It’s full steam ahead for model railway, Casino’s reopening

by Sylvia Pownall

Two Malahide landmarks are about to unite and reopen as a top tourist attraction as repair and conservation work on the Casino building nears completion.

Work on the eagerly-awaited project began in April 2018 and the beautifully restored thatched roof is now visible to the public again, providing a distinctive feature at the entrance to Malahide village.

The large thatch roof was re-coated over the winter with the help of a temporary structure that ‘wrapped’ the building – allowing the thatcher to work underneath, whatever the weather.

Thanks to the generosity of the late Micheal Gaffney (who bequeathed €1.5 million to the project), the Fry Model Railway will now be housed inside the landmark Casino House, which dates back more than 200 years.

The 2,500sq ft working miniature rail display was created in the 1920s and later modernised to become the largest model railway collection in Europe.

The Fry Model Railway Collection was bought by Dublin Tourism from the late Cyril Fry’s widow in 1976, and is now in the care of Fingal County Council.

The restoration project is expected to change the landscape of tourism in Malahide, drawing thousands of visitors beyond the grounds of the castle and into the village itself.

Last week, the Mayor of Fingal, Cllr Anthony Lavin (FG) unveiled a plaque to mark the restoration works as the installation of the model train exhibition got under way.

He said: “Over the years the people of Malahide have watched anxiously as [the Casino] fell into disrepair and it is thanks to Michael Gaffney for his generous donation and Fingal County Council that we were able to conserve this unique and magnificent landmark.”

It is expected that the Casino Model Railway Museum will be open to the public in the early Autumn.

County Architect Fionnuala May said the Casino, originally built as a shooting lodge for the Talbot family, was the “only cottage orne” of its type in Fingal and as such is an important part of its architectural heritage.

Deputy Alan Farrell (FG) said the Casino “will undoubtedly be a great attraction and also provide a relief to community members who have been eager to see the Casino restored and utilised as a public amenity”.

The council allocated funds for the project after a long running campaign by locals including Tidy Towns stalwart Gerry Rafferty and politicians across all parties.

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