Home Uncategorized Halloween Special: The 25 Most Haunted Places, Houses and Castles in Ireland

Halloween Special: The 25 Most Haunted Places, Houses and Castles in Ireland

by Roberto
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Wherever your path takes you in Ireland, local tales of haunting are easy to find. Superstition has always run deep in the country, and it’s fractured historical past is the setting of many an unhappy story. Most of those came in death and led to an unfortunate attachment to the buildings they once gave life to. It being Halloween, I thought when better to compile a list of the most haunted places, haunted buildings, and haunted castles in Ireland that I’ve had the pleasure of investigating in my time here.

We at CarpeDiemEire have to admit that we love Halloween. Maybe it’s the close links to Irish culture. Maybe it’s the memories from childhood, dressed up as Darth Vader, in the shadow of a bonfire. Whatever it may be, I’ve always had a likening to ghoulish tales and ghosts stories. When better to share the best of haunted Ireland than in the spirited week itself.

Halloween in Ireland

There’s hardly a better place to focus on at Halloween. After all it’s where the idea first took hold. Many Millennia ago, it began as An Samhain, the Irish word for Autumn. An Samhain celebrated the competition of the harvest and the beginning of winter, and bonfires would be lit atop the hills around the country. This tradition continues in Ireland to this present day, with bonfires still a feature.

Trick-r-Treating is also believed to have started in Middle Ages Scotland or Ireland. Many theories surround this one, but dressing up in exchange for food was always the motive. Of course the food has been replaced by candy nowadays.

Then there’s the tradition of Jack-o-lantern’s in the window. So this story goes back to a guy called Stingy Jack. Stingy Jack invited the devil for a drink and tricked the devil into turning himself into a coin to pay for the drink. A year later the devil returned and Jack convinced him to climb a tree. Jack carved a cross in the tree, and released the devil ten years later on the condition he wouldn’t claim Jack’s soul.

When Jack finally succumbed to death, god said he wouldn’t have him in heaven. With nowhere left to go Jack was left to wander Ireland. Fearful of him, people would light a candle and place it in a turnip to scare him away, thus creating the tradition. When the Irish moved to America, they continued it with the more plentiful pumpkins.

The Most Haunted Castles in Ireland

Leap Castle – Ireland’s most haunted castle

In search of the most haunted castle in Ireland? Then look no further than Leap Castle. This midlands owner occupied castle has a turbulent history and counts about 50 ghosts as it’s residents. These include the dreaded Elemental, a ghost of sunken eyes and a transparent body, and the red lady, a menacing specter carrying a dagger and screaming. But perhaps the most unusual story is it’s other permanent residents, the Ryan’s. This family call the castle home, in full knowledge of those who they share with.

It’s a story that had to be told by itself, and I suggest you to read about Leap Castle and my own visit. The bloody chapel was one of the most unique places I’ve ever visited. Paranormal investigators and ghost hunters have a long history of seeking out spirits here.

Leap Castle- They don’t get more haunted than this- Ireland’s most haunted castle

Charleville Castle

Charleville castle is a wonderful structure outside the midland town of Tullamore. However a shadow was cast over it when in 1861 an 8 year old girl called Harriet (who was the daughter of the 3rd Earl of Charleville), decided to slide down the banister of the stairs. She lost her grip and in doing so also lost her life. She can still be felt brushing past on the stairs and at night the screams, laughter and singing of a little girl can be heard echoing in the night.

Haunted Castles in Ireland
Charleville castle- one of the most haunted castles in Ireland

Malahide Castle

As well as being the most impressive of Dublin’s castles, Malahide Castle holds another prestigious title. Dublin’s most haunted castle. While it’s 5 ghosts can’t compare to that of Leap Castle, I think it’s enough isn’t it. There’s Myles Corbett, whose hung, drawn and quartered body is known to saunter around, only to collapse at his quartered seams. A pretty sight I’m sure.

