The Best Haunted Castles In Ireland
HAUNTED CASTLES IN IRELAND YOU CAN STAY THE NIGHT IN
If you want the best chance of seeing a ghost, surely booking in for the night at a haunted castle in Ireland has to offer you a good shot at having a haunted experience.
And even if you don’t see or feel anything, then you’ll have the atmosphere, the good food and the historic rooms to enjoy.
Ireland is a haven for history buffs with some unusual and haunted places. Here we set out the most atmospheric haunted castles in Ireland that you can actually stay in!
There are many castles in Ireland — over three thousand at one count. Some are private, some are ruins, some you can visit but not stay in, and some offer rooms. In summary:
- There are many castles in Ireland which are haunted but you can not stay in.
- There are castles in Ireland you can stay, which are not haunted,
This list only comprises haunted Irish castles you can stay in overnight, or in one case, a castle that is open for day visits.
Booking.com does not feature some castles here, and you can’t book them through Trip Advisor. Trip Advisor will usually have a review of them as tourist attractions. In this case, these castles are only bookable directly through their owners’ websites.
But the good news is that it is often possible to rent the entire castle for your group for a special occasion.
The last thing we note on these listings is whether the owners are proud of their ghosts. Some hosts are thrilled to talk about the hauntings in their castle. Some definitely don’t want it talked about.
Use your discretion.
PRICES FOR HAUNTED IRISH CASLES ARE NOT CHEAP
Most of the castles mentioned here are “luxury” accommodations with some fairly steep prices. That might put people off.
But you could consider staying in a haunted castle in Ireland a once in a lifetime experience, so maybe you could save up?
That being said, there are some which are more reasonably priced than others, and prices rise and fall according to the season or your negotiating skills. Look out for special offers.
A HAUNTED CASTLE STAY IS AN UNFORGETTABLE EXPERIENCE
Nobody can guarantee you will see or hear or even feel the presence of a ghost. But you might. You might not too, but just the experience of staying in a haunted Irish castle will be something you’ll probably remember for the rest of your life.
It’s probably best to book in advance, as some of the get booked up months ahead and are extremely busy during the peak season.
Have you ever wondered what the most haunted castles in Ireland are?
Let’s find out.
BALLYGALLY CASTLE HOTEL, CO. ANTRIM
Antrim Coast Rd, Ballygalley, Larne BT40 2QZ
TripAdvisor 4.5 / Booking.Com 8.7
Can You Ask them About Their Ghost? Most certainly.
About Ballygally Castle Hotel
The first of our spooky Irish castles is in the north of Ireland. This is the historic Ballygally Castle. Ballygally is close to Belfast along the eerily gorgeous Glens of Antrim length of the Antrim coast, one of the top 13 Haunted Hideaways. This mediaeval hotel, which dates back to 1625, underwent renovation in 2007 and is brimming with Irish charm.
This hotel is housed inside a historic castle that dates to the seventeenth century.
The Hastings Hotels Group bought Ballygally Castle, which is known as “the jewel in the Hastings Crown” in 1966. Over the years, it has been expanded and renovated to become the charming hotel it is today. In 2007, the Northern Ireland Tourist Board gave it its official four-star status.
The hotel’s unique style comes from the fact that it dates from 1625. Ballygally Castle is unique because it is the only building from the 17th century that is still being lived in today in Northern Ireland.
The History of Ballygally Castle
James Shaw and his wife, Isabella Brisbane, built it in 1625. Shaw was born in Greenock, Scotland. In 1606, he went to Ireland to seek his fortune. He was successful. In 1613, the Earl of Antrim gave him a sub-grant of land. The Shaws built the castle on this piece of land.
During the Civil Wars, the original castle was a safe place for Protestants to stay. During that time, the Shaws passed it down from fathers to sons.
In 1799, the last squire of Ballygally, William Shaw, inherited it. Sadly, at the beginning of the 1800s, the Shaw family lost all of their money, so they sold their estate to the Agnew family for £15,400.
It changed hands over the years. Before the Reverend Classon Porter and his family moved in, the community used it as a coastguard station for a few years. The Moore family then took it over. Then, in the early 1950s, they sold it to Mr. Cyril Lord, a wealthy textile business owner, who restored it up and turned it into a hotel.
Ballygally Castle Hotel Ghosts
Ballygally has been home to the castle’s resident spirit since the 17th century. She is the Lady Isabella Shaw.
Following the birth of her daughter, Lady Isabella Shaw — the wife of Lord James Shaw — died in a terrible fall from the castle’s topmost window. There were mysterious circumstances around this fall.
People say she was imprisoned in the room as a punishment for bearing a girl instead of the male child the lord desired. She held her child as she jumped out the window to her death while distraught.
In the towers of the oldest part of the castle, there is a room devoted to the ghost. During their stay, daring visitors can check out the ghost room.
Lady Isabella’s gracious spirit is supposed to be still present, and visitors can even spend the night in the tower room where she tragically perished.
People have heard Lady Isabella rattling around and knocking on doors lately. However, the ghost child’s screams are what really spooks hotel guests.
They say she’s a “friendly” spirit despite her trauma and is frequently spotted pacing the halls of the castle in search of her departed son. There have been several reports of spooky behaviour at the castle, and several visitors have reported feeling a presence or hearing a baby scream in their rooms. There has reportedly been a green haze over the castle.
CABRA CASTLE, CO. CAVAN
Carrickmacross Rd, Cormey, Kingscourt, Co. Cavan, A82 EC64,
Trip Advisor 4.5 / Booking.com 9.0
Can You Ask them About Their Ghost? I think it’s a good move.
About Cabra Castle
A stunning fortress seated upon 100 acres of lush parkland, Cabra Castle is one of the most famous spooky castles in Ireland.
Cabra Castle is one of those storybook looking castles that every young girl dreams of. Cabra Castle boasts a proud history dating as far back as 1760. The castle history offers a mature, cultured air to the castle which can be felt as one strolls along the castle’s impressive hallways and stairwells.
Cabra Castle has been transformed into a three-star hotel set on 100 acres of gardens and parkland.
The History of Cabra Castle
Formerly known as Cormey Castle, Cabra was built in 1760. Colonel Joseph Pratt who bought the property in the early nineteenth century renamed it.
Cabra was once the centre of a 1000 acre estate straddling the borders of Cavan, Monaghan and Meath, though most of the land now forms part of the Dún an Rí National Forest Park. Nearby is the charming town of Carrickmacross, which is famous for its lace.
The neighbouring town of Kells with its High Crosses and Round Tower, and the Georgian village of Slane are steeped in history. The magnificent complex of Bronze Age tombs of Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth are well renowned, all offer a glimpse of the area’s colourful history and great natural beauty.
The Ghosts of Cabra Castle
Sarah, a maid who worked in the ancient castle and was cruelly murdered there in the 1780s, is the primary ghost story associated with the hotel.
It was the son of the castle’s then-owners, who lived in the 1780s, who had a passionate affair with Sarah, one of the castle’s servants. It was an intense, private love that, they could not declare publicly.
She was supposedly murdered in the castle’s servants’ quarters and they afterwards hauled her body into the forest and hung it from a bridge.
Sounds of a baby crying can sometimes be heard near the spot where she was killed.
Today, the administration of the hotel makes no secret of the fact that Sarah’s ghost is still present there. Both employees and visitors have reported “feeling a presence” in the hotel’s courtyard rooms and near the “hanging tree.”
So, the Haunted Hanging Tree at Cabra Castle is definitely one of the spookiest places in Ireland. Local lore tells us that sometime before its construction, a pregnant servant girl was hanged in the 1760s—ostensibly for the crime of adultery—and that her spirit manifests near ‘The Hanging Tree’ where she has been known to greet guests by screaming at them!
The hotel has a long history of paranormal activity, with reports spanning from lights flickering to doors rattling when no one is present to objects moving on their own to strange noises to full-body apparitions.
Some guests have spoken of meeting a man in full early 20th century military uniform striding down the corridor.
Another guest heard a horse and carriage pull into the courtyard in the dead of night just before depositing a screaming infant at the steps of the hotel.
