Lambay Island. In this view, looking east from Malahide, the harbour with white buildings is in front of the trees to the right of the
large green pasture area. The castle is hidden from view among the trees.
have a mystique of their own, and Lambay is no exception, as a trip
around its rugged coast will prove.
The small permanent island community and those who visit (strictly by invitation) are served by a motor vessel called "SHAMROCK" which plies between Rogerstown pier and Lambay harbour several times a week. The boat used by the Talbots in the 19th century was similarly named and the Barings had a "SHAMROCK" in 1905 and so a long tradition is continued to this day.
Lambay Island Chart
The island is privately owned and landing is not permitted without the permission of the owners. However, its surrounding waters are a very popular destination for anglers and for sailors who like to anchor in one of the many sheltered bays or observe the wildlife. The island is host to a very large and internationally important breeding population of seabirds and seals.
We start at Tayleur Bay, just south west of The Nose on the east side and so called after the wreck of the Tayleur. In the 1850's gold was discovered in Australia and on the 19th January 1854, the largest sailing merchantman ever built in England left the Mersey on her maiden voyage from Liverpool to Melbourne. An iron vessel, with 4000 tons of cargo, the Tayleur ran into storm and fog and struck Lambay on Saturday, 21st January. Of the 579 emigrants aboard, 80% of whom were Irish, only 250 women and children, only 3 survived. When the ship struck, the first man to jump ashore was the ships cook, a black man. He received little help from the islanders, who, never having seen a black man before, refused to open their cabin doors to him. However, Lord Talbot's steward did provide straw, oatmeal and potatoes for the survivors. The three main reasons for the Tayleur tragedy were the malfunctioning of the ship's compass which had not been asked to react to iron before, the unskilled crew, mostly Chinese, who didn't understand the Captain's orders and thirdly, the ship had not been turned, cargo laden, before it left the Mersey.
The captain, Captain Noble, was exonerated and his certificate renewed. The three day inquest on the tragedy was held in the newly opened Grand Hotel in Malahide and two bodies brought to the inquest lie buried today under the arc way of St. Andrews Church. Full burial rights were refused by both religions because of the lack of religious identification of both victims. A child survivor who stayed alive in the water, tied to a plank for 24 hours, became known as the Ocean Wonder. It was eventually adopted by a woman who had lost her whole family in Tayleur Bay.
The ship was rediscovered in 1959 by sub-aqua divers, who salvaged huge quantities of china vessels of willow pattern design as well as brass collars, shoes, bottles of wine, counterfeit money, fool's gold and uninscribed headstones. Obviously some of the emigrants were carrying their "trades" with them to Australia. Tayleur's binnacle and bell are to be seen to-day in the Civic Museum and Maritime Museum, Dun Laoghaire.
Today, other than the salvaged material, there is no memorial, no monument, and no reminder of what was one of the greatest sea-tragedies of its day.
Circa 1919 a second shipwreck occurred around here. The Shamrock, a Dublin-Glasgow passenger steamer cattle boat returning from a horse show in Glasgow ran aground. The horses escaped onto the island but when the tide went out the Shamrock slipped underwater. Thankfully, there were no casualties.
Moving around the island, past the Lord of Karry, we reach Seal Hole. Lambay has the largest concentration of grey seals on the East coast of Ireland and there are several caves in the cliffs much frequented for giving birth to their pups.. When the Malahide Talbots owned Lambay they developed it's hunting potential and seal shooting became a popular recreation there. There is a tradition on Lambay that if a boat could follow the seals, one could sail the under the island. Through the years smugglers certainly benefited by following the seals to find the best underground caves. Some years ago, Lord Revelstoke received an offer for seal meat from a Japanese importer, who intended making aphrodisiacs from the meat. The offer was turned down.
