Malahide Historical Society

A Brief History of Malahide

Paddy's Hill, on the coast road to Portmarnock overlooking Malahide Estuary, is the earliest evidence we have of a habitation site in the area dating from c.6000 B.C. The Fir Domhnainn are also reputed to have settled here, where they remained "fishing and fowling" for a few hundred years. Tradition has it that St. Patrick visited the locality in 432 A.D. The Vikings landed in 795 A.D. and the Danes were resident in 897 A.D. McTurkill, the last Danish King of Dublin retired to Malahide in 1171. He rebelled and was executed and his lands were granted by Henry II to a Norman knight Sir Richard Talbot, with the usual feudal privileges, as a reward for his “war like services” in the conquest of Ireland.

Sir Richard Talbot built a “motte and bailey” castle the remains of which can still be seen in Broomfield and circa 1250 AD he built the first stone castle in Malahide. The estate was passed down through the male heirs of Sir Richard Talbot for over the next eight centuries and the castle was rebuilt, extended and remodelled during the successive generations. During the 1650s, the family’s estates were sequestered and granted to Cromwellian soldiers and adventurers. However the family recovered their lands in the subsequent decades. Notably the Talbot’s land holdings were not confiscated after The Battle of the Boyne in 1690 although they supported the Jacobite side. When Lord Talbot de Malahide died in 1973 the castle and estate were put up for sale and purchased by the County Council.

The modern name Malahide (Mullach h-Ide) probably derives from the time of the arrival of the Normans, meaning the sandhills of the Hydes, a Norman family from the Donabate area. From the 12th. century onwards, Malahide developed around the Talbot Castle. In 1547, it was described as one of the chief haven towns of Ireland because of its very safe harbour. At the turn of the 19th. century a small village had developed; coal, slate and timber was imported; Yellow Walls cotton mill and Killeen Terrace ribbon factory were in operation; the local Talbot Bank issued 25,000 bank notes and Malahide was justly proud of its coalyard, sawyers factory, steam bakery and saltworks. Fishing and harvesting of salt and oysters contributed to the local economy. In 1831, the total population was 1,223 of which 90 labourers were each earning 15 pence per day. In the 1880's cod liver oil was being exported to England and the Scott's Emulsion trademark of a man with a huge cod on his shoulder is said to have been modelled on a Malahide fisherman.

Facilitated by the construction of the Dublin to Drogheda railway line in 1844, Malahide became popular with tourists as a seaside resort in the 19th century and tourists flocked to the hot sea-baths which resembled Roman Baths and were renowned for their health-giving properties. These were located on a site to the east of The Grand Hotel . In 1914, Malahide was described as “a genteel ghetto for disengaged West Britons”. In the 1920’s the buses came and croquet was played alongside the Band Garden (now Malahide Tennis Club) on Sundays. In the 1930’s there was greyhound racing at Gaybrook while many Malahide men earned 11.5 pence an hour in the building of Dublin Airport.

But the greatest change of all came in the 1960’s when Malahide became attractive to speculative builders and Malahide's first housing estate, Ard-Na-Mara came into being in 1964. Since then, even though the population has mushroomed in a major way, Malahide Village has still managed to retain an old-world elegance about it.

Development has inevitably put pressure on Malahide's historical and architectural heritage and so the principal aims of the Malahide Historical Society are to create an awareness and sense of identity for the residents including the very many relative new-comers to the locality, to ensure the local heritage is safeguarded for future generations and to inform the many visitors, native and foreign, who pass through Malahide each year.

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