Haunted Ireland: Graveyard
Haunted Ireland: Graveyard

A Tourist’s Haunted Ireland

Ireland, a land steeped in history and folklore, is a place where the past and the present often blend seamlessly. Its ancient castles, misty moors, and quaint villages provide the perfect backdrop for tales of restless spirits and lingering mysteries. If you’re a fan of the supernatural and intrigued by the idea of otherworldly happenings, Ireland is the ideal destination for your next adventure. From haunted castles to eerie prisons, let’s embark on a journey to discover some of the most intriguing haunted places in the Emerald Isle.

We will highlight here a few of the reportedly haunted hotels where you can overnight, and ghostly places where you can either tour or attend an event.

Haunted Ireland Loftus Hall

Loftus Hall

Loftus Hall

Currently, the so-called “most haunted house” in Ireland, Loftus Hall, is not open to the public but deserves mention here in the hopes that someday that will change and it be accessible by the public again. Built between 1865 and 1875 by the Marquis of Ely on the site of the previous building, Redmond Hall (built 1350ish) , Loftus Hall was once a grand edifice boasting twenty-two bedrooms. Over the years after first being a private residence, it was a Sisters of Providence convent and then a country hotel. Before it was sold in 2021, there was a long period in time when it hosted ghost tours, paranormal events, documentaries and films.

The back story is that the Hall was supposedly the scene of a visitation from the devil, who came as a “Dark Stranger”, and exited through the ceiling leaving a scorch mark behind. There are varying accounts of the tale but apparitions, cold spots, and unexplained noises abound in the house. As for being “most haunted’, the following places, most of which are open to the public, could give Loftus Hall a run for the title.

Haunted Ireland Leap Castle

Leap Castle

Ireland’s Haunted Triangle 

This area in County Offaly has three very haunted locations: Leap Castle, Charleville Castle, and Kinnitty Castle Hotel.

Leap Castle is a name familiar to those who watch ghost hunting shows and videos. Did you know how it got its name? Two O’Bannon brothers in the 13th century had a challenge to decide who would lead their clan: whoever jumped off the high rock where their castle would be built and survived the leap would be clan chief. Hence the castle, when constructed, was called “the Leap of the Bannons”. So the castle’s beginnings were not auspicious.

The property soon was taken over by the O’Carrolls and a clan leadership dispute led to murder, this time of a priest during Mass in the castle’s chapel, now known as the Bloody Chapel. An oubliette* was found in a hidden dungeon behind the chapel walls in 1922. Bones of upwards of 150 persons were removed and disturbing proof (a pocket watch) dated one of the last persons to die there could have been in the mid 19th century. There’s two wee girls who haunt the Main Hall and a ghostly monk appears in the Priest’s House. More terrifying is the Elemental† thought to be from the time of the Druids. It was last seen about twenty years ago by a practitioner of black magic who was also a castle resident. It is said that this inhuman specter will not appear unless challenged (really not a good idea even if you scoff at the supernatural). And there are more ghosts, not surprisingly, with its gory history. The castle is currently privately owned and occupied.

Charleville Castle, the original family seat of the Bury family, is a place where you can visit or attend an event. The trust in charge hosts musical concerts, private gatherings, festivals, and importantly for this subject, paranormal investigations. Short tours are also available at times.

This castle was built in a grove of ancient oaks (think the Druids again) and on top of ley lines‡. It is supposedly haunted by 8-year old Harriet, daughter of the 3rd Earl of Charleville, who broke her neck falling off the staircase railing, by numerous monks, a creepy old man, screams and unembodied conversations. A room has been closed off due to a malevolent presence. Even the centuries-old oak tree at the front of the castle has its own creepy legend.

Kinnitty Castle Hotel is the third point in this this triangle. There have been numerous castles on the site since the 1200’s, the latest rendition built in 1928 and now open to the public as a luxury stay. There’s a thousand years (or more) of tragedy and bloodshed on the land to contribute to the hauntings but its most famous ghost is the Phantom Monk, “Hugh”, who by times converses with visitors and staff, and may appear in as solid a form as you or I. If you want to overnight in a haunted room, ask for the Elizabeth or Geraldine room. Overall this castle has a peaceful, relaxing atmosphere some attribute to “Hugh’s” presence.

Haunted Ireland Charleville Castle

Charleville Castle

Ballygally Castle

This is another castle turned hotel; this time on the Antrim coast. Built in the 17th century, Ballygally has a friendly, but tragic ghost, said to be Lady Isabella Shaw. She was spurned by her husband shortly after giving birth, and locked in a castle tower away from her baby. Desperate to be with her child, Lady Isabella died falling from the tower in an effort to escape. She wanders the halls, often times knocking on doors, looking for the child. She is known to leave gifts outside the hotel room doors. People have reported odd happenings when visiting the tower especially if they have a young child. Her sad but harmless ghost is just an added attraction of this pleasant hotel full of history and hospitality.

Haunted Ireland Ballygally Castle Hotel

Ballygally Castle Hotel

Kilmainham Gaol

Located in Dublin, this prison has seen its years of turmoil and suffering. It is the place where many of the Irish revolutionaries of the last century were incarcerated and sometimes, executed. Expect cold spots, whispers, moans, and apparitions when you visit this site, now a museum. One such ghost is said to be Joseph Plunkett, a leader in the 1916 Easter Rising.

Haunted Ireland Kilmainham Gaol

Kilmainham Gaol

Ghostly Adventure Touring

Ireland’s haunted hotels and buildings offer a captivating blend of history, legend, and the unexplained. Contact your real travel expert to plan your visit to this land of fairies, leprechauns, and the mystical. But remember: as you embark on your ghostly adventure in Ireland, keep an open mind and a brave heart. After all, you never know what otherworldly experiences await you on your journey. Pack your bags, bring your courage, and prepare to be enchanted by the mysteries and legends that Ireland has to offer. Happy haunting!

*An oubliette comes from the French word oublier, to forget. A prisoner (or whoever you wish to dispose of) was thrown down into a dark, deep hole often with sharp spikes awaiting the unfortunate one’s fall. This person was left to die, if not immediately (which would be merciful), of a long and painful death without medical care, food , or water. The hole was sealed, often a with a metal grate, and the person forgotten. Believe it or not, they were quite common.

Ley lines are imaginary lines between some important places such as hills, believed to be where there were very old paths. Ley lines are sometimes thought to have special powers. (Credit: Cambridge Dictionary).

† An elemental is a mythic supernatural being that is described in occult and alchemical works from around the time of the European Renaissance. (Credit: Wikipedia) A faery or leprechaun could be described as elementals.

All images are courtesy of Adobe Stock.