County Wicklow forms part of Ireland’s Ancient East. With centuries of dark history and home to one of Ireland’s main prisons it is little wonder there are so many accounts of paranormal activity.
Paranormal Investigator and Irish Horror Writer CHRIS RUSH takes a look at Wicklow’s Five Most Haunted Locations.
Wicklow Gaol, Wicklow Town
Opened in 1702 and closed in 1924, the remaining building of Wicklow gaol still sits proudly in Wicklow town to this day. Over many years this site was home to countless hangings, deaths and various types of torture.
Speaking of hangings, it is said that decades ago the building owners across the street use to rent out the top rooms to people so they could view the individuals being kicked to their deaths.
Many visitors have claimed to have seen a woman dressed in a dark cloak with the hood up roaming the ground floor.
A mixture of nice and sometimes unexplainable horrid smells float their way from cell number 5.
Other reported phenomena include a green mist floating around the main building and figures seen coming from cell 19 and walking along the walkway.
People have seen a man lurking on the ships deck upstairs just staring at them. Women especially feel anxious and afraid on the ship’s upper deck during tours.
On the lower deck of the ship people say they often see shadows in the corner of their eye and on the top floor people often hear children crying.
This building holds numerous stories and one such tale is about an individual who was placed down in the solitary confined cell in the dungeon because he was riddled with disease, however the jailors forgot they had left him there and he died alone in the darkness.
Torture techniques at this site included the treadwheel, the shot drill and whipping.
The treadwheel, invented in 1818, it took up residence in the jail in 1820.
Prisoners where tied to this device for hours on end and forced to continually step up it as the wheel moved, they were separated into stalls so they couldn’t even talk to one another during the punishment. This device could hold up to 40 individuals at a time.
The shot drill was a large heavy steel ball, and an already starving prisoner was instructed to bend their back, not their legs, pick up the ball and hold it at chest height for a number of seconds before either placing it back down to its original position and repeat or passing it to another prisoner who’d carry out the task and then hand it back.
This task also had to be carried out in complete silence!! If any sounds of exertion were heard the prisoner’s rations were taken away from them.
So where were the bodies disposed you may ask?
Well in the 1700’s a half tame hawk was released to feed on the corpses, when people were hanged their bodies were removed and the head left behind for the bird to snack on.
However, after some time the bird was caught and killed by the prisoners.
Another form of disposal was into the nearby sea, however soon the number of floating bodies reached dangerous levels, local fishermen finally refused to fish the area.
Later in the 1900’s the bodies were recovered and buried, and as recently as the 90’s body remains were found in the jail yard, which were covered in lime which no doubt was done to kill the smell and speed up the decay.
The old Ormonde Castle, Arklow Town
In Arklow, just a short distance from Wicklow town lies the remains of an old castle at the court house.
The ghost of this young boy is said to be trapped at this location, trying to complete the work he failed to do when he was alive.
The boy’s job was to sound the alarm if he saw any attackers approaching the building, however the young boy fell asleep on the job and resulted with him being locked up inside the castle without any food or water as punishment.
However, the individuals who did this forgot about him and only realised their mistake a number of days later.
Upon going to release the boy they found him dead and was missing his head.
To this day may say that if there is any danger of attack on the town the alarm can be heard sounding from the old castle ruins.
Wicklow Head Lighthouse, Wicklow Town
This area is said to be haunted by a woman who lost her head …literally.
It is said that this woman was beheaded with a slash hook by her jealous boyfriend when he found out she was in love with another person.
Many people have claimed to see her tormented headless body prowling around the location.
Old Monastery Ruins, Glendalough
A woman by the name of Kathleen is said to haunt these ruins, she was killed by St. Kevin by whipping her with nettles and then he threw her into the lake.
So the next time that you are up there and admiring the view, just think of how long her cold, rotting body must have laid there before she was finally dragged out.
Her spirit is said to have been captured in many photos over the years, so if you’re visiting why not take a few to see what you can see.
Lovers Leap Rock, Bray
It is said that the ghost of a heart broken woman can be seen every year on June 21st.
She was unfaithful to him and an immense grief followed, unable to take it anymore he died from the continuing pain.
Once buried she sat at his grave for many days, with nothing more to live for she took her life by jumping off the rock into the vicious waters below.
Maybe you should go up to Lovers Leap next June 21st to see can you see her taking the plunge and smashing into the waters below.