Haunted castles in Ireland?
With some of the most romantic and chilling countryside in the world, Ireland is recognised for it’s rich culture and history. Through warfare, the Irish kings of the past were threatened by both their fellow Irishmen and foreign invaders. The most visible legacy of these threats are Ireland’s stunning castles and fortresses. Many of which still stand strong high on the hills and deep in the Valleys once occupied by kings. The brutal and bloody pasts of these castles is also preserved through historical records and local legends. The legends tell of many haunted castles in Ireland – this is a list of 10 of them.
Malahide Castle was built in the 12th century by one of Henry II’s knights. His family would own the castle for the next 791 years, up until 1976. They took really good care of it as it remains one of the most beautiful haunted castles in Ireland – with extensive gardens and a ruined abbey. At present, Malahide Castle is believed to have at least 5 ghosts. One of which is the spirit of an old court jester who was found stabbed to death. With his dying breath, he vowed to haunt the castle and grounds until they are ruled by a master who is good to the common people. I guess they never had a good master because many people regularly report seeing the jester’s ghost within the castle walls. Another supposed ghost is that of Miles Corbet. He was given the castle by Oliver Cromwell after they captured it suring their conquest of Ireland. Cromwell was very brutal in his suppression of the Irish, so after his death they rose up and hanged Miles Corbet. But they say his spirit never left the castle.
Clifden Castle was built in 1818 as a romantic gesture. It was lived in by the D’Arcy family until they went bankrupt due to the Irish potato famine. The castle was soon abandoned and neglected. As a result of this, Clifden Castle is in ruins. It is not fully submerged in overgrown trees yet; it can be seen standing strong as a monument to the devastation of the potato famine. Legend says that after it was abandoned, it was taken over and lived in by impoverished, starving peasants who died inside the castle. The legend goes further to claim that their ghosts are still in there, still hungry… but hungry for souls.
Tully castle is also in ruins. It was built in 1619, just in time for the Irish rebellion of 1641. This was when a group of Irish Catholics attempted to recapture Irish land controlled by the English. The rebellion ultimately failed and spiralled into a war between Catholics and Protestants. During the rebellion, an army marched on the castle and massacred those inside. They slaughtered 60 women and children, and set fire to the castle. Since then it has been in ruins. Legend tells that the ghosts of these women and children appear in the castle every Christmas day, which was the day they were killed. Their ghosts run out of the castle and into the surrounding area with the mindset they had when they were killed – a desperation to escape.
Dunbeg Fort is an Iron Age castle located on the edge of a cliff in Southern Ireland. Much of it’s history has been lost to time. This is a sort of omen as the castle is currently falling into the sea below the cliff it stands on. They say it is occupied by the ghosts of Iron Age tribal soldiers who stay true to their ritualistic culture. They can be seen sacrificing small animals and sometimes even children, throwing them off the cliff.
Built in 1195, Kilkenny Castle was a vital strategic military stronghold in Ireland. With the castle, Norman invaders were able to capture important rivers and alliances – this assisted in their domination of the region for hundreds of years. Through the years it was consistently restored to maintain it’s medieval look. In the 17th century, it was a catholic stronghold during rebellions against the English. A building such as this can only give birth to dark legends. These dark legends tell that the old castle dungeon is occupied by the ghost of a young servant boy who died there in the 17th century. Enter the dungeon on dark nights and you may hear the sound of him weeping to himself.
Castle Oliver was built in the mid 19th century on land first settled by English soldiers during their conquest of Ireland in the 1650s. This is just one of many haunted castles in Ireland caused by Oliver Cromwell’s invasion of Ireland, part of his legacy we forget. The castle grounds are said to be haunted by the spirits of grand horses who are seen galloping across the grass on dark evenings. Approach the horses and they will disappear into the air only to appear again the next day. The legends fail to describe who they belonged to or why they were frozen in time.
Loughmoe Castle is thought to be a 15th century castle. Very little is known of it’s history and it is now in ruins. Despite it’s long and mysterious past, Loughmoe Castle is said to be haunted by the ghost of a man who died just 50 years ago. Rumour tells that a man commit suicide within the ruined castle during the 1970s – and that his spirit is still there as people who take their own life are denied entry to heaven. At least he picked a nice location to be trapped in for eternity.
Donegal Castle is a 15th century restored castle surrounded by ruined buildings. It was built in 1474 by a man who also built a monastery in the area. Local legend tells that the castle was connected to the monastery by a secret underground passage. No such passage has been found, putting it on parr with other legends surrounding the old castle. It is said that a group of witches used to perform regular rituals in the castles. And that they drained the souls from many of their enemies and trapped them within the walls of the castle. Apparently they are still there, unable to leave through the windows or doors but fully able to drive anyone who enters their home insane.
Thought to have been built in the 13th century, Leap Castle has seen it’s fair share of battle. Several ruling families have ridden it of the bodies of other ruling families who owned the castle before them. Through bloody violence, the castle gained infamy as a place of evil. The castle was once home to Mildred Darby. She was known for practising magic and attempting to summon dark forces in the castle. Legend tells that she was successful in summoning a demon, who never left. It is said to float through the air on the second floor of the castle – it can only ever be seen by candlelight. Hold a candle while wandering through the second floor hallway and you may see it. A dark creature the size of a pig and with black holes instead of eyes. Haunted Castles In Ireland do sometimes get weird.
The most haunted castles in Ireland were built by foreigners. Carrickfergus Castle was built in 1177 by an Anglo-Norman knight. It soon became the region’s most vital fortification but was captured by the English in 1210. It was then used as a military garrison by the English/British for 750 straight years until it was finally transferred to Northern-Irish control in 1928. It is said that the castle well is haunted by the ghost of an 18th century soldier who was unjustly executed after being accused of being romantically involved with his commanding officer’s wife. His ghost cannot reach the top of the well, it is trapped at the bottom of it. Approach the well on an early morning and you might just hear his ghostly moan. Of all the haunted castles in Ireland this is the one I find most interesting for too many reasons to go into.