In 2009, a visitor reported hearing a horse-drawn carriage arrive into the courtyard and leaving a crying infant on the castle stairs.
A different visitor claimed to have encountered a person in 20th-century military garb sauntering through the halls.
A visitor also claimed to have seen a fight break out between two ghostly men, possibly a father and son, during his stay. They couldn’t agree on whether or not to sell the castle, so they started squabbling.
Of course, this all sounds pretty fantastical, but if you’re brave enough to visit Cabra Castle during Halloween season (between October 25th – November 1st), you may just be able to experience firsthand what makes this place so creepy!
CASTLE LESLIE, CO. MONAGHAN
Castle Leslie Estate, Glaslough, Co. Monaghan
Trip Advisor 4.5 / Booking.com NOT LISTED
Can You Ask them About Their Ghost? Yes, you can.
About Castle Leslie
The Castle Leslie Estate may be a brief car ride from Dublin, but once you arrive you will enter another world entirely. That world belongs to the Leslie family which has owned the property since the 1660s.
The members of the Leslie family not only run and operate the Castle Leslie, now a luxury hotel, they also haunt it.
Many fireplaces, vintage pieces of furniture, and cherished family heirlooms from the Leslie family’s long history may be found throughout the hotel. One room even has a throne toilet, and another has Ireland’s first completely piped bath.
The History of Castle Leslie
Castle Leslie is also called Glaslough House, and an Irish branch of the Clan Leslie lives there.
There is a direct line from Attila the Hun to the Leslie family. A previous Leslie Bartholomew served as Margaret I of Scotland’s chamberlain and guard.
In the 1630s, the then-Bishop of Clogher, John Leslie, purchased the castle. In the later half of the 1800s, the castle underwent extensive reconstruction and expansion.
In the 1800s, Sir John Leslie tore down much of the Leslie mansion at Glaslough, which was built in the 1600s. Jonathan Swift stayed there and wrote that it had shelves full of books written by the Leslies about themselves.
The current castle is in the Scottish Baronial style. It was built in 1870 for Sir John Leslie, 1st Baronet, MP, by the firm of Lanyon, Lynn, and Lanyon. It is built on the site of an older castle, but the current castle has never had a defensive function.
Desmond Leslie’s daughter Samantha inherited the castle and continued the family tradition of living there.
The Ghosts of Castle Leslie
Now deceased family members, Norman and Constance Leslie, are said to appear in two distinct rooms—the Red Room and the Mauve Room. If you’re looking for a night of strange noises, shadowy figures, and possibly levitation, the Castle Leslie Estate is the place to go.
After his brother Charles’s untimely death in 1871, Sir John Leslie finished restoring Castle Leslie. Lady Constance, Sir John’s wife, was eager to see the castle finished, and she and her husband scoured the world to find the perfect artwork and furniture. The couple uprooted and headed to London in 1910. Servants reported seeing Lady Constance’s spirit roaming the castle grounds on the day she passed away in 1925.
Upon her deathbed in the Mauve Room in 1943, Lady Leonie Leslie supposedly had a conversation with a mysterious elderly woman who subsequently vanished. The nurse also saw the guest and assumed it was a family member.
The family was mourning her passing in the dining room when the nurse came in to join them. She had seen the elderly lady in the bedroom only a few days prior, and she observed she resembled a woman in a photograph on the wall. The woman in the portrait was later revealed to be Lady Constance, who had passed away 18 years prior.
Some say that Lady Constance still occasionally returns to her former residence.
On the castle terrace in October of 1914, Norman Leslie, the son of the house, was observed. Since Norman had been on the front lines in France, his return was a huge relief to his family and the people who worked on the estate. However, despite seeing them and awaiting him at dinner, they were perplexed to find no trace of him.
Very soon after that, a telegraph arrived with the tragic news that Norman had been killed in action.
Lady Marjorie Leslie awoke a few weeks later in the Red Room to see Norman’s ghost rummaging through documents by a chest of drawers. She asked him in her confusion, “What are you doing here?” He turned, grinned, and quietly left.
Some say that Norman still hushes guests if they make too much noise in his favourite Red Room, proving that he values his privacy.
There are other ghosts as well. An employee of the modern-day Castle Leslie hotel said that he was startled to be approached by an elderly gentleman in the castle’s basement, who then vanished after being confronted.
A monk has reportedly been seen in the dining hall, where the sounds of a wailing child have allegedly been heard.
Recent hauntings have been reported in the castle’s crypt. When one of the staff members heard a noise in the basement, she glanced up to see a grey man with a terrifying expression approach her fast and then vanish within a few feet.
MARKREE CASTLE, CO. SLIGO
Clooneenroe, Collooney, Co. Sligo, F91 AE81, Ireland
Trip Advisor 5 / Booking.com 9 (Courtyard)
Can You Ask them About Their Ghost? For sure.
About Markree Castle
Markree Castle is a castle is in the town of Collooney in the county of Sligo. It is the family home of the Coopers and is partly surrounded by a moat made by the River Unshin.
In County Sligo, Ireland, the 17th-century Markree Castle is now a luxury castle hotel with 500 acres of gardens and woods. The public rooms have been kept in great shape by keeping original features, furniture, and open fireplaces. There are 31 rooms that are beautifully decorated and offer an alternative to large corporate hotels. Guests can still use all of the modern conveniences.
Markree may be a version of the name Mercury.
It is a unique place to hold an event. After a lot of work, the hotel has reopened. It is full of so now is the time to fairytale-like elegance in a beautiful part of Ireland associated with W B Yeats and the fairy folk.
The castle is a large, impressive building with a main roof that can’t be seen because it’s hidden behind a wall with battlements. It also has dressed limestone, corbelled chimney stacks, cast-iron down pipes, and octagonal turrets.
The History of Markree Castle
When Cromwell’s army defeated the O’Brien Clan in 1663 and killed O’Brien in the battle, Cromwell gave Edward Cooper the original 14th castle and the surrounding land.
The original 14th castle was once a fortified outpost of the Irish McDonagh Clan that guarded the ford across the river Unshin.
The castle is still owned by the 10th generation of descendants of a son of O’Brien whose mother married Cooper and gave him the surname Cooper to protect him from English invaders. The castle is now a castle hotel.
The castle we see now was built in 1802 on top of the raised basement stone of the old “Mercury” mansion, which belonged to the Cooper family. It also has parts of the older buildings.
In the 1830s, the Observatory on the grounds of the castle had the largest refracting telescope in the world. In the 1840s, the Coopers’ observatory staff used this telescope to find what is now known as the asteroid 9 Metis.
The castle was remodelled and made bigger again around 1870, when a Gothic Revival porte-cochere, a square tower with battlements and machicolations, and a chapel were added to the north front, and a two-story canted bay window was added to the west front.
The Ghosts of Markree Castle
The splendour of Markree Castle is also home to a little girl spirit that the staff call ‘Pippa’. She is very mischievous and often plays tricks on people, locking them in their room and causing them to drop trays and items.
One Christmas, the owners bought Pippa a present and this stopped her causing trouble. An American couple who came to Ireland to get married in Markree Castle brought with them presents for Pippa. Their wedding went off without a hitch!
There was nobody there — was it Pippa?
In the same way that the living are always made to feel welcome at the Markree Castle hotel, the ghost who lives there has also become a part of the family.
Pippa is a kind but mischievous spirit who has locked guests in their rooms and caused other slight problems. The owners seem to have learned that bringing her a gift is one way to avoid her tricks.
It makes sense that Pippa likes children, being one herself. One guest came to the hotel with their two-year-old child and was surprised to hear her talking to herself. When asked, the child said she was talking to her friend and pointed to a corner, but nobody was there.
The cellar is also said to be haunted, and guests can explore it (at their own risk) if they get permission from the staff.
A guest called Deirdre Morrison claimed Pippa appeared and shook the Christmas tree when we she stayed there!
BLACKWATER CASTLE, CO. CORK
Connaberry, Castletownroche, Cork, Ireland
TripAdvisor 5 / Not on Booking.com
Price: €€€€€ PRIVATE HIRE ONLY via their Website.
