Each and every one of the 32 counties has a spooky story about a spooky place. If you believe in that sort of thing...
Unless we've missed a recent scientific breakthrough, ghosts haven't been proven to actually exist.
They're usually our own brains playing tricks on us, for whatever reason.
They don't exist... and yet... Here you are. Reading this. Because as much as we know they don't exist, we don't know know. Plus, we Irish are definitely more prone to tales of ghosts and poltergeists than most.
Having said that, the following is all to be taken relatively lightly. They are stories, and nothing more.
Antrim - Ballygally Castle
On their own website they talk of having a "Ghost Room", stating "Every castle has to have at least one ghost of some kind, and the Ballygally has been recently reported to have as many as three! The one we know most about, The Ghost of Ballygally Castle has been around for the best part of 400 years."
Armagh - Armagh Gaol
Was once featured on BBC show Northern Ireland's Greatest Haunts, so you know it is legit.
Carlow - Duckett's Grove
The ghost story goes that William Duckett's lover put a curse on his family in the terrifying form of a Banshee, a wailing female entity that foretold the death of family members. Apparently you can hear the moaning calls from the ghosts of the family still trapped inside the castle...
Cavan - Cabra Castle Hotel
It was at one point voted the second scariest hotel in the world on Trip Advisor. So... there's that.
Clare - Leamaneh House
The story goes that Red Mary married many different English soldiers, killing each of them after a year and a day, and moving on to the next. Apparently, the soldiers clued in to her ways and eventually tied her up to a tree to die of starvation. Her ghost is said to still haunt her old house.
Leamaneh Castle - once home to the famous Maire Rua & acc. to legend, the location of her famed husband-killing exploits (she married 12 English soldiers in total, all dying in ‘mysterious circumstances'). Tower House was built around 1490. #BurrenHeritage pic.twitter.com/1T3z3znTlQ
— Burrenbeo Trust (@BurrenbeoTrust) July 31, 2020
Cork - Belvelly Castle
Another lady who was starved out, this time by a man who fancied her in the 17th century and got jealous when she didn't immediately fall in love with her. She eventually went mad, smashed all the mirrors in her house, and died. Again, she haunts her former home, rubbing bits of the walls hoping to turn them shiny enough so she can see her own reflection again.
Derry - Glenuilin
Apparently a very evil man is buried somewhere here, and anyone who has attempted to dig him up as had their life head off in a bad direction very quickly. It is also apparently where Bram Stoker got his inspiration for Dracula.
Donegal - Drumbeg Manor
Nothing specific, but lots of reports of sightings, screams in the middle of the night, and odd occurrences. General creepy goings ons.
Down - Grace Neill's Bar
Bar staff claim to have seen glasses moved without any visible hands touching them. Light switches turned on and off. Slow footsteps heard in the empty rooms upstairs. And the previous landlady Grace has been reported to have been seen in some of the darker corners of the bar, despite being dead for several hundred years.
Dublin - The Hellfire Club
Orgies. Devil worship. Ritual sacrifice. Depending on who you ask, it all happened up here. And it left an indelible mark to this day.
Fermanagh - Cooneen Ghost House
In 1913, a widow and her young children were forced to flee their home when a poltergeist tormented them each and every night. Not only that, but the entire village cast them out, believing them to be personally haunted.
Galway - Aughrim Battlefield
A huge battle took place here in 1691, and the bodies of the soldiers from the losing side were left to rot on the field for over a year, until nothing but bone remained. Apparently the screams of the hundreds of soldiers can be heard by the locals to this very day.
Kerry - Ballyheighue Castle
Lots of different spooky stories related to this one, from former family members leaving the coffins of their dead at the beach for mermen to take away, to actual buried pirate treasure resulting in people turning on each other, and their ghosts remaining behind in search of their lost gold.
Kildare - Kilkea Castle
As per their own website: "Once home to the 11th Earl of Kildare (who specialised in alchemy and black magic), this castle is now a luxury hotel and golf resort. Time it right, and you might witness the ‘Wizard of Earl’ revisiting the castle on his white steed, which he does every seven years."
Kilkenny - Tower Bridge
In 1763, it is reported that 16 people drowned during a flood when the bridge collapsed. To this day, people claim to see ghostly figures rise above the water during the early hours of the morning.
Laois - Togher Woods
There is a Facebook page imaginatively called Haunted Laois, and there is an entire post consisting of people who have gone into the Togher Woods at night and experienced some eerie-ness and general spookiness. Doesn't appear to be tied to any ancient evil, just a creepy place to be alone in the dark.
Leitrim - Lough Rynn
Pinterest has Lough Rynn marked out as one of the spookiest places in Ireland. They don't go into too much detail, but considering the long history related to the area, we're sure there have been some great scary stories told about the lake and its surroundings.