My personal favourite is Puck, the court jester who fell in love with a lady. This was before the days of Meghan and Harry, and sadly not acceptable. Puck was stabbed outside the castle, and with his dying words, promised to haunt the castle. He is often seen in photographs of visitor. Perhaps you might find him in mine from my visit this year!

Haunted Castles in Ireland

Kilkenny Castle

Kilkenny Castle is the stronghold of the Butler family for hundreds of years. Being one of Ireland’s most powerful families, allowed them to construct this stunning structure. To this day one of the Butlers still patrols her home. The White Lady that haunts this castle is believed to be Lady Margaret Butler, who lived in the 15th century. She was also the grandmother of Anne Boleyn. I guess a string of misfortune must be present on that side of the family.

Haunted Castles in Ireland

Leamaneh Castle

This creepy ruin is haunted by the ghost of Red Mary. While the castle can’t be visited as it’s on private land it’s easy to visualise that haunting is a strong possibility here. It certainly looks like Ireland’s most haunted castle. Couple that with the story of Red Mary, a woman of large personality. No man or enemy stood in her way. With a string of dead husbands in her wake, she finally met her comeuppance by being starved to death in a hollowed out tree. Take a read of her full life story here, and if you wonder why she might be still here trying to bring terror, I’m worried about you.

Haunted Castles in Ireland

Kilkea Castle

Kilkea Castle now operates as a stylist castle hotel, but of course it wasn’t always as such. Once upon a time it was the stronghold of the Fitzgerald Family. Their history was mostly one without incident, with the exception of one spell in the 16th century. Around this time Gerald Fitzgerald took his place at the head of the family.

This Fitzgerald was different and was believed to have practiced magic by superstitious locals. He earned himself the title the Wizard Earl. Four centuries later the Wizard Earl is said to still come riding on horseback from the nearby Curragh, on the seventh day, of the seventh month, of the seventh year. Hoping to see that sight? Then let me entice you further with my stay there in 2020.

Kilkea Castle Kildare
One of the most haunted castles in Ireland you can stay in

Castle Roche

This ruin outside the town of Dundalk in Louth hides a story of deception. With the castle in a poor state, the lady of the time Rohesia De Verdon, asked a local builder to rebuild it to its former grandeur. In exchange she would marry him. Alas Rohesia had no intention of doing so. When the work was complete, the builder stood proudly before a window high up in the castle wall.

Seizing her opportunity with a little push, she ended her promise to the builder. Death has a way of doing that. Both heartbroken and body broken, the builder haunts the area under the window with his moans. The castle is in a lovely green field, and would make a lovely campsite for those brave enough.

Haunted Castles in Ireland

Dunluce Castle

This beautiful and haunting ruin is one of the main attractions on the causeway coastal route in Northern Ireland. It has a fine history, first settled by the MacQuillan family around 1500. The MacDonnell’s then followed but were forced out by the English. They retaliated and climbing the cliff face to the castle, defeated the English and hung the captain. You guessed it, he’s a-haunting here now.

But he’s not alone, before you start to be concerned for him. Maeve Roe was the daughter of Lord MacQuillan, and fell in love with a rogue. Her father wanted her to marry her cousin or someone, but she wasn’t having any of it. The rogue came one night for her and they escaped by boat. Alas their elopement ended in tears, the boat capsized and though the rogues body was found, they never found that of Maeve. She haunts the castle tower with screams and wails on dark stormy nights.

She haunts the castle tower with screams and wails on dark stormy nights.

Then there’s the cooks who are said to have fallen with the kitchen into the sea. Do they return to prep a ghostly banquet? Or fill the castle with the smells of venison and wild boar?

Dunluce Castle

Clifden Castle

Clifden Castle is a ruin on the Wild Atlantic Way in Galway. Only built in the 19th century, it quickly fell into ruin as the famine hit Ireland in the 1840’s. Both the landlord and his tenants were devastated. The tenants gathered in the castle lawn looking for food, but sadly there was none to give. It is said they died here in horrible conditions from starvation. They can still be seen in the area, ghostly and ghastly reminders of their true selves.

