Haunted Castles in Ireland to visit
It is fascinating to note that many of the haunted castles in Ireland have now been renovated and transformed into beautiful hotels. You can stay at some amazing places in Ireland like these haunted castles and you can also visit the ruins of many an ancient haunted Irish castle.
There is an engrossing history of haunted places in Europe and Ireland is no exception from the Hellfire Club to castles and pubs across Europe searching out the haunted places makes for some amazing adventures.
Have you always wanted to stay in a haunted castle? Well in Ireland anything is possible and there are many haunted castles in Ireland that you can book a stay at and experience for yourself the best. There are also many haunted castles in Ireland that you can visit that are in ruins and you can visit at no charge.
Did you know that Ireland has over 30,000 castles? Christina has written about 12 of the best castles in Ireland from north to south if you want to learn more.
Ireland is a land of ghosts and hauntings, steeped in the arcane, ancient bardic tales of spirits, bloody battlefields, and gruesome murders. The legendary Fae, banshees and the Tuatha de Danaan. If you are brave of heart you need to experience breathtaking landscapes, deep dark castles and legends whose origins are now lost in time. So pick your stay or visit to one of Ireland’s haunted castles very carefully you never know who you may disturb.
Some of these haunted castles are in ruins and others have been converted into boutique hotels and B&B’s. Leap Castle is a private castle and they do occasionally do tours of the castle to raise money for the reconstruction work that is ongoing.
16 Haunted Castles in Ireland
1. Kilkea Castle, Kildare
Kilea Castle has been standing since 1180 where legends tell of the Earl who haunts the Castle. Now a luxury hotel, it is said you can still hear the clash of steel on the staircases where deadly battles were fought. The Wizard Earl, famed for his attempts at alchemy, is said to ride out from the Castle in the dead of night, every 7 years galloping over the windswept plains of the Curragh on a magnificent white stallion whose hooves glint with silver.
2. Cabra, Cavan
Cabra is set in the beautiful Dun Na Rí Forest Park. The Castle is actually two castles, one now converted into a luxury hotel the other a crumbling ruin. Cabra is set in the 565 acre Park which is a National Forest. Local legend would have you believe that a true Romeo and Juliet story is the centre of the ghost haunting Cabra.
The locals believe that in the 1780s the young man of the castle fell in love with a servant girl (Sarah) and his disapproving family murdered the girl and her unborn child, dragging her from her bed and hanging her from the nearby bridge. It is said that you can hear the cries of a baby within the castle walls weeping, lonely and lost crying for its mother.
The Forest itself is a stunning park with a dramatic gorge, romantic glens, the Lady’s Lake and Sarah’s Bridge. The Bridge was built in 1801 in memory of Sarah Mountmorris who married into the family. Local folk like to associate it with the more luridly romantic, but fictional, story of Sarah the servant girl.
The Forest is steeped in history as far back as the Iron Age. It is said that Cuchulain camped here near the river during his defence of Ulster against Maeve’s armies. The original ruined castle that stands on high ground near Cromwell’s Bridge was built around the 1500s but due to family dramas and Cromwell who confiscated the castle in the 16th century some of its history has become lost to time.
3. Castle Leslie Estate, Monaghan
One of the last great Castles of Ireland still owned by the original family, the wonderfully eccentric Leslie’s has a colourful history. Tracing their ancestry back to Attila the Hun the family estate has been handed down for over 300 years. The Castle has hosted celebrities such as W.B. Yeats, Mick Jagger and many more; in fact, Paul McCartney was married to Heather Mills here in 2002.
Castle Leslie’s hauntings are varied there are rumours of strange happenings in the castle, bells ringing, mysterious figures wandering the corridors. The Mauve Room is said to visit occasionally by Lady Constance, who died in 1925.
There are also stories about a mysterious monk appearing to visitors and a baby’s cry can sometimes be heard in the night. It is said that Norman Leslie, who was killed during the First World War visited his mother on the night he died. Lady Marjorie was sleeping in the Red Room and awoke to see his ghost standing near the foot of her bed, looking through some letters. The ghost turned, smiled at her and then faded away.
Room rates at Castle Leslie €120.00 to €304.00 per night depending on which room you choose to stay in. All rates are for 2 and include breakfast.
Monaghan is truly an outdoor lovers paradise, you can hike the majestic Mourne Mountains, climb Slieve Donard or explore the Game of Thrones filming sites in the area including Tollymore Forest.
4. Mount Falcon Estates, Mayo
Surrounded by 100 acres of magical woodlands the luxurious Mount Falcon Country House Hotel is located on the west bank of the River Moy. The Estate was created from the love of one young man for his bride who felt she deserved a “castle to live in”. The jewel in the crown of Mount Falcon is its adjoining two miles of fishing rights on the River Moy. Famous for its salmon pools, it is undoubtedly one of Europe’s most bountiful salmon rivers.
