27 Sep 2017
Those looking for spooky adventures this Halloween should dare to explore Ireland’s spookiest castles.
Some you can visit, some you can stay in, and some you might want to approach cautiously – but if you’re looking for ghostly goings on and haunted castles, there’s no shortage around the island of Ireland.
Irish castles are full of brooding mystery and bloody histories, so it is little wonder they are loaded with tales of the spirits of unsettled souls.
Many have one ghost, some have two or three, but they say the 800-year-old Malahide Castle in Dublin has five, including Puck, a dwarf-like figure with a haggard face whose spectre was seemingly photographed on one occasion looking out from the ivy at the front of the castle.
Leap Castle in County Offaly is regarded as one of the most haunted places in Europe, having been the subject of various research projects and featured on paranormal TV programmes. Today, some locals still don’t dare enter its grounds.
A tour of its dark secrets reveal a deadly power struggle in the 1600s that resulted in a priest being slain by his brother as he said Mass in what is now known as the Bloody Chapel. In 1900 workers discovered a hidden sunken dungeon next to the chapel, its floor perforated with deliberately placed wooden spikes. Three cartloads of human bones were removed from the hellhole.
Mediums who have stayed at the Ballygally Castle, now a cute hotel beside the sea on County Antrim’s famous Causeway Coastal Route, have claimed there are as many ghosts there as guests.
One haunting concerns Lady Isobel Shaw, who, having given birth to a daughter, was locked in a tower by her husband because she couldn’t produce a male heir. Rather than starve, Isobel leapt to her death on the rocks below. Her ghostly figure can be seen wandering the corridors at night, knocking on guests’ doors crying for her daughter. Room service on Halloween night anyone?
Also on the Causeway Coastal Route, Carrickfergus Castle is said to be haunted by Buttoncap who carries his head under his arms as he walks the battlements. A stone’s throw away is Dobbin’s Inn, supposedly haunted by Buttoncap’s girlfriend.
For haunted atmospheric castle ruins, head for Leamaneh Castle in County Clare where you might hear the taunting cackles and screams of the multi husband murdering Red Mary echoing from the walls.
Alternatively, the locals around Ballyheigue Castle in County Kerry will regale you with accounts of photographed ghosts, lost gold bullion, coffins and mermen’s tails flicking from the sea.
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