Tullamore is home to one of the most haunted places in Ireland, the Charleville Castle. Come Explore its mystery with Haunted Journeys.
The construction of Charleville Castle commenced in 1798 and over the subsequent fourteen years, some fourteen hundred man-years were involved in the building of what many consider to be the finest Neo-Gothic castle in all Ireland. It took fourteen years to complete this Gothic dream, a monument not only to a now-forgotten power but also to the people who made it possible, the Irish craftsmen and impoverished people. The wonderful craftsmanship involved being mainly due to the skills of Irish people. Charles William Bury was raised to the restored Earldom of Charleville, as first Earl of the second creation, in 1806.
Charleville Castle is said to be the finest example of Gothic-Revival architecture in the country. This is a veritable gothic castle of grand proportions. It owes its "Tin Soldier Fortress" look to the celebration of victory over the third French revolutionary expedition to Ireland - the first decisive victory by Britain over the revolutionary republican movement, which was sweeping across the monarchies and their colonies at that time.
During the later 1970s, the long term lease of the castle was taken up by persons who deplored the state into which the castle was falling and a move was made towards turning the tide of neglect and disrepair. Reliving its history, modern-day Irish craftsmen with traditional skills have subsequently been involved in a gradual and loving restoration. Fortunately, some of the finest features of the castle (The Gallery, The entrance Hall, Main Staircase and Landing, The Library, The Morning Room and The Dining Room) did not suffer critical damage in the interim.
It is now owned by Bridget Vance, a charismatic American who is slowly rousing the castle from its slumber. With the assistance of local craftsmen, she is restoring its echoing rooms to their past grandeur. As her family keeps busy with their tasks, the spirits of bygone residents have begun to stir. Many lurk and wander through what has been dubbed as "Ireland's spookiest castle."
This majestic castle is beginning to be known as the most haunted in Ireland.
The land that the castle was built on was originally an ancient monastery and/or a sacred Druid site, depending on whose history you read, but either way that was over a thousand years ago. Whether any of the ghosts stem from that time period is debatable.
There are fiendish rumors that the first Earl of Charleville practiced devil worship, others that he had the building erected on the site of ancient lei lines in order to take advantage of the natural magnetic energies prevalent there. Freemasonry was a family tradition with the Burys. Could that have anything to do with the plethora of ghostly phenomena reported at their family home?
The silence of the early hours is sometimes shattered by the playful glee of children enjoy a spectral game of what was once the nursery. Could they be the same pranksters that locked Bridget's daughter, Kate, in a dark cupboard in their playroom?
The most famous ghost of Charleville Castle is perhaps its most tragic, due to the tender age of the deceased. Harriet, the golden-haired daughter of one of the Earls of Charleville, was sliding playfully down the banister of the grand staircase when she lost her balance and fell to her death on the cold stone floor below.
Many visitors have sensed the movement of cold air when traversing the stairway. Others have seen the child on the steps, as well as throughout the rest of the house, often seemingly playing a spectral game of hide-and-seek. Occasionally she is spotted with a small boy for her playmate, but who he is no one knows. She is well defined by all the specters of the castle, for she always wears a blue chiffon dress.
Older phantoms appear to have to be blamed for disturbing a gentleman guest who, following a party at the castle, placed his bedroll on the floor and settled down to sleep. The next morning, the children asked why he had slept with the door opened and the lights on? He revealed that just as he was nodding off, two elderly English men had struck up a lively conversation that was a bit tainted with liquor. The door was left opened and the lights were left on. Later to find out, they were not part of the guests.
The two are suspected culprits in an incident where a daughter of the house was inexplicably locked in a cupboard in the playroom. A kinder and more famous tale linked with this pair of child ghosts revolves around the small son of Bridget Vance, who purchased and started to renovate the castle in the 1970s. Her son came up missing one day when he was a wee three-year-old. Frantically the family searched the castle for him, terrified that he might fall from the stairs or one of the galleries. They eventually found him at the bottom of the stairwell where he told how the "little boy and girl" had looked after him as he came down the stairs.
Charleville Forest Castle is a welcoming place, with abundant ghosts to assure that you are never alone here. No fears, for the most part, they are quite friendly. But as you make your way back upon the driveway leaving this magical castle, you may come upon an ancient reminder of the castle's more sinister past.
This is when you will meet “King Oak”, a huge, ancient tree that had a special relationship to the Bury family. Yes, this tree has a majestic splendor, but it is tinged with an unforgiving fearsome reputation, for it was always maintained that whenever one of its branches fell, a member of the Charleville family would do. So indeed, in May of 1963, the oak was hit by a devastating lightning strike. The tree managed to survive, but within a matter of days Colonel Charles Howard-Bury, the head of the Bury family and last of the family to own the castle, died unexpectedly.
Make sure this becomes one of your destinations when seeking the most spectral of castles in Ireland. After all, the Charleville has been featured on Most Haunted, Ghost Hunters International, and Scariest Places On Earth.
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