Moving on to Kiln Point, one can sit underneath a huge rock, sheltered from wind and rain. Here was where the wreckers plied their trade in olden times. Men walked the rocks with bobbing lanterns to lure unsuspecting ships onto the rocks. In bad weather the moving lantern resembled the moving lights on the masts of another ship. Once on the rocks, the wreckers went into action and slaughtered all hands on board to obtain their plunder.
Passing Sunk Island, which was once adjoined to Lambay and has some stone walls on top, we reach Bishops Bay. This is one of the better swimming areas in Lambay. Approx 100 years ago a body washed up here had in its possession a crucifix and other articles, which indicated that it was a bishop. Since then it is known as Bishops Bay or Dead Man's Bay.
Beyond this we pass Black Point. Next come Carnoon Bay and Talbot's Bay, both favoured anchoring spots for visiting yachts. Beyond Talbot's Bay the dangerous Burren Rocks jut out a considerable distance to the southwest with the extremity marked by a steel perch to warn sailors of the hidden danger lying just below the surface.
Soon we reach Lambay Pier, construction of which started in 1822. In 1927 when improvements were being made to the harbour, a buried graveyard was discovered. Though the graves were found in dirty shore sand, each individual hollow was filled with clear silver sand. All the bodies were in a crouched position. Unfortunately, before a full archaeological dig took place, the harbour builders removed the bodies, so the plan of the cemetery was lost. Over forty objects were found, indicating that Lambay had witnessed a very early settlement period and later, an internment period. Archaeologist, R. A. McAllister discovered artefacts dating back to the La Tene Period circa 500 B.C. These ornaments contained swirling patterns, curves and spirals, which at times turned into faces. This dreamlike art form, where nothing is as it seems originated in Lake Neufchatel, Switzerland. The finds strongly suggest trading with Roman Britain. Some articles found were copies of originals and one such Roman brooch was a perfect image of the genuine article except for the fact that the local who made it did not understand how the clasp worked. So the brooch was not capable of being worn, thus losing its main function. Other artefacts found in the 1927 dig include stone hatchet heads, lance heads, rims of cooking pots, ornamented ware, iron swords, shields, fragments of leather, grain-grinding docks, mortars and pestles and a ring still on a bone of the first joint of the middle finger.
An exceptionally rare Opah or King Fish was taken off this western shore in June1906. It was of bright red colour, 3 feet 7 inches in length and 2 feet in height. It is preserved in the Natural History Museum in Dublin. There was only one other Opah taken from the Atlantic and that was in 1851.
Moving on from the harbour we now reach Scotch Point with Tailors Rock lying some distance off. Here, a lighted buoy is maintained by Irish Lights to warn that the rocks are covered at high tide. It replaces a tripod perch which collapsed during Hurricane Charlie .
Broad Bay is where old red sandstone was quarried in times past This stone was used in the construction of the Lantern in Lambay Castle.
Moving around the top of Lambay, Gouge Point, a sheer precipice of rock, overlooks very deep water. Here is to be seen the remains of a very large promontory fort or garden fort dating back to the Bronze or Neolithic ages. The mounds and the valleys of this double ditch fort are still in a good state of preservation and command a spectacular view of the surrounding sea.
We now move in to the extensive Saltpan Bay with its high sheer cliffs which are home to thousands of nesting birds in season. One can anchor right up against the cliff face in deep water and listen to the raucous calls of the seabirds and observe them at close quarters both on the cliffs and on the surrounding water.
Passing Harp Ear and Kelly's Rock, Freshwater Bay comes into view. This latter bay may have got it's name from the availability of fresh water from the stream that flows down here, one of the very few streams on the island. The bay is a noted fishing area and also a great place to observe seals hauled out on the rocks, particularly Carrickdorrish. Crabs and Lobsters are set here and care is required to avoid fouling the floats marking the fishermen's pots.
History of the Island
Now lets turn our attention to those people who occupied Lambay from perhaps as early 7,000 B.C.) to the present day, as well as the bird and animal life there.
