Haunted Journeys

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The mother land of true ghost stories, undoubtedly, is Ireland. Hearing horrifying haunted stories are as common in these parts as the gossip about the widow next door.

In celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day, we present the four petrifying Irish true ghost stories that will sure keep you up on this emerald night after a few green beers!

Haunted Cottage of Cooneen

The abandoned and haunted Cottage of Cooneen  Credit: Tydavnet.com

There is an abandoned cottage near the towns of Fermanagh and Sliabh Beaght, in an area called Cooneen, well known for its chilling history. The Widow Murphy and her family called this home back in 1911. Unfortunately this was not “home sweet home”. For you see, this dwelling was packed with poltergeist activity!

Mysterious noises woke them during the night, such as knocks on the door, disembodied footsteps in the empty loft above and unexplained creaks and groans. Eventually, the disturbing occurrences escalated. Plates would shift and move on their own across their kitchen tables and their own clothes moved around in empty beds. Pots and pans were thrown violently against their walls, nearly missing them. Furniture would even elevate from their ground by themselves. Eventually, the space in the cottage became unforgivingly cold, while mysterious shapes suddenly appeared, only to melt back into its terrifying walls. Two unsuccessful exorcisms from local Catholic Priests could not defeat these phantom attacks.

Rumors spread through town that the family brought the demonic activity onto themselves and eventually to their village. In 1913, the Murphy family were forced to desperately flee to America. Unfortunately, the hauntings followed them. Little is known thereafter, but the cottage in Cooneen, now an abandoned ruin, was never lived in again and visitors say it has kept its oppressive personality.

Wicklow Gaol

The Haunted Wicklow Gaol   Credit:  The Irish Post

Wicklow Gaol is not for the faint of heart. Only the bravest of ghost hunters will tackle this property, which has safely earned its reputation as one of the most haunted prisons in Ireland. To no surprise, locals call this structure “The Gates of Hell.”

Wicklow Gaol was, for many years, a place of horrendous atrocities in which prisoners were subjected to torture, starvation and death. It was overcrowded, offering only rotted food and essentially no medical attention. Here, one could be assured of receiving a sentence for a slow death due to its grave conditions. Imagine be punished this way for simply stealing a loaf of bread to feed one's family? There is no wonder why this dark and sordid history is strongly believed to harbor the spirits of those who previously lived or worked here.

Many have experienced being pushed outside when standing near the actual “Gates of Hell”. An eerie mist is seen now and then on the walkway to the second floor cells. A visitor once saw a woman in a 19th century attire believed to be Mary Morris, the matron. A little girl appears in the schoolroom, sometimes poking visitors in the thigh or pulling on their clothing.

In addition, the jail actually embellishes its morbid and ghostly reputation. Many of the cells are occupied by life-size waxworks of prisoners, rebels, thieves and murderers, offering haunted tours for those seeking a stirring thrill. The Wicklow Gaol was showcased on an episode of SyFy’s Ghost Hunters International. This iconic property was also featured in 2018’s “World’s Largest Ghost Hunt”, investigated with the ghost hunting talents of the Truthseekers Paranormal Ireland.

The Wicklow Gaol was featured during the 2018's World's Largest Ghost Hunt, investigated by Truthseekers of Ireland.

Belvelly Castle in Cork

The Haunted Belvry Castle

The Belvelly Castle prominently juts out on the shores of Great Island in Cork Harbor. Margaret Hodnett lived there in the 17th Century. She embellished in displaying mirrors all over the castle, as a reminder of her wealth and renowned beauty. An unfilled love affair led to tragedies at the castle. Clon Rockenby, humiliated by Margaret’s rejection to give him her hand in marriage, retaliated by charging a small army to take over the castle. After a year of unforgiving battles, the Hodnetts surrendered. He found Margaret, with her beauty lost in a skeletal state, starved from the warfare. In his rage, he smashed her favorite mirror to pieces, meeting his death by one of the Hodnetts' sword.

Needless to say, Margaret descended into a state of insanity. She kept seeking mirrors, hoping to be find that her beauty was returned. It never did. She died of old age in the castle, but her ghost continues to lurk throughout the castle, appearing in white with a veil over her face. Sometimes she is shockingly seen without a face. Those who have witnessed her apparition, say that she is found looking at a spot on the wall, rubbing it as if looking at her reflection.

Today, one stone on the castle’s wall has been rubbed smooth over the years. Could this be the spot where Margaret’s mirror use to hang? Is this the immortal spot Margaret's spirit obsesses over, wishing the return of her reflective beauty? The Belvelly Castle has largely been unoccupied since the nineteenth century. It is, fortunately, slowly being renovated.

Leap Castle in Offaly

The notoriously haunted Leap Castle   Credit: Ireland Before You Die

We have save the best for last.

The Leap Castle is known by many as the most haunted castle in the world. It is celebrated by thousands of visitors each year to seek and witness its mystery, hoping to get a glimpse of the souls that lurk this magnificent structure.

Prior to its inception, the Castle was built over an existing site previously occupied by druids who used the property for initiation ceremonies. The exact time-period of its erection remains a mystery. Many say it was in the 12th Century. Named “Leim Ui Bhanain (meaning “Leap of the O’Bannon”), the property was a reward from a bloody warfare between two O’Bannon brothers. The sole survivor would not only govern the clan, but also be responsible for the castle’s construction. It was purposely built on the most commanding spot facing the Great Pass through the Slieve Bloom Mountains. Embellished with a massive tower, its walls are nine feet thick.

Shortly thereafter the O’Bannons seized the castle, gruesome actions of carnage, gory murders and massacres followed. Many of these were experienced from a window high up in the tower. This history left an unforgiving supernatural scar at the core of the castle.

Leaps Castle’s notorious High Tower Window.  Credit: Ireland Before You Die

With this as it early and relentless tormented history, there is little wonder why this castle is so incredibly infested with the haunted. There are multitudes of phantoms that walk these halls. One of the most terrifying is that of a small hunched creature whose apparition is accompanied by a rotting stench, that belonging to a decomposing corpse.

One of the most notorious spirits of Leap Castle is that of the red lady, a very tall specter clothed in a fluttering red gown clinging to a sharp blade.  The story behind the red lady is that she was imprisoned by the O’Carroll’s and repeatedly raped. She gave birth to a baby who was then murdered by the O’Carrolls.  Overwhelmed with grief over the loss of her child, the red lady used the knife her phantom bears to put an end to her life of torment.

Ireland - The most mysterious and haunted place in the world

We definitely feel that we have cheated you of many other haunted tales that surround this mystical emerald island. Plan on one day of visiting these spirited treasures, where you will be immersed by the mysteries and amazing history of Ireland’s century old haunted places.

Lá Fhéile Pádraig.

Now, my friends, it is time to turn off the lights.

Perhaps…. If you dare ...


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