Ireland’s Castles: Most Haunted, Scariest, and 2 Close Runners-Up
Updated: Mar 24
Ireland is a mysterious land, enveloped in legends, myths, and ghost stories. It’s a beautiful country, however, it also has a history of being both mysterious and frightening. Much of it is covered with ancient castles and ruins, making it the perfect backdrop for scary ghost stories. Many of these castles have a dark past and spooky present.
Four Haunted Castles of Ireland
Leap Castle has been given the infamous label of most haunted castle in Ireland and Charleville Castle is deemed the scariest. Both are located in County Offaly, as is Kinnitty Castle. The fourth castle highlighted is Malahide Castle, County Dublin.
Kinnitty Castle was built on a druidic site and is said to be haunted by a group of Druids.
Kinnitty Castle Hotel is a gothic revival Castle located at the foothill of the Slieve Bloom Mountains in the heart of Ireland. The Castle has had a long and turbulent history.
The first Castle at Kinnitty was destroyed in 1209 and was later rebuilt by the Norman’s in 1213. Later the Norman’s were driven out by the O’Carroll’s of Ely, a powerful Gaelic clan.
Kinnitty Castle has a long history of being haunted. It’s built on the grounds of an Augustine Abbey and is home to a tall Phantom Monk, a ghost that sometimes appears in physical form.
It seems one of the long - dead monks, probably from the abbey, enjoys spending time in the castle, wandering the dark corners of the banquet room. He has great fun in revealing future events of the hotel to staff members before the owner shares this information!
The Dungeon Bar–located in the basement–is marketed as “a cosy candle-lit cavern with an array of historical Irish memorabilia.” The bar hosts traditional music and dance, providing visitors with an important taste of Irish culture.
There are definitely spirits from the past here…you can feel their presence. Orbs are in many of the pics I took - there is one located above my ear in this pic. I’m in the middle.
For an even better feel of the castle watch Most Haunted – Kinnitty Castle.
Malahide Castle was originally built around 1185. Considered one of Dublin’s most haunted buildings, the castle the home to at least five ghosts.
The first ghost–supposedly the scariest–is that of Miles Corbett. He fought in Cromwell’s army during the conquest of Ireland. For his service, he was awarded the Talbot’s castle. Corbett was hung, drawn, and quartered for his crimes against the Irish after Cromwell was defeated.
The truly frightening thing about Corbett’s ghost is that, although he is wearing a full suit of armor, when he gets close enough to spectators he falls into four pieces right in front of them!
The next spirit is thought to be Lady Maud Plunkett, who’s often seen running through the corridors of the castle, as if chasing someone. Visitors to the castle have even claimed to have been chased by her.
Then there is the ghost responsible for the terrifying, pain-filled moans that echo through the corridors of the castle. It’s said he clutches spear wound on his side, and is only seen after dark. He lingers here because of his wife who’s honor he died defending – and then she married his rival right after his death!
A spirit known as The White Lady haunts Malahide Castle. For many years there was a portrait of a beautiful young lady hanging in the great hall. She wore a flowing white dress, though no one seems to know anything about her identity. People have claimed to see this woman walking around all areas of the castle in her long flowing dress.
The last ghost is known as Puck–the ghost of a 16th century jester. Over the years, he’s been captured in a number of photos, especially near the small door in the photo above.
Legend has it he fell in love with the wrong woman, and in some sort of revenge attack he was murdered. Puck vowed to come back and haunt the castle–he seems to have kept good on his word.
Charleville Castle is situated just outside the town of Tullamore. It’s a gorgeous example of a Gothic castle, and is surrounded by a forest of huge oak trees. This was once a ritual site of druids.
The King Oak is located on the grounds next to the entry drive to Charleville Castle. It is estimated to be 800 years old and is a descendant of the ancient oak forests that were once common in Ireland.
The castle was built in 1798 by Ireland’s leading architect of the time, Francis Johnston, for the Earl of Charleville, Charles William Bury.