Haunted Castles in Ireland

Ross Castle

No this isn’t the beautiful castle set on the shores of the Killarney Lakes. It’s a far more sinister place in County Meath on the shores of Lough Sheelin. Built by Richard Nugent in 1536, he was known as the Black Baron. Presumably due to the colour of his heart! The Black Baron himself is said to haunt the place.

However the more seen ghost here is his daughter Sabrina. Falling in love with a poor Irish lad, they decided to elope by boat. Will they ever learn? This always ends in tears. So it did this time too. Sabrina survived but her love did not.

Brokenhearted, Sabrina refused to eat and locked herself in a tower till she succumbed to death. You lucky people can still spend one night in Sabrina’s room, as the castle is now a fully functional B&B. But don’t worry, she’s only searching for her lover in the tower. She means no harm.


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Carrickfergus Castle

Still standing strong in the Ulster town of Carrickfergus, this castle has had a strong part to play in Irish history. It was built by John De Courcy a Norman lord in the 12th century. It was also the landing point of William III before the instrumental Battle of the Boyne in 1690. But our story concerns Button Cap, the resident ghost, who stands guard on the walls awaiting a battle.

In life he was a great soldier who fought valiantly against the MacDonnells of Dunluce. Earning himself a sterling reputation, it all came to an abrupt end as he fell from a boat he travelled on not far from the coast. These Irish waters are a dangerous place. I guess he didn’t have enough battles in life so he seeks them in death too.

Haunted Castles in Ireland

Kinnitty Castle

What better way to see if a castle is haunted than by staying in one. I recommend a long winter night, and keeping the light off, to ensure the perfect conditions. By the time the witching hour comes around you should surely be seeing something. Apparently the Geraldine and Elizabeth rooms in Kinnitty Castle in Offaly would be perfect for this. Both are known to be haunted.

The castle was rebuilt in 1929 after being burned down by the IRA, but seems to have retained its ghosts. One in particular is a monk called Hugh, who is said to communicate with an employee. Don’t be alarmed if you see that. He’s friendly and only usually appears during a celebration. Maybe he’s the original wedding crasher.


Ballygally Castle

Another castle where you can overnight in without freezing your ass off is the Ballygally Castle hotel. Located in County Antrim, its ghost has been there for 400 years. The ghost is that of Lady Isabella Shaw. When she birthed a son in to her husband Lord Shaw, he locked her in a tower of the castle. Now that’s love for you. While trying to escape she plummeted to her death.

She’s often heard walking the castle by guests, or making a racket in a room. But the hotel are confident she is a friendly one, and advise guests not to mind the green mist that sometimes envelopes the castle.

Cabra Castle

In line with my theory that every castle seems to have its own ghost story in Ireland, here’s another castle hotel with one. The life of a servant girl was a better one than one could hope for living in their own family home back in the 18th century. For some Sarah, in this case, it’s even got the opportunity for love. But when the person you fall in love with, and get pregnant by is the son of the owner, you can guarantee it’s not going to be a story of pumpkins and lost slippers in real life.

Getting wind of what happened. the family took Sarah out into the woods and hung her. So sets the scene for our haunting, and now the cries of a baby can be heard in the woods and near the hanging tree, which still stands. Guests have also reported a man dressed in full military uniform, in what was once voted the second scariest hotel in the world on tripadvisor.

the cries of a baby can be heard in the woods

Cabra Castle

Castle Leslie

There’s one more addition to the haunted castles in Ireland list that has become a hotel. Castle Leslie’s most famous room is the redrum, sorry Red Room. Believed to be a bridge between life and death, children of the Leslie family were born here, and those about to die appeared here. Consider the classic case of Norman Leslie, who appeared before Marjorie Leslie. He was reading some letters, before turning to smile at her and vanish. A day later he died on the battlefields of France in World War I. His ghost is said to still linger in the room.

