Ardgillan Castle

Ardgillan Castle

Location: Balbriggan, Fingal County Map

Constructed: 1738 by Reverend Robert Taylor


Ardgillan Castle (Irish Caisleán Ard Giolláin) is a country house in Balbriggan, County Dublin, Ireland. It is set in the 81-acre Ardgillan Demesne, a public park under County Fingal Government.



The crenellated building overlooks Barnageera Beach, the Irish Sea and the town of Balbriggan. It has two full floors and a basement; the latter extends below the lawn on the south side of the house. When the house was still inhabited, the two floors of the main block served as dwellings for the lords, while the servants and officials of the estate had their quarters in the west and east wings. The basement housed kitchens and storage rooms. The country house has been renovated and is now open to the public.

The property, which can also be visited, is a mixture of sparse forest and lawns. The park features an enclosed herb garden, rose garden, Victorian greenhouses, tea pavilions and an ice house. A playground was created in 2006.


Facilities and events for visitors

The rooms on the ground floor and the kitchens are open to the public as part of guided tours. The tea pavilions are located away from the entrance area and can also be visited during the opening hours of the country house. The former bedrooms on the first floor serve as classrooms and exhibition rooms; there is also the permanent exhibition Down Survey with full color maps and text. Rooms are also available for small conferences and workshops.

During the summer of 2005, a number of open-air concerts were held at the property. Artists who have performed here include Moby, R.E.M., Meat Loaf and Status Quo. There have not been any concerts here since 2006 and it is not known if Fingal County Council is planning any more in the future.

Paws at Ardgillan
In mid-2016, a new concept called Paws at Ardgillan opened in the country house gardens. Housed in the former gardener's house, it represents "a new café that offers dog owners the opportunity to eat with their dogs". The dog-friendly facility is one of the first in Ireland and the first of its kind in a municipal park. There, dog owners can sit with their dogs at a café table and enjoy hot and cold light meals and refreshments.



The previous owner of the land was Robert Usher, a wine merchant from Tallaght. When Rev. Robert Taylor bought the land it was a fairly wooded area. So he hired some discharged soldiers from Bangor and paid them a penny a day with board and lodging free; they also received a daily tot (ration) of Bushmills Irish whiskey, bought at 2 shillings 2p per gallon.

Rev. Taylor had the country house built in 1728. It remained in the family's hands until 1962, when it was sold to Henrich Potts from Westphalia.

In 1982 the property was sold to Fingal County Council who, with support from the Fás, renovated the house. It was officially opened in 1992 by President Mary Robinson.


The Ghost of the Lady's Stairs

The ghost of a woman is said to haunt the bridge called "The Lady's Stairs" over the Dublin-Belfast railway line on the estate's boundary, near the Irish Sea. It is said that the lady's husband used to swim there and when he didn't come back one night, the lady went to this bridge and waited for his return. But her husband had drowned and so she remained at the bridge without any hope until she died herself. Another legend tells that if a person went to the end of the bridge at midnight on Halloween, the ghost of the lady who then appeared would throw him into the sea and die.

The bridge was damaged by a truck in 2006, then rebuilt and reopened in 2007.

A more believable version of the story goes as follows: Lord Langford of Summerhill House in County Meath took his new wife to Ardgillan Castle and went hunting in Scotland. Against the advice of the housekeeping staff, she went swimming (in November!) and drowned. Lord Langford died a short time later. The ghost said to be seen on the bridge is Lady Langford in her wedding dress, coming up to find them husbands at the country house.


Dublin to Belfast railway line

The Dublin to Belfast railway line passes through the property. The Enterprise, the Dublin Commuter, freight trains and some unscheduled Intercity trains run there.

The Lady's Stairs bridge connects the Ardgillan estate to the coast via the R127 (Skerries to Balbriggan) road. The bridge is accessed via concrete steps a short distance from parking lot 1 or a longer distance from parking lot 2. The bridge is equipped with a high metal fence with small holes. The railway line can also be seen from the hilltop at the playground.