and £300 a loan from the late Board of First Fruits, and £100 a gift from Lord Talbot de Malahide; it is a neat edifice, in the later English style, and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners have recently granted £112 for its repair.

In the R. C. divisions the parish forms part of the union or district of Swords; the chapel is a neat edifice. About 140 children, are taught in two public schools. Contiguous to the castle are the remains of the ancient church, for ages the place of sepulture of the proprietors of the castle: it consists of a nave and choir, separated from each other by a lofty pointed arch nearly in the centre of the building; the east window is large and enriched with geometrical tracery, and over the western end is a small belfry thickly covered with ivy, beneath which is a window of two lights, ornamented with crocketed ogee canopies; the whole is shaded by chesnut trees, of which the branches bend over the roofless walls. Of the ancient monuments, only one decorated altar-tomb of the 15th century is remaining, bearing the effigy of Lady Matilda Plunkett, wife of Richard Talbot. Adjoining the church are the ruins of a chantry anciently attached to it; and on the lands of Sea Park is a martello tower. This place gives the title of Baron Talbot de Malahide to the family of Talbot.

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