Haunted houses and places in Ireland

Ducketts Grove

This mansion outside of Carlow is the very definition of a haunted house. With its towers and turrets and vast emptiness it’s perfect for a haunting. So where better place to find a banshee, the most ghastly of all Irish ghosts. The story has it that William Duckett who built the Ducketts Grove mansion in 1830, had an illicit affair with a young girl. When she suffered a horse riding accident, her mother put a piseog on the family, an ancient curse. This brought ruin to them financially and it’s how the estate eventually fell into disrepair.

There are many stories here of the dreaded wails of the banshee being heard right before the death of loved ones of the castles employees. The ghosts of the Ducketts have also been seen, as well as servants in the kitchen. Ducketts Grove really has the ghosts to back up it’s appearance. Ducketts Grove is the most haunted house in ireland, and an essential stop on a road trip to Kilkenny.

Haunted Houses in Ireland

Loftus House

The story of Loftus House in Wexford is one of the more famed Irish ghost stories. Charles Tottenham invites a stranger into his house on a dark stormy night. His daughter Anne Tottenham became besotted with him. However one day as the played cards, Anne dropped one of hers. To her horror as she attempted to pick it up, she discovered the stranger had a cloven hoof. Yes you guessed it, it was old Nick himself. The devil flew straight through the roof of the house upon his discovery.

Charles was dismayed, not least because his insurance didn’t cover act of devil, but also because his daughter Anne suffered an incurable shock. She descended into madness. Left with no choice but to lock her up, she soon after died. Anne walks the floors even since that day in 1775, in anguish. Loftus House is nowadays one of the best haunted house tours in the country. The house is currently on the market, the pros are it’s own private beach, the cons being its own private ghost.

Wicklow Gaol

Billed as one of the most haunted Irish buildings, it’s no surprise as gaol’s aren’t exactly the most pleasant of places. A whole host of stories are attached to the place, and many visions have happened. These include a woman clad in a full length black velvet cloak found walking on the ground floor, a man walking from cell 19 to the end of the walkway, strange goings on in cell 13, and a whole host of other sightings. Add to that a lingering smell of apples, and a green mist that appears from nowhere, and it all adds up to a well haunted building.

Wicklow Gaol
Wicklow Gaol
Wicklow Gaol

Kilmainham Gaol

This is one of the best Dublin tourist attractions. Many wronged people ended up here, for petty crimes such as stealing some bread. Is it any wonder it would have a few spooks? The Gaol seems to be more the scene of a classic haunting than a particular ghost. Since it’s renovations workers profess of strange happenings like lights turning on and off, footsteps in the dark, and being knocked over by a force. Personally I would expect nothing less from a ghost.

Kilmainham Gaol

Hellfire Club

This ominous building in the Dublin mountains, is a popular hiking area for Dubs. But it’s past is shrouded in mystery. The hunting lodge as it was originally, was built atop a cairn, an ancient burial mound. That’s a serious red flag in any horror movie. The building was sold in 1735 to a group known as the Hellfire Club.

They were outsiders from decent society, engaging in alcohol and sex in their wild parties. Sounds a bit like university to me. Less like uni was their practice of black magic and the dark arts, and their attempts to summon the devil.

Stories still spread like wildfire about them. Did they set fire to a servant girl and roll her down Montpellier Hill at the Hellfire Club? Did they after many attempts finally succeed in summoning the devil himself at this very place. Subsequently did the devil blow the roof off, as historical texts seems to corroborate?

As one of the best places to watch the sunset in Dublin, its an ideal place to test if its still haunted by hanging around as day turns to night. Though you are more likely to be another victim of the Hellfire Club while walking back down the mountain side.

Hellfire Club

The Crossroads Suicide Plot

Though it looks innocuous in this modern day with an advertising hoarding and a couple of passive benches, the crossroads at Clonliffe Road and Ballybough Road in Dublin, covers up a dark and shady past. During the 18th and 19th century it served as a suicide plot, where those that had taken their own life were laid to rest. They were not permitted to be buried on consecrated ground.

