Ireland’s 12 Most Haunted Places

Ireland’s 12 Most Haunted Places

Do you want to know about the Most Haunted places in Ireland?

Gathering around for a spooky ghost story on Halloween is an unbeatable experience and there is no shortage of them to be found in Ireland. Ireland's history of violence, suffering, and warfare combined with our culture of mythology and tales have painted a terrifying landscape full of stories that will send shivers down your spine.

For a real-life ghost adventure or thrilling story-telling, take a look at the most intriguing 'haunted' buildings in Ireland. From castles and abbeys to forts and more, you'll be amazed by the dark and mysterious history of these places!

1. Leap Castle, Co Offaly

Leap Castle has become synonymous with spine-chilling hauntings, thanks to its turbulent history strewn with wars and sorrowful deaths. Many people have been killed within the castle walls in former times, particularly those who had wronged its past rulers. It is almost as if a scene from Game of Thrones was playing out before our eyes!

The Red Lady is a frequent presence in the corridors, armed with a dagger. You might also spot two young sisters, Emily and Charlotte, running around and occasionally falling from the battlements - eerily reminiscent of Emily's death at 11 years old.

For those feeling bold and brave, The Bloody Chapel & Murder Hole Room offer an opportunity to hunt for ghosts and hear spooky stories from owner Sean Ryan, such as hearing chants within the walls or objects being moved right in front of his eyes.

Sean Ryan, the proprietor of Leap Castle, offers tours of the castle this October. To book a guided tour, visitors can get in touch with him directly.

Do you dare to venture into The Bloody Chapel? Are you courageous enough to face what lies ahead?

2. Charles Fort, Co Cork

It is believed that the spirit of the White Lady of Kinsale can be seen lurking on the walls of Charles Fort in Kinsale Harbour. Legend has it that her father, Colonel Warrender killed her husband on their wedding night. Numerous eyewitnesses have reported sightings of a mysterious woman in a wedding gown causing chaos at the fort. Soldiers have seen her appearing and disappearing through walls, while parents stationed there noticed her keeping an eye on their kids as they slumbered. A disturbing event from 1922 tells the story of a medical officer who was dragged by a young woman wearing a robe and thrown down the stairs. It is essential to be aware of your surroundings when navigating unfamiliar terrain.

Tickets for Charles Fort are both available online and upon arrival. Adults can purchase tickets for €5, whereas children can get tickets for €3. Furthermore, the fort offers multiple language guides as well as a specially designed monster and poltergeist trail for kids.

Legend has it that the White Lady of Kinsale still wanders Charles Fort, in search of her beloved.

3. Duckett’s Grove, Co Carlow

Paranormal investigators have visited the Duckett’s Grove estate and claim to have photographic proof of the ghost of William Duckett. So don't doubt your ears when you hear eerie whispers or see strange apparitions - you are likely being visited by a ghost!

The Duckett Grove Banshee is the most notorious entity around these ruins, as her shrieks and those of former servants in the kitchens can be heard echoing throughout. Reports of an organ being heard within the ruins, and a mysterious carriage stopping at this defunct mansion, have been circulating.

Despite its conditions, the ruined house remains accessible to everyone as the walled garden and grounds are open for events, markets and other activities. Additionally, these extensive grounds hold Christmas markets as well.

4. Belvelly Castle, Co Cork

According to popular belief, the 14th-century tower house of Belvelly is haunted and renowned for its eerie activities. Many visitors have reported feeling scared and uncomfortable in the area. The population of the area includes the ghost of a Spanish minstrel believed to have been shipwrecked off Ireland's coast, as well as Lady Margaret Hardnett, a 17th-century aristocrat renowned for her beauty & eccentric behaviour.

According to legends, Margaret faced dire consequences when she refused to succumb to the affections of Clon Rockenby. He allegedly starved her family until she lost her sanity and beauty. To further his anger, it is said that she went on a rampage and destroyed every mirror in the castle. Her spirit is now supposedly trapped in the ancient tower searching for reflections of herself in mirrors.

The castle's recent renovation has been done by private owners, and it stands out easily due to its convenient location close to the Cork Road bridge that leads onto Fota Island.

Legend has it that Margaret's spirit still haunts Belvelly Castle to this day.

5. Loftus Hall, Co Wexford

Located in Wexford, Loftus Hall is known as Ireland's most haunted house. Rumour has it that the devil himself visited there during a stormy night in the 1760s. This gothic structure has since been an object of curiosity and fear for generations.

Charles and Anne were shocked when they noticed the stranger had cloven hooves instead of feet. As soon as Anne screamed in surprise, their guest escaped through the roof in a ball of flames. Lady Anne's death left an indelible mark and her spirit is rumoured to still haunt the house to this day.

Former owner of Loftus Hall Aidan Quigley claims that he still feels a presence in the space, even after its sale to Oakmount and its conversion into a luxury hotel.

Fans of the supernatural regard Loftus Hall with great curiosity.

6. St Michan’s Church, Co Dublin

The historical 9th-century church may look simple and plain on the outside, but its interior holds many of its original features. Handel used to practice his compositions on the organ inside and the underground crypt is sure to give you an eerie experience.

