Seven of the most haunted Irish castles

Halloween is just around the corner and that means that there are plenty of things that go bump in the night.

Do you dare to get up close and personal with a being from the other side this year?

If you can brave a night with the ghosts you can find all the haunted hotels here. But if you just want a brush with a haunt then why not take a tour of some of these haunted castles…

Leap Castle, Co Offaly

This is billed as Ireland’s most haunted castle. Do you dare visit when the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest?

The O’Carroll family, who owned the castle for years, are said to be the ones to blame when it comes to the hauntings. For the years they owned the castle, the family brutalised hundreds of people. Their victims now wander the halls of the castle…

One story says that the Red Lady walks the castle at night, holding a knife in the hopes of avenging the child that was stolen from her. There has been poltergeist activity and several other spirits roam the castle.

But it is The Elemental that is the one spirit you don’t want to run into alone. The origins of the spooky entity are unknown but it appears with a foul stench and decaying skin. Some say that it was put on the land by Druids before the castle was built, others believe it was an O’Carroll who died in the castle from Leprosy or could it be something much darker…

Book your tour here.

Clifden Castle, Galway

This gorgeous castle was built in the 19th century for the landowner and founder of Clifden, John D’Arcy.

However, it wasn’t long before Ireland was ravished by The Great Famine leaving the entire country starving and looking for food. While some emigrated, one million people sadly died during An Gorta Mór.

During this time, the D’Arcy family was evicted from the castle and the estate was sold to the Eyre family of Bath, England, in 1850.

Clifden Castle is said to be haunted by the spirits of the poor and dying who took shelter in the grounds during the famine years. Many visitors have reported witnessing unexplained ominous shadows moving above them or light coming from windows where no living soul would be found.

The castle is free to visit.

Grannagh Castle, Kilkenny

There has apparently been some type of settlement on this spot since the 1st Century. But it is Grannagh Castle that has attracted the most attention.

This castle has always had some bad Joo Joo about it as legend has it that the mortar used to build the castle was mixed with blood! Lady Margaret FitzGerald, a daughter of the eighth Earl of Kildare, was one of the residents of the castle and is the woman behind the hauntings.

Local lore says that many of the castles associated with her have windows or stone seats from which she is said either to have hanged her victims or watched them die.

Some visitors witnessed misty figures roaming the grounds and heard ghostly laughter when no one else was around… You can visit the castle for free, if you dare.

Tully Castle, Fermanagh

Tully Castle was built in the 17th century near Enniskillen in County Fermanagh.

During a rebellion in 1641, the castle was burned down and those living within the walls were mascaraed. So it’s no surprise that this area would be the spot of many a haunting.

Many visitors to the site have claimed to have heard phantom screams and moans emanating through the ruins. Several visitors to Tully Castle have also experienced sudden drops in temperature while standing outside or inside its walls or even seen ghostly figures wandering throughout its grounds late at night.

There is now a visitor’s centre, located in a restored farmhouse, which houses an exhibition telling local stories relating to the castle. Visiting the castle is free.

Killua Castle, Westmeath

Killua Castle was built in the 17th century for the Chapman family. In the 18th Century, Benjamin Chapman – the castle owner, employed the services of a land steward by the name of Jackie Dalton.

However, Jackie stole money from Chapman and was reportedly so overcome with grief and guilt when Benjamin died that he drowned himself in the castle lake.

The ghost of a man with yellowish hair, much like that of Jackie, has been spotted walking the grounds of Killua Castle many times over the years.

You can book a guided tour here.

Castle Leslie, Monaghan

But we couldn’t leave this list without some spots that you can stay in. Much like Castle Leslie, this gorgeous spot may have you running for the hills!

The Red Room is the place in the castle where life and death merge into one. Anita Leslie King gave birth to her daughter Leonie in this room.

But it’s also the spot for the most ghostly encounters. Norman Leslie was seen by Lady Marjorie Leslie beside the chest of drawers in 1914, a few weeks after he had been killed on the battlefields of France. Lady Marjorie also died in this very room.

Do you dare book the Red Room?

Ballygally Castle, Antrim

Ballygally Castle is right by the sea and right by the ghosts as well!

Ballygally’s most famous phantom is that of the tragic Lady Isabella Shaw. After giving birth to a daughter, she fell out of favour with her husband Lord James Shaw. He took the baby from her and locked her in a small room at the top with a turret.

Isabella tried to escape through a window but fell to her death on the rocks below. Apparently, she still wanders the hotel corridors at night knocking on doors, perhaps still searching for her little girl. Another reported apparition is that of a former 19th century resident of the castle, Madame Nixon. Her silk skirts can be heard rustling as she walks the castle at night.

You can even visit the room Isabella was locked into and stay in the tower below…if you’re brave enough!


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