Can You Ask them About Their Ghost? Sure thing.
About Blackwater Castle
History, heritage, nature, and outdoor activities meet in a spectacular setting at Blackwater Castle, a twelfth-century Castle on the banks of the River Awbeg surrounded by woodlands and a private river.
You can rent out the entire castle for yourselves.
The History of Blackwater Castle
Blackwater Castle has been around for many thousands of years, and there are signs it was first inhabited during the early Mesolithic (circa 10,000 years ago). There is also evidence that people lived there during the Iron Age, around 500 BC, when the fort of Dún Cruadha was built on the site where Blackwater Castle is now.
Blackwater Castle was once a part of the ancient land called “Caoille.” This area is about 250 square miles and includes the towns of Fermoy, Mallow, and Mitchelstown, as well as the baronies of Fermoy, Condons, and Clangibbon.
Blackwater Castle it has a history that goes back about 10,000 years. It has hosted some famous guests over the years, such as Sir Walter Raleigh in 1580 (who took control of the Castle from Lord Roche), Oliver Cromwell and his general Lord Broghill in 1649, who definitely left their mark that can still be seen today, and the Duke of Wellington in 1820.
The Ghosts of Blackwater Castle
The most famous spirit to linger along the property is that of Lady Roche, a woman killed for defending the property in the year 1650.
In 1650, Lady Ellen Roche fought to protect the castle against the forces of Oliver Cromwell’s consort, Lord Broghill. Despite valiant efforts, the castle was overcome, and they imprisoned Lady Roche in the tower. Guests staying at the castle today can view the room in which she was held.
Her six commanding officers were executed by Broghill’s men and their bodies thrown in the river.
Given their brutal death and the lack of a proper burial, their ghosts now haunt the castle grounds. Lady Roche herself was hanged two years later for a crime she did not commit, and her ghost also roams the castle, dressed in a hooded cloak.
BALLYSEEDE CASTLE HOTEL, CO. KERRY
Tralee, Ballyseede, Tralee, Co. Kerry, Ireland
TripAdvisor 4.5 / Booking.Com 9.2
Can you ask them about their ghost? Yes indeed.
About Ballyseede Castle
Ballyseede Castle, a 16th-century castle, provides a top-notch hotel experience in a charming and quiet environment. This hotel offers a trip back in time with its rich history and architecture and grounds comprising 30 acres of private gardens and woods.
Ballyseede is no stranger to the supernatural. This ghostly hotel has witnessed tragedy and carnage. The Fitzgeralds constructed it as the major fortress of their dynasty. It was the opposition of the Fitzgeralds to the English Crown caused the Geraldine Wars.
The History of Ballyseede Castle
Ballyseede Castle, is also known as Ballyseedy Castle. The name comes from the Irish Baile Uí Síoda, meaning ‘town of the Sheedy family’.
Sir Edward Denny drew a map of Ballyseedy Wood in the 1600s, and this shows that the castle has been around for a long time. We can find the ruins of Old Ballyseedy Castle, also called Ballyseedy House, in the woods.
“New” Ballyseedy Castle is close by (now restored as a hotel). James Franklin Fuller changed the main S block so that it looked more like a mediaeval building.
From about 1586 to 1967, this was where the Blennerhassett family lived.
The Ghosts of Ballyseede Castle
Since 1586, the Blennerhassett family has lived on the 30 acre Ballyseede Castle Estate. The Blennerhassetts , from Cumberland in England, constructed the main castle in 1721 and expanded it in the late 1700s. Ballyseede was always owned by the family until Hilda Blennerhassett’s passing in 1965.
The tradition of the rose is intricately entwined with the eerie folklore of Ballyseede Castle. Sir Edward Denny, who owned the castle in the 1500s, rented it to the Blennerhassett family, who later erected a house there. A single red rose would be traded as ground rent for the castle on the feast day of John the Baptist, Midsummer’s Day on June 21, according to the tale.
The castle was renowned for its rose collection, which grew in the rich, dark soil and produced huge, fragrant blossoms.
Many people claim independently that, at various periods of the year, the main staircase smells strongly like roses even though there aren’t any actual roses there.
Visitors regularly encountered the amiable ghost of Hilda Blennerhassett, who makes an appearance annually on March 24th to the magnificent castle.
Before Hilda Blennerhassett’s spirit herself appears, there is an unsettling odour that announces its presence. Hilda mainly hangs out in the castle’s upper floor bedrooms and on the grand staircase.
She occasionally enters our world, but she never engages the people she meets. Once she has signalled her presence with a quick peek out of the corner of an eye, she disappears.
Older customers who frequently visit the hotel bar recall stories of their youths when they would steal apples from the castle orchard. They recollect glimpsing an elderly woman dressed in a black Victorian gown at the higher windows.
Servants discovered her dead wearing the long, black dress, however it was threadbare and badly torn. Although the rose gardens are no longer there, Hilda’s ghost, the last of the Blennerhassett family line, still haunts in the castle.
Visitors have claimed to have seen and heard the ghosts of youngsters wearing historical attire. These unhappy and sombre ghosts, who may have been the victims of the Irish Famine in the middle of the 19th century, are only visible inside the castle.
They are said to frequent the main stairway on the higher levels, just like Hilda did, but they also purportedly hang out in the bedrooms.
These children are thought of as tiny workers, according to popular thinking. These wandering spirits, never at play, may have worked as house children in the castle, tending to the fireplaces, carrying supplies to the upper apartments, and working in the kitchens.
Even though the child servants have nothing to do with Hilda sightings, it’s interesting to wonder if she ever encountered them while she was living alone in the castle.
Although nobody has ever had a bad or painful experience there, the castle’s owners, Marnie & Rory, experienced a poltergeist, or “noisy ghost.”
Every year, the hotel closes from January through March in order to decorate and make any necessary repairs to the building. Their family had moved into the hotel during one of these closures while their home was being restored. They were the only people living in the castle throughout the winter because the front gate was locked.
The strange noise started around 4 a.m. When Rory woke up in the complete darkness of his bedroom, he heard the door being slammed in wrath. After the first shock, there seemed to be a more immediate threat, and he reports a “a physical racing down the stairs.”
The person, whoever it was, bounded down each flight of stairs from the top of the castle to the front entrance. They were huge in stature and heavyset.
He first assumed it was a robber, so he started looking around the castle for signs of a disturbance or damage. There was no one in or out because the front door was still locked. All was calm. The visitor had vanished.
GLIN CASTLE, CO LIMERICK
Glin Demesne, County Limerick, Ireland, V94 VF68
TripAdvisor 5 / Not on Booking.com
Price: €€€€€ PRIVATE HIRE ONLY via their website.
Can You Ask them About Their Ghost? Better keep quiet.
About Glin Castle
The home for 800 years to the Fitzgerald family, Glin Castle, stands proudly in the middle of its 500-acre wooded demesne on the banks of the river Shannon. It is one of the most magnificent of the haunted castles in Ireland.
The present Glin Castle was built in the late 18th century. The older castle stands in ruins nearby.
Family portraits and Irish pictures of Irish scenes line the walls of Glin Castle. Just like in Harry Potter, the library bookcase has a secret door leading to the hall and the very rare flying staircase.
After a stroll in the grounds, the sitting room with a crackling wood fire makes an ideal cosy gathering place for drinks before dinner. The Dining Room is filled with baronial oak furniture and a gallery of former Knights, including several notable eccentrics, such as “the Knight of the Women” and “the Big Knight”.
From 1993 to 2008, the Castle was a hotel. The property can now be rented by groups for things like weddings, events, golf tours, and more.
The History of Glin Castle
The Lord of Desmond built the first Glin Castle in the 14th century. Over the next few hundred years, the English invaders attacked the castle several times, and in 1601, the English took it over.
They sacked it and the castle was left empty for a while, but in the 1780s, it was rebuilt as a family home.
The new Glin Castle has been a place of peace and hospitality for many years, except for one attack during the Irish Civil War.