Coffins piled up with limbs sticking out and some of Dublin’s infamous families resting in them, create an eerie atmosphere.

An impressive array of historical figures can be found in the eerily dark corridors of Ireland's history. These include the Sheares brothers, prominent 18th-century rebels executed in 1798, an 800-year-old crusader, a 400-year-old mummified nun and the death mask of Wolfe Tone - an Irish revolutionary who fought for independence. All are said to whisper in these hauntingly empty halls.

Visitors can explore St Michan's for free, with guided tours of the vaults available. Don't forget to check out the mummies at St. Michan's crypt when you're in town next time!

7. Hellfire Club, Co Dublin

During daylight hours, the stunning summit of Montpellier Hill in the Dublin Mountains is frequented by hikers and families who gather to enjoy picnics on its lush lawns.

During the night, however, the abandoned hunting lodge can be quite a creepy place - with speculations about it being occupied by the ghosts of its former occupants who were rumoured to have practised black magic and partied wildly.

It is said that members of the 'hellfire' club invited the devil one night to play cards. When he was discovered, he set the building ablaze, which is why it remains in its ruined state today. Visitors of the said place have reported a feeling of being choked, hearing voices, and smelling bad odours, which suggests that something devilish is occurring.

Multiple hiking trails in the Dublin Mountains allow tourists to witness the ruins of the Hellfire Club.

8. Kilmainham Gaol, Co Dublin

Kilmainham Gaol shut down in 1924, still retains an air of dread and terror due to its history of housing some of Ireland's most dangerous criminals over the last two centuries. Europe's biggest abandoned prison is certainly not lacking in paranormal activity. Visitors have reported that the lights in the chapel often turn on and off by themselves, and cell doors are known to slam shut even when no one is around.

Dublin has a dark past with executions and imprisonments of revolutionaries. You can visit the sites that were their last days, see their cells and find the location of public hangings at the entrance of the gaol.

Kilmainham Gaol provides 90-minute guided tours every day at an affordable price. Adults cost €8 & children under 12 years old pay only €4. Be prepared as you may come across some unearthly sounds during your tour.

9. Charleville Castle, Co Offaly

Thanks to the hard work of volunteers from the Charleville Castle community, this once-decaying castle has been restored to its former glory.

Professional tour guides can tell you the haunting story of Charleville Estate and its occupants. From tales of the Knights Templar to that of Harriet, a little girl who tragically died playing on the stairs in 1861 - they'll bring this spooky past to life.

Rumour has it that Harriet still haunts the castle, laughing, singing and screaming in the middle of the night. Even if you don't see her, it's still worth a visit due to its ancient oak woods which house the oldest oak tree in Ireland.

While the castle is being renovated, visitors can still explore the extensive grounds & forest of the estate.

10. Ballyheigue Castle, Co Kerry

Ballyheigue Castle Golf Course features the ruins of a grand 18th-century mansion, which was tragically burned down in 1921. According to local legend, it is still the home of an apparition that was reportedly seen by Captain O'Donnell in 1962.

O'Donnell stumbled upon a spooky discovery while wandering around the ruins - a ghostly figure, brandishing a sword, in one of the castle windows. He documented this surprise find with some photos.

Further research revealed a fascinating story of a sunken vessel, a mission to hunt for hidden treasure and an unfortunate soldier who was killed as he attempted to stop the theft – an ideal foundation for classic ghost stories.

If you want a true, close-up experience with the castle, you can book a round of golf at Ballyheigue Castle Golf Course.

11. Wicklow Gaol, Co Wicklow

Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin and the Wicklow Gaol, both built during the Victorian era, stopped being prisons in 1924. Nowadays these facilities serve as tourist attractions to those wanting to learn more about their dark pasts.

At the prison-turned-museum, actor guides will take you on a tour and provide insight into the lives of those that were locked up in the facility. These range from participants of the Irish Rebellion of 1798 to prisoners who were destined for transportation to Australia.

Take a night tour of the original dungeon in the jail and experience it if it is known to be one of Ireland's most haunted places. Visitors to the gaol can choose from two types of tours: the day tour (prices start from €9) or the "Gates of Hell" virtual reality tour (starting at €13). Experience the chilling yet thrilling experience of a night-time visit to Wicklow Gaol's dungeon.

12. Leamaneh Castle, Co Clare

Máire ní Mahon, famously known as Máire Rua (Red Mary), lived in Leamaneh Castle for a long time. Her nickname was due to her red hair and fiery temper.

Queen Elizabeth I, had an unforgiving nature and was known to harshly punish servants who displeased her; sometimes, they hung out the castle windows with fatal consequences. It is said that her malevolent behaviour led to the locals trapping her in a hollow trunk, leading to her death. Though she ultimately perished, rumours of a red-haired ghost appearing in the castle ruins have been circulating for some time.

Unfortunately, Leamaneh Castle can't be explored in detail, however, the ruinous remains can still be admired from the R480 road nearby.

Photo by Brett Sayles: