08 April 2012

A beautiful Easter ends with a walk along the shore in Malahide

Looking down on the city lights after the Easter Vigil in Orlagh (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012)

Patrick Comerford

This has been a busy, beautiful and very fulfilling Easter. Early on Thursday morning, we had a Maundy Thursday Eucharist with foot-washing for the institute students and staff. Later I was in Christ Church Cathedral for the chrism Eucharist and the renewal of ordination vows for all in ministry in the Diocese of Dublin and Glendalough.

Good Friday on the stairs to the Robing Room in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012)

On Good Friday, I was preaching at Matins and Evensong in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, before returning to Christ Church Cathedral for the Good Friday liturgy there, and then going on to Maynooth to preach at the Good Friday Evening Service in Saint Mary’s, the Church of Ireland parish church which nestles into a corner of the grounds of Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth.

I took Saturday afternoon off to watch the Cambridge-Oxford boat race – a joyful victory for Cambridge, and one the most dramatic sports events I have watched. Later, on Saturday evening, in the mountains above Knocklyon, I was at the Augustinian Priory in Orlagh for the Easter Vigil, celebrated by members of the Orlagh Team, Father John Byrne and Father Kieran O’Mahony.

Father John Byrne lights the Pascal Candle from the Pascal Fire at the Easter Vigil at Orlagh (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012)

We began outside with the Pascal Fire, lighting the Pascal Candle as we looked up at the night sky above and down on the city lights below. After the liturgy in the chapel at Orlagh, we were entertained to Prosecco, Panetonne, and Colomba Pasquale, the Easter counterpart of Panetonne.

Easter eggs in a crown of thorns beneath the empty cross in the chapel in Orlagh (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012)

I was back in Christ Church Cathedral once again this morning, when Archbishop Michael Jackson and Dean Dermot Dunne presided at the Easter Eucharist. And what a beautiful morning it was, with the choir and accompanying musicians giving us a wonderful interpretation of Mozart’s Coronation Mass or Kr√∂nungsmesse (Mass No 15 in C major, KV 317; sometimes Mass No 16).

Mozart completed this Mass in Salzburg on 23 March 1779 after he had been appointed court organist and composer at Salzburg Cathedral. The mass almost certainly had its premiere there on Easter Day, 4 April 1779. It appears to have been first called the “Coronation Mass” at the Imperial Court in Vienna in the early 19th century

Later, five of us went for lunch in Bar Italia, in Bloom’s Lane in the Italian Quarter off Ormond Quay. We strolled back to the cathedral through Temple Bar, and two of us later went on out to Malahide to visit Malahide Castle and then to have a stroll on the beach.

Malahide Castle ... home to the Talbot family for almost 800 years (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012)

Having visited Howth Castle and Clontarf Castle in recent weeks, I was looking forward to seeing another historic north Dublin family home. This is one of the busiest holiday weekends in Dublin – we had a congregation of about 400 in Christ Church Cathedral this morning, with visitors from all over the world. Yet Fingal County Council has fenced off Malahide Castle, with a tiny notice, almost invisible to the short-sighted visitor, saying the castle is closed until Summer 2012 – without saying when in summer.

Malahide Castle stands in over 260 acres of the remaining parkland from the Malahide Demesne, and the castle and estate have a history dating back to the 12th century, when Richard Talbot was granted the “lands and harbour of Malahide” in 1185. The oldest parts of the castle date back to the 12th century, and it was home to the Talbot family for almost 800 years, from 1185 until 1976, apart from a brief period in 1649–1660, when it was held by the Cromwellian Miles Corbet.

After Cromwell’s death, Corbet was hanged and the castle was restored to the Talbot family, who since 1445 have also held the unusual title of Hereditary Lord Admiral of Malahide and Adjacent Seas, which was given to the head of the family by King Edward IV.

On the morning of the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, 14 members of the Talbot family sat down to breakfast in the Great Hall of Malahide Castle – and all were dead by evening. After the Battle of the Boyle, the Duchess of Tyrconnell, wife of Richard Talbot, is said to have met the defeated and fleeing King James, who said “the rascally Irish have run away from me.” She replied: “Your majesty has won the race.” To this day, Jan Wyck’s canvas of the Battle of the Boyne hangs in the Great Hall of Malahide Castle.

Despite the Boyne defeat and the subsequent Penal Laws, the Talbot family held on to Malahide Castle, and the towers were added to the castle in 1765. The demesne is one of few surviving examples of 18th century landscaped parks, and has wide lawns surrounded by a protective belt of trees.

In 1831, the Irish peerage title of Baron Talbot of Malahide was given to Margaret Talbot, widow of Richard Talbot, heir of the ancient Lords of Malahide. She was succeeded by their eldest son, the second Baron. In 1839 he was made Baron Furnival, of Malahide in the UK peerage County of Dublin. That title died out on his death, when the Irish barony passed his younger brother, the third Baron. His son, the fourth Baron, was made Baron Talbot de Malahide, of Malahide, in the UK Peerage in 1856.

In the 1920s, the private papers of James Boswell were discovered in the castle, and sold to an American collector, Ralph H. Isham, by Boswell’s great-great-grandson, James Boswell Talbot, sixth Lord Talbot of Malahide.

When the sixth baron died in 1948, the peerages were inherited by his cousin, the seventh Baron, who was British Ambassador to Laos from 1955 to 1956.

When the seventh Lord Talbot of Malahide died in 1973, the barony of 1856 died out, while the Irish peerage title passed to his third cousin, the eighth baron, and Malahide Castle and Demesne passed to his sister, Rose. In 1975, she sold the castle to the Irish State, partly to fund inheritance taxes. But controversially many of the castle contents, including much of the furniture, had been sold in advance. Rose Talbot died at Malahide House in Tasmania three years ago.

Walking in the light rain along the shoreline in Malahide (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012)

Later, we walked in the light rain along the shoreline at Malahide, with views out to the offshore islands of Ireland’s Eye and Lambay, with glimpses across the Broadway Estuary towards the pinnacles of Portrane Hospital, and view of the Marina, although there was no sign of Hereditary Lord Admiral of Malahide and Adjacent Seas.

We strolled through Malahide village, and stopped for coffee in Insomnia, before buying the Sunday papers and returning along the coast road through Portrmarnock, Baldoyle, Sutton and Dollymount to the city centre.

She sells sea shells by the seashore ... The Ammonite by Niall O’Neill near the Marina in Malahide (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012)

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