Malahide Castle

County Dublin

The oldest part of this hotchpotch castle, which was in the hands of the Talbot family from 1185 to 1976, is the three-storey 12th-century tower house. The facade is flanked by circular towers that were tacked on in 1765. The castle, now owned by Fingal County Council, is accessible via guided tour only (last tour 4.30pm; 3.30pm November to March). The impressive gardens are self-guided.

The castle is packed with furniture and paintings; highlights are a 16th-century oak room with decorative carvings, and the medieval Great Hall, which has family portraits, a minstrel's gallery and a painting of the Battle of the Boyne. Puck, the Talbot family ghost, is said to have last appeared in 1975.