As Halloween approaches, the days grow shorter; the shadows are longer and an ominous feeling can be detected in the air.
In North America on October 31st, we celebrate Halloween. In Ireland, the ancient Celts celebrated Samhain, a time when spirits could cross over from otherworld. Ireland’s ancient and turbulent history has set the scene for many restless spirits and spine-tingling tales.
In the spirit of Halloween or Samhain, we thought we would give you a taste of the ghostly encounters that Ireland has to offer in what we think are the most haunted places in Ireland.
Most Haunted Places in Ireland
Duckett’s Grove, Co. Carlow
This 19th century Gothic Revival mansion was mysteriously destroyed by fire in 1933, but its ruins are a hotbed for paranormal activity. Built by William Duckett, the sprawling estate served as the Duckett family home until 1916. Yet, since then, members of the Duckett family have been seen on the property, including William Duckett astride a white horse. People have also reported disembodied voices, shadows and floating orbs of light.
Most sinister, however, is the Duckett’s Grove Banshee.
In Irish tradition, the banshee is a shrieking female spectre whose appearance foretells death. At Duckett’s Grove, the shrieks of the banshee have been heard multiple times including the night when the house was ravaged by fire. Today, visitors can tour the ruined mansion and adjoining gardens and perhaps have their own ghostly encounter.
Kinnitty Castle, Co. Offaly
The area surrounding Kinnitty Castle has a storied history. The site of an ancient stronghold, it is believed to have been significant to the druids and has housed an Augustinian Abbey. The first stronghold was destroyed in 1209; it was rebuilt by the Normans in 1213 and repeatedly changed hands throughout centuries of conflict.
It was remodelled in the 19th century in the gothic revival style and today the castle operates as a luxury hotel. Although replete with modern amenities, the building has retained its historic features, including some of its former residents.
Most well known is Hugh, the phantom monk. Appearing as a shadowy form or solid figure, the six foot tall monk is reported to be an affable ghost and has been known to even speak to staff and visitors. Ghostly apparitions have also been reported in both the Geraldine and the Elizabethan rooms. Guests of the Geraldine Room might even be lucky or unlucky enough to encounter the White Lady.
Malahide Castle, Co. Dublin
Malahide Castle is considered one of the oldest castled in Ireland and has its share of ghostly inhabitants. The estate was granted to Richard Talbot in 1185 for his service to Henry II in the Anglo-Norman invasion and remarkably, with the exception of Oliver Cromwell’s rule, it has remained in the Talbot family for over 800 years. With such a long history of inhabitants, it is not surprising that a number of souls have decided to stay on permanently.
Lord Galtrim is a15th century spirit who died in battle on his wedding day. Said to be heartbroken because his betrothed married his rival, he has been seen wandering through the castle pointing to his bloody spear wound.
Miles Corbet was the Roundhead who took over the castle during Cromwell’s regime. Following the restoration of Charles II, Corbet was executed for being a signatory of Charles I’s death warrant. He was given a traitor’s death and was hanged, drawn and quartered. His ghostly apparition seems to mimic the gruesome manner of his execution, appearing as an armoured soldier and then falling to four pieces.
Puck is a 16th century jester who met an unfortunate end after falling in love with the lovely noble woman Elenora Fitzgerald. Found outside the castle walls stabbed through the heart, it is said that before he expired, he swore an oath to haunt the castle. True to his word, there have been many sightings of the phantom jester.
Leap Castle, Co. Offaly
Leap Castle is considered to be one of the most haunted castles in Ireland. As the stronghold of the warlike O’Carroll Clan the castle’s bloody and violent history has bred a number of unsettled spirits.
The ill famed “bloody chapel” was named after a 16th century argument over succession that culminated in blasphemous murder. Teige O’Carroll is said have burst into the chapel and murdered his brother (a priest) who happened to be saying mass at the time. The priest’s shadowy apparition has been reported to wander the scene of the crime and unexplained lights have been seen from the outside.
Even more unsettling, was a grisly discovery made during renovations in the 1920s. Behind the wall of the bloody chapel, workers found a secret dungeon with skeletons amassed on top of wooden stakes. These unfortunate souls had been dropped through a trap door from the floor above and left there to die a horrifying death. Disturbingly, the workmen removed three cartloads of human bones.
Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin City
Kilmainham Gaol was built in 1796. Used to detain prisoners until their sentencing, men women and children were incarcerated in cramped and miserable conditions. Inmates were often faced with transportation or execution and the entrance of the prison was used for public hangings.
