Halloween is definitely my favorite time of the year – especially here in Ireland! It’s the right time to spend cosy dark evenings sitting at open fires, drinking warm tea or whiskey and sharing spooky stories about haunted houses & castles on the island. Having done some research myself, I even realized that rooms in these haunted places can be booked on Hotelsireland.com and thought that I’d share the best stories with you:
Ballygally Castle Hotel, Co. Antrim: Situated along the scenic Antrim coastline Ballygally Castle dates back to 1625. The castle is reputed to host a number of ghosts, the most active of which is the former resident, Lady Isobel Shaw, who was locked in her room and starved by her husband because she gave birth to a girl instead of a boy. Broken-hearted Lady Isobel clutched her child and leapt to her death… Today, Isobel’s knocking at doors is said to disturb the occasional guest … but to be much less frightening than the wailing of a child heard on other occasions. Madame Nixon is another ghost who lived in the hotel in the 19th century. She can be heard walking around the hotel in her silk dress.
Dobbins Inn, Co. Antrim: This hotel used to be a tower house, erected by Reginald d’Aubin in the 13th century in Carrickfergus. The house remained in the possession of his descendants for several hundred years. The family name changed over the years via Dobyn to Dobbins and successive generations became important local dignitaries, several holding high civic office. In the reign of King James I, during the Plantation of Ulster, their house became a shelter for Catholic priests who would celebrate secret masses on the premises, and a priest’s dating from those troubled times, is still visible in the hotel’ s reception. It was during this period that the Inn acquired its resident ghost, when Elizabeth, wife of the owner, Hugh Dobbins, fell in love with a handsome soldier, stationed at the castle opposite. At night she would creep through a secret tunnel (the entrance to which is still evident at the back of the huge stone fireplace in the hotel’s reception) in order to enjoy romantic trysts with her soldier love, remembered simply as ‘Buttoncap’. But her husband discovered their affair and, according to contemporary accounts, ‘did put them to death with his sword’. Whether or not the husband was punished is not recorded, but Elizabeth’ s ghost has wandered the building ever since. In 1946 the old property was converted into a hotel and the spirit of Elizabeth – or Maude, as she for some reason became known – lingered on as its oldest resident. Several guests have been wakened from their slumbers by the light touch of a ghostly hand caressing their faces. Others have caught glimpses of a furtive figure flitting across reception and disappearing close to the stone fireplace. A waiter working in the restaurant one night was struck on the back of the leg by a coin, but when he turned to remonstrate with whoever had thrown it, found that the room was empty.
Kinnitty Castle Hotel, Co. Offaly: On a spot once inhabited by Druids, bards and filidhe stands Kinnitty Castle, a truly spectacular Gothic Castle full of mysterious secrets. In the magnificent Banqueting Hall, the “Phantom Monk of Kinnitty” has been seen on numerous occasions by staff and visitors alike, as he glides along the room. He usually stops to gaze out of a particular window looking onto a quaint courtyard. This is no silent Monk, he communicates with staff members and visitors from time to time. Some see him as a solid , human figure and he has often been mistaken for a living person, others see him as a shadowy figure or sense his presence. There are also two haunted bedrooms in Kinnitty, the Geraldine Room and the Elizabeth room, but in other nooks and crannys of the Gothic building eerie presences are frequently seen and sensed.
Renvyle House Hotel, Co. Galway: Once owned by Oliver St. John Gogarty and burned down by the IRA this hotel has been completely rebuilt – which did not get rid of several ghosts residing there. Even W.B.Years has witnessed the haunting, doors opening and closing, groans, bedsheets flying off or sleepers being thrown out of their beds and other unexplained happenings. Some female guests undressing have even spotted voyeuristic ghosts in the mirror – at least those shouldn’t be vampires then! For the complete story click here.
Well, I can’t wait to go and do some ghost-hunting myself now. Should you want to learn more about the hotels, their facilities etc or to book a room, click on the following links:
Have a great spooky Halloween!