Limerick - St. Katherine's Abbey
A ruined medieval nunnery (??) that is haunted by the ghost of a woman was accidentally buried alive (???) by her husband. The nuns apparently turned to the dark arts to keep the ghost at bay, but toyed too much with it and what is now known as The Black Hag's Cell is apparently one of the most haunted places in Ireland.
Longford - St. Matthew's Terrace
RTE have reports in 1985 of a family forced to abandon their home due to a powerful haunting. "The family reported hearing strange noises in the house and appealed to the church and the council for help. Failing to get the help they wanted, they decided to leave the house and are now living in a caravan without utilities or hope of being rehoused. Mary and Patrick Courtney, and their son Patrick spoke to RTÉ News about their experiences. RTÉ News also spoke to their former neighbours, at Saint Matthew’s Terrace, who are largely in agreement with the family that the house may be haunted."
Louth - Taaffe's Castle
Home to the story of the 'Headless Ghost of Taaffe's Castle' who was supposed to have been Nicholas Taaffe, 2nd Earl of Carlingford, who died at the Battle of the Boyne in July 1690, fighting for King James.
Mayo - Moore Hall
As reported by a Lovin writer who lived in the area: "We had heard stories about people who ventured inside and doors slammed behind them and they couldn't get out. Some said children had died there and that in the dead of night, you could still hear their childish giggles in the wind."
No thank you.
Meath - Ross Castle
A tragic love story of a man who drowned in a storm, and a woman so heartbroken that she locked herself into a room in the castle, never to be seen (alive) again. Visitors apparently frequently claim to encounter her spirit, still looking for her lover all these years later.
Monaghan - Castle Leslie
As per Castle Leslie's own website: "Norman Leslie was seen by Lady Marjorie Leslie beside the chest of drawers [in The Red Room] in 1914, a few weeks after he had been killed on the battlefields of France. He appeared as if in a cloud of light, reading through some of his letters, as if he was searching for one in particular. Lady Marjorie sat up in bed with a start, and said, 'Why Norman – what are you doing here?’ He simply turned to her and smiled, then faded away."
Offaly - Leap Castle
Via the official Visit Offaly website: "Sean Ryan of Leap Castle, insisted that he doesn't fabricate when telling the story of what he and his wife see and hear at their home. Where most would refer to these apparitions as ghosts, Sean prefers to call them spirits. He describes the regular visions as people with a haze around them. Sometimes there is a lot of activity; other times less so. The sounds they hear are footsteps, doors opening and closing and crowds talking. However, on occasions that he has gone in the direction of the noise, nothing is apparent there, with the location of the spirits always out of reach. There is spirit, though, a lady, who touches off people. A lot of guests to the castle have also felt her presence."
Roscommon - The King House
Name-checked in an article by Forbes, detailing a story about "a hole in the roof where the devil once escaped after a card game on his behalf". That pesky devil sure knows how to make a quick getaway.
Sligo - Seafield House
Home to a long history of poltergeists and weird visions and events, including one night when the house shook so violently that every person inside ran out and never returned. There is also a story of a tall dark figure laughing maniacally, while walking out into the sea. Jeepers.
Tipperary - McCarthy's Pub
This pub is mentioned in a ghost hunting book, with talk of both a poltergeist AND a banshee having been spotted there. Popular pub in the afterlife, apparently.
Tyrone - Mullaghmoyle Road
In 2009, outlets such as The Guardian and The Belfast Telegraph reported on the dozens of sightings of a mysterious "lady in white", with some locals believing the arrival of the ghost was related to the cutting down of an ancient 'Fairy Tree' in the nearby forests.
Waterford - The Quay
It is said that if you visit the quay late at night, there's a chance you'll catch a glimpse of ancient, long-sunk tall ships, and some of the crew getting off the ship and walking around the quay in their period attire.
Westmeath - Kilbeggan Distillery
Listed as one of the Most Haunted Distilleries in the World, it got the attention of hit UK show Most Haunted host Derek Acorah. The distillery is said to be haunted by previous owners, including a father and son who were executed in 1798 for breaking curfew and being alleged members of the United Irishmen.
Wexford - Coolbawn House
The servant girl of the rich family who lived her stood too close to a window during a storm, and was killed when struck by lightning. For years afterwards, those living in the house said they could still see her in the reflection of the window she stood near. Eventually the house was reportedly burned down by the IRA, but folk say they can still sometimes see the girl at that tragic open window.
Wicklow - Wicklow Goal
In 2013, it was named one of the most haunted places in the world. People have said to have seen the ghosts of former inmates, the wives of former inmates, and the actual gates of hell open up here.
Yep. The Gates of Hell.