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The Great Island-Outdoors

Apart from the farming activity, Lambay is host to a wide variety of wildlife, including fallow deer, wallabies, rabbits, and notably, a large breeding colony of North Atlantic Grey (and Harbour) seals.


The island is also one of the most important sea bird nesting colonies off the coast of Europe and has been designated a Special Protection Area.  Cormorants, shags, guillemots, razorbills, puffins, kittiwakes, curlews and fulmars can be observed at close quarters with ease.  We also have two herons!


The architectural glories of the island are the 16th-century castle, modified and extended by Edwin Lutyens in 1908-1910, and the terraced gardens, originally designed by Gertrude Jekyll.  Massive rampart walls encircle the castle, together with its gardens and sycamore woods.


In addition to the Castle, Lutyens modified the farm buildings, Bothy, Chapel and Coastguard Cottages, which were built from local stone.  In the 1920’s Lutyens was commissioned to build the Real Tennis Court on the sea front and finally, the Whitehouse in the 1930’s.  Together these buildings form a harmonious architectural complex that beautifully complements the natural landscape. 


The island offers excellent walking with impressive views and, in the harbour, low tide reveals a large sandy beach, rock pools and a swimming area.

What To See on Lambay

  1. Lambay Castle (C16th fort, 1910 Lutyens)
  2. Real Tennis court
  3. Harbour with sandy beach​
  4. Site of Bronze Age finds and Hiberno-Roman finds
  5. C13th Chapel extended by Lutyens​
  6. Fosse of Norman fort​
  7. Coastguard cottages, Bothy (Club House) and Whitehouse
  8. Seals
  9. Shags, cormorant
  10. Seals
  11. Promontory fort
  12. Promontory fort (another)​
  13. Guillemots, fulmars, puffins, kittiwakes, razorbills, wallabies
  14. Neolithic tumulus
  15. Axe-head site​
  16. Seals​
  17. Shags​
  18. Seals​
  19. Kittiwakes, fulmars, shags
  20. Seals​
  21. Tayleur Bay, scene of the wreck of RMS Tayleur
  22. Kittiwakes, razorbills, guillemots
  23. Kittiwakes
Painted by Patrick Pollen, the original art decorates the Whitehouse mantlepiece.

Island Charms


In 1921, at the request of Cecil Baring, Lutyens designed and built the Real Tennis Court on the sea front, forming the striking white facade with arches which greets passing sailors today.  The court is currently in a state of disrepair but it is alleged to be one of just two outdoor courts left in the world, so plans are in place to renovate the court to its former glory and one day hold the Lambay Cup Championships here on the island.



Lutyens did not omit to improve the Chapel throughout his Lambay reign.  Originally a 19th Century structure with white wash walls, Lutyens extended it and stripped it back to its Lambay porphyry base, allowing more light to enter and adding a beautiful stained glass window above the altar which was designed and made by Patrick Pollen (son of Daphne & Arthur and grandson of Cecil and Maude).  He also added a portico of Doric columns over the entrance, adding a sense of occasion to the building as a whole.


Beyond the architecture there is yet more to discover.  The Whitehouse beach boasts white sands and clear waters with delightful rock pools full of creatures and seaweeds, and the Harbour itself provides an idyllic and safe swimming area with plenty of space for BBQs and building sand castles.  An early evening walk along the shoreline will often invoke the curiosity of the island's seals, who delight in inspecting us and our guests.  There are also various coves and beaches around the North-West and South-West coasts where the seals can be found basking in the sun, often with their fluffy white newborn pups.

View from Boatshed.jpg
sea mammal david.jpg


The summit, known as Knockbane, is 127 metres above sea level and marked by an Ordnance Survey pillar atop what is believed to be a Neolithic burial mound. 


It offers a breathtaking view of the island and surrounding sea, with the mainland in the distance giving you an unparalleled sense of seclusion, peace and privacy.


From Knockbane, a walk to the very nose of Lambay takes approximately one hour and will take you past Tayleur Bay, where the R.M.S Tayleur infamously sank in 1854 after hitting Lambay in thick fog, just two hours into her maiden voyage from Liverpool to Melbourne, Australia.  Over 300 passengers perished, with just three survivors. One of them was a chef of African-American origin; the story goes that when he finally reached the Coastguard Cottages in search of help, the island occupants had never before seen a person with dark skin and were too afraid to open their doors to him!

Nose from West.jpg


Over the back of the island there is much to explore; Lambay is a Natura 2000 site and protected bird sanctuary - home to puffins, razorbills, kittiwakes, cormorants, black-backed gulls, fulmars, curlews and more - take care not to tread on the eggs during Spring!  Then of course, there are the fallow deer and our famous mob of island wallabies.  Stealth is required to get close to them as they are shy creatures, but there are well over 100 and they can often be spotted sunbathing or hopping along the horizon through the fields, particularly at dusk.  Sometimes they even sneak down to visit the Castle grounds...

And There's More...



There is Croquet, Ping-Pong, Bocce and also the Billiards room if staying in the Castle.  We also have a substantial collection of boardgames, puzzles and family games for indoor entertainment.  In the coming years we hope to revive the Real Tennis Court and eventually the Lawn/Hard Tennis court in its original location next to the Walled Garden.


For those of you with a penchant for more: with advance warning, we can assist in arranging a variety of extra activities, including sea fishing expeditions; a tour around the island by boat; shooting and stalking; scuba diving (the Tayleur wreckage lies 20m below sea level at the back of the island).  There is also the opportunity to arrange more intense activities through such as axe-throwing, kayaking, archery, rock-climbing and Bear Grylls survival challenges.


Monica Wilde, a dear friend of Lambay and an ethnobotanist-cum-forager with astounding depths of knowledge, offers relaxed and informal day trips for small groups for a limited time during the Spring and Autumn.  She will take you around the island, teaching you how to forage safely and sustainably while also informing you of the incredibly health benefits of your finds.  She will then show you how to cook delicious and nutritious meals with the spoils of your expedition!  Please contact us for further information.​

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