Haunted Irish Castles

Updated on May 2, 2018
anncarcat profile image

An Early Years Teacher from the UK, I have always had the urge to write. I enjoy producing articles about the paranormal and true crime.

Ireland, one of the most beautiful countries in the world, has a violent and turbulent past. With hundreds of castles and ancient ruins dotted all over the land, it is small wonder that there are ghostly sightings reported year after year. For those who fancy a little ghost spotting, here are ten of Ireland’s most haunted castles.

Cabra Castle
Cabra Castle

1. Cabra Castle

The ghosts of Cabra Castle in Co. Cavan clearly enjoy a touch of luxury. Once a ruin, it has been restored to its former glory and now operates as a beautiful, four-star hotel. For those visitors who crave a haunting experience, there is plenty to get the nerves jangling. Guests at the hotel have experienced apparitions, door handles rattling, and the feeling of being constantly watched. The saddest ghost in the castle is Sarah. She can be heard sobbing in what used to be the servants’ quarters. Sarah lived at the castle in the late eighteenth century. She sealed her fate when she began a passionate love affair with the owner’s son. When she fell pregnant their secret was discovered. Incensed that she had set her sights so far above her station, the owner of the castle ordered her murder. Dragged from her bed in the middle of the night, she was killed along with her unborn child. In an act of utter cruelty, her body was hung from a nearby bridge. The bridge is now called Sarah Bridge. Local folklore would suggest it is to commemorate the young woman but it is more likely to have been named after one of the ladies of the castle. Sarah continues to roam the house and grounds searching for her child. Occasionally a phantom horse and carriage pulls up and a screaming baby is left on the castle steps. Only then does Sarah stop weeping.

Foulksrath Castle
Foulksrath Castle

2. Foulksrath Castle

‘Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your long golden hair.’

You can almost hear the lament from the well known fairytale when you gaze upon Foulksrath Castle. Set in beautiful countryside, this five storey tower has secret tunnels and spiral staircases that lead to battlements with a view for miles around. Glance up quickly and you may catch a glimpse of a lonely lady staring from those battlements. Imprisoned by her father in the tower after she began an illicit affair, she was left to starve to death. Visitors sometimes catch a glimpse of her gaunt reflection in the windows. Others who claim to have witnessed her full apparition say she quickly darts back into the shadows, afraid to be seen. The White Lady who haunts the castle is presumed to be the spirit of Lady Margaret Butler, the granddaughter of Anne Boleyn. Margaret is seen here and at Kilkenny Castle where she was born. Witnessed floating through the castle gardens, she brings with her the scent of lilacs. Visit Foulksrath on the 29th November and you may see an annual visitor. The spirit of a guard who was thrown from the ramparts on that date many centuries ago returns each year.

Glin Castle
Glin Castle

3. Glin Castle

The stunning Glin Castle houses it’s very own poltergeist. In the 1960s the cook and the housekeeper were drawn upstairs to the third floor by the noise of objects being thrown about one of the bedrooms. As they were the only two people in the castle at the time, the racket could not be explained. Trembling with fright, they listened outside the door to the sound of the room being smashed up. Eventually, after plucking up the courage, they opened the door and were amazed to discover the room perfectly intact. Henry is another of the castle’s ghostly occupants. A builder, he fell from scaffolding during renovations on the castle. These days he often appears on the stairs to surprised witnesses. Others claim to have seen the frayed rope that failed the tragic builder, swinging ominously. For one ghost, the love of the castle keeps them from moving on. The 20th Earl of Glen appears in the Smoking Room sitting in his favourite armchair and enjoying a fine cigar.

Antrim Castle
Antrim Castle

4. Antrim Castle

In 1922 fire ripped through Antrim Castle, home of the Clotworthy family. Today all that remains is the tower, the gatehouse and the land around.This hasn’t deterred those ghosts that still haunt the site of the old castle. When fire swept through the building on that fateful night, a young maid, Ethel Gilligan was trapped in the tower. Despite the bravery of a local man who fetched a ladder and scaled the building, she perished.Today young Ethel’s screams can still be heard. Sadly, hers are not the only shrieks that pierce the air. Every 31st of May a phantom coach and horses performs a ghostly re-enactment of a long forgotten tragedy. Unable to stop, it plunges into the deep pond at the foot of the tower, the cries of its terrified passengers echoing through the night. Near the old gatehouse a stone wolfhound stands silent and still. Rumoured to have once been flesh and blood, he protected the Clotworthy family from a sneak attack by their enemies. Turned to stone, he can never be removed from Antrim Castle.

Dunluce Castle
Dunluce Castle

5. Dunluce Castle

The ruin of Dunluce Castle is possibly the most romantic in Ireland. Providing inspiration for poets, artists and writers, it perches precariously on a cliff top overlooking the sea and can only be accessed from the mainland via a wooden bridge. In the seventeenth century a terrible storm blew in from the sea. Unbeknown to the occupants of the castle a piece of the cliff below had washed away. Without warning the rock beneath the kitchens suddenly crumbled and that part of the castle collapsed. All but a kitchen boy who was sitting in a corner, perished. On stormy nights the screams of the cooks and scullery maids can still be heard. The White Lady stands on the cliffs looking out to sea. Thought to be the ghost of Maeve Roe, she died of a broken heart when she was prevented from marrying her true love. The specter of the Earl of Antrim, Richard de Burgh, still surveys the state of his old home. Seen walking around the old walls, he is bathed in a purple glow.

