PAUL MOYNIHAN picks five top spooky spots from haunted Dublin.
Kavanagh’s The Grave-Diggers’ Pub, Glasnevin
Kavanagh’s pub holds the proud title of being Dublin City’s oldest family-run pub and, if the ambiance is anything to go by, the place hasn’t changed much since it first opened its doors. However, this is the pub’s unique charm, and if it’s spirits you’re after (and not just the drinking kind), then Kavanagh’s is the place for you.
Also known as ‘The Grave-Diggers’ due to the fact that it is next to Glasnevin cemetery, this truly authentic pub was established in 1833. In those days, it was customary for the grave-diggers in the cemetery to shovel dirt against the pub’s wall, to signify to the landlord that they wanted a pint. It has been said that many a body snatcher enjoyed a pint in Kavanagh’s after a hard night’s work!
The pub is said to be haunted by an old man in tweeds, sitting at the bar and drinking a creamy pint of Guinness. As soon as he is seen, he disappears again, but numerous reports and sightings suggest that as long as the pints keep flowing, he’ll keep showing!
Built in 1796, Kilmainham Gaol is famous for housing some of Ireland’s most famous (and infamous) political figures. The gaol housed men, woman and children, whose crimes were as simple as petty theft. From 1919 to 1921, it housed many prisoners from the Irish War Of Independence, and it seems that many of these people are still carrying out their sentences behind the cold, grey walls of this amazing building.
Now a museum, the prison closed its doors in 1924. It remained closed until a team of volunteers began to restore the historic building in the 1960’s. It was during these restorations that the prison once again came to life, however this time around, the ghosts of long gone prisoners were running the building! Strange cold spots and phantom footsteps are just some of the spooky goings on reported by the workers. More recently, many children visiting the prison on day tours refuse to enter the building, claiming to see the spirits of prisoners and guards roaming the empty corridors.
However, many people sense that the spirits said to haunt the historic hallways of Ireland’s most famous prison are indeed positive ones, whose stories are as poignant as the breathtaking building is.
The Hellfire Club, Montpelier Hill
Atop a foreboding hill on Dublin’s outskirts sits a building that has seen its fair share of depravity, madness, and occasional malevolent spirits. This building is known as the Hellfire Club.
Built in 1725 by William Conolly, the stories of debauchery and practices in the dark arts, including manifestations of a demonic nature, are staples of the local folkloric landscape. Used as a hunting lodge by men wishing to escape the trappings of day to day life, the men who frequented this terrifying building were said to be worshipers of the dark lord, often leaving a seat empty at meetings should he show up. It was customary for these individuals to set fire to cats for pleasure, only to watch them run wailing down the hill in agony.
The supernatural tales surrounding the club are legendary. One of these tells of a local farmer who, having heard of the activities of the club, decided to ascend the hill to see for himself. He was found by the members of the club, and forced to watch the night’s activities. The next morning he was found wandering around the area, unable to speak, and spent the rest of his life deaf and dumb, unable to even remember his own name.
Other stories involve black masses and animal sacrifices. There are also, startlingly, legends of human sacrifices. In 1970, a shallow grave was uncovered at the site, which contained the skeleton of a dwarf. Reports of such a sacrifice had been told for the 150 years leading up to this grisly discovery.
If the hustle and bustle of the city gets a little too much, then by all means take a trip up to the Hellfire Club, but after spending some time in this dark and lonely building, the hustle and bustle won’t seem all that bad!
The Shelbourne Hotel, St. Stephen’s Green
Haunted hotels are common in all cities of this weird and wonderful world and Dublin is no exception.
Founded in 1824 and renovated from a group of townhouses, the Shelbourne Hotel overlooks the tranquil St. Stephen’s Green. It is famous in Ireland due to its immaculate reputation, but the tales of supernatural goings on are hard to resist when sitting in its lavish lobby.
World famous ghost hunter Hans Holzer stayed in the hotel in 1965 whilst investigating many of Dublin’s haunted locations. It was here that he, his wife and British Medium Sybil Leek came across the spirit of a little girl in Leek’s room, which was situated on the top floor of the hotel. Leek claimed to have been lying awake in bed one night when she heard the distressing sound of a child crying. Leek asked the child ‘What is the matter?’, to which the tormented spirit replied ‘I’m frightened’. Leek then felt something sitting on her bed and brush her face gently. She contacted the spirit again the following evening, discovering that it was a seven year old girl named Mary Masters. The medium began to have a conversation with the girl by going into a trance state, whilst Holzer watched. He noted that the child appeared to have a cold and was asking to see her sister, Sophie. Holzer concluded that the girl had died around 1846, in a house where the hotel now stood. Sybil Leek had written this date down the day before, and had no recollection as to why she would have done this.
Pay this beautiful and historic hotel a visit next time you take a trip to Dublin’s fair city, just keep your eyes peeled, as you never know what might be lurking down the corridor…
Connolly Railway Station
First opened in 1844 as Amiens Street Station, the building was bombed by the Germans in 1941, setting in place a string of supposed supernatural sightings.
I have had the pleasure of investigating this historic site along with the rest of the Irish Ghost Hunters team, and the activity we experienced there was extremely exciting to say the least. A night watchman told us of a particularly frightening experience he had whilst doing the night shift in the station. He was watching the security cameras late one evening, when he saw what he described as a soldier in grey clothes walking along the disused Platform 5. The figure soon disappeared, and the watchman ran immediately to where he had seen this figure. Nothing was to be seen. Upon returning to the security room, he played back the tape, and in the phantom’s place were a group of startled pigeons fighting and flying away.
On our investigation, we set up cameras on Platform 5, and although we didn’t capture the image of the ghost, we did capture what may well be evidence of poltergeist activity.