Sightings of spirit soldiers, phantom prisoners and voices from beyond the grave are just some of the creepy goings-on at one of the Ireland’s most beautiful sites, Duncannon Fort, says PAUL MOYNIHAN

The county of Wexford’s beautiful southern coastline is encrusted with many a historic jewel, one of which stood as a protector of the land and is now home to one of Ireland’s finest (and supposedly most haunted) museums.

Duncannon Fort is a jaw-dropping star-shaped fortress, surrounded by some of Ireland’s most breathtaking scenery. Built in preparation for an attack from the Spanish Armada in the year 1588, the fort has a central parade ground, with numerous buildings encompassing it. Its moat is 30 feet high, which provided strong protection for its past inhabitants. From the fort’s outer ramparts, the county of Waterford can be seen across the water.

Duncannon Fort - a place of scenic beauty and tales of hauntings
Duncannon Fort – a place of scenic beauty and tales of hauntings

The fort is famous for its resilience, withstanding a six week long siege from Confederate Catholic forces in 1645, before finally falling into their hands. Even Cromwell failed to take the fort in his 1649 attempt. It was a British garrison until 1919, when the Irish Free State claimed it. Sadly, the fort received serious damage during the Irish Civil War, lying in ruins until World War II began. The fort was then rebuilt as a defensive post against the threat of Hitler. Wexford County Council took over the fort in the early 1990s, turning it into a museum.

Few dare speak of the spirits haunting Duncannon Fort

Duncannon Fort’s history is rich and magnificent, but few dare to speak of the supposed spirits that haunt this legendary landmark. Home to numerous phantoms, the fort has received claims of coldspots, shadows and disembodied voices in various sections. Ghostly soldiers have been seen in the courtyard, keeping watch for enemy attack in some strange paranormal patrol. The fort’s mess hall houses one of the location’s most frightening apparitions: the ghost of a soldier who took his own life.

Legend has it that this soldier was in love with the wife of his commander, and she secretly loved him. She could never show her love, however, for fear of her husband’s wrath. Their love never fully blossomed, and so the lovestruck soldier took his own life. People claim to have seen the ghostly image of the soldier walking at the top of the stairs. Others have experienced the sound of a woman crying. Perhaps this is the young lady, whose spirit lingers on in search of the love she never had…

The place is also home to a network of cells, which are located below the moat. These cells housed prisoners from the 1798 Rebellion, and the most famous of these is the Croppy Boy cell. This cell supposedly detained the famous Irish hero known as the Croppy Boy (a nickname for Irish rebels at the time). A famous song of the same name contains the verse:

‘was in Duncannon this young man died
And in Duncannon his body lies
So all good people who do pass by
Just drop a tear for the Croppy Boy’

Visitors to this lonely part of the fort have claimed feeling unease, sadness and illness. Some have heard the boy’s cries, while others have witnessed the ghost of the tragic young figure.

Today, Duncannon is open for tours and houses one of Ireland’s greatest Maritime Museums. A military re-enactment takes place on the June bank holiday weekend, and is well worth seeing for fans of history. An Arts Centre, café and craft shop are also on site, and a visit to the fort is highly recommended. Staff are friendly and welcoming, and the place is beautifully run.

Take a trip to Wexford’s famous Duncannon Fort, a place of history, culture and spectacular scenery. Just keep an eye out for any spooks, spectres or soldiers that don’t look like they’re taking part in a re-enactment…

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