We’ve got castles, cemeteries, churches and pubs that stretch back centuries, so it’s no surprise that, every so often, things go bump in the night. Come to think of it, it’s a good thing we’re not easily scared!
Tales of ghosts, ghouls, devils and gravediggers are ten-a-penny, so in the spirit of Samhain and all-things ghostly, we’ve collected the best. Evil spirits or just an eerie feeling? Genuine haunting or faulty plumbing? You decide. Visit one or two yourself, and maybe you’ll have an experience that’ll turn you into a believer. Or maybe you’ll just have fun, with a little shiver down your spine. So dim the lights and hold someone close as we visit Ireland’s Most Haunted…
Glasnevin Cemetery is so spooky that even the gravestones are trying to wriggle down and hide underground!
Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin
With over 1.5 million people buried in Glasnevin Cemetery, including former president Eamon DeValera and author Brendan Behan, the haunted tag is hardly a shocker. But what does strike us as unusual is the other-wordly inhabitant of a Newfoundland dog. When his master John McNeill Boyd died, his faithful canine companion refused to leave his graveside, eventually starving to death. He’s said to still linger at the tombstone.
Glasnevin is not one to skirt its paranormal past – it’s celebrating Halloween with its own festival including a Gravedigger tour and Storytelling Supper (shudder). Of course, you can indulge in a spot of spookiness any time of year with a visit to its museum.
Saint Michan’s Church, Church Street, Dublin
This spot isn’t ghostly, but it is gory. In the surprisingly balmy vaults below the church, coffins are piled on top of each other. Some have buckled under the weight, with decomposed limbs hanging outside the boxes like leathery branches. Other coffins lie open, revealing 800-year-old mummified corpses.
So if you ever wanted to shake hands with a dead body, now’s your chance.
Loftus Hall, County Wexford
The eerie Loftus Hall. Do you think those marks in the hay are from people running away from the building?
In haunted property circles, ghosts and evil spirits are actually a bit routine – the trump card is: the Satan sighting.
The Loftus Hall story, like every great story, involves a dark rainy right, a caped stranger, an innocent family card game, and a foreboding knock at the door.
And if a Satan sighting isn’t enough clout for the place, director Stanley Kubrick was also obsessed with the building. An E! True Hollywood Story is surely on the way. Oh, hold on, someone’s knocking at our door.
Grand Opera House, Belfast
One of Belfast’s great Victorian landmarks, the Grand Opera House was restored to grandeur after it fell into disrepair in the 1950s. Phantom of the Opera has a classic ring to it, and of course all the good opera houses have one. So you might be forgiven for shrugging off the stories of faces staring at actors through windows and figures in dark robes with some skepticism.
That’s until the experts stepped in. The Northern Ireland Paranormal Research Association claims to have contacted deceased stage hands Harry and George, a female cleaner and an electrician. If you want to see their methods for yourself, NIPRA does its own spooky tours of castles.
Ardgillan Castle, County Dublin
Sightings of Ardgillan’s resident haunting only ever occur on October 31st, making the ghost remarkably marketing-savvy.
Around 10pm every Halloween night, the ghost of a woman appears on the bridge that leads from the castle grounds to Barnageera Bay. When she was alive, the woman’s husband disappeared during his usual swim in the bay on October 31st. Every day until she died, she stood on the bridge waiting for him to return. Her ghost returns to the bridge every year on the anniversary of her husband’s disappearance.
Another version of the tale claims the woman waits on the bridge to throw passer-bys into the ocean. Of course, there’s no actual evidence of this.
Grace Neill’s, County Down
Grace Neill’s is one of Ireland’s oldest pubs, with one of the oldest publicans. Grace is 98 – or was when she died. She still hangs around the pub today, to straighten glasses at the bar and switch the lights on and off.
The distinctive smell of pipe smoke often wafts round the bar, despite the smoking ban. Wouldn’t ya know, Grace herself smoked a clay pipe.
You know what they say, there’s no smoke without fire…