Haunted Locations Around Ireland

SPRINGHILL--Near Moneymore, County Londonderry

Built in 1680 and once described as "the prettiest house in Ulster", Springhill stands as a proud testimony to successive generations of the Lenox-Conyngham family whose home it was for close on 300 years. In 1816, George Lenox-Conyngham committed suicide, leaving his second wife Olivia to care for their children. She was ever after haunted by remorse at her inability to prevent his death, and her anguish appears to have followed her beyond the grave, for Olivia's ghost often appears at the house. She was seen in the early 20th century when the last generation of Lenox-Conyngham children to live at the property were sleeping one night, and their nursemaid awoke to find her gazing intently at the youngsters, as though checking the well being of each one of them in turn. Today, her phantom still wanders the peaceful corridors of her old home. She exudes an aura of weary detachment and is generally accepted as little more than the oldest resident of this splendid old house.

DOBBINS INN HOTEL--Carrickfergus, County Antrim

This hotel is the haunt of a ghostly lady whose name in life was Elizabeth, but who has long been known as "Maud". She lived in the 17th century, when the property was home to successive Mayors of Carrickfergus, one of whom, a member of the Dobbin family, was her husband. Elizabeth is said to have become romantically involved with a soldier from nearby Carrickfergus Castle, whom tradition remembers simply as "button cap". At night, she would creep through a tunnel that linked the house and castle to meet with him. On discovering her infidelity, her husband murdered her as she entered the tunnel en route to an illicit liaison. Making his way to the castle, he then rushed upon the astonished "button cap" and beheaded him. The ghost of Elizabeth Dobbin has wandered the building ever since, and staff have grown accustomed to her invisible shade gliding past them on her sorrowful quest to be reunited with her lover.

CASTLE LESLIE--Glaslough, Monaghan

Basking amidst 1,000 acres of stunning scenery, the castle has been home to the exquisitely eccentric Leslie family for three hundred years. Today, the castle opens its doors to paying guests who find themselves transported in time to a bygone era. The Leslie family has, over the generations, played hosts to the likes of Dean Swift, W.B. Yeats, Sir John Betjeman and Mick Jagger. The building that greets you today dates from 1878, and every one of its 14 bedrooms has a tale to tell. The Red Room is haunted by Norman Leslie who was killed in action in 1914 and whose mother, Lady Marjorie, awoke here one night to find his ghost standing by the chest of drawers, surrounded by a "cloud of light". Norman�s spirit was leafing through some letters and seemed to be seeking one in particular. Sitting up, she asked him "Why Norman - what are you doing here?" whereupon he turned to her, smiled and faded away. Time stands still at Castle Leslie, and its ambience is such that you find yourself falling wholeheartedly under the spell of a family whose past eccentricities are a sheer joy to discover. Strange occurrences, such as mysterious grey figures twisting their way along atmospheric corridors and bells ringing of their own accord, seem positively mundane when pitted against the escapades of generations of Leslie's!

KILLUA CASTLE--Killua, Westmeath

Killua Castle is a magnificent, romantic ruin that was once the seat of the Chapman family. Hailing originally from Leicester, England, they obtained vast swathes of land in Ireland in the 16th century, thanks largely to the patronage of their famous cousin, Sir Walter Raleigh. However, it was a later family member, Benjamin, who, having fought as a captain in Cromwell's army, was awarded the confiscated lands of the Knights Hospitallers of St John at Killua. The present structure of Killua Castle was built around 1780, although the conversion that created the rambling Gothic fantasy, the ruin of which greets the visitor today, was carried out in 1830.The last of the family line to be associated with the castle was Thomas Chapman, born in 1848, who married a girl from the Rochford family by whom he had four children. The marriage was not a happy one, due largely to his wife's love of travel and her long absences from home. Tiring of the situation, Thomas Chapman finally abandoned his home, his wife, his family and his name to live with his mistress, Sarah Dunner, in Wales, where he adopted the name Thomas Lawrence. They had seven children, one of whom, Thomas Edward Lawrence, would become the enigmatic and intriguing "Lawrence of Arabia". A strange stillness hangs over this hollow castellated ruin today. The sheer number of dark empty window frames that greet your approach is enough to elicit cold shivers of an uncanny nature. The hollow rooms of the crumbling interior, where a time-worn stairway clings desperately to the ivy-clad walls, radiate a chilling feeling of melancholy, and you find yourself in constant fear of a chance encounter with the nebulous wraith of one of the castle's bygones residents. No one is certain of the identity, or even the gender, of the white spectre, whose shimmering shade has been seen wandering amongst the ruins at night. Suffice it to say that those who encounter it waste little time bothering to find out. Some people think that 'it' is a 'he', or to be precise, an 18th century steward of the castle who, having turned to drink, was consumed with the terrors and tremors of dipsomania, and in despair drowned himself in the lake in the castle grounds. However, other people voice the belief that the ghost is that of a daughter of the house who long ago met with a tragic accident, or was deserted by a feckless lover, or was subject to any one of the numerous sorrowful array of 'white ladies' to drift slowly across the pages of folklore and legend the world over.

CHARLES FORT--Kinsale, Cork

Constructed in the late 17th century on the site of an earlier coastal fortification, this star-shaped fortress, with its five bastions and two surviving brick sentry boxes, straddles a sea swept rocky trajectory. Not long after the completion of the fort Colonel Warrender became its commanding officer. He was a strict authoritarian who believed in a rigorous regime of discipline and had little sympathy for any man who stinted or faltered at his duties. His daughter, Wilful, a vivacious and beautiful girl, fell in love with Sir Trevor Ashurst, who was an officer at the fort, and the two were duly married. At sunset on the day of their wedding, the newly married couple were strolling along the battlements when the bride noticed some flowers growing on the rock beneath and commented on their beauty. A sentry agreed to climb down and pick them for her on the condition that her husband would take his place on duty. Sir Trevor agreed, donned the soldier�s greatcoat, took his musket and entered the sentry box, whilst its original occupant began the perilous descent to the rocks below. It had been a long day, and no sooner had Ashurst sat down than he fell fast asleep. Just then, Colonel Warrender began his routine inspection of the fort's sentry boxes. He was furious to find a guardsman asleep on duty and, drawing his pistol, shot the man through the heart. As the sentry fell to the ground dead, his coat came open and the Colonel saw that he had killed his own son-in-law. When Wilful learnt of her husband�s death she was inconsolable and, letting out a howl of despair, raced to the battlements, from which she threw herself to her death. The sight of her body proved too much for Colonel Warrender and, placing his pistol against his head, he pulled the trigger and blew out his brains. Three tragic deaths on a day that should have been a celebration have, inevitably, left their mark upon the ether of this casemated, windswept monument. It is the ghost of Wilful Warrender who haunts the garrison. Wearing a flowing white dress, she drifts in mournful despair, either around the ramparts or up and down the stairs of the stronghold. Those who encounter her silent wraith describe her as very beautiful but very pale. She passes by them, her dark eyes fixed on some distant objective. She pays them no heed, and soldiers used to speak of their alarm at seeing her pass straight through locked doors, whilst others complained of being pushed down the stairs by an unseen hand, presumably hers.

DUN AN OIR--(OR FORT DEL ORO)--Dingle Peninsula, Kerry

During the 16th century, Dingle became a significant trading port and developed a very strong connection with Spain. On 15th July 1579, Charles V of Spain sent an expeditionary force to Dingle under the leadership of James Fitzmaurice-Fitzgerald, a cousin of the peninsula's powerful overlord, Gerat, Sixteenth Earl of Desmond. Shortly after landing, Fitzmaurice-Fitzgerald was ambushed and killed in a skirmish with the Burkes of Limerick. Although the Earl of Desmond had promised to help his kinsman and his contingent, he was also anxious not to alienate Queen Elizabeth, so he sent word to her forces about the possible threat. The expedition resulted in failure for the Spanish, and after a few days they left Dingle and sailed round the coast, where they landed at Ferreters� Cove. On the headland they built a fort, the Fort Del Oro, or Dun an Oir as it is known in Gaelic, as a base for operations against England. In November 1580 an English force, commanded by Lord Grey de Wilton, besieged the fort. The garrison had again hoped for promised assistance from the Earl of Desmond but none was sent, and finally the expeditionaries were battered into submission. When the Spanish set down their arms to surrender, the English troops massacred them in cold blood and left their corpses in heaps, or cast them into the sea to be washed away. On the anniversary of the dreadful slaughter people in the locality have often heard agonised voices crying in Spanish, and smelled the terrible stench of rotting flesh carried upon the breezes around this wild spot.

BALLYNACARRIGA CASTLE--Dunmanway, Cork

The Irish name of this four-storey tower is Beal na Carraige, meaning "the mouth or passage of rock". It is perched upon a rocky prominence and overlooks the waters of Ballynacarriga Lough. An unusual feature of its crumbling interior is the number of important stone carvings that can be seen around the walls of what was the third floor. On one window arch is a depiction of Christ on the cross together with two thieves, one on each side of him, whilst nearby are carved a crown of thorns, a hammer and a heart pierced with two swords. One window contains the initials R.M.C.C. together with the date 1585. These are believed to be the initials of Randal Murlihy and his wife, Catherine Cullinane, plus the date when the building was erected. Opposite is the carved figure of a woman with five roses, which local tradition claims represents Catherine Cullinane and her five children, but which is more likely to depict the Blessed Virgin. The roof and parapets of the castle were long ago removed by a garrison of Cromwell's troops who had occupied the fortress for a time and who, as was their custom, took down the overhanging parapets in order to render the building defenceless. But enough of the fortification remains to provide the visitor with a good impression of what it was like to live in a medieval castle. It was an age when belief in a darker side of nature had a firm grip on the imagination, and it was well known that harmful spirits roamed night, intent on inflicting injury on humans that chanced to cross their path. Built into the thickness of the second floor wall there is a mural gallery which leads the intrepid visitor to the garderobe, or lavatory, which stands over a chute known as "Moll the Pooka's Hole". A "Pooka" was the most feared of all the creatures that prowled the night. They were strange and thoroughly evil beings, with male heads and the body of a goat, horse or dog. They could fly short distances, although they had no wings, were extremely ugly and ill-tempered, and were to be avoided at all costs. They ran in packs, and their sole desire was to inflict as much harm as possible upon defenceless humans, they caused crops to fail, children to die suddenly and, worst of all, they stole newborn babies. Irish peasants would ascribe accidental falls to the malign influence of a pooka and ruined or wrecked castles were often associated with them - the foul smelling chute of a garderobe being the ideal portal by which these creatures could gain access and wreak their devilish mayhem upon the inhabitants.
 
 
 

For the believer no proof is necessary, for the non-believer no proof is possible (Stewart Chase 1929)

 
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