Ireland is filled with spooky stories, tales of the macabre and plenty of reported ghost sightings. From Malahide Castle near Dublin to Loftus Hall in County Wexford, here are some of the most haunted spots to visit (if you dare) the next time you take a trip to the Emerald Isle.
Malahide Castle, County Dublin
Once upon a time, the majestic castle at Malahide operated as a fortress for the surrounding area. With many elements that date back as far as the 12th century, it has weathered many storms, both literal and figurative. Today Malahide Castle is said to be haunted by many spirits – at least five, according to the experts at Haunted Rooms. These include the Baron of Galtrim, said to have died in battle on his wedding day, and Puck, the former castle jester. Not shying away from its dark history, the castle proudly hosts ghost tours at Halloween.
As the execution site of many prominent leaders involved in the Irish rebellion of 1916, Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin is often described as being home to many ghosts. According to lore, previous governors of the gaol and workmen doing repairs have seen lights turned on inexplicably, heard footsteps and felt powerfully strong gusts of wind here. The stories are so plentiful that Hidden Dublin has included the tourist attraction as part of its Gravedigger Ghost Tour.
Charles Fort, County Cork
A star fort at the photogenic Kinsale Harbour, this historic site was designed in the 17th century. The ghost at the Charles Fort is called the White Lady, a daughter of the garrison commander, and she is said to have married a soldier stationed there. The couple stayed at the fort on their wedding night, where it’s said that her husband fell asleep whilst on watch. The following morning, he was shot for his negligence, and the White Lady is said to have jumped from the ramparts to be reunited with her lost love.
Loftus Hall, County Wexford
Loftus Hall in County Wexford is home to not one but two spectres. Calling itself “the most haunted house in Ireland”, this abandoned building is said to have been haunted by both the devil himself and a young woman who once lived in the house. Rumoured to have once briefly been owned by U2’s Bono (if that’s not horrific enough), it is accompanied by a legend that a mysterious visitor, welcomed into the house one night after a storm, was later revealed to be the devil by the presence of a cloven foot. After his disappearance through the roof, the young lady of the house was driven mad, dying years later in the room to which she was confined.
Charleville Castle, County Offaly
County Offaly’s Charleville Castle is reportedly the home of a ghost named Harriet, a daughter of the castle’s former owner, the third Earl of Charleville. Harriet is said to have died in the building’s main staircase in April 1861. She has been described by those who claim to have witnessed her as a girl in a blue and white dress with curls in her hair. Supposedly she has a habit of singing, laughing and screaming in the night, and her presence has resulted in the castle featuring on several paranormal investigations, including Most Haunted and The Scariest Places on Earth.
The Abbey of the Black Hag, County Limerick
The Abbey of the Black Hag – officially known as St Katherine’s Abbey – is an abandoned 13th-century convent in Limerick, thought by many to be haunted by a former nun. The story goes that the head nun or abbess frightened locals through the use of the dark arts, before being executed as a witch. Her room in the abbey’s south end is now known as the Black Hag’s Cell, and neighbours complain of hearing her screams echo throughout the night.
Grace Neill’s Bar, County Down
At over 400 years old, Grace Neill’s is Ireland’s oldest licensed pub and is also described as its most haunted. It was established in 1611 and is surprisingly cosy for an apparently haunted public house, still full of antiques. The spirit of the pub’s proprietor from 1842 until 1916, Grace Neill, is said to be constantly felt here, as well as several others from its long history.
Ross Castle, County Meath
Featuring one of the most notorious spectres on this list, Ross Castle in County Meath is a must-visit for those looking for a chilling experience. Home to the Black Baron, the supposed ghost of the bloodthirsty lord Richard Nugent, who terrorised the surrounding area nearly 500 years ago. Also said to stalk the ramparts is the Baron’s daughter, Sabina, who died of a broken heart when her lover drowned in a storm off the coast.
Drumbeg Manor, County Donegal
Drumbeg Manor is allegedly one of the most haunted places in Europe, and a huge number of strange occurrences have been reported within its walls, from apparition sightings to ghostly noises to poltergeist activity. It’s said that the screams of an unknown woman can be heard coming from inside the manor, and that a mysterious man in white wanders the long corridors.
Grand Opera House Belfast, County Antrim
In 2014, the Grand Opera House in Belfast invited patrons to participate in a “paranormal investigation” to see if its reputation as one of Northern Ireland’s most haunted buildings was justified. The beautiful concert hall, which opened to the public in 1895, has been at the centre of many a ghost story for years. Reported sightings here tell of a figure in a long, dark robe stalking around the stage area, as well as faces appearing in upstairs windows.
Aughrim battlefield, County Galway
Marking one of the bloodiest battles in Irish history, the battlefield at Aughrim is sure to put a chill up your spine. Once running red with blood, the serene fields are said to be haunted by some of the 7,000 soldiers massacred in a single day during the Jacobite rebellion. With their bodies left out to rot for over a year, it’s obvious why some of their spirits can’t find rest. It’s even said that on a quiet night, you can hear howling from one of the soldiers’ dogs, who refused to leave his master’s side even after death took them both.
Coolbawn House, County Wexford
Now laying in ruins, Coolbawn House is said to be the final resting place of a young servant girl caught in a freak accident. With a storm raging outside, the young woman was said to be looking out of a top floor window when lightning suddenly struck, killing her instantly. It’s said it burnt her memory into the stones of the house itself. To this day, on dark nights when the weather takes a turn, it’s said you can see her charred remains walking the ruins.
Additional reporting by Nicholas Grantham
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