The Ghosts of Glin Castle
Standing on the banks of the River Shannon Estuary the 700-year-old Glin Castle, is the subject of reported hauntings and poltergeist activity over several years.
People who died in ancient battles on the property are thought to still haunt the grounds.
The ghost of a tradesman named Henry has been seen more than once on the beautiful flying staircase inside the property. In the 1820s, he was working on the building when his safety rope broke and he fell to his death from a scaffold.
A former worker said that his solid body has been seen floating around the area, and sometimes a ghostly rope has also been seen here. Several people have seen the ghostly event. This may be the same ghost as Harry above.
As noted, many of the hauntings are thought to be the souls of those who fell during the many battles on the site and still roam the 500 acre estate.
On the third floor of the castle, poltergeist activity witnessed includes lights flicking on and off and doors rapidly opening and closing.
In the 1960s, several women who worked there saw poltergeist activity on the third floor of Glin Castle.
Two women were spending the night at the big house when they were scared out of their wits.
Noises on the landing and the sound of someone going through the linen closet nearby woke them up. When they sat up in bed and listened, they heard the sounds of people struggling to breathe on the stairs. Eventually, working up their courage, they went to find out what was going on, but when they looked, nobody was there and the hall was quiet.
The builder called Henry or Harry appears on the staircase just to pass the time and the 20th Knight of Glin himself can be found sitting in his favourite chair.
Employees have also said that the Yellow Crown bedroom is always cold, and some have felt like they were being watched while working there. The 20th Earl of Glin is said is seen in the smoking room, sitting in his favourite armchair.
WILTON CASTLE, COUNTY WEXFORD
Wilton Castle, Wilton, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford, Y21 V9P9
Trip Advisor 4.5 / Booking.com NOT LISTED
Price: €€€€ PRIVATE HIRE
Can You Ask them About Their Ghost? Most certainly.
About Wilton Castle
Wilton Castle is in the middle of County Wexford, on the banks of the Boro River. A park and quiet wooded countryside surround it.
Wilton Castle has been a part of the local area since 1247, when the first fortified tower was built there. It has a long history of being a welcoming place. In the 1800s, the grounds were open to the public. In 1852, a visitor wrote that “strangers are allowed to walk over the grounds, and even their horses are cared for.” This was very unusual at the time for the gentry to welcome members of the public to their lands.
Even though bring cars rather than horse to Wilton Castle, this beautiful haunted Irish castle with its tall chimneys and towers still looks after visitors.
The current owner of Wilton Castle brought it back from ruin with a lot of care. It can now rented out as a private self-hire venue for vacations, weddings, and other special events.
The History of Wilton Castle
The area used to be called Clogh na Kayer. In History of the Town and County of Wexford, Herbert Hore says that the ancient Castle of Cloghnakayer was built in the fourteenth century.
The castle was built on land by a young man as a reward after he saved King Henry III from a bear attack whilst hunting in a woodland in rural England, but when the young man refused to give up his Catholic religion, the land was confiscated from him again.
The land was owned by the De Dene family until 1354, when their only daughter married Philip Furlong. Sir Fulke Furlong, knight of Horetown, a descendant of Philip Furlong, built a castle there around 1410.
The land went to the Butlers of Mountgarret after that. In 1599, Edward Butler, Baron of Kayer, who was the oldest son of Pierce and the second son of Richard 1st Viscount Mountgarret, rebuilt and fixed up the old castle and added a mansion house.
The Butlers held the castle until estate until Oliver Cromwell arrived in 1649.
Following Cromwell’s reign, the English gave the land to an officer in Cromwell’s army, who complained wolves were wreaking havoc in the district.
He clearly didn’t like the wolves because he eventually sold it to the Alcock family, the final owners of the castle before the Windsors recently bought and restored it.
One of the last duels in Ireland took place on the grounds during 1807, where William Alcock dueled his rival electorate candidate — and once childhood friend in which he ended up winning and shooting his friend through the heart. The guilt went to his head, and he eventually ended up in a mental asylum.
Wilton Castle was burned down by the IRA in 1923 during the Irish Civl War, and afterwards stood as a dramatic ruin until the Windsors bought it and started to restore it into a luxurious place to stay.
The most recent repair was finished in 2014. Only half of it has been rebuilt so far. The other half has been stabilised, but it is still empty and has no roof. The work that the Windsors have done is amazing. It has been done to a very high standard.
The Ghosts of Wilton Castle
Oliver Cromwell used the cells under the castle as interrogation and prisoner cells where he and his men butchered, and mutilated innocent Catholics inside.
The ghosts of these prisoners are said to roam the forests near the grounds and in the chambers where they wander mutilated and bloodied.
As noted, in March 1923, the IRA set fire to the castle while the people who owned it were on vacation. Inside were two butlers and a young woman who aspired to be an actress. All three people died in the fire, and they say their ghosts walk around inside.
The actress’s ghost stands on the balcony, ready to jump, even though she hesitated to do so the night of the fire, and thus perished. It is as if she relives that decision over and over again.
There is a story told that a certain Harry Alcock died in 1840 and on the anniversary of his death, a ghostly carriage comes down the castle driveway and people apparently see his ghost on the roads surrounding the castle on the anniversary.
When the carriage was first seen, the stablemen were terrified. The phantom carriage, pulled by four white horses, sped into the castle courtyard and left through a little pedestrian tunnel off to one side of the yard. A local shoemaker who was in attendance, said he had communicated with the ghost on the occasion. In later years, the anniversary event drew drew sizeable crowds hoping to see the ghost carriage.
The most peculiar story, though, is that of a local named Archibald Jacob, who led a company of militia during the 1798 insurrection against the British.
Jacob flogged and tortured many local parishioners. In a fitting revenge, he was killed when his horse stumbled on the road at the Black Stream, between Wilton and Clough Mills, after returning from a ball at the castle.
Later, he was said to haunt the grounds of Wilton Castle until a Catholic priest was called to perform an exorcism. According to legend, Archibald Jacob’s ghost appeared in the fireplace when the priest called him and when he made the sign of the cross the ghost vanished.
Animal lovers have spotted a mysterious black dog, patrolling the grounds at Wilton Castle. This is perhaps related to the famous English black dogs that haunt the other island over the water.
HUNTINGDON CASTLE, CO CARLOW
Huntington Castle, Huntington, Clonegall, Co. Carlow, Y21 K237
Trip Advisor 5 / Booking.com NOT LISTED
Price: €€€€ Via their website.
Can You Ask them About Their Ghost? I think so.
About Huntingdon Castle
We come to the next of our haunted castles in Ireland: Huntington Castle. Huntingdon Castle, also called Clonegal Castle, was built in 1625 in the town of Clonegal, in the county of Carlow.
The building was first a “plantation castle” that was used to protect the area for the Protestant settlers when it was first settled by them in the early 1700s. This plantation castle replaced the original tower house, which was used as a garrison and stronghold, was built in the 15th century by an old Irish clan called the Caviness family.
Later, Baron Esmonde.During Oliver Cromwell’s conquest of Ireland, the village of Clonegal, was important because it was on the road between Dublin and Wexford. Because of this, Cromwell took the castle when he marched on Kilkenny in 1650.
Huntingdon Castle is now a private home that people can tour with a guide in June, July, August, and September. It was where Stanley Kubrick’s movie Barry Lyndon took was filmed.
Since 1976, the mysterious Fellowship of Isis has met in its basement.
In August 2008, the castle was the site of the Solas Festival, which was started by Olivia Robertson, her brother Lawrence Durdin-Robertson, and his wife Pamela. Alexander and Claire Durdin Robertson who now own the castle.
The History of Huntingdon Castle
Sir Laurence Esmonde built Huntington Castle in 1625. As a major-general, he fought for King James I in Ireland. Eventually, he was put in charge of Duncannon Fort in Wexford.
As a reward for his loyal work, he became Lord Esmonde, a peerage in Clonegal. He met and married the Irish Ailish O’Flaherty while on an expedition. Ailish was the granddaughter of Grace O’Malley, who was the Pirate Queen of Connacht.
