Ireland is filled with centuries old castles, churches, great houses and graveyards, so it’s not surprising that there are lots of spooky stories to tell and places to explore. Halloween has its origins here and some of what can be experienced inspired Bram Stoker to create ‘Dracula’. Whether you want to visit a haunted gaol, learn about the ghosts that walk our castle halls, hear tales of gravediggers and gore, or walk the eerie night-time streets on a guided tour, then off you go - but maybe not on your own! Here are some of our best spooky experiences…
Ireland has lots of ghostly visitor gaols (jails) to explore. You will get to see what life was like for those imprisoned in these dramatic and history-filled buildings and learn about the notorious criminals they housed in times past. At Wicklow's Historic Gaol in Wicklow Town, one of the cruellest, most historically shameful places in Ireland, actors in full regalia invite you to enter the cells of prisoners past – but just keep your foot in the door! You can book tickets to Wicklow Gaol here. Visit Kilmainham Gaol, in Dublin City, to learn about its intimate link with Ireland’s struggle for Independence and the heroic and tragic events that took place during that time.
Mingle with ghosts and past inmates on an evening tour of Cork City Gaol and get a fascinating insight into daily prison life there before its closure in 1923. On a visit to Crumlin Road Gaol in Belfast City, visitors will learn about the executions that took place in the Hanging Cell, the imprisonment of women and children and even walk the famous Courthouse tunnel.
Many of these Gaols will have special extra-ghostly tours taking place around Halloween so make sure to check them out.
By day, Ireland’s cities and towns may seem like the perfect place to enjoy cultural and historical sites and great shopping and restaurant experiences. But take a guided night-time ghost tour and hear the darker side of their history! The Belfast Ghostwalk brings you through the dark shadows and alleyways of haunted Belfast City. Hear stories of apparitions, disease, murder and body snatching as you visit haunted taverns, hidden churches, the Cathedral Quarter and more.
In Dublin, the Ghostbus Tour, running year round, will terrify you with stories about the Lady in White, graveyard torturers and the grizzly Dr Clossey to name but a few! If you prefer to go by foot, try the Haunted History Ghost Tour in Dublin - a 45 minute walk through the eerie, cobblestoned streets, hearing tales of the more gruesome aspects of the city’s history.
From June to September, the Killarney Ghost Tour in Co. Kerry - a theatrical bus tour - will take you to sites of ghostly apparitions, freaky folklore and haunting history. Be enthralled on the Kinsale Ghost Tour, a walking tour which takes place during the summer months and one of the most popular attractions in Kinsale, Co. Cork. It’s a mixture of humour and history, spooky stories and quirky characters. Around Halloween time, check out some of Ireland’s Top Castles & Great Houses - as many run their own spooky themed tours!
There are dozens of spooky festivals and events taking place throughout the country for adults and families - usually around the Halloween period.
The Spirits of Meath Festival promises to delight and fright, with eerie graveyards; the Tour of Shadows, thriller nights and terror houses! It takes place from 16 October to 1 November 2015 throughout the County of Meath. The World Ghost Convention, held on 30 October 2015 at Cork City Gaol, sees a colourful assortment of fascinating supernatural topics explored by international guest speakers, and personal supernatural experiences shared.
Head to County Cavan for the Virginia Pumpkin Festival (23 - 26 October 2015) featuring the National Giant Pumpkin Contest, Ireland’s largest fancy dress ball, a spectacular fireworks display, a spooky walk through the Forest of Fears and much more. The Bram Stoker Festival, celebrating the author of Dracula who hails from Dublin, takes place around Dublin city (23 - 26 October 2015) with a great line-up of events for adults and kids including fancy dress, spooky stories, music, film screenings, walking tours, a market fair and more. In Belfast, don’t miss the Metro Monster Mash on Halloween Night with street theatre, fire jugglers, music and a stunning fireworks display.
Many of Ireland’s attractions also hold special spooky events over the Halloween period including Torchlight Tours at the Ulster American Folk Park, Omagh, Co. Tyrone; the Halloween Fest at Westport House, Co. Mayo; Halloween fun and games at Bunratty Castle & Folk Park, Co. Clare; and eerie events at Belvedere House, Gardens & Park, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath.
Discover the creepy histories of our centuries old churches, cathedrals and graveyards. Glasnevin Cemetery Museum is both the guardian and storyteller for more than 1.5 million people buried there -and has had its fair share of the macabre! Take a tour of this top Dublin attraction to learn about the harsh realities of life in Dublin and eavesdrop on the stories of former gravediggers - you can book tickets here. Afterwards, make sure to stop by the nearby famous Gravediggers Pub - one of the Lonely Planet’s Top 50 ‘Secret Europe’ picks. Make a trip to Christchurch Cathedral in Dublin to explore the medieval, 12th century crypt - the largest in Britain and Ireland. A mummified cat and a rat, which were trapped in the organ in the 1860’s are the most unusual (and most popular) inhabitants of the crypt - and are known locally as Tom and Jerry! Book tickets here.
St Michan’s Church in Dublin contains the mummified remains of many of Dublin’s most influential 17th, 18th and 19th century families and is well worth a visit. Described by Frommer’s guidebook as being both ‘unique and macabre’, this creepy crypt is believed to have inspired Bram Stoker, creator of ‘Dracula’. At the 13th century St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin City, you will literally be surrounded by bodies ... it is believed that there are over 700 people buried in the grounds including some inside the walls and under the floors! Tickets can be booked here.
Many of Ireland’s castles and great houses are steeped in stories of the supernatural and have intrigued paranormal investigators for years, with some even appearing in television documentaries! Malahide Castle, in Co. Dublin, has an 800 year old history and is believed to be haunted by no less than five ghosts! They include those of various Lords and Ladies and ‘Puck’ the Jester, found stabbed by the castle walls. In Kinsale, Co. Cork, Charles Fort is home to the White Lady - a young bride who jumped to her death after her husband was shot the day after their wedding. Since then, several men have reported being thrown down the stairs by an unknown force!
Charleville Castle, in Tullamore, Co. Offaly, has been investigated by numerous paranormal investigators and has appeared on several television shows. It is reportedly haunted by an eight year old girl, daughter of the Earl of Charleville, who died when she fell down the stairs. And perhaps the best known haunted castle in Ireland is Leap Castle, also in Co. Offaly. Leap has a reputation as being one of the most haunted places in the world and has featured on paranormal television shows on more than one occasion! Some of the gruesome tales from here include a priest butchered in the Bloody Chapel; a man murdered by his brother; the dagger wielding ghost of the Red Lady; and the ghosts of two young girls who died in the 1600’s...
...Be Careful Out There!
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