When it comes to exploring towns and cities in Ireland, one attraction you can be sure to find on most travel itineraries is castles. Ireland is home to thousands of castles, many of which date back hundreds, even thousands, of years. While castles like Dublin, Blarney, Trim and Kilkenny are known to many across the country, below we look at 10 lesser-known castles with a dark history to explore this Halloween.
10 Haunted Irish Castles to Visit This Halloween
1 Ballygally Castle, Antrim
Today, Ballygally Castle is a popular hotel along the Antrim coastline, about 40 minutes from Belfast, but the castle is said to have haunted ties. The original caste at Ballygally dates back to the early 17th Century with the central tower said to be haunted by the ghost of Lady Isabella Shaw. Lady Isabella’s ghost is said to walk the corridors of the hotel and even knock on doors – so it might not always be room service should you plan a short break to Antrim. The hotel owners (the Hastings Hotel Group) have made this haunting a feature of the hotel, with a Ghost Room dedicated to Lady Isabella.
Ballygally Hotel is ideally located along the Causeway Coastal Route, while its short commute to Belfast also makes it a hit with many visitors to the area. Plan your Causeway Coast break today. View our 4-day Causeway Coast itinerary and start planning your trip.
2 Loughmoe Castle, Tipperary
Tipperary is home to some famous castles, with the Rock of Cashel, Cahir Castle and Nenagh Castle all attracting visitors throughout the year. Loughmoe Castle is a ruined castle in the village of Loughmoe, about 15 minutes from Thurles and 30 minutes from Cashel. Today, the castle is said to be haunted by someone who died in it in the mid-1900s. There’s something extra eerie about visiting a ruined castle at Halloween.
Plan your Halloween escape to Tipperary today by viewing the latest Tipperary hotel deals.
3 Leap Castle, Offaly
Considered by many to be Ireland’s most haunted castle, Leap Castle was home to some brutal atrocities in centuries gone by. Many of these revolved around the O’Carroll clan who occupied the castle for many years. Today the castle is the home of the Ryan family, and while access is restricted, thousands of visitors still flock to Leap every year in hope of catching a sign of the spirits that wander Ireland’s most haunted castle.
4 Clonony Castle, Offaly
Another haunted castle in Offaly, Clonony Caste is a 16th-Century Tudor castle that had typical Tudor features including mystery passages and a murder hole. The castle was a gift to Thomas Boleyn from King Henry VIII in exchange for the hand in marriage of his daughter Anne (Henry’s second wife who was rather infamously beheaded). Anne’s cousins are said to be buried within the grounds of the castle, and a ghost known as ‘The Thin Man’ has appeared in the past atop the tower at the castle.
Could he return this Halloween? Plan your short break to Offaly and find out.
5 Clifden Castle, Galway
Image © Tourism Ireland
The Connemara region of Galway is one of the most popular destinations along Ireland’s west coast, and the town of Clifden is one of the main towns in the region. While the beaches are often a reason for many flocking to the seaside town of Clifden, it’s the town’s castle that has something spooky in store for visitors this Halloween. Clifden Castle was built in the 19th Century but went into decline during the Great Famine of 1845. The castle is said to be haunted by the spirits of the poor and deprived who sheltered in the castle grounds during this period.
View the latest Clifden hotel deals and plan your Galway getaway today. Check out the 4-day itinerary for Bay Coast on the Wild Atlantic Way. The route takes you from Belmullet in Mayo to Galway City.
6 Tully Castle, Fermanagh
Located on the shores of Lower Lough Erne, a short drive from Enniskillen, Tully Castle is a ruined 17th-Century castle that is a must-see for anyone visiting the Fermanagh Lakelands this Halloween. The castle was burned down on Christmas Day in 1641 during an Irish rebellion, with women and children among the many people killed in the massacre. Local legend has it that the ghosts of those who died return to the castle every Christmas Day, but if you’re planning a break to Fermanagh this Halloween, be sure to add Tully Castle to your itinerary and see if the spirits arrive earlier this year.
View the latest deals for Fermanagh hotels and plan your Lakeland adventure today.
7 Belvelly Castle, Cork
Located near Fota Island and a short drive away from Cobh, and Cobh Heritage Centre is the ruined 15th-Century Belvelly Castle. The castle is said to be haunted by several spirits with the most famous being the faceless ghost of Lady Margaret. Lady Margaret Hardnett was captured and brought to the castle in the 17th Century, were she is said to have been starved and lost her beauty, before smashing all the mirrors in the castle. Her spirit is believed to still haunt the castle to this day.
Check out the latest deals for hotels in Cork and plan your Halloween break to the Rebel County today.
8 Leamaneh Castle, Clare
Located in the famous Burren region of Co Clare, and approximately 30 minutes from the famous Cliffs of Moher, Leamaneh Castle is said to be haunted by the legend of ‘Red Mary’. Mary is rumoured to have had over 20 husbands, with most of them meeting a similar fate of death. The legend of Red Mary is believed to have been ended by locals who sealed her alive in a hollow tree trunk, and today she haunts the grounds of this ruined castle. It is said you can hear her cackles as you explore the grounds – are you up for the challenge?
9 Killua Castle, Westmeath
Killua Castle is a 17th-Century castle in Westmeath that once belonged to the Chapman family after it was inherited by Benjamin Chapman. The castle is said to be haunted by a former land Stewart of Chapman who is believed to have cheated Chapman out of money, before drowning in a nearby lake. The last Chapman to live at Killua Castle was Thomas Chapman who left his wife and family in Westmeath and moved to England where he changed his surname to Lawrence, found love and started a family. Thomas Chapman had a son called TE Lawrence who would later become more famously known as Lawrence of Arabia.
Plan your Westmeath break today by checking out the latest deals on Westmeath hotels.
10 Castle Leslie, Monaghan
Castle Leslie is a 17th-Century castle that has been converted into a luxury hotel in Monaghan, close to the Northern Ireland border. The castle has been in the Leslie household since 1665 and is said to be haunted by the ghost of Norman Leslie who died during the First World War. Indeed, the room that Norman haunts is one of the main attractions of the hotel – the Red Room.
Discover the latest Monaghan hotel deals and plan your break to the border county today.
Do You Have Any Irish Haunted Castles To Add To The List?
Have you experienced any haunted tales as you’ve visited Irish castles? Let us know your Irish haunted castle memories by commenting below.
Want to explore more Irish castles? View our new Historic Ireland website and plan your historic break around Ireland today.
Images via Fáilte Ireland