Kilkenny is situated in the South East of Ireland and dates back to the sixth century. It forms part of the Kingdom of Ossory and is known for its Medieval Mile, music, nightlife and many historic and haunted buildings. ANN O’REGAN recently visited this popular tourist destination and tells us why the Kilkenny Ghost Tour was at the top of her ‘to do’ list.
Well it might have been pouring with rain, but this is Ireland and if you let the rain stop you nothing would get done. Any tour that starts off in a pub is a winner in my book and the Kilkenny Ghost Tour is no exception!
Beginning at Lannigans Bar in the heart of Kilkenny, we were greeted by Paddy, our tour guide for the night. The weather had in fact scared away any ghost tour companions so we were thrilled to be on our own private tour.
Starting in the aptly nicknamed ‘Coffin Lane’, we were told of the Alms House and deeds within, why the cobbled alley was so named and about the ghost and curse of Sir Richard Shee, serving an eternal penance, which led us to Saint Mary’s Church.
The dark and the rain contributed to the atmosphere as we continued our walk along the empty back alleys and side streets to Kyteler’s bar, home of the notorious Alice Kyteler. Alice was tried for witchcraft along with her maid, Petronella and we were enthralled by tales of her many husbands and the hex cast upon them, before being taken through the public house itself, the aged stones and winding staircase giving a hint of the past misdeeds and indiscretions that took place within its walls.
From here we walked onto Kilkenny prison, eerie in the gloomy night, the headlights of passing cars bouncing into the centuries old prison cells. Looking in through the barred windows as our guide told us of the trials and executions that befell inmates, you could almost feel the despair and misery, giving chills to even this hardened seeker of ghosts!
Kilkenny ghost stories full of ‘despair and misery’
Across from the Gaol is Rothe House, a sixteenth century merchant house and we were told to look up at the window for the ghostly image of the priest who used to pray for the condemned souls in hiding as this was a time that Catholic priests were executed and prayers and mass were forbidden.
We continued along the damp and echoing streets to the Black Abbey, so called because of the robes of the Dominican monks. Here we were told local stories in front of the open tombs, the dim lighting, rain and starless sky giving the whole place an unnerving ambience.
Across from the Black Abbey is Saint Mary’s Cathedral, resplendent gothic architecture, stonework and carvings illuminated by spotlights. From here we moved onto Chapel Lane and heard of highwayman James Freney, then entering further alleys were told of the monk and the Bishop Hunter, seen walking the cobbles holding the head of an unfortunate bishop in his hand.
Finally, we arrived at haunted Kilkenny Castle, the jewel in the crown of the medieval mile. Here Paddy told us of the history and hauntings of this 12th century stronghold as well as his own personal experiences from his time working within.
Usually with groups, the guides would be in costume and those on the tour given witches hats and capes to protect them from the elements and well, for fun, however with just the two of us and the terrible weather, this didn’t happen. I have to say I preferred the tour this way, as I got to witness first-hand the knowledge and enthusiasm of Paddy without the theatrics.
So was the tour worth the stinking cold I woke up with the following day? Absolutely! This tour will impress anyone who like me, likes historical fact at the bottom of their paranormal glass of spookiness! If you find yourself in haunted Kilkenny, the Kilkenny Ghost Tour is a must, just be sure to leave the heels at home and bring an umbrella!
For information on the tour and tickets: www.kilkennyghosttours.com