The castle is said to be haunted by a young girl named Harriet, the daughter of the third Earl of Charleville.
According to the legend, one evening in 1861, 8 year old Harriet was sent upstairs to wash her hands before dinner.
On her way down the staircase, Harriet thought it would be fun to slide down the balustrade. Unfortunately, she fell to the ground and died. Harriet’s singing, laughter, and screams are still heard in the castle today.
Many guests of the castle claim they’ve seen Harriet, or sensed her presence, on the staircase above or in the rooms of the castle. She reportedly wears a white and blue dress and has blue ribbons in her golden hair. Others swear they’ve captured her on film, insisting that the shadows or the mist appearing in their photographs are actually Harriet.
Deemed the scariest castle in Ireland, Charleville Castle has long been an attractive spot for ghost hunters and paranormal investigators, and has been featured on Ghost Hunters International. An interesting YouTube video to watch is Scariest Places on Earth – Return to Charleville.
The world’s most haunted castle has a turbulent and bloody history. There are many factors that attribute to giving Leap (pronounced Lep) its sinister reputation. Most of these revolve around decades of bloodshed and tragedy. Today, Leap Castle is home to a variety of fascinating, and sometimes frightening, spirits
Throughout history, Leap Castle has been used as a fortress, home and tomb. It’s said the O’Carroll clan built it in 1250 A.D.
After the chieftain of the O’Carroll clan, Mulrooney O’Carroll, died in 1532, rivalry and disputes between two O’Carroll brothers arose. Both wanted to become the chieftain of the clan. Thaddeus, the older brother, was a priest and was holding a mass in a room known today as the Bloody Chapel - shown below. His brother, Teige O’Carroll, burst into the room and plunged his sword into Thaddeus, who quickly bled to death. The priest’s spirit is believed to be the earliest ghost to haunt Leap Castle.
Unfortunately, the castle’s horrors don’t end there. In the 1900’s, workmen were hired to clean out the castle’s dungeon. Here they made a horrific discovery – human skeletons piled on top of one-another. Three cart loads of skeletons were removed from the dungeon. It’s reported that unfortunate visitors of the castle were pushed into the dungeon eight feet below, where they fell on sharp wooden spikes.
The most intriguing ghost of castle is The Elemental. It’s not clear when or how this spirit first appeared–of course, there are a number of theories to explain his presence.
The earliest belief is that the druids placed The Elemental here to protect their sacred site, long before the castle was actually built.
Another theory suggests that The Elemental is the spirit of an O’Carroll member who died from Leprosy.
However, the most popular story concerns dabbling in the occult. In 1649, Leap Castle became the property of the Darby family. It’s widely believed that the frightful spirit was brought on by one of the Darby’s. The occult was a popular pastime, and Mildred Darby would often engage in séances and automatic writing. Around this same time the bodies in the dungeon were discovered by workmen. The energy linked to the spirits from the dungeon and Mildred Darby’s séances could have conjured up The Elemental.
In 1909, Mildred Darby stated in an interview with The Occult Review “The Elemental had an inhuman face with two black holes for its eyes, saliva-dripping jaw and no nose. The whole face was a sickly shade of grey.” Luckily, it seems to appear only when provoked. So behave when you visit!
When you visit, you’re given a candle to light your way!
What was really strange during our visit at Leap Castle was my phone camera wouldn’t work outside. I tried taking pics when we first arrived, and then again when we were leaving. However, it worked fine inside the castle…
Check out this video Leap Castle, Ireland + the Elemental Ghost on the history of the Elemental and Leap Castle.
We visited Leap, Charleville and Kinnitty Castles at the end of October. At this time time of the year the veil between this world and the other-world is the thinnest – making it the perfect time of year to experience the energy from the spiritual realm.
There are many more haunted castles of Ireland, all waiting for the brave to visit and explore for themselves...
Peace, love & creativity ~ Sandra