Emerald Isle

Seafield House

Irish and Celtic myths and legends, Irish folklore and Irish fairy tales and Irish Ghost Stories

Cryptic mysteries in Seafield House

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 William, loved the place so much that he had a much larger and finer mansion built there in 1840, making it his main residence in Lisheenacooravan, the little fort on the white hill.

His son Owen Phibbs was an archaeologist of some repute, travelling the world as was the fashion among such gentleman-explorers, excavating and retrieving many ancient artifacts and relics. He went abroad to Syria, Egypt, and across the middle east, finding relics among the musty old ruins of those places, some perhaps better left undisturbed if subsequent events were anything to go by!

His vessels and vases, statues and icons were displayed in a long gallery on the first floor of the house, and soon after they arrived strange things began to happen around the house, although whether they were the cause or they roused something already there isn't known. People sleeping in the house complained of drafts, chills in the air and strange noises, then rapping at the walls and ceiling. A dark figure was seen on the stairs and the gardener fled his employment after reporting the same figure running cackling into the ocean one dark evening.

Things quickly grew worse and shattering sounds disturbed the night, thumping and rattling, and furniture was found scattered about the place in the morning. It came to a head one moonless night when the entire house shook and trembled as though in a mighty earthquake, the entire staff ran from the building and refused to return, and so the house was abandoned.

Some places are reputedly haunted mainly for the benefit of their owners, but no such fortune attended the family Phibbs - valued at fifty five pounds sterling in 1905, the house, now called Lisheen, was deemed uninhabitable, although some Jesuit priests around that time tried to exorcise it by saying mass daily for weeks. They failed to dislodge whatever was brooding behind the sullen walls, and in their turn fled.

Other tales tell that Phibbs had a poor reputation as a landlord, treating his tenants most cruelly to keep himself in the opulent style to which he was accustomed. He'd have them salute as he rode by in his luxurious carriage, charged high rents and kicked out those who couldn't pay, taking the stones of their homes to line the walls of his fields.

One such evicted widow is said to have cast a dreadful curse upon the family in her last agonies, swearing that the day would come when the birds of the air would build their nests in the ruins of Seafield House, and she condemned the Phibbs to walk its halls forever after, in this life or the next, until the end of time.

And so it is today, magpies and crows are the sole inhabitants and inheritors of the place, only stoats peer from the windows now. Old Phibbs' coach and four is said to glide up to the ruins on certain nights and vanish afterwards, but nothing else tarries long at Seafield House.

The ruins of Seafield or Lisheen House can be found on the map below, although if you want my advice you'll stay well clear.

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