As it was a sunny Sunday afternoon, it seemed appropriate that I take myself on a seaside excursion. But where? I suppose I could have walked to Sandymount. My ambitions were loftier however – I desired a train journey. Walking to Connolly Station, I decided that whichever DART train was leaving first would decide my destination. The possibilities were bountiful – the DART is a coastal rail service so there was plenty of options.
The next train that was leaving was to Malahide. There’s a castle there – perhaps I could skip the beach and get a bit of culture.
I sat down and googled the name. Wikipedia described it as an ‘affluent coastal village ten miles north of Dublin’. That sounded just like my kind of place. I love the word ‘affluent’ – it speaks to me of old wealth and comfort. It’s far from that I was raised, but I’m nosy. So having a root around how the other half lives is a pleasant way to spend a warm autumn afternoon.
I was sitting on the train with two American students. They were chatting. Opportunity to eavesdrop? Yes indeed. This day was getting better and better.
What a strange pair of individuals. They were a male and female of about twenty years old. Sadly adolescent hangover was still taking its toll – both were pimply of complexion. They spoke in an irritating vocal fry style – where every sentence is a question, and every second word is ‘Um’ or ‘like’.
‘I’m glad we are, like, getting out of town?’ says she.
‘Um, so am I?’ replied her spotty suitor.
There followed a conversation of breathtaking banality, where she announced that she had hated the idea of coming to Ireland.
I wondered why.
‘Because I wanted to, like, go to Amsterdam to study?’
Seemingly they are both studying philosophy in Trinity college, and ‘there’s a lot of people in, like class, who, um, don’t really seem suited to philosophy’.
Also Rachel (whoever she may be) is sort of keen to be friends with Brendan. On the other hand, she is also sort of not keen to be friends with him.
‘I know what you, um, mean?’ he said.
It was on the tip of my tongue to ask him to explain this conundrum to me. But I would have seemed weird, had I done that. I zipped my lip and continued to pretend to read my telephone.
His favourite breakfast cereal is ‘Cheerios’.
‘Which type?’ she asked (and in her defence, this was a sentence that merited a question mark.)
‘The plain type?’ he said.
She then expounded on how awful Cornflakes are, as they get so soggy, after a few minutes, but are like cardboard initially.
They will make excellent philosophers.
Arriving in Malahide, I was impressed at how picturesque the village is. Similar in style to the other Dublin coastal villages and suburbs, it looks comfortable and quaint. No doubt, it is probably extortionately expensive to buy a flat there.
I made my way to the castle, through the woodland walkway. The woods and parklands were crowded with people and their dogs.
Arriving at the reception centre, I saw that to go into the castle you had to pay for a guided tour. The next one was starting in ten minutes.
I handed over the ten euro entrance fee and joined the queue.
If you’ve been to castles, you’ll know what they are like. This one didn’t disappoint. This was the family home to the Talbot dynasty for over eight hundred years. It was occupied as the family home until 1973 when the childless Miles Talbot kicked the bucket. His sister – the fragrant Rose, couldn’t afford the inheritance tax, so she sold it to the state, and retired to her sheep farm in Tasmania where she spent the rest of her life. She died at the age of 93 in 2009. She was the last of her line.
The castle possesses several grand halls and drawing rooms, and expansive bedrooms. It is decorated in a nineteenth century style. It’s all very plush and luxurious.
When the tour ended I went to the train station. As the next train was not for fifty minutes, and as I was by the sea, it seemed essential that I engage in some fine dining. Fish and chips from Beshoff Brothers chipper was the logical solution.
As I exited the chipper, I bumped into a colleague from work, having a stroll with his wife. He lives in the town.
‘What are you doing here?’
‘Oh I had a free afternoon so I thought I’d come to see the castle’.
‘Are you by yourself?’
I could hear the pity in his voice.
‘Why, yes I am.’
His head tilted to one side, and he gave me a smug smile.
‘Sure there’s no harm in that.’
By this stage, I was irked.
‘Who said there was? My train is coming, I’ve got to run.’
I sprinted with my bag of haddock, to the park bench near the station.
I wasn’t alone. I am a Gemini. I have multiple personalities to keep me company.