Over the decades, Kilmainham housed a number of Ireland’s freedom fighters including Charles Stewart Parnell, Robert Emmet and Joseph Plunkett. In 1916, the prison was used to hold the leaders of the Easter Rising and many were executed by firing squad within its walls. Closed in 1924, the building now operates as a museum where visitors can learn about Ireland’s dark history, its harrowing struggles and its emergence as a nation.
Although the prison is no longer in operation, echoes of its grim history have endured. During restoration work in the 1960s, a number of unexplained incidents occurred. One incident involved the gaol’s governor who was living onsite to supervise the renovations. Looking out from his window one evening, he noticed that the chapel lights had been left on. Walking over to the chapel, he turned the lights off, but when he returned to his lodgings, they were on once again. The governor repeated this routine three times.
Another incident involved a workman who was painting the dungeon. A sudden gust of wind knocked him off his feet and held him against a wall. Most understandably, he refused to return to his work. Many people have reported the strong sensation of being watched and some people have reported being pushed by an invisible force. There are also numerous tales of unexplained noises, voices and ghostly footsteps.
Duckett’s Grove Walled Gardens, Co. Carlow
Duckett’s Grove Walled Gardens is a unique visitor attraction in Co. Carlow.
Explore the surviving towers and turrets of this nineteenth century Gothic Revival mansion. Visitors can also wander through the restored walled gardens. These romantic ruins make Duckett’s Grove one of the most photographed buildings in Ireland.
Visit Duckett’s Grove Walled Gardens year round, during daylight hours.
Directions: 85km (52 miles) from Dublin. From Dublin/Waterford take exit 4 on M9 motorway. Follow signs for Castledermot then take the R418 Castledermo – Tullow road for 6km and turn right at the signed junction. From Carlow take the R726 Hacketstown Road for 10 km to Killerig Cross Roads. Turn left at this junction onto the R418 for 2.5 km, turn left again at the signed junction.
For more information, please visit: http://www.carlowgardentrail.com/ducketts-grove/
Kinnitty Castle Hotel Co. Offaly
Kinnitty Castle is a unique 37-room hotel located in the foothills of the Slieve Bloom Mountains. Guests can immerse themselves in the rich history of this gothic revival castle and perhaps have their own supernatural encounter.
For reservations: firstname.lastname@example.org
Directions: 129km (80 miles) from Dublin. From Dublin take R148 and N4 to M4. Follow M4 and M6 to N52 in Westmeath. Take exit 5 from M6. Follow N52 and R421 to your destination.
Malahide Castle and Gardens, Co. Dublin
Malahide Castle and Gardens is located in County Dublin, approximately 30 minutes from Dublin City Centre. As the ancestral seat of the Talbot family for over 800 years, Malahide Castle is considered one Ireland’s oldest castles.
Visit year round- 9.30am- 5.30pm Monday-Sunday
Directions: 13km (8 miles) from Dublin City Centre. Bus Routes- Dublin buses operate to and from Malahide- bus route number 42 or bus route 32 from Dublin City Centre- journey time approx. Trains (DART): Irish Rail operates a train and D.A.R.T. service to and from Malahide: The journey time is approximately 30 minutes.
For more information, please visit: http://www.malahidecastleandgardens.ie
Leap Castle, Co. Offaly
Located in Co. Offaly, Leap Castle is said to be one of the most haunted castles in Ireland. The 16th century castle has had an exceptionally violent history and is home to a number of sinister spirits. Currently a private residence, visitors can arrange tours with the castle’s owner.
Visit – To arrange a visit, contact Sean Ryan, email: email@example.com
Directions: 9km (5 miles) north of Roscrea on the R421
For more information, please visit: http://leapcastle.net
Kilmainham Gaol, Co. Dublin
Located within Dublin, Kilmainham Gaol is an absolute must-see when visiting Ireland. The museum’s guided tours offer a glimpse into Ireland’s dark history as well as its protracted struggle for nationhood. Visitors can expect an experience that is both incredibly moving and educational.
Visit year round, except Dec. 24-26.
Directions: 3.5km (8 miles) from Dublin City Centre. Dublin Bus routes: no. 69, 79 from Aston Quay, Dublin 2; no. 13 & 40 from O’Connell St, Dublin 1, or College Green Dublin 2.
For more information, please visit: http://kilmainhamgaolmuseum.ie