Irish Ghost Stories
Irish ghost stories and spooky tales, halloween folklore, Irish samhain tales and Celtic ghost stories
Irish ghost stories, spooky tales to chill the bones from Ireland.
Irish ghost stories are deeply intertwined with ancient Irish culture and mythology, with many tales going back to the pre-Christian days, sometimes retold in more modern forms. The old people had a great belief in the afterlife and in places where the world grew thin, or places where spirits could most easily pass from one realm to the next.
Many's the strange apparition and phantom that has accosted weary travellers on dark country roads, and these tales they shared with others as they went, warning and telling ghost stories of things stirring that had no right to move!
Even the living sometimes had ghosts, like the fetch, by some tales, spirits that came to visit, but if you went looking in deep, dark places you might find yourself the guest of another kind of ghost. Especially to be feared were crossroads, where the spirits of the lost can get caught, unable to find their way to where they were going, but you might meet murderous wraiths like Petticoat Loose on any dark boreen!
The most ancient Irish ghost stories are often the most unsettling, like the collector of debts of the elder powers of Ireland, the Dullahan, who comes to ensure that the evil ones get their due from whatever bargains had been struck, or the mournful tale of the vengeance of the abused maiden who became the red thirst.
So when you read these terrifying tales, think about all of those who came before and listened to them being told, perhaps in a drafty cottage or in a great hall, or even gathered around a peat fire in a crannog back when the world was younger and ghost stories were the doorway to those long gone into the dark valley to meet their maker. Especially at times like Halloween, or Samhain as it used to be called, when the darker half of the year began.
With the harvest gathered and stored, then was the time for the hunger of the spirits, and great bonfires were lit to protect villages from their unwelcome attention. Stones were sometimes cast into these fires, and the ashes used for protection. The ancient sidhe or fairy mounds opened, allowing supernatural creatures to roam free, and their wells were blue-lit and shimmering. Ancestors long dead would join the feasting and places were set for them, although tales tell that less welcome revenants could be held at bay by iron, salt, or turning your clothes inside out!
There's nothing quite like a good ghost story to chill the blood on a dark evening around the fire, and few tales are quite as chilling as those that can be found on the Emerald Isle! Out of the mists and across the veil the unquiet spirits of those who came before stretch out their ghostly hands to tell their own stories through their encounters with the people of Ireland.
Irish Ghost Stories
There once was a woman called Máire Rua, or Red Mary, since she was one of the McMahons and had hair like a fiery sunset with a temper to match! Many legends have grown up around this seventeenth century force of nature, some true, some maybe less so, and some she spread herself! She made her seat in Leamanagh Castle, in the Burren in Cou ... [more]
If Dublin is the capital city of Ireland, County Clare is its dark reflection on the other side of the country, a place where many of the shadowy tales and unsolved mysteries of bygone years eventually seem to flow. Layer upon layer of centuries burden its rocky hills, left behind by the passage of numberless and nameless peoples, each hiding their ... [more]
Little remains now of once-proud Dunluce castle, whose halls had echoed with the sounds of laughter and music, and whose vaulted arches had defied the most ferocious storms. Only echoes and shadows are left behind, and some say, the tormented ghost of a young lady waiting for her love to return! The castle had originally been built by Richard &O ... [more]
The tale of Kilmagoura in County Cork is, for the most part, a peaceful and quiet one, as it lay under the power of the Fitzgeralds for many years, and they were, for the most part, just and fair rulers. So good were they that nobody had anything bad to say about them, and tales were told of their heroism and generosity. But as they say, it is t ... [more]
The long shadow of Leap Castle in County Offaly stretches across many centuries, and from its dark depths echo tales of terror, murder and the dread hand of the supernatural reaching from beyond the grave! The land upon which the O'Bannon clan built Leap Castle in the thirteenth century was not unoccupied – in fact, it had been used by ... [more]
Once upon a time in Tyrone there were two little children, the son and daughter of parents who had died when they were little. They missed their parents very much, but they were raised by a guardian who was a fanatical atheist, and was determined to convert the children to his beliefs. But they would have none of it, and so they made a childhood ... [more]
Every year around Halloween, people carve pumpkins or turnips into faces and put candles inside them, but not many know that this custom came from Ireland originally, or the story behind it! They say there was a blacksmith many years gone who was fond of his drink, and a mean drunk he was too, and tight with it. Not many friends did stingy Jack ... [more]
There was a famous beauty who lived in Belvelly castle overlooking Cork Harbour in the seventeenth century, and word of her ethereal comeliness spread far and wide. It reached the ears of a local lord by the name of Clon Rockenby, and he declared he must have her for his wife. Her name was Lady Margaret Hodnett, and although she was quite fond o ... [more]
The Redmonds were a comfortably well off family living in Court street in Enniscorthy back in 1910, and they supplemented their income by renting out rooms in their house to lodgers. However, their quiet life was soon to be interrupted by a sinister guest they hadn't invited in! In July of that year they had rented out the room above the kit ... [more]
It was the year 1280 in Kyteler's House in Kilkenny that Dame Alice Kyteler was born to a family of good prospects, a family of Flemish merchants who had settled in Kilkenny. When she grew up, Alice married William Outlawe, a wealthy merchant and moneylender, by whom she had a son. Then she married to her second husband, Adam le Blund of Callan ... [more]
One of the oldest legends in Ireland is that of the Fetch, the ghost of the living, which some say comes down from the ancient Irish word for seer or prophet, fáith. It is a double-spirit, one which takes on the identical appearance of someone as an omen of their impending death, if seen in the evening, or as a promise of good fortune if see ... [more]
They do say Irish people are fond of a good chat, the gift of the gab as it's called, but it seems even Irish ghosts are likewise inclined, as the strange tale of Corney the phantom reveals! Many years ago in Dublin city, a young family moved into a fine residence in the heart of Dublin city. Well-to-do and respectable, they made their new h ... [more]
In the south of the country, from Cork to Waterford, parents often scold wilful children with the warning – behave or Petticoat Loose will get you! And a wise child will do as they are told, for there are few more chilling tales than those of Petticoat Loose. Patrick Flynn's wife was in her labour pains near Ballingeary on a cold night ... [more]
High on a windswept slope in the Wicklow mountains near the summit of Mount Pelier, with a commanding view overlooking Dublin city, lies the burnt and blackened shell of a sinister old hunting lodge, now called the Hellfire Club, and well named it was too! For it was home to the Irish branch of that selfsame society, notorious for drunken debaucher ... [more]
William Phibbs was a well-to-do landlord of the English nobility who decided to develop his considerable estates in Ireland, building a house for himself overlooking the beautiful Ballisodare Bay in Sligo back in 1798. It would be a fine place to enjoy the sunset over Atlantic waters, he decided, and his son used it so. His grandson, also named Wil ... [more]
The old house in Coonen is much spoken of even today, its dark legend stretching back into the mists of time. Some say it is a ghost living there, others say a devil, but rumours go back further into the darkness of elder years, to the old gods of Ireland and the dark rites that were celebrated in their name. The house in Cooneen first entered t ... [more]
The headless horseman is a very ancient tale of Ireland, stretching back to the days before Christ came with St Patrick, when a dark king used to sacrifice people to old black one-eye, Crom Cruach, by decapitation. That very same Crom Dubh, the worm god, who consumed the Druid Prince Cesard in green bubbling acid at the battle of Moy Tura after his ... [more]