The Island may have been known to the ancient Greek cartographer Ptolemy as it is arguable that Lambay is the island on his map of circa 150 A.D., though located south of Howth. Pliny, the Roman, also mentions it. The name given Lambay by the ancients was Limnus or Limni, meaning the snail, a name easily understood when one considers its shape. Its early Irish name, Reachra, was eventually replaced by the Danish Lambay, meaning Lamb Island. This name probably originated with the practice sending over ewes to the island in spring and allowing them to remain there until the Autumn.
Professor Gabriel Cooney of the School of Archaeology at UCD and his team have been surveying and excavating on the island for quite a few years and employing the most modern technology including magnetometry and geophysics. They have also had some luck in artefacts being exposed on beaches suffering erosion in the vicinity of the harbour and among material pushed to the surface by burrowing rabbits. Lambay is proving to be an even more fascinating site than first envisaged when modern archaeological exploration commenced in the early 1990's.
The eroding beach to the south of the harbour has revealed a selection of flakes, flints and flint cores that appear to date from the early Mesolithic period, perhaps as far back as B.C. 7,000 . On the high part of the island in the area known as the Eagle's Nest excavations have yielded quantities of worked porphyry axes, blades, scrapers, etc. and evidence that a 'factory' for fashioning these implements existed here in Neolithic times. Indeed it is the only Neolithic stone axe quarry in the British Isles with evidence for all stages production, from quarrying to final polishing. When the harbour was being improved in the 1920's some remains were discovered surrounded by silver sand and which were thought to date to the 1st century A.D.. The nature of artefacts found here also suggested Romano British trading. The raised beach to the north of the harbour has been suffering from erosion in recent times and in 1995 six male burials were revealed followed by a further seven skeletons in 2002. All are thought to date from around 1500 A.D. There is clear surface evidence of a substantial promontory or garden fort on Scotch Point and another nearby with a barrow cemetery outside. Sunk Island, which is pretty well inaccessible nowadays, appears to have walls on top on two sides and on The Nose there is evidence also of an ancient walled enclosure.
St. Colmcille is reputed to have established a settlement in 530 A.D. and when he went on his travels he left Colman as deacon in charge of the monastery. Ireland's viking age began with a raid on this monastery in A.D. 795. Recent geophysical surveying points to remains of an large enclosure to the south of the present church. Nearby are remains of a moated site, perhaps from the 13th or 14th centuries and intriguingly evidence of a gravel track way running between. The present church dates from Lutyens time when it replaced an earlier structure dating from the 1830's. The geophysical survey work has revealed what is thought to be a mass grave in front of the church and one can surmise that this is where many of the victims of the Tayleur shipwreck were buried. Sitric, the Danish King of Dublin granted Lambay to Christ Church, their cathedral and it stayed in church hands down to recent times, despite the varied owners and proprietors listed who were renting from the Archbishop. The only link between the island and Christ Church surviving is a well named after the Blessed Trinity. There was a tradition of patterns being held at the well on Trinity Sunday. Another name for Christ Church was the Church of the Holy Trinity.
In 1181 Prince John granted Lambay to the Archbishops of Dublin This was reconfirmed by King Edward in 1337 and by King Richard in 1394. A later Archbishop gave the rents of the island to the nuns of Grace Dieu for the upkeep of their monastery and school. He also gave the tithes of the Lambay rabbits to the nuns and at that time the rabbit taxes were worth 100 shillings a year.
In 1467, it was provided by statute that the Earl of Worcester, then Lord Deputy, be granted Lambay to build a fortress for England's protection against the Spaniards, French and Scots. Worcester paid the Archbishop of Dublin 40 shillings per annum and though he had a licence to build a castle on Lambay it is not certain that it was actually built.
During the reformation, Archbishop Brown granted the Island to John Challoner for a rent of £6.13.4. The conditions were that Challoner would within 6 years build a village, castle and harbour for the benefit of fishermen and as a protection against smugglers. He was to inhabit Lambay "with a colony of honest men". He was a very active man who worked four mines for silver and copper and bred falcons on the islands many cliffs.