During this time, the castle was mostly used as a garrison to guard the trade route between Dublin and Wexford along the River Derry.
Lord Esmonde’s grandson, Sir Laurence II, laid out the formal gardens in 1680. When you enter the estate, the lime trees that line the Avenue were planted by Sir Laurence II in 1687.
Huntington stayed mostly the same until Sir Laurence IV added a wing and the fancy ceilings in 1720. Alexander Durdin made more changes to the castle in the 1860s. Helen, his only child and only daughter, was the heir to the castle.
When she married Herbert Robertson, the family name changed again, and the name Durdin Robertson was born. Their son, Manning Durdin Robertson, added the conservatory balcony and greenhouse to show off his style as an architect. This made Huntington Castle the home it is today.
The Ghosts of Huntingdon Castle
Alex Durdin-Robertson and his young family are based in Alex’s ancestral home of Huntington Castle. Having survived invasions, rebellions and insurrections, the castle has witnessed some horrific events and gained its haunted reputation.
Alex, as keeper of the castle’s history, provides a wealth of detail about its past. He outlines one of the most unpleasant acts perpetrated on his family lands.
“In 1798, the North Cork militia captured nine local rebels and hanged them from the Castle’s avenue trees”
He adds that the castle grounds were regularly used during the period , and says,
“Rebels would meet at what became known as the spy bush where they ambushed a supposed 1798 traitor and then hung him from the branches of the bush, pretty gruesome stuff”.
Ghostly sightings have been recorded at the castle for many centuries since. Cromwellian soldiers have been seen in the attic along with the sounds of marching feet. The Bishop of Limerick’s ghost is said to haunt the Four Poster room but tales of resident ghouls never unse
ttled Alex growing up: “It was normal to us.” he admits “it was home, though I did have my own experiences of its spirits”.
The castle was built on land which had been the site of a 12th century abbey . “When I was young I had a cool tree house” remembers Alex “and one night myself and my brother were staying out there when we saw a monk dressed in a cassock walking right past us”.
“It was very clear, very vivid. He was quite a tall figure. We both saw him so, you know, these things do seem real.”
Despite his own encounters, Alex is not too concerned and says, “the ghosts in Huntington have never been… well, I never thought there was a presence of evil. And there are explanations for these things,” he assures me, adding, “The visions from the past may just be a moment of time replaying in the future because time isn’t necessarily a straight line. “
“What we think of as a ghost is not always someone out to get you, though it might seem frightening at the time.”
CLONTARF CASTLE HOTEL, CO. DUBLIN
Castle Ave, Clontarf East, Dublin 3, D03 W5NO,
TripAdvisor 4.5 / Booking.Com 8.8
Can You Ask them About Their Ghost? Best not.
About Clontarf Castle Hotel
The Clontarf Castle Hotel in Dublin, Ireland, is a glorious mix of a boutique hotel and a luxury hotel. This one-of-a-kind luxury hotel in Dublin is well-thought-out from the guests’ point of view because it combines a modern look with its traditional exterior and floor plan.
The Clontarf Castle Hotel in Ireland is a quiet oasis just 10 minutes from the heart of Dublin City Centre and 5 miles from Dublin Airport. Beautiful golf courses and the sounds of the waves surround it.
The History of Clontarf Castle
Since its founding in 1172, Dublin’s Clontarf Castle has been associated with everyone, from Vikings to artists, painters, and authors. The antique fireplace in the centre of the stone-walled foyer is a popular gathering spot for guests.
More than a century before they erected the Castle, on Good Friday, April 23, 1014, Clontarf became an important location in Irish history when Brian Boru, High King of Ireland, beat the Vikings and drove them out of Ireland. Boru, however, was praying in his tent on the night of the triumph as five men stood guard over him.
The tent was guarded, but a few Vikings fleeing the battlefield through the woods near the current location of Clontarf Castle discovered it. After killing all five guards, they went to kill Brian Boru, who was then 72 years old but still beat them all. But, after having saved Ireland and won the fight, he ultimately perished.
The Norman Hugh de Lacy gained Clontarf and completed Dublin’s innermost ring of defence in 1172.
The land was later awarded to John Blackwell by Oliver Cromwell on August 14, 1649, and Cromwell’s Quartermaster General, John Vernon afterwards purchased it.
Around 1660, John Vernon bought the land surrounding Clontarf Castle, a fortified family stronghold. The family motto of the Vernons in Clontarf was “Vernon Semper Viret,” which translates as “Vernon always flourished.” But they all perished anyhow.
In the 1960s, the establishment transformed into a hotel and cabaret hall. After extensive renovations, the Castle reopened in June 1998 as a luxurious four-star hotel with spacious suites and high-tech meeting and event rooms.
The Ghosts of Clontarf Castle
There have been reports of ghosts roaming the hotel, appearing in guest rooms, and playing with the phones, TVs, and showers in the middle of the night. Some people believe these restless spirits are the spirits of Vikings who once inhabited and fought on the land nearby.
Jean from Florida on TripAdvisor talked about the ghosts, although the Castle management keep tight-lipped about such things. Jean said,
We loved our stay at Clontarf Castle many years ago, maybe 1999. I would love to return, but I must add. I do believe there is a resident ghost.
While resting from my long journey, while asleep — the TV turned itself on and off again. The shower came on and shut itself off. Each time I woke to see if my husband had awakened. He had not! I woke up and starting talking aloud how I should not have to pay to share my room with a ghost.
I ordered room service and reported the incident to the staff. In the morning my husband received a bill for only the room service and not for the cost of the room that I did not repay. He was told it was taken care of.”
There are other reports of spooky happenings at Clontarf Castle. One guest claimed to hear footsteps in his room at night. The man also said that his shower had turned itself on and his TV flicked channels over at will.
Another Report says,
“Our room was in the roof complete with a window seat skylight. It was small but complete with a bath and fridge. When I got up on the window seat, I could admire the castle guard tower and in the darkness, I could swear I saw a medieval bowman perched on top. Haunted? The desk says they cannot discuss such things.”
LUTTRELSTOWN CASTLE, CO. DUBLIN
Castleknock, Co. Dublin, Ireland
Trip Advisor 5 / Booking.com NOT LISTED
Price: €€€€€ Via their website.
Can You Ask them About Their Ghost? No.
About The Castle
Luttrellstown Castle Resort is a privately owned estate in the middle of a 560 acre estate. Its historic castle and walled gardens can be rented out on an exclusive basis.
Luttrellstown Castle has twenty beautifully decorated bedrooms, a library that will make you gasp, grand ballrooms, and well-kept lawns. There is a championship 18-hole golf course, walled gardens, walking trails, fishing, falconry, and much more on the estate. This historic estate has woods and parkland where you can spend quiet hours walking, exploring, and enjoying the many unique things to see and do.
The History of Luttrelstown Castle
Sir Geoffrey de Luterel was in King John’s court. John’s father, Henry II, had made him Lord of Ireland when he was young. The elder Plantagenet had even tried to make John King of Ireland, but the Pope wouldn’t let them split the kingdom. Still, John kept Ireland as his own property until the end of his reign.
He wasn’t liked in Ireland because he didn’t think it was necessary to be nice to or honour the Irish chieftains, and he worked hard to make sure that the areas under direct English control didn’t “go native.” Sir Geoffrey stood by him and helped him do this. In 1210, when John sent an enormous army to England to put down a rebellion there, he left Sir Geoffrey behind to keep things in order. He gave Sir Geoffrey land near Dublin, where he built the town of Luttrellstown. Sir Geoffrey did not get to enjoy his Irish property for long, though. Six years after he got it, he was found to be mentally unfit and put under the care of his brother, where he died two years later. This declaration seems to have something to do with the end of King John’s rule, but if there was more to it, history hasn’t written about it.
But there is proof that Sir Henry Luttrell took over the land in 1436, when King Henry VI was in charge.
The Luttrells were a Norman family that fought with William at the Battle of Hastings and won large estates in the counties of Yorkshire and Leicestershire. The family would be important in both English and Irish history over the next few hundred years. They were one of the most important Catholic families in the Pale, and they kept their faith after the Reformation. They also did very well when the religious houses in Ireland were taken away.
