There are several haunted castles in Ireland, some haunted castles you can visit, some haunted castles offer luxury accommodation and some haunted castles you would not dare to stay in. Whether or not you're a believer in ghost stories, you've got to admit that some of these tales are particularly bone-chilling...
Cabra Castle in Kingscourt, Co. Cavan was declared the second scariest hotel in the world in 2010 by Trip Advisor and legends about the hotel have been circulating for generations. In the 1780s, the then-owners of the castle had a son who fell in love with a servant girl called Sarah. It was a passionate but secret love, which for the sake of property, could only be pledged silently. The secret was broken when Sarah became pregnant and her lover’s family ordered that she was to be killed. Legend has it that she was taken from the servants’ quarters of the castle and dragged into the forest, where her body was hung over a bridge. It is said that in the dead of the night, the haunting cries of a baby may still be heard. There is also testament from those who have felt ‘a presence’ in the courtyard rooms and near the ‘Hanging Tree’ in the grounds. One guest claimed to have met a man in early 20th Century military uniform striding down the corridor. Another heard a horse and carriage pull into the courtyard in the dead of night to deposit a screaming infant at the steps of the Castle.
Just outside Tralee, in Kerry, Ballyseede Castle Hotel’s ghostly legend is deeply interwoven with the story of the rose. In the 1500s, the castle ownership lay with Sir Edward Denny who rented the property to the Blennerhassetts, before they built their home on the site. On Midsummers Day, 21st June, the payment of a single red rose would be exchanged as a ground rent for the castle. A lot of people independently would say that, at different times of the year on the main staircase, they get a very strong smell of roses. The scent is an eerie aromatic announcement that precedes the appearance of the ghost of Ballyseede - Hilda Blennerhassett. She is mostly seen “roaming around” the upper floor bedrooms of the castle and the main staircase. Patrons who frequent the hotel bar recall catching glimpses of an old woman in a black Victorian dress.
In Sligo, the splendour of Markree Castle is also home to a little girl spirit that the staff call ‘Pippa’. She is very mischievous and often plays tricks on people, locking them in their room and causing them to drop trays and items.
One Christmas, the owners bought Pippa a present and this stopped her causing trouble. An American couple who came to Ireland to get married in Markree Castle brought with them presents for Pippa. Their wedding went off without a hitch! One two-year-old castle guest woke her mother up as she was talking. Her mother asked who she was speaking to. The little girl pointed to the corner and said “My friend.” There was nobody there - was it Pippa?