Huntington Castle
Huntington Castle

6. Huntington Castle

Monks, maids and mysterious ladies are just a few of the spirits seen wandering the halls and grounds of Huntington Castle. Built on the site of an ancient monastery, shadowy monks are seen gliding along the Yew Walk, a canopy of entangled trees that takes on a spooky appearance as light fades. Ailish O’Flaherty a former mistress of the house is seen combing her long hair next to the intriguingly named Spy Bush. Why? Nobody knows. Another mistress of the castle, Barbara St. Leger prefers to stay indoors jangling her keys as she tries the door knobs of various rooms. Her maid, Honor Byrne follows behind and polishes them clean with her long hair. Bishop Leslie of Limerick, haunts the four poster room. A benign and pleasant spirit he sometimes mischieviously replaces the face of a young girl in a favourite painting with his own. A knock on the front door may indicate the arrival of the soldier. A royalist spy in the Cromwellian army, he was killed by his own forces when he tried to enter the castle with news. Still dressed in civil war uniform, his ghost still hammers on the doors of the castle, seeking to deliver his vital message.

Ballygally Castle
Ballygally Castle

7. Ballygally Castle

Ballygally Castle is now a hotel that relishes its ghostly reputation. Its most famous spirit is Lady Isabella Shaw. Lady Isabella was locked in the tower by her wicked husband Sir Robert. Desperate for a son, he was furious when she gave birth to a daughter. Snatching the infant away from its mother, he condemned the poor woman to a life of solitary confinement. Eventually, she either starved to death or jumped from the tower. A friendly ghost, she has been seen walking up and down the hotel corridors knocking on the doors. Madame Nixon is another ghost who often makes her presence felt. A resident of the castle in the nineteenth century, her taffeta skirts can be heard rustling as she moves about. Other phenomena in the hotel include strange lights, unexplained knocks and for one terrified guest who ran out of his room half dressed, the sound of young children playing in the guest rooms.

Castle Leslie
Castle Leslie

8. Castle Leslie

Castle Leslie in County Monaghan was built in some of Ireland’s most beautiful countryside. Indeed, so idyllic is the castle and its surroundings that some of the Leslie family have refused to move on after death. The ghost of Norman Leslie is said to haunt the Red Room. An army officer during the First World War, his spirit appeared on the terrace of his home a week before his death. On the day he was killed he appeared to his mother in the Red Room. So real was apparition, his stunned mother believed it was truly her son come home. Sadly, he disappeared before her eyes and she later learned of his death. Norman still appears in the Red Room occasionally. Lady Constance Leslie prefers to make her appearances in the Mauve Room. She first appeared to comfort a dying relative, Lady Leonie. The nurse who was tending the dying woman believed the visitor was flesh and blood. It was only when she saw a portrait of Lady Constance a short time later that she realised she had been in the presence of a ghost. Lady Constance still pops into the Mauve Room to levitate the bed.

Belvelly Castle
Belvelly Castle

9. Belvelly Castle

Vain, spoilt, indulged, flighty, just some of the words that describe the ghost of Belvelly Castle. Lady Margaret Hodnett was a woman of great beauty and equal vanity. Her pride and joy was an enormous Venetian mirror which she spent many hours standing in front of. The belle of County Cork during the seventeenth century, Margaret was admired by many men. Her main admirer was a local landowner, Clon Rockerby. Unfortunately, the flighty Margaret believed she could keep the faithful Rockerby dangling on a string while she dallied with other men. Eventually, sick of waiting, Rockerby laid siege to her castle hoping to force Margaret into marriage. The stubborn Margaret refused to give in. After a year of starvation Rockerby eventually forced his way into the castle. Those that weren’t dead were gaunt and thin, including the once beautiful Margaret. Shocked at the sight of his beloved, Rockerby smashed her precious mirror and carried her outside. While he held the starving Margaret in his arms, her brother shot Rockerby with his bow and arrow. Rockerby used his dying words to curse Margaret. Margaret lived for many years but never married or regained her beauty. Today, she appears as a faceless ghost or wearing a misty veil. Condemned by Rockerby to seek out her own reflection until the end of time, Margaret is rumoured to have polished a stone in the castle wall until it was as shiny as a mirror.

Leap Castle
Leap Castle

10. Leap Castle

Leap Castle in Co. Offaly lays claim to the title ‘Most Haunted Castle in Ireland’ and with a history steeped in murder, mystery and mayhem, few would argue. The Bloody Chapel with it’s hidden oubliette was the scene of hundreds of murders including that of a priest conducting mass. On dark nights a strange glow is said to emanate from its windows, despite there being no light source. Some of the other twenty plus ghosts in the castle include a red lady, whose child was murdered by a previous owner, two children and a faceless woman who runs screaming along the corridors. The scariest phantom at Leap Castle is the Elemental. A strange, evil creature who smells of sulphur, he was conjured up when one of the castles occupants in the nineteenth century held a seance. The ghosts of Leap Castle refuse to leave despite polite requests. These days the latest owner Sean Ryan prefers to call them spirits and they co exist peacefully alongside his family, for now.

There are hundreds of castles in Ireland where hauntings have been reported. Today, I have chosen just ten out of the many to highlight. If you are planning to visit one of these castles, keep your eyes peeled and you may just spot one or more ghostly inhabitants. Of course these tales of ghouls and ghosties roaming the Emerald Isles, may be, as the Irish would say, nonsense or a load of old Blarney.

Beautiful Irish Castles

Do you believe in ghosts?

See results

Sources

  • britainirelandcastles.com
  • Wikipedia
  • The Spooky Isles
  • The Irish Times
  • independent.ie
  • oldmooresalmanac.com
  • castlesandmanorhouses.com
  • discovernorthernireland.com
  • haunted-britain.com
  • A Gothic Curiosity Cabinet
  • dev.themarketsquare.ie
  • Discover Ireland
  • authenticireland.com
  • irleandbeforeyoudie.com
  • Mirror Mirror by Fairweather Lewis

Questions & Answers

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      No comments yet.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, exemplore.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://exemplore.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)