As was the practice at the time, a stake was used to transfix the bodies, to stop their unhappy souls from wandering about. Any thoughts on who this may have inspired? A certain Bram Stoker lived in nearby Clontarf.

This area was known as Mud Island at the time and had a tough reputation. Highwaymen were common, and there was much crime. One such highwayman was Larry Clinch, who met his end in 1806 after a shootout. It came at the end of a rope. His body was then left at the suicide plot for all to see. Thereafter many tales were told of a mysterious horseman riding at night down the street, believed to be the spiteful ghost of Larry.

Haunted Places in Ireland

The Brazen Head

This bar in Dublin claims to be Ireland’s oldest. A less claimed story is its ghost one. A lad by the name of bold Robert Emmet used to call this his watering hole. That is, till he was executed. Coincidently his executioner also frequented the Brazen Head. Robert Emmet can be seen lurking in the shadows, trying to find the one who wronged him. Would you stop by here for a pint of the black stuff when you travel to Dublin?

Haunted Places in Ireland

13 Henrietta Street

When I think of about a haunted tenement building in my mind, this creepy AF building is exactly what’s in there. Now derelict, this former slum was the scene of an exorcism a century ago. The woman clearly didn’t get over it too well, as her ghost can often be seen in the windows looking out. Is it any wonder it’s derelict when the owners came home to that? I know I’d be packing. I thought I saw her myself but it turned out to be a mannequin. The next time you pass I dare you to look up at the windows.

Haunted Places in Ireland

Rathmichael Cemetery Dublin

This is one that doesn’t often make haunted lists. In fact it barely makes the maps. Located a few minutes from the Dublin Mountain Way, this old cemetery dates back as far as the vikings. At its centre are the ruins of an old church and round tower. Scattered headstones tell of centuries of local residents.

However from the moment I crossed the stile a prevailing sense of dread filled me. Nature has overgrown the place, and a sense of abandonment is felt of the souls within. In the distance an animal filled the air with a scream. Was it a chicken? What’s wrong with that chicken? Was it a banshee?

I had come here not to see the graveyard, nor the church but by the promise of a skull hole. What exactly was a skull hole? My instinct pointed to the bottom part of the round tower. That or the account I had read online. As time progressed over the years, under soil movements caused the bones of some of the deceased to rise above the ground.

Rather than disturb the relations and visitors, they threw the bones in the first place they could think of to hide them. The base of the round tower. Unable to resist my curiosity, I scaled the side and looked in. Alas the bones were no more. But don’t let that take away from this haunted place. Of all on this list, it’s the one that left me with the most unease.

Haunted Places in Ireland

Charles Fort

This British fort was built to defend against attack from sea, and brought hardship to the people of Kinsale in Cork. But it was not without its own hardship within. At some point during its occupation in the 1870’s, the daughter of the Fort Commander was due to marry one of the officers. However her father shot her loved one in error, and his daughter leaped into the sea in despair. The lonely fort has since being haunted by a White Lady, the ghost of the commander’s daughter, all clad out in her wedding dress. Charles Fort is a must visit in the town of Kinsale.

Haunted Places in Ireland
View over the fort to the sea beyond

Halloween is more than haunted castles and houses

I hope I’ve gotten you into the Halloween mood. If so you can continue it into the week. Love horror movies as much as I do? Then maybe I can inspire you with my list of 66 horror movies that will give you a good scare over on IMDB. I suggest after all these ghost stories you start with The Woman in Black.

If horror movies aren’t your thing, then I have just the tonic in some Halloween anthems. Take a listen to my playlist of the best spooky and fun music for this time of year,

If you want to learn more about Ireland, then you’ve come to the right place. The Ireland travel section of this blog is an excellent resource on castles, hiking, road trips, and innumerate travel tips about Ireland. Follow the link here.

Most Haunted places in Ireland
Most Haunted Buildings in Ireland
Most haunted Castles in Ireland
Most Haunted Castles in Ireland

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