Here you can rest in luxury in an area whose history and main village, Ballinea, dates back to the Stone Age. Explore Cairns, ruins, graveyards Fae filled woodlands and enjoy all that this luxury Manor House has to offer. Numerous guests from all over the world including Vivien Leigh, Peter Sellers, Tiger Woods, Mark O’Meara, and Nick Faldo, have been honoured guests at Mount Falcon.
The Estate offers rest and relaxation in many forms: Particularly interesting for the traveller is the ability to learn about and fly falcons and hawks and to fly fish for the best salmon in Ireland. Truly you will be haunted by the beauty and luxury of Mount Falcon and it will remain in your memory for years to come.
5. Leap Castle, Offaly
For those of you with strong hearts, a visit to the most haunted castle in Ireland is demanded. Leap Castle is world-renowned as the most haunted castle in Ireland if not the world. Its dark halls and history contain many secrets and tragedies.
The “Bloody Chapel” where a murder between a Priest and his brother took place during high mass is just one tale. The oubliette is home to many secrets of a dark and terrifying past. In 1922 workmen at Leap Castle found an oubliette in a secret dungeon hidden behind a wall in a corner of the Bloody Chapel. When they explored the sinister dark hole further they made a horrific discovery – there were enough human skeletons amassed on top of wooden spikes that it would take three cartloads to remove them for a Christian burial.
A tale of infamous treachery is said to have taken place at Leap Castle. The O’Carroll’s, who owned the Castle, hired 40 men from the McMahon Clan to train their men in the new methods of warfare. After the training sessions the McMahon men were invited to a feast, however, the men were unaware that the dark and evil O’Carrolls had poisoned the food so they could avoid paying the bill.
The gruesome history of Leap continues with the Darby’s who in the early 1900’s practised the dark arts of the occult. Mildred Darby is said to have dabbled in these black arts and it is she who is held responsible for unleashing an Elemental. These are primitive malevolent ghost spirits that attach themselves to a place and cannot be removed.
Local people avoid the Castle completely when dark falls its reputation for hauntings and ghost sitings have terrified folks for centuries. For over 70 years the castle was boarded up after it had been gutted by fire and the local citizens’ report seeing the windows light up at the top of the castle where the ghostly priest is said to walk. Leap was burnt out and destroyed in 1922 by the IRA while the Darbys were living in England. The castle lay in ruins until it was purchased by the current owners in 1991 that are touring musicians and when they are at home provide tours to help with the restoration of the castle.
6 Dunguaire Castle, Galway
If you want to attend a medieval feast this is the castle to book one at. Dunguaire is probably the most famous landmark associated with Kinvara. The castle was built in 1520 on the gloriously rugged shores of Galway Bay. This restored 16th-century tower house sits on a rocky outcrop on the Bay, 300 yards outside the village of Kinvara.
The bards tell of the time that the High King of Connaught, Guaire had set a feast at the castle to reward his men, nearby the hermit Saint Colman, who had been fasting in the nearby mountains, called upon God and his angels to provide him with food and drink.
Miraculously, the food set out for the King was seen flying from the plates up to the Saint’s Altar in the mountains. The Kings reputation for generosity was immortalized in Seanchai (storyteller) tales and his good spirits are said to haunt the place today.
To this day the Castle has a fine tradition of superb feasts with bards, poetry readings, storytelling and much entertainment is to be had at the best medieval banquet in Ireland. Guests will gather in the main hall and welcomed with a cup of mead. Jugs of wine are set out down the tables and thick handmade beeswax candles light the way.
7 Malahide Castle near Dublin
Malahide near Dublin is reported to be haunted by a jester called Huck who fell in love with a Noblewoman and was murdered for his pains and as he lay dying he vowed to haunt the castle forever. When Cromwell evicted the Talbot family, Miles Corbett was granted the castle and lands, he committed multiple atrocities at the castle, including desecrating the abbey. After the restoration of Charles II, he was hung, drawn and quartered for his crimes. His ghost appears in full suit of armour, then falls into four pieces.
8 Dunluce Castle in Co Antrim, Northern Ireland
Dunluce clings to the side of a cliff on the Causeway Coastal Route of Northern Ireland. The castle kitchens collapsed from the rest of the building taking the entire kitchen and servants with it. Their screams are said to be heard on foggy stormy days.
9 Athcarne Castle near Dulleek County Meath
This castle was built in 1590 so it is Elizabethan in its architecture. A ruin now is supposedly haunted by the ghost of fallen King James. He died in the nearby Battle of Boyne and reportedly stayed in the castle just prior to his death. Also heard are the agonized screams of soldiers who died at Boyne.
A worker on the site one day reported seeing a young girl with her hands dripping blood and it is also said that a man was hanged at a nearby oak tree. A few visitors have complained about a “feeling” of not being welcome at the ruin.
10 Charleville Castle Tullamore, Offaly
Built by the Earl of Charleville in 1798, this castle in Tullamore is a tribute to Ireland’s victory over France. Apparently, the ghost is that of Harriet the youngest daughter of the third Earl.
Harriet died tragically falling down the main staircase of the castle. She was only 8 years old, visitors have heard singing, laughter and screams in the castle and it has been investigated many times by paranormal investigators.
This castle was built in 1533 by the infamous Black Baron. You can stay at this castle as it is now a BnB, which Lonely Planet has called one of the least known haunted castles in the world. Guests have reported seeing ghostly apparitions and hearing voices, doors apparently open of their own accord and close as well.
It is said that the Black Baron who built the castle had a daughter called Sabina. Sabina was a beautiful young woman who fell in love with a Chieftans’ son called Owin. They decided to elope as she knew her father would never allow her to marry Owin. Unfortunately, they eloped on a stormy night and Owin drowned in the loch. Sabina survived only to pine away and die and her ghost has haunted the castle since.
12 Carrickfergus Castle in Antrim
This Norman castle in Carrickfergus, County Antrim, played a very important role during 1928 and has been the focal point of many attacks throughout the centuries. The Scots, English, French, and Irish have all besieged it.
Carrickfergus Castle was first constructed during 1180 AD-1204 AD by John de Courcy, the Norman Lord of Ulster. In the 800 years, it has been standing the castle has been strengthened and extended many times. In the 18th century, the castle was used as a prison.
One of the most prominent ghosts in the castle goes by the name ‘Buttoncap’, a young soldier who was stationed here during the late 18th century. It is believed he was executed for having an affair with the wife of his Captain’s brother.
13 Ballygalley Castle Hotel Causeway Coast, N. Ireland
The Ghost of Ballygally has been around for the best part of 400 years. Locals believe that the ghost is that of Lady Isabella Shaw, wife of Lord James Shaw.
Legend has it that Lord Shaw desperately wanted a son, and when his wife finally delivered the child he was said to have snatched the baby away from her and had her locked in a room at the top of the tower. The story is told that she attempted to escape and find her baby but fell to her death from the tower window.
Lady Isabella’s ghost is reputed to be a “friendly” spirit who walks the corridors of the old castle. Over the years many guests have reported strange experiences and have felt a presence in their rooms! There are also endless stories of unexplained noises in the night and an eerie green mist over the castle!
A room at the hotel starts at a reasonable €138.88 and goes up to €162.02 for the Tower Suite. The cost does include a full Irish breakfast.
14 Clifden Castle in Connemara Galway
Clifden Castle was built in the 19th Century but went into decline during the Great Famine of 1845. The castle is said to be haunted by the spirits of the poor and deprived who sheltered in the castle grounds during this period.
15 Antrim Castle, N. Ireland County Antrim
There are a number of hauntings that are reported to occur at Antrim Castle. In front of the castle gates, there is a stone wolfhound statue that is said was once real. The dog is said to have warned the castle occupants about an attack and a witch turned it to stone.
16 Ballyseede Castle – Tralee
A reader kindly brought to my attention the fact that I had left Ballyseede Castle of my list – shame on me this is a beautiful castle in Kerry that has a lovely ghost.
Kerry’s only Castle Hotel Ballyseede is located near the Ring of Kerry. Set in 30 acres of woodland this is a boutique-style hotel with a resident wolfhound and naturally a ghost.
A friendly ghost called Hilda who was the last of the owner’s line. Hilda was a Nurse during WWI and had seen a lot of bloodshed in France and Belgium at that time. On her return to her home, the Rising had begun and the Tralee area was the site of many a rebel battle and murder.
Hilda is usually to be found in the Crosby Room which was her bedroom and interestingly although no roses are used in the hotel it is said that Hilda’s ghost brings with it the smell of red roses from the gardens. Room rates range from €140 to 275 including an excellent breakfast.
From Ballyseede you can easily take a tour of the Ring of Kerry or hike Carrantohil mountain said to be Ireland’s tallest. Or simply head for some great walks in Killarney National park and make a stop at Muckross House. Visiting Killarney is a treat and you can pick up a horse and buggy to tour the Ring.
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You will see many ruined possibly haunted castles in Ireland and there are also some amazing Abbeys, ruined churches and graveyards to explore.
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