5. Rhetoric House, Maynooth, County Kildare
Saint Patrick’s College, Ireland’s primary Roman Catholic seminary is home to Rhetoric House, a building that was a dormitory for young priests in 1834, but now houses the History Department. While the entire college is replete with history, room two of Rhetoric House has a darker story that involves the deaths of two young seminary students.
On March 1st, 1841, 21-year-old student Sean O’Grady shocked everyone when he jumped out of a window from his room and plunged to his death. There was much speculation as to why he would do such a thing, and many blamed a diabolical presence for his actions.
In 1860, 27-year-old student Thomas McGinn arrived at the college a week before the other students to take exams. While taking the tests, McGinn stayed in room number two but was moved to another room when the term officially started. Later he was told that he had stayed in the room where a student had committed suicide. McGinn quickly became obsessed with this bit of information, so much so that one morning after Mass, he entered room number two, cut his throat with a razor, and then leaped out of the window. He survived the fall but later died from his injuries at the infirmary. Dr. McCarthy, the Vice-President of the seminary, paid a visit to the young man before he died. McGinn informed him that a demonic presence led to his attempt to kill himself.
Legends say that a Priest later attempted to stay the night in the room. He was so frightened by what he experienced that his hair turned white. He never revealed what had frightened him so badly on that night. Because of the events that had taken place in room number two, Dr. McCarthy petitioned the college board of trustees to take action to prevent any further occurrences. On October 23rd, 1860, it was decided that the room would be converted to a shrine for Saint Joseph, the patron saint of peaceful death.
Today, room number two is referred to as the “Ghost Room”. Mirrors aren’t allowed in the room out of concerns that it may encourage demonic activity. The room was eventually investigated by renowned paranormal researcher Hans Holzer along with famous psychic Sybil Leek. The two felt a strong sense of fear while in the room, along with the sensation of a need to run for safety. In particular, they felt a strong presence around the statue of Saint Joseph.
4. Leap Castle, County Offaly
Leap Castle has a long and bloody history, making it one of Ireland’s most notorious and fear-provoking haunted locations. Thought to have been built during the 12th or the 15th century, the castle was originally held by the O’Bannon clan. It was a short time later that the O’Carroll clan seized the castle from the O’Bannons to begin a bloody rule that was the foundation for the supernatural occurrences that are happening there even today.
The O’Carrolls were known to be ruthless, and this wasn’t limited to their rivals. During a dispute between brothers Thaddeus and Teighe, Thaddeus who was a priest was killed by his brother while he was performing mass in the castle chapel. The chapel is now referred to as the Bloody Chapel, and an apparition of the priest can sometimes be seen there.
The O’Carrolls also managed to wipe out an entire family. The McMahons were invited to the castle for a celebratory feast following a battle with a rival clan of the O’Carrolls. Instead of congratulations and gold, the McMahons received poison as compensation for their loyalty. They all died, and their ghosts have been seen haunting the castle and its grounds.
The castle is owned today by the Ryan family. It is a private residence, but the Ryans do allow tourists to visit who wish to experience the history and haunting of Leap Castle for themselves.
3. Loftus Hall, County Wexford
Loftus Hall is another of Ireland’s “most haunted” locations and the old mansion lives up to its reputation! Those who visit report all sorts of ghostly encounters including orb sightings, cold spots, and run-ins with apparitions. The Hall has been featured on Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures, and a documentary has been made about it titled The Legend of Loftus Hall. Paranormal investigators have even managed to capture photos of what appears to be the ghosts of two women.
According to legend, in the mid to late 1600s, Charles Tottenham along with his wife Jane and daughters Elizabeth and Anne received an unexpected guest one evening when a young man knocked on the door seeking shelter from a storm. The family welcomed the stranger, and they settled in for the evening of playing cards. When Anne leaned down to pick up a card that she had dropped under the table, she was shocked to see that the stranger didn’t have feet but instead had cloven hooves. When she screamed, the stranger transformed into a ball of fire and shot through the air, eventually exiting through the roof. The family believed that they had let the devil into their home on that fateful evening.
Anne never recovered from the shock, and she became increasingly eccentric, with her mental state rapidly worsening. She was eventually confined to her room and she died there in 1775. Anne apparently was unable to rest in peace – the home was plagued with poltergeist activity from that point on. Eventually, Father Thomas Broaders was called in to cleanse the home of the activity plaguing it.
Today Loftus Hall is owned by the Quigley family, who have begun restoration of the property. They have opened it to the public, and visitors can take part in a tour of the house and grounds, giving them the chance to see if they too will meet the devil of Loftus Hall.
2. St. Katherine’s Abbey, County Limerick
Saint Katherine’s Abbey has the notorious reputation of being home to one of the most haunted burial sites in Ireland. It was built in 1298 for the Order of Saint Augustin and remained in operation as a convent until 1541. Before the nunnery was shut down, a prioress was accused of practicing black magic and committing lewd and sexual acts. She was thought to have cursed the locals with death and ill fortune and was found guilty and then locked in a room in the abbey. The room where she was held in the abbey became known as the “Black Hag’s Cell” because the prioress’s skin turned black, not only because of the deplorable conditions that she lived in but also because of her dark and perverse nature. It’s believed that the dead prioress still roams the ruins today.
Witchcraft and the horrible death of a prioress aren’t the only tragedies that took place in the abbey. According to legends, the Countess and Earl of Desmond were trying to escape during a battle. The Countess was injured, having been hit by an arrow, and her husband the Earl thought that she had died. He quickly buried her under the altar located in the chapel of the abbey. Unfortunately, the Countess wasn’t dead. Because of haunting activity, her grave was excavated, and it was discovered that she had attempted to claw her way out of the grave. Her disembodied screams can still be heard today.
1. Hellfire Club, Dublin
Popular in Britain and Ireland in the 18th century, Hellfire Clubs were secret locations where the elite and wealthy would gather for illicit activities such as gambling, drinking, and other adult recreations. But for one such location, the reputation surrounding it is much darker and is indeed considered one of the most infamous locations in Ireland. A wide variety of supernatural activities have been reported there, including ethereal screams as well as jewelry – especially religious jewelry such as crucifixes – being tugged at and sometimes broken by invisible hands.
The club was built in 1725, unfortunately on top of a Neolithic passage tomb. During excavations at the site, artifacts were discovered, including a dark stone with 5,000-year-old symbols carved on its surface. Legends state that because of the disregard for the sacred site, the devil arrived and set fire to the wooden roof of the club soon after it was built. Builders replaced the wooden roof with one of stone.
After construction of the club was finished, rumors almost immediately started about the location being a site for devil worship. Those who were members of the club were thought to get away with numerous horrible acts, including setting a barrel on fire, trapping a woman in it, and rolling it down a hill. It was also said that patrons set a servant on fire as well.
The spirit of a dwarf is often seen on the property, believed to be the victim of a ritual. The skeletal remains of a dwarf were found buried nearby in 1971, his body buried with an effigy of the devil. Even today the ruins are a popular site for not only history buffs and the curious, but witches and Satanists as well, hoping to catch a glimpse of the spooky, demonic and profane.
Well there’s our look at Ireland’s most infamous and haunted places. Have you ever been to any of these haunted places in Ireland? Let us know in the comments below or on any of our socials.