I've always been fascinated by Irish ghost stories. The fact that I'm of Irish descent might have something to do with it. So, without further ado, I bring you three shivery tales of wee Irish ghosties. Enjoy!
A full moon on a dark night,
And the road downhill all the way to your door.
Killarney, County Kerry
One of the McCarthys, Donal, was known as “Dan of the Feathers” due to his habit of collecting the plumed helmets of defeated English troops. His ghost is occasionally seen drifting in an equally ghostly boat across the smooth surface of the lake in the middle of the night. Sometimes he appears in the hotel’s Devil’s Punchbowl bar. He reportedly gazes wistfully out the window at the ruined castle in the distance.
Over the years, many guests have reported sightings of another ghost – a young girl around twelve years old. She wanders around in the front of the hotel and reportedly has a calming effect on those who see her. Who she was in life is not known, but a medium once succeeded in making contact with her. Unfortunately, the girl spoke in a language unfamiliar to the medium, so the reason for her haunting is still a mystery.
In 1793, Henry Tighe married Mary Blanchford, a talented poet who was also his first cousin. Sadly, Mary contracted tuberculosis and died on the morning of May 24th, 1810 after a walk to the village of Inistioge.
A sculptor named John Flaxman was brought in to cast the likeness of Mary’s dead body reclining on the couch where she died. The sculpture can be seen in the mausoleum at Inistioge cemetery where she is buried.
Her ghost, however, has been known to roam the ruins of Woodstock House. The figure of Mary has been seen drifting around the grounds, or wearily shuffling down the driveway, repeating her last fateful trip into Inistioge.
Renvyle, Connemara County
Along with his new house, Gogarty also acquired a couple of resident ghosts. In an upstairs bedroom with bars across the window, where no housekeeper dared to enter, lurked an ominous presence. One night, the spirits somehow managed to move a heavy chest of drawers in front of the closed and locked door, blocking entrance to the room. A workman had to saw through the bars on the window so the room could be entered again.
On another occasion, Gogarty was awakened by odd, limping footsteps shuffling down the hall outside his bedroom. He lit a candle and went to investigate, but the moment he left the room the flame was extinguished, and he was left in the dark. His body then took on a strange, heavy feeling; he was barely able to move.
One night, Gogarty was entertaining the poet W.B. Yeats and his wife in the library of Renvyle House. While the ghosts were fairly active on their own, their activity always seemed to increase whenever Yeats was visiting. As the poet recited some of his work to his friends, the door creaked open of its own volition. When Yeats yelled out, the door slowly closed again—by itself.
Another of Gogarty’s acquaintances, Evan Morgan, attempted an exorcism in the haunted upstairs bedroom. Upon reciting some prayers, a thick mist filled the room, and Morgan was flung to the floor. Later, he claimed to have seen the ghost of a young boy with a pale face and large, glowing eyes.
Ever the bold one, W.B. Yeats decided to conduct a séance along with his wife, Georgie, who was a talented medium. Contact was made, and the mist returned, swirling itself into a human form. The ghost revealed itself as a pale, red-haired boy around fourteen. The ghost claimed to be a member of the Blake family, the original owners of the house. He told Mrs. Yeats that he resented strangers living in what he still thought of as his house.
Renvyle House burned to the ground in 1923. Gogarty rebuilt it in the 1930s and ran it as a hotel once again. The hotel is still in business today, and the ghosts are reportedly still active.