Thursdays are Adventure Days at our house: my older boy bunks off montessori and we go and do something cultural or outdoorsy. Last Thursday we were supposed to climb Kiliney Hill but it was pouring rain so we decided to head to Dalkey Castle and Heritage Centre. It was a perfect day for it, as the place was deserted, and the staff were only delighted to welcome us into the castle, and to tailor their brilliant Living History tour to our young demographic.
We skipped the introductory video and were brought straight to the graveyard where the Cheevers’ archer, Rupert, told us that the family were preparing a feast to celebrate King Henry VIIIs birthday. He showed us the tools and weapons common in 15th-century castle life, and let theweapons-enthusiast hold his longbow; a knee-high highlight for him.
Rupert then brought us upstairs to the castle’s living quarters, where he talked us through the various vittels of the day, laying special emphasis on gory details and offering us a tase of pig’s head and ears. After showing us the bathroom facilities in the garderobe, he left us in the capable hands of Lady Catherine, who told us all about how to get ready for the party (which involved a lot of drinking of pee) and took us up to the battlements to take in the view (of mist and fog).
Our version of the tour was considerably less than that of a regular visitor (my older boy kept asking where the other characters that featured on the posters were), but in scale and duration it was perfect for our small group. The actors’ improvisation worked brilliantly for our crew, who thoroughly enjoyed the role-play aspect, fervently agreeing that, yes, their castles too had sheep intestines instead of glass in the windows.
The gift shop was an enormous hit with the children, and they spent a good 20 minutes trying on helmets and engaging in swordplay, which the generous staff thankfully tolerated.
There are changing facilities in the disabled toilets, but the castle is a castle, and not buggy friendly.
There is no cafe on site, but the castle sits on Dalkey’s main street, and the Tramyard next door is large enough to accomodate buggies, with a big outdoor space, if it isn’t raining, where kids can wander.
Adult entry is €8.50; children €6.50; family of 4 €25. Children under 4 are free.