Challoner still owned Lambay in Elizabethan times but in 1611 the island was granted to Sir William Ussher and his heirs. James Ussher lived on Lambay in 1626 but by 1650 he was resident in London. He was highly respected by Cromwell and to-day lies buried in Westminster Abbey. The Ussher family held the Island for 200 years.In the 17th C. there was some exploratory lead or copper mining.
PRISONERS ON LAMBAY
After the surrender of the fort of Ballymore in County Westmeath to De Ginkle in 1691, 780 soldiers and 260 rapparees were transported to Lambay as prisoners, where they were confined until the Treaty of Limerick. No one was allowed land on the island while they were there. Class distinction existed in those days too as the officers were not sent to Lambay but were retained in Dublin Castle. A huge number of the soldiers died on the island from their wounds and from starvation. After the Treaty of Limerick, the Lords Justice, who feared that the rebels might join foreign armies, did not tell the prisoners the true reason for their release. They sent Mr. Francis Cuffe to Lambay to promise them their liberty if they took the Oath of Allegiance and went home.
In 1805, Lambay passed to Sir William Wolseley, an Ussher descendent. In 1814, Margaret Talbot (d.1831), widow of Richard Talbot (1735-1788) and then living in Eccles Street, agreed to purchase the island and the fishing rights from Wolseley for £6,500, payable in installments of £1,500 up front followed by £1,250 plus interest on the outstanding balance on the 20th of August on each of the four following years up to 1818. An unusual turn of events took place on Lambay in 1860 when the crofters were removed and replaced with English and Scots tenants. Because of this action many local names and traditions have been lost. After about 30 years, the Talbots switched back to farming.
Count James Consedine purchased Lambay in 1888. Prior to this he owned Portrane House but he sold his house and lands to build Portrane Hospital. Count Consedine set about developing the island as a hunting estate and was the first man to introduce deer onto the island. They came from the Portrane herd.
The Baring family bought Lambay Island in 1904 and of course, are still in residence there to-day. Originally, the Barings were German Protestants and were the only British banking family to bank inside the Eastern Block. Charles Dickens makes reference to the Barings in two of his novels.
Cecil Baring worked at the New York branch of the family banking business in the latter years of the 19th century. He developed a great interest in natural history and travelled extensively in pursuit of this interest. Cecil Baring's second wife was an American and her father, Pierre Lorrilard, the first American to win the Derby, was Cecil's partner in the bank . Cecil eloped with Maude in 1902. Eighteen months after his marriage, while travelling in Europe, Cecil saw an advertisement in The Field - "Island for Sale", and so he bought Lambay in 1904 for £9,000. The island had a small castle in a state of dereliction. He first employed an unidentified architect from Dublin to renovate and extend the castle before engaging Sir Edwin Lutyens to work on the project. This architectural gem took near five years to complete and is Lutyens main building in Ireland. Subsequently,work continued on the construction of the farm building up to 1915. The open air 'real tennis' court was added later and the the last major building work was the 'White House' completed in 1934. We will cover the buildings of the castle and gardens in some detail later. Meanwhile, Cecil encouraged a detailed study of the island's flora and fauna with the results being published in The Irish Naturalist in 1907. The great Irish naturalist, Praeger, visited the island about this time in the course of his perambulation about the island of Ireland.
In 1911 when Cecil was made managing partner of the Bank in London he found it necessary to reside there but he returned to his beloved Lambay for two months each summer and also at Christmas. Cecil Baring had three children, Daphne, Calypso and Rupert. His wife died in 1922. Cecil died in 1934 having succeeded his older to the title of 'Lord Revelstoke' in 1929. They are buried in the family burial plot on the island. There is a walled graveyard to the south west of the castle which also contains a small church with remarkable stained glass windows. In 1933, just before Cecil's death, the Doric portico was added to the original Talbot built chapel. Again maintaining an island tradition, the present day residents gather here for prayer on Sunday mornings.
Cecil's epitaph reads: "Cecil Baring; 3rd Baron Revelstoke; Born 2nd September 1865; Died 26th January 1934; Of whom this much it shall suffice to say; He loved his wife, his children and Lambay".
Lambay Island owes its masses of porphyry and greenstone to volcanic energies, quietened down unknown ages ago. The island is approximately 1.5 miles long and 1 mile wide, containing c.750 acres of which 650 acres are conducive to farming. Its name has changed over the centuries from Limnus (Ptolemy) to Lambeia (Latin) to Reachra (Irish) to Lambay (Norse). The population of Lambay has also changed drastically over the years. In 1841, the island population was 115 but in 1941 it had dwindled to 30. To-day, it is down to around 10.
There are many items of interest on Lambay, from the white-washed buildings around the harbour (clearly visible from Malahide) some of which were formerly occupied by the Coastguard to the powerhouse with generator and windmill; from the now unused golf course on the back of the island to the real tennis court near the house. Nothing, however, remains of a thatched school built by a Dublin priest Fr. Henry Young in l834 and where Master James Vickers, late of Malahide national School, took up a teaching post in 1855.
The great Irish naturalist Robert Lloyd Praeger visited the island in 1890 and returned in 1905 to supervise a natural history survey. However, of all its interesting enchantments, it is as a bird sanctuary, established by Cecil Baring, that Lambay will be best remembered. Here we find in abundance the Guillemot who, possibly, lays the most beautiful eggs in the world - turquoise with varying patterns. These eggs are very pointed at one end which helps them from rolling off the cliffs into the sea, but it is a paradox of nature that thus protected from a watery grave, their elaborate colour scheme attracts the preying gulls who devour them in enormous numbers.
As regards the gulls, Lord Revelstoke "played his part" during World War II by exporting over 100,000 gulls eggs to feed a hungry Britain.
Puffins are usually to be seen on and around Lambay with their brightly coloured feet and beaks. One can also appreciate the Kittiwake and it's distinctive cry. Cormorants and their smaller cousins, the Shags, are plentiful.
In the last century the Grey Lag Geese used to come from Scandinavia each winter, just like their predecessors, the Vikings did in the year 790. However, they rarely, if at all, visit the island nowadays. They had their drawbacks too in that they did a fair amount of damage by the amount of grass eaten. Many a visitor to the island will remember how his clothes changed colour if his arrival coincided with the aerial manoeuvres of the geese.
Lambay's bird sanctuary is a portrayal of life in miniature, with its domestic strife, territorial arguments and aerial bedlam. The birds certainly add to the romance of the Island.
Lord Revelstoke's devotion to his island is expressed in his own poetry.
There had been a castle on Lambay from at least as far back as the 16th century and when Cecil Baring acquired the island he set about renovating and extending the structure that then existed into a modern home. He first engaged an unidentified Dublin architect but in 1908 Sir Edwin Lutyens took over the task and work continued until 1912. It is a castle which is unique in its plan, and is clear-cut proof of the many and varied skills of Mr. Lutyens. In the space of four years he turned an inconvenient little castle into a home of peculiar charm. The name "castle" strictly does not belong to it, as it has no defensive works beyond its own strong walls. The "castle" is rather in the nature of a block house. Reference to the original plans shows that the house exists to-day as it was first built, except for additions to the north-east and south-west sides.
To understand the present day building one must first look back to the early castle on the site as Lutyens final accomplishment is a mixture of the old and the new. By 1467 Lambay was described as "a receptacle for the Kings enemies, to the annoyance of the mainland". John Jiptoft, Earl of Worcester, Lord Deputy in Ireland for Edward IV was commissioned to build a fortress on the island. The present castle had its origins in the 16th century. The early castle was constructed for defending the place as is evidenced by its battlements and spoke holes which commanded the island in every direction. The ground storey consisted of a central room with four apartments, all of identical shape and size, opening from it, and the arrangement on the upper storey was the same. Shot-holes were provided in the corners of the ground-floor rooms so that the castle defenders could shoot assailants as they came round the corners of the castle. The castle had never been more than two storeys. The ground floor has low vaulted ceilings and the roof was of timber and covered with slates, which suggests that the roof had been reconstructed after Worcester's time. In 1904 alterations and repairs were carried out in the castle and the fast decaying roof was renewed, to make it habitable. The sliding sash-windows were replaced by teak casements and the rooms on the north side, then used as a dairy, were converted into living rooms. A cowhouse was converted into a kitchen and defects in the masonry were made good by a plentiful supply of Portland cement. Such was the state of Lambay Castle in 1905 when Mr. Lutyens first appeared on the island. He must have found the castle somewhat battered by time and its history and character obscured by innumerable "restorations". It took him three years of careful deliberation before work was begun in 1908. The problem facing him was how to enlarge the existing castle without destroying its character.
The few people who have seen the interior of Lambay Castle speak of its beauty and some say that it is a perfect example of Renaissance Gothic architecture. Lutyens also revelled in interior and furniture design and there are interesting examples of his work in the castle.
The first action taken by Mr. Lutyens was to remove the cement roof which had proved highly inefficient. He substituted grey pantiles of delightful colour and texture. He next abolished the iron down-pipes and gutters. The original castle was very primitive in its arrangements, but was left untouched except for slight internal re-arrangements and for the re-building of the northeast side, which had already been subjected to successive alterations. The ground-floor rooms were entered on the north west side, and only one fireplace opening existed in the eastern end of the sitting room. The arch stones of this were part of the original building and were utilised for the new fireplace in the dining room. Other fireplaces were provided in the north entrance hall, sitting room and study. On the first floor there were originally four fireplaces. The old entrance was certainly where is now the door to the north entrance hall. It had been walled up, but was re-opened. The lime mortar and pebble-dash on the outside of the castle walls was retained, for the masonry was very rough. A new staircase was erected in the castle proper and, in the course of the work, it came to light that the old castle would have either lacked a staircase altogether or had a trapdoor and ladder to connect the ground with the first floors. Kitchen quarters and additional bedrooms were provided in a new quadrangular block at the east corner, connected with the old castle by an under-ground passage only. This was practicable because the ground slopes sharply upwards to the east. In order to give access from this passage to the upper level of the new quadrangular block an important staircase of stone was built in the south west corner of the latter. In the result the two buildings, old and new, are unconnected at the first floor level and the castle stands free to tell its own story.
The determination to prevent the new roofs dominating the old meant carving a substantial piece out of the hillside. Although the island is of volcanic origin, the castle and its grounds occupy a small remnant of sedimentation in the shape of a bed of much-tilted and shaly silurian slates which lend themselves, more or less reluctantly, to displacement by pick and shovel. This difficulty loomed large in the preparation of the ground for the new block and in the terracing of the north court.
Among other causes obstructing the building work were the absence on the island of any materials save stone and sea-sand. All other necessaries had to be brought by sailing boats, always a laborious and sometimes a risky process. It may also be guessed that the visits of supervision, extending over years, involved the architect in a peculiar and extensive acquaintance with the moods of the Irish Sea.
In the building of the new wing and of the extensive range of garden walls, advantage was taken of the stone that the island affords, a splendid blue-green porphyry, shot with feldspar crystals. As this is rather refractory to work, the mullions and their dressings are of a cool blue-grey limestone that came from the Milverton Quarries, near Skerries on the mainland and were skillfully wrought by the local quarrymen. The new roofs are also covered by grey pantiles and the sides of the dormers are hung with flat tiles of the same colour. At all times Mr. Lutyens took great care not to disturb the symmetrical plan of the old castle. The new wing is kept low and markedly domestic in character, so that it does not compete with the military note of the old castle.
