A look at some of the many spooky places Ireland has to offer by Richard Davies.
Castles, old gaols, cemeteries and more castles – we’ve found six of Ireland’s most haunted and spooky places to visit for the scariest of Halloween visits to Ireland.
Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin
This gaol has been closed to the public since 1924, and it’s large empty space is now filled with memories of the horrors that went on between these old walls during its 130 year history.
The prison was built back in 1796, and from thereon was crammed full of men, women and children enduring the most painful misery. Later, Irish Nationalists were held prisoner here, including James Connolly, many of whom were shot to death by firing squad within the bounds of Kilmainham Gaol.
Today the gaol is a museum and open to the public. But take a deep breath before you step foot through the prison gates. In fact it is said that children often pause in fear before entering. Visitors and staff alike have said they have heard screams from inside the prison walls, and it is said that footsteps can still be heard echoing in the empty space. Surely one of Ireland’s most haunted places.
Not only is Leap Castle one of the most haunted places in Ireland, it is considered to be one of the most haunted in the whole of Europe. And its not surprising when you get to know its bloody and murderous history. Ever since it was built in the 1400s, families have fought, often to the death, within the castle walls. A dungeon filled with bones and skeleton remains was discovered in the 1800s. Leap Castle’s most notorious ghost is said to be a small, grey, human-like figure but with only the face of a human skull!
Well, of course a cemetery can be a spooky place, but Glasnevin Cemetery goes even beyond that to make sure it gets into our list of Ireland’s most haunted places. The cemetery has high walls with watch-towers that were built to deter body snatchers who, during the 18th and 19th centuries, would attempt to steal freshly buried bodies from their graves in the dead of night. Night watchmen would stand in the towers, but also roam the cemetery with their pack of blood hounds, searching out any gangs of body snatchers.
To add further to it’s spooky reputation, Glasnevin Cemetery is one of the few places that allowed the burial of stillborn babies in consecrated ground – an area called Angels Plot.
One of the most often told ghost stories however, is not of a stillborn baby or victim of a body snatcher, but that of a faithful Newfoundland dog, who stayed by his master’s grave side long after he died, until eventually the dog died himself. On occasion, the ghost of the dog is still said to be seen today.
This castle stands around 6 miles from the site of the Battle of Boyne, where 1,500 men died in a bloody battle. Amongst the dead was King James, and it is his ghost that is said to haunt the hallways and dungeons of Athcarne Castle to this day. But it’s not just the ghost of King James who you might see. There have also been sightings of a ghostly soldier hanging by his neck from a tree, and also a screaming woman, walking around the halls with her hands covered in blood.
Rock of Cashel, Tipperary, Ireland
The Rock of Cashel is one of Ireland’s most beautiful, yet spooky, places to visit, and if you know the mythological origins of the rock, you’ll understand why the place is a prime location for all things spooky.
It is said to have been formed by the devil himself when, in a struggle with St Patrick, he threw a huge rock from his cave. Other stories say it was formed when the devil took a bite from the mountainside and broke his tooth, and it is the tooth which formed Rock of Cashel.
The buildings on the rock include a chapel and cathedral, some of which originate from the 1100s. People say ghosts are regularly seen around the buildings, in particular a phantom coach and horses which is often heard racing along the old stones of the pathways.
Ross Castle in Lough Sheelin, County Meath, was built by the “Black Baron”, Lord of Devon Richard Nugent, in 1533. This ancient Irish castle is set on the shores of Lough Sheelin. It is said the haunted by the Black Baron himself, but also his daughter and her fiancée, who both tragically died drowning whilst trying to elope in order to escape family politics. Screams of their ghosts have been heard and unnatural cold winds felt around the castle hallways.
About the author: Richard Davies is a freelance writer based in Germany. He writes on all aspects of travel, in particular ferry travel, city breaks and camping in Europe.