Except for a short time when Cromwell was in power, the family kept their important position and acted like responsible nobles for several hundred years. They made a name for themselves and their beautiful castle as an opulent place known for its gracious hospitality and entertainment that was tailored to each guest’s exact needs.
After the death of John Olmius Luttrell, 3rd Earl of Carhampton in 1829, the family line died out. After that, the Luttrells sold the estate to a wealthy Dublin bookseller and entrepreneur named Luke White for £180,000. The new owner of Luttrellstown got very rich by selling lottery tickets. People at the time said that he got off the Belfast coach and bought unsold tickets, thinking that one of them had to be the winning ticket. He was right, and he won a lot of money.
Between 1910 and 1950, when the castle was owned by a member of the famous Guinness family, the last part of its development took place. During that time, parts of the interior, especially the Van Stry Room and the Kentian Room, were cleverly redone in Baroque and Georgian styles that go well with the rest of the decor.
Luttrellstown Castle has been a home to many famous people and members of the royal family over the years. This beautiful Irish castle has been home to the Grand Duke of Luxembourg, Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco, Fred Astaire, Douglas Fairbanks, Queen Magrethe II of Denmark, Paul Newman, and Ronald Reagan. In 1999, David and Victoria Beckham got married at Luttrellstown Castle Resort, and people from all over the world came to see it.
The Ghosts of Luttrelstown Castle
Delia Green was a young woman from Co. Galway who went to work in service to Co. Dublin. While she worked there she heard tales of the Grey Lady, a ghost said to haunt Luttrellstown Castle. Delia dreamt one night that soldiers in in full battle gear were dragging a young child up a flight of stone stairs. The boy’s blood was flowing down the stairs.
The following day, she asked the butler about the Grey Lady’s past and he explained some people thought she was returning to find her small child, while others claimed it was her sweetheart. If Delia believed her dream, she would assume the former.
Delia spent a brief time working in the castle. After that, she got a job in Bray with an English family. Delia visited Luttrellstown Castle twice more, although she and her family spent the colder months of the year (October through February) in a warmer area.
Delia’s terrifying encounter occurred on her third and final visit. The maids sleeping in the room above her heard a loud scream one night. She then felt as if a huge weight had been pressed down upon her chest, and she was sure she was going to die. After some time had passed, Delia shared her ordeal with Tim, the dorm’s hall monitor, the following morning. He shared his own similar story and promised it wouldn’t happen again.
Delia said, “It won’t,” because she wouldn’t be around to see it. The maid said she had seen the ghost on multiple occasions. Since she was reupted to put on a grey skirt and a grey blouse, she became known as the Grey Lady. One day later, Delia read an article in the Sunday Express offering £5,000 to whoever could get rid of the Grey Lady once and for all from the castle.
ROSS CASTLE, CO. MEATH
Ross Demesne, Rosscahill, County Galway, Ireland, H91 K25N
Exclusive Private hire via AirBnB
Price: €€€€€ PRIVATE HIRE ONLY
Can You Ask them About Their Ghost? Most certainly.
About Ross Castle
Ross Castle is an authentic medieval castle situated 1 hour from Dublin in County Meath on the shores of Lough Sheelin. We offer a very unusual stay for anyone looking to experience history and the feel of a 500 year old Norman Keep with exclusivity. Parties are not permitted.
The History of Ross Castle
Ross is an old village that is on the south side of the River Inny where it flows into Lough Sheelin. It has been around since the early iron age, and there are still many dolmen stones, ring forts, and Norman castles in the area.
During the Middle Ages, this area was the boundary of The Pale. The Pale (called such because it was marked by posts or Palings) was the area west of Dublin that the English controlled. It ended at the shores of Lough Sheelin.
Irish chieftains like the O’Reilys, McCabes, O’Neils, and McCormicks ruled over their clans.
Anglo-Noman Nugents lived in the area near the edge of the Pale.
The Nugents were always “King’s Men,” because they knew that their lands and titles depended on the King’s favour and power.
In later years, this territory went all the way to the shores of Lough Sheelin and into the Breffni borderlands. They had taken the land from the Irish, so the English told their lords to build sturdy walls to protect themselves.
So, in 1533, Richard Nugent, the 12th Baron of Delvin, began building what would become known as the Castle of Ross as a stronghold. In 1537, he finished the tower.
It was in 1644 that the castle saw one of its fiercest fights. The Irish took the castle, and Myles, “The Slasher”, O’Reilly stayed there before his death at the Battle of Finea.
He stood and fought the English troops of Cromwell’s army and fell on the bridge over the River Inny. In retribution, the English reduced Ross Castle to ruins, though it has since been rebuilt.
You might see the ghost of The Slasher.
In 1864, Anna Maria O’Reilly also put up a large plaque in the tower hall to honour her brave ancestor. After 100 years, Sir David Nugent rebuilt the whole place as a family estate with the same shape as it is now.
The Ghosts of Ross Castle
This historic castle turned charming B&B is home to a ghostly father-daughter duo.
Richard de Nugent was known as the Black Baron and renowned for his ferocity and cruelty.
The Black Baron, Richard de Nugent had a beautiful daughter called Sabina. She spent her youth walking on the shores of Lough Sheelin. Despite being one of the English overlords, she grew to be a favourite of the local Irish and was kind to the village folk.
On the bridge over the River Inny, she met a handsome young Irishman. He was Orwin O’Reilly, a nobleman and a member of the O’Reilly clan, a clan particularly hated by her father, the Black Baron.
The story goes the two would meet in secret, and they soon fell deeply in love. This was not an acceptable match, either for the O’Reillys or the de Nugents. They decided they would elope and one moonless night, Orwin came to fetch Sabina in a rowing boat and they rowed off across Lough Sheelin. But fate was not on their side, and a sudden wind blew in, overtipping the boat. The boat capsized, and it threw the lovers into the freezing water. The local folk rescued Sabina, but Orwin drowned.
Sabina was so heartbroken that she locked herself up in the castle’s tower, and stopped eating and drinking until she died of a broken heart (or dehydration). Dear reader, the ghost of beautiful dark-haired Sabina haunts this tower to this day. And that, as they say, is a true story. She even has a room named after her, and you can stay in it!
Sabina died in heartbreak after her secret lover, the son of a local Irish Chieftain, drowned in the lake as the pair attempted to elope. It is said she still wanders the corridors to this day looking for her lost love.
As proof of its truth are the tales of visitors to the castle bumping into a beautiful dark-locked young woman who doesn’t speak and whom they take as one of the family or the staff. But Sabina will wander the castle until she is reunited with Orwin.
But her father, Richard de Nugent was an evil-tempered man, and it’s said that a local woman in the village of Ross had been baking bread. She put it on her windowsill to cool, but a dog snatched it. The woman ran after it and scared the dog, so he dropped the bread.
Richard de Nugent heard of the theft of bread and accused a local beggar, who was encamped under a tree, of stealing the bread. The woman knew a dog had taken the bread, and the beggar denied the crime, But Richard de Nugent thought he’d have some fun with the unfortunate man. He accused the man of lying and hung him from the very tree he had sheltered under. Disgusted, the locals chipped in to build a memorial cross to the poor beggar so cruelly murdered. Not surprisingly the beggar’s ghost haunts the area around the cross to this day.
Even the Black Baron, Richard de Nugent, had a heart and his daughter’s death grieved him so much that he too wanders the castle looking for her. Many guests have seen a noble, but bad-tempered looking man. If you see him, don’t ask him for room service.
One chamber in the castle you can stay in is called The Whisper Room and those who stay there often wake in the wee hours of the morning to hear ghostly whispering and muttering. The ghosts have the bad manners to open and then slam shut cupboards, making it even harder to get a good night’s sleep.
They say Green Room is the most haunted, though we don’t know by whom. It is said that music is heard there when no one is playing, particularly the sound of a harpsichord.
