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8 Spooky Spots to visit this Halloween



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Looking for some tricks and treats? With Ireland the home of Halloween, it’s no surprise that the otherworldly Wild Atlantic Way boasts plenty of ways to get your spook on during the witching season.

Read on (if you dare) for the top eight spots to visit on a ghoulish getaway.

 
 

Charles Fort, Kinsale, County Cork

Not only does Kinsale host a regular ghost tour but it’s also home to a ghost known as The White Lady of Kinsale. This sad figure is said to roam Charles Fort, a 17th-century military structure nestled on a headland above the town. The story goes that it’s the ghost of a local girl who married a soldier who was later shot for falling asleep at his post. She died after falling from the fort’s walls on finding out that her love had been killed and her wedding dress-wearing ghost has haunted the fort ever since.

Charles Fort castle
Charles Fort, Kinsale, County Cork
(Photo credit: Raymond Fogarty)

Ballyheigue Castle, County Kerry

The Kingdom of Kerry has no shortage of supernatural occurrences either, as the strange tale of Ballyheigue Castle reveals. Photographs of the derelict castle from the 1960s show an eerie figure in 18th-century clothing holding a sword. The apparition is thought to be that of a Danish crew member from the Golden Lion, a vessel wrecked off the Kerry coast in 1730. The ship was carrying the then fortune of £16,000 in silver bullion, about €2 million today, so why not hunt some ghosts and some treasure while you’re there? Of course there are plenty of ghost-free castles on the Wild Atlantic Way too, if you’re hoping to avoid things that go bump in the night.
 

Ballyseede Castle, Tralee, County Kerry

One of TripAdvisor’s top 10 haunted castles, beautiful Ballyseede Castle is now a 4-star hotel that hosts guests from this and ‘other’ dimensions. With a history stretching back to the 16th century, modern-day guests may hear mysterious voices and laughter in the air, as well as the patter of running feet down its halls. If something unusual should make an appearance though it’s most likely the ghost of a woman thought to be one of the Blennerhassett family, who once lived in the castle. Don’t be too scared though, past guests say she’s quite friendly and have even affectionately named her Hilda, so at least you’ll be on first-name terms…
 

Dún An Óir, County Kerry 

Part of the historic Second Desmond Rebellion, during the 16th-century Siege of Smerwick in Kerry more than 800 Spanish soldiers captured the town of Smerwick (now Ard na Caithne) but were forced to retreat to Dún An Óir when military reinforcements failed to arrive. English troops soon outnumbered the Spaniards, forcing them to surrender. It’s said that their pained last words echo in the air every October around the anniversary of their defeat.
 

Leamaneh Castle, County Clare

In the wilds of the Burren you might just encounter the ghost of a truly formidable figure, known as Red Mary. Born in 1615, this flame-haired lord’s daughter supposedly haunts the ruin of Leamaneh Castle, cackling and screaming. A pretty blood-curdling tale, Mary is said to have wed a total of 25 husbands, almost all of whom met untimely deaths and the third of which fell from a third-storey window. Apparently in a bid to stop her rampage her enemies sealed her alive within a hollow tree but her ghost still roams the area.

Leamaneh Castle in Clare
Leamaneh Castle, County Clare

Thoor Ballylee Castle, Gort, County Galway

A firm believer in the afterlife himself, it’s quite fitting that the ancient Norman tower WB Yeats bought and restored in 1917 was thought to host spirits. Yeats adored this creative hideaway but also believed it was haunted by the ghost of an Anglo-Norman soldier, with many visitors also noting a similar supernatural presence. In 1989, many years after the building’s renovation into a Yeats museum, visitor David Blinkthorne photographed Yeats’ living room. The developed photos later revealed an eerie apparition, the black figure of a small boy appeared in the image of the poet’s living room, despite nobody having been in the room when the photo was taken. 

THOOR BALLYLEE CASTLE, county Galway
A ghostly image from Thoor Ballylee Castle
 

Renvyle House Hotel, Connemara, County Galway

In the wilds of windswept and mysterious Connemara sits this 19th-century hotel with arguably more paranormal guests than human ones. Built in 1833 but bought by famous Irish poet and author Oliver St John Gogarty in 1917, the hotel’s staff refused to sleep in a certain bedroom of the house owing to a menacing presence and the time ‘something’ dragged a large storage chest across the room, barricading it from the inside. Yeats, a friend of Gogarty, famously held a séance at the hotel and used automatic writing to invoke and communicate with the spirit, who revealed itself to be that of a young red-haired boy.
 

Seafield House, County Sligo

In the 1800s when noted archaeologist Owen Phibbs inherited his father’s home, Seafield House, he began to fill it with artefacts and treasures he’d sourced in Egypt and the Far East. Soon after however, the house became over-run by a poltergeist, ornaments and crockery would be broken, a strange figure would often appear in the stairwell at night and on one occasion the whole house is said to have shaken with incredible force, causing all within it to flee in terror. Later in the 1900s, Jesuit priests are said to have attempted to exorcise the house but they too fled the building in fear. The house was sold many years later but today remains a derelict ruin.
 

Looking to have some Halloween fun on the Wild Atlantic Way? Don’t worry, there are lots of scare-free but pleasantly spooky experiences to enjoy, from Galway Aboo to Mayo’s Halloween Fest at Westport House and Samhain Abhainn, to something for the little ghouls with Spooky Halloween at Moher Hill Open Farm in County Clare.

Why not explore more of the route by region or Signature Discovery Point, or see what else is going on right here.

 

 
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