Want to spend a night in one of Ireland’s many haunted hotels? ANN MASSEY O’REGAN has picked the 10 spookiest to scare your bed socks off!
1. Ballyseede Castle Hotel, N21, Tralee, County Kerry
Just outside of Tralee stands Ballyseede Castle, built by the Fitzgerald family during the late 16th Century. Gerald Fitzgerald was beheaded for treason in the grounds, his head taken to London and exhibited in a cage at London Bridge.
It is believed that past landlords patrol the lower floors and cellars of the castle, ensuring its upkeep.
The most famous ghost however, is that of Hilda, believed to haunt the castle on 24 March every year. Nothing much is known of her history, however Hilda’s presence causes fear and can be enough to scare you away altogether.
At least this is what happened with every single guest in the castle in 1998, who checked out in the middle of the night, refusing to return.
2. Maldron Hotel, John Redmond Street, Shandon, Cork City
The Maldron in Cork started life as the North Infirmary Hospital in 1720 and was later used to treat the war wounded in secret, finally closed in 1987 and converted in 2008 to a hotel.
The Maldron is the subject of many claims of paranormal activity.
It is believed to be haunted by a woman who died giving birth when it was the North Infirmary, cleaning staff have allegedly been left terrified and the gym has succumbed to broken mirrors and equipment breaking for no reason.
Paranormal investigators have chosen to stay in rooms 318/319 which are mysteriously separated by a closed off room 325 and supposedly active. Whether these claims are to be believed or not, you will have to spend the night and find out!
3. The Lake Hotel, Lake Shore, Muckross Road, Killarney, County Kerry
The family owned Lake Hotel was built in 1820 and is haunted by the ghost of the founder of nearby Muckross Abbey, Donal McCarthy Mor.
Known locally as ‘Dan the Feathers’, McCarthy was a ruthless warrior and made a bed from the feathers of the Queen’s troops that he killed in battle.
The bed survived until the 19th century on site and Dan has been seen in the hotel’s Devil’s Punchbowl Bar looking out over Lough Leane.
There is also the spirit of a young girl from the 19th century who wanders the corridors, leaving a chill in the air and a sense of serenity with those who encounter her.
A psychic has apparently tried to make contact, however, as the girl was speaking an old local dialect she could not be understood, so her identity and reasons for remaining are unknown.
4. Glin Castle, Glin, County Limerick
Standing on the banks of the River Shannon Estuary is 700 year old Glin Castle, the subject of reported hauntings and poltergeist activity over a number of years.
Many of the hauntings are thought to be the souls of those who fell during the many battles on the site and still roam the 500 acre estate. On the third floor of the castle, poltergeist activity witnessed includes lights flicking on and off and doors rapidly opening and closing.
A frayed rope was found hanging from a ceiling where a worker was killed some years previously when the rope on his safety harness snapped.
A builder called Henry appears on the staircase just to pass the time and the 20th Knight of Glin himself can be found sitting in his favourite chair.
5. Renvyle House Hotel, Connemara, Galway
Nestled away in rural Galway, Renvyle House was built in 1883 and became a haven for poets, artisans and politicians.
W.B Yeats became a regular visitor who tried to connect with the spirits he sensed there, including a séance that brought forth the figure of a teenage boy, wide eyed and clutching his hands to his throat.
The property to this day continues to be the subject of poltergeist activity, including furniture moving and sheets being pulled from beds. The sensation of a dark force is present as well as the sound of footsteps in the empty halls.
It has been reported several times that female guests have seen the spectre of a man reflected in the mirror and the spirit of W. B Yeats himself has been sighted!
6. Kinnitty Castle Hotel, Kinnitty, Birr, County Offaly
First built in 1209 and home to Druids and poets alike, this Gothic style castle hotel was burned to the ground by Republicans in 1922 and rebuilt to its current state in 1928.
The High Cross and Abbey wall of the original structure remain and there are several ghosts believed to haunt the grounds.
Two of the bedrooms, the Geraldine and Elizabeth room are filled with paranormal activity and several other areas of the hotel leave residents uneasy and spooked.
The most famous ghost however is that of the Monk of Kinnitty, Hugh. Although witnessed by visitors and staff alike, he only communicates with one employee, including predicting events. The castle was the subject of an investigation by UK television’s ‘Most Haunted.’
7. The Shelbourne Hotel, 27 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin
Established in 1824 on St Stephen’s Green, stories relating to paranormal activity in The Shelbourne sparked the interest of recognised paranormal investigator Hans Holzer and the infamous British Psychic Sybil Leek in 1965.
When staying at the hotel, Sybil heard a young girl crying.
On invitation the girl got into bed and Sybil felt her lying alongside, only to awaken with a temporary numbness in her arm.
While Sybil was in a trance, Holzer was able to glean more information and discovered that the young girl had been poorly and was most likely a former resident of the original townhouses.
She was identified by Sybil Leeks as Mary Masters, aged seven.
The ghost of Mary continues to be seen and heard in the hotel corridors and reported on worldwide.
8. Castle Leslie Estate, Glaslough, County Monaghan
The Castle was created in 1870 for the Leslie family of Scotland and has been the topic of many accounts of haunting.
Lady Marjorie Leslie resided in what is known as ‘The Red Room’ and was visited by the spirit of her son Norman, who had been killed in action during the First World War.
Obviously finding comfort here, Marjory remains, long after her death.
Lady Constance Leslie has taken permanent residence in ‘The Mauve Room’ and playfully levitates the bed as guests try to sleep.
The hotel is also home to an extremely noisy spectral monk, a shadowy man in black and grey spectres roaming the halls and grounds.
If that doesn’t keep you awake then the eerie bells ringing in the still of night definitely will!
9. Ross Castle Hotel, Oldcastle, County Meath
Built in the mid sixteenth century, the once family stronghold is now a hotel with several hauntings to its name including that of previous owner Richard Nugent, also known as The Black Baron – an Englishman renowned for his tough and brutal regime and hatred of the Irish.
His daughter Sabina made the mistake of falling in love with a local Irish boy called Orwin.
Terrified of her father’s retribution, the love-struck pair eloped, only to fall foul of a storm on Lough Sheelin.
Their boat capsized, drowning Orwin although the Baron’s daughter was rescued.
Sabina wasted away with grief and continues to haunt Ross Castle with her father, although not surprisingly the two are never seen together.
10. Commodore Hotel, Cobh, County Cork
Ireland’s first custom built hotel opened for business in 1854 and its focus was to attract the many passengers embarking on voyages including the Titanic.
At the time of the sinking of the Lusitania by a German U Boat, the hotel was under German ownership and was converted into a hospital and makeshift morgue for the hundreds of victims.
While locals feel there must be some residual energy left from the fear and torment of the poor passengers, the haunting most reported is that of a crying baby on the upper floors of the hotel, where the body of an infant was alleged to have been found abandoned in one of the rooms.