There are rumours of caverns and tunnels underneath the castle dating back to the time of its construction when stone was cut out to provide material for the walls.
TRIM CASTLE, CO. MEATH
Castle St, Trim, Co. Meath, C15 HN90
Trip Advisor 4.5 / Booking.com 8.6
Can You Ask them About Their Ghost? Perhaps.
About Trim Castle
Trim Castle is the largest and one of the most important Norman military constructions in Ireland. Its well-deserved reputation as the king of Irish castles rests upon its imposing curtain walls enclosing over three acres, its fine gatehouses, and its enormous isolated keep — all of which project a visually striking image of foreboding and great power.
The castle is a great place to learn about mediaeval fortifications, is rumoured to be haunted, and has many hidden corridors and apartments.
The History of Trim Castle
The first fortification on this site above the banks of the Boyne was a motte erected by Hugh de Lacy in 1172 The design of the keep is most unusual, comprising a massive square block with towers projecting from the middle of each face (only three out of the original four remain).
On plan it looks like a combination of a square and a Greek cross. The entrance is within the east tower at first-floor level, below the chapel, and a mural winding stair provides access to the three floors of the centre block in the south-west and north-east angles.
King Henry II granted Hugh de Lacy the Liberty of Meath in 1172 to curb the expansionist policies of Richard de Clare. Construction of the massive three storied Keep, the central stronghold of the castle, was begun around 1176 on the site of an earlier wooden fortress. This massive twenty-sided tower, which is cruciform in shape, was protected by a ditch, curtain wall and moat.
Trim Castle is what movies are made of. Movie makers of ‘Braveheart’ chose Trim in County Meath as the shooting location for their epic saga. A view of Trim Castle’s stony outline against a dramatic Irish sky relates times of valiant warriors and timid monks protecting the land.
The Ghosts of Trim Castle
Monks have been seen wandering throughout the ruins and guests in the Trim Castle Hotel across the road have seen nuns playing in their rooms. The hotel sits on the grounds of an old Cemetery for nuns.
KINNITTY CASTLE. CO. OFFALY
Kinnitty Village, Co Offaly
TripAdvisor 4.0 / Booking.Com 8.7
Can You Ask them About Their Ghost? I would.
About Kinnitty Castle
In County Offaly, the historic and Gothic Revival Kinnitty Castle is a must-see for anybody visiting the heart of Ireland.
Kinnitty Castle, is close to the picturesque village of Kinnitty, Co. Offaly set beautifully against a backdrop of the Slieve Bloom Mountains. The Castle has a long and turbulent history. Dating originally from 1209, Kinnitty was destroyed and rebuilt not once but twice and yet it keeps character and oozes charm. Kinnity is in a great location only 90 minutes from Dublin and is a great stop off point for journeys west or southwards. It is an exceptional place for lovers of good food and the great outdoors.
Nestled amid the Slieve Bloom mountains, Kinnitty Castle is one stronghold of the O’ Carroll family of which one Charles Óg O’Carroll was a signatory of the American Declaration of Independence.
The family still maintain vast estates in Maryland. In the mid-1890’s Montgomery Hitchcock and family lived in Kinnitty. Little was it known at the time that his son Rex Ingram would go to Hollywood to become a noted director of spectacular silent movies.
Still in existence today on the Estate are the remains of an Augustinian monastery and ancient Celtic Cross dating from the 7th century. The high cross depicts the presentation in the temple and the crucifixion on the east face, Adam and Eve and intertwining birds.
The name of the town and castle comes from a legend that they buried the severed head of an ancient princess there.
The History of Kinnitty Castle
In 1209, the Normans destroyed the original fortress, which had been erected on land originally occupied by druids and bards, and began construction on a new fortress in 1213. There were several owners of the castle. In 1811, Lady Catherine Hutchinson purchased the castle. In 1922, Republican forces set it on fire. After extensive renovations, the castle is now a luxurious hotel with grand stairways and dark corridors. We can find an ancient Celtic High Cross and the foundations of an Augustinian Abbey on the grounds. The gardens are home to the carved cross, which depicts scenes from the Bible.
After the Normans left, the castle was owned by the O’Carrolls of Ely until the 17th century, when it was confiscated as part of the plantation of Offaly and given as a present to Col. Thomas Winter in appreciation for his service. The Bernard family bought it after that and lived there until 1946.
The IRA burned destroyed the castle in 1922, but it was reconstructed in 1928 with government funding.
The Ghosts of Kinnitty Castle
“The Phantom Monk of Kinnitty,” who haunts the castle’s banquet hall, is the first and most frequently seen ghost. Though everyone who has met the monk has had a wonderful experience (he appears most often during joyful events in the castle), his appearance is intimidating. The few who have seen him describe him as tall, wearing a black robe, and having a dark “face” devoid of features.
He is really tall and always wears all black. He can look into the future and relays information through the staff members.
All of his prophecies have supposedly come true. He is also rumoured to frequent the hotel’s basement bar. I would buy him a drink to see if he’d give out a prophecy.
The Geraldine Room and the Elizabeth Room are two “proven” haunted guest rooms in the castle.
Guests of The Geraldine Room have reported seeing a tiny girl and hearing her footsteps in the hall, sometimes accompanied by the sound of laughter.
Some believe that Lady Catherine Hutchinson, wife of Thomas Bernard, haunts The Geraldine Room, while others dismiss the rumour as the work of an anonymous female spirit.
There are no anecdotes that come up regarding the Elizabeth chamber, although it is agreed that the entire house is haunted.
We can see a Celtic stone circle behind the castle, close to where Con Ryan once kept his cottage. The cottage has a timeless, fairytale quality.
A Trip Advisor review notes
We went to bed and when the lights went out, the room was black dark… then we heard breathing coming from the corner of the room. I never slept a wink all night. My boyfriend then told me he saw a shadow in the room at 3am!
You may wonder why we don’t mention nearby Leap Castle, Co. Offaly. With its Bloody Chapel, it’s certainly haunted, but you can’t stay in it overnight, so it doesn’t make it to this list.
KILKEA CASTLE, CO. KILDARE
Castle View, Kilkea Demesne, Castledermot, Co. Kildare, R14 XE97, Ireland
Trip Advisor 4.5 / Booking.com 8.8
Can You Ask them About Their Ghost? Yes. Do.
About Kilkea Castle
Kilkea Castle Hotel and Golf Course sits on 180 acres. It is less than one hour from Dublin. We have a variety of accommodations. Our newly renovated castle and carriage houses redefine luxury. Our renovated 3 bedroom self-catering lodges are perfect for groups or families. We have a restaurant open 7 days a week serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Kilkea is the perfect spot for a golf outing, fairytale wedding, family reunion or corporate retreat. It is one of the oldest inhabited castles in Ireland dating back to 1180.
The castle is now a resort hotel and golf club. The castle has 40 guest rooms, a restaurant, two bars, a health and fitness centre, a golf course and clubhouse, a helicopter pad, and conference & wedding facilities. Guests have complained of voices in their rooms at night.
The History of Kilkea Castle
Kilkea Castle was built in 1180 and is said to be the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Ireland. Anglo-Norman settlers built it to defend the land they had taken. As you approach the modern castle you will see the forty foot high tree-covered mound which was the original Norman motte. The native Irish didn’t give up easily and in 1414, they besieged the castle, causing the Archbishop of Dublin to raise an army and come in its defence. This pattern of attacks continued for around four hundred years.
Dating back to the year 1180, Kilkea Castle is not only known as one of the oldest castles in Ireland, it is also celebrated as a place of alchemy and black magic.
The Ghosts of Kilkea Castle
Gerald the Wizard Earl, the son of Silken Fitzgerald, is supposed to haunt the castle grounds. The legend claims his ghost rises every seven years from the Rath of Mullaghmast to free Ireland from her enemies. The interesting thing is they buried the Earl in London.
However, covering ground fast doesn’t seem to be a problem to Anne Boleyn or Mary Queen of Scots who have multiple haunting engagements, so why should it bother Gerald?
While he’s waiting for that big job, he wakes every seven years and rides a horse with silver horseshoes. When these horseshoes have worn right down, that is the time when he will return to defeat Ireland’s enemies.
But the prize ghost is that of the Wizard Earl. He was the Eleventh Earl of Kildare, and in common with many learned men of the 16th century, he was keen on alchemy. Nothing wrong with that, you may say, for Sir Isaac Newton liked a dabble with the alembics and Bunsen burners himself. But The Wizard Earl also tried a touch of magic. Apparently, he was showing off his magical powers of transmutation when he turned himself into a blackbird in front of his wife. Unfortunately, Gerald overlooked the fact that his wife’s favourite tabby cat was on her knee. Before she could say, “That’s very clever, Gerald!” the tabby cat sprang up and ate The Wizard Earl. That’s why he’s a ghost now, but even five hundred years after being gobbled up by the pet moggy, he still hangs around his spell room. That’s the room at the top of the spiral stairs.
The reason this castle is steeped in mystical fascination is the work of the 11th Earl of Kildare, known affectionately as the ‘Wizard of Earl’. Get your timing right and you might have a chance encounter with the sorcerer during one of his visits to the castle. These sightings only happen once every seven years though, so plan your travel accordingly.
Whether or not this is true, no one dares use the so-called Haunted Room for anything, and it has remained empty all these long years.
It is also said that the ghost of a young man haunts the castle, continually searching the corridors to find the love he was forbidden to see. One of the towers is known as the “Haunted Tower” and a feature of supernatural interest is the so called “Evil Eye Stone”.
There is a Woman in White too. She flits around the courtyard outside, but she has the useful skill of being able to walk through stone walls. I wish I could do that, but, you never know, maybe one day I will be able to.
If you stay there, she may even pull your bedcovers off you.
There is also a stableboy, who had the bad luck to be found in the bedroom of one of the noble girls. That never goes down well. If they’d hang you for stealing a loaf of bread, it’s going to be a lot worse if they find you deflowering the flower of their family honour.
This is a carved stone about 17 ft up on a wall near what was the Guard Room. The stone shows two monsters fighting — one appears to be a werewolf, and the other some kind of gargoyle headed man.
They carried a great deal of restoration out on the castle in the 19th century.
You can get a ghost tour at Kilkea Castle. The tour starts in the old nursery and here you can see, if you’re lucky, the ghost of a little girl and hear her laughter and running footsteps.
SHANKILL CASTLE, CO. KILKENNY
Shankill, Paulstown, Co. Kilkenny, Ireland
Trip Advisor 5 / Booking.com NOT LISTED
Price: Day Visits Only. Check Website
Can You Ask them About Their Ghost? It should be ok.
About Shankill Castle
Shankill Castle and Gardens are in a park near Paulstown, which is on the border between Carlow and Kilkenny. The grounds and gardens are open to visitors, and there are guided tours of the house .
The History of Shankill Castle
Shankill Castle began as a tower house for the Butler family. It was built near the ruins of an old church. In 1708, Peter Aylward bought the land from his wife’s family, the Butlers. It was rebuilt and set in a formal landscape with a view to the front and a canal to the back. In the 19th century, it was enlarged and fortified, serpentine bays were added to the canal, and an unusual polyhedral sundial was given a place of honour on a sunken lawn. A gothic porch with the Aylward crest and a conservatory were also added.
Daniel Robertson is responsible for the stable-yard and the castle-like entrance to the demesne. The interior still has a lot of the style and features of the 18th century, like a Georgian staircase, Gothic plasterwork, and a Victorian drawing room.
The Toler-Aylwards are a branch of the Butler family. They lived at Shankill until 1991, and some of them still live in the Kilkenny area. Elizabeth Cope, an artist, and her husband Geoffrey now live in Shankill. Phoebe Cope McCosh, Reuben Cope, and Sybil Cope are their three children. ResArtis runs a programme where artists and creative professionals can stay at Shankill Castle for a while .
The Ghosts of Shankill Castle
Sybil Cope grew up in at Shankill Castle. Elizabeth and Geoffrey Cope, her mother and father, bought the castle in the early 1990s. Many different people, from ghost hunters to artists, have stayed there. It was a great place to live, but Sybil admits that the fact that people said it was haunted was a problem.
“It was a great place to grow up, but on Halloween, friends wouldn’t come over,” she says with a laugh. “You’d think living in a haunted castle would be a plus at that time of year, but no one was brave enough to come to us, so we went trick-or-treating in the village instead.”
The Aylward family built Shankill Castle at the beginning of the 18th century, and their tomb is in the graveyard on the grounds. Grave robbers often broke into cemeteries in the past, and Shankill Castle was no exception. Sybil says, “Peter Aylward’s body was put in the vault in the 1700s, but his remains were stolen and never found. The story goes that he wasn’t properly buried, so his ghost wanders the upstairs hallway because it can’t rest.
After Peter died, the butler sat in the vault with the bodies of other family members who had died to make sure they weren’t stolen.
Sybil couldn’t ignore what people said about the ghosts in the castle. “There are parts of the house that scare me,” she says. “The hallway Peter haunts is near where my room used to be. The scary part would be getting from the light switch to my room. I would get a little shiver and then run.
“The Blue Room is another place where people have felt things for hundreds of years. She says, “I saw nothing, but I never felt alone when I slept there.”
In the late 1990s, a Vogue photographer was doing a shoot at the castle when her mother suggested he take a picture of the Blue Room. Sybil says, “He went upstairs and came back sooner than I thought he would. He said he didn’t go into the room because he didn’t want to wake up the old lady in the rocking chair.” My mom was surprised that there wasn’t an old woman there. He was sure it was a real person and told her about a woman who sounded like my grandmother. “She had just died a few months before and had slept in the room,” Sybil says, pausing to think.
Sybil works hard to come up with new ways to market the castle’s history so that it can stay open. She came up with the idea for ScareFest with her brother Reuben. ScareFest is a Halloween festival with crafts for kids and scary tours at night for adults.
“We show people around the cemetery at night. It’s a lot of fun to do, and many people do it. “It seems like people really like to be scared out of their minds,” she says.
CASTLE DURROW. CO. LAOIS
Castleview, Durrow, Co. Laois, R32 EA02,
Trip Advisor 4.5 / Booking.com NOT LISTED
Price: €€€£ Via their Website.
Can You Ask them About Their Ghost? Avoid.
About Castle Durrow
Durrow Village Hotel Castle Durrow was built in 1712, and stands in the dominant position in the centre of Durrow Village overlooking the beautiful River Erkina. In the past four years since its new owners acquired it, the castle been transformed into a fabulous 24-bedroomed Country House Hotel. There truly isn’t any other like it in Ireland. Internally and externally it is beautiful, leaving us helpless but to fall for its charm. Surrounding the Castle are 30 acres of woodlands, gardens and paths to follow.
The History of Castle Durrow
Built in the early 18th century, Castle Durrow served as the ancestral residence of Lord Ashbrook. In the 1990s, the castle underwent extensive restoration and reopened as a luxurious four-star, family-run hotel with 46 exquisite guestrooms and a gorgeous courtyard for visitors to enjoy.
The Ghosts of Castle Durrow
Castle Durrow has not acknowledged publicly whether there are ongoing hauntings within its walls, although visitors have reported hearing stories of a “friendly ghost” who haunts the hotel. However, there are legends connected to the areas around.
In the early 19th century, a band commanded by the brutal highwayman Captain Jeremiah Grant terrorised the surrounding populace. More than two centuries after they were executed for their heinous crimes, the gang’s malicious spirits are rumoured to still maintain watch over the woods where they hid their loot in the area around Durrow.
In the grassy area next to the hotel stands an obelisk. They say this is where a young woman was killed after falling off her horse a long time ago. Hotel visitors have ventured outside hoping to stumble upon her ghost, as some believe she occasionally returns to the site.
I hope you enjoyed this whistle-stop tour of these spookiest castles in Ireland. Like I say above, there are other haunted castles, but most of them are in ruins and are unsafe to visit.
If you do visit these castles, and if you encounter anything spooky, please let us know by commenting on this post.