The buildings are surrounded by a rampart which rises to twenty feet at the western entrance gate and gradually recedes into the rising ground until it is no more than a token stone perturbance above the ground to the east.
The kitchen court is particularly attractive, with its broad sweep of pantiled roof, its demure dormers and its pavement, part of slabs and part cobbled. The stone stair in the new wing has a fine dignity about it and the oak landing and balustrade of the new stair in the castle proper are Jacobean in character. Considerable alteration was necessary to create the present sitting-room out of two small chambers, and the new pointed arches are very successful. On the first floor of the old castle are connecting bedrooms and a nursery suite. The wood casements were removed and iron casements, set in mullions of the Milverton limestone, were used throughout the building.
To fully appreciate the massive undertaking by Mr. Lutyens one must remember that all the heavy machinery required for the work had to be dismantled at Rogerstown Quay near Rush, ferried out on the "Shamrock" then re-assembled on site. All building requirements had to be imported, as, needless to say, there's no local hardware shop on the island.
In 1946 Rupert Baring, son of Cecil Baring and godson of Lutyens, took up residence on Lambay and became something of a recluse. However, he (Lord Revelstoke) carried out some remedial work on the castle including re-roofing with concrete pantiles. When he died in 1994 it was found that the fabric of the castle was deteriorating due to age and damp. Since then renovation and conservation work has been going on under the direction of the present occupants, Cecil Baring's granddaughter and her husband, guided by the firm of conservation architects Messrs Howley Harrington. A modern wind powered electricity generator has been installed which enables a degree of heating to keep the damp at bay and, of course, the castle is now once again an occupied family home. All this bodes well for the future of one of the most important private residences built in Ireland in the 20th century.
Beautiful gardens surround the house and there is also a separate very attractive walled garden. A feature of the island growth is the profuse way in which fuchsias thrive. In Lambay, as in Connemara, the soft sea air swiftly turns a low bush in to a great hedge, brilliant with showers of crimson blossom. Not often can it be said of an old building that additions covering an even greater area have failed to take away the charm of the old, and still more rarely that they have increased it - but no less is true of Lambay Castle. It is worthy of the island, which is to say much. To-day, the castle sits, surrounded by an island of flowers. On the cliffs grow acres of scurvy-grass, with its creamy white flowers smelling like honey, and flooding the land with blossom. Grass, bracken, heath, rush and blazing with stonecrop and golden samphire, swords bright with the cool grey-blue of sulla verna enclosed by banks of sea pink and great stretches of purple heather- these are the pictures framed by the margin of low water rocks black with fungus or brilliant with yellow lichen.
Indeed, one could not be blamed for thinking in the realms of a fairy castle in an enchanted island.
FOOTNOTE - ISLAND LIFE TODAY
Lambay is about 250 ha. in area and rises to about 127m. at its highest point (Knockbane). Though only four km. off the Fingal coast the island is isolated and many of the trappings and comforts of modern living which mainland dwellers take for granted are not so readily available.
A 25 kw wind powered generator, installed in 2001, provides electricity for lighting and a very limited amount of electric storage heating but little else. Cooking is by bottled gas brought over from the mainland along with food and other consumables but adverse weather can disrupt service on occasions. The island is farmed organically. Vegetables and fruit are grown in the walled garden and one milking cow is kept. Cattle and sheep are grazed. Hay is made and some tillage undertaken with the help of modern farm machinery including a large tractor brought across in recent times on the "SHAMROCK". Maintenance of the built heritage on the island is a major concern and cost for the owners. In summer guests are accommodated in the renovated coastguard houses and the White House. There are no land line telephones but mobile reception is available. Professor Gabriel Cooney of UCD has been directing summer archaelogical surveys and digs since the late 1990s with exciting results. And yes there are wallabies on the island - seventeen at the last count and increasing plus a serious plague of rabbits, perhaps as many as 15,000!