Ireland's hotels, guesthouses and pubs might be spooky - for that special holiday feeling ... why not drop into a pub with its own ghost? Or even stay a night with things that go bump in the night? Ireland has a fair share of ghostly happenings and finding a haunted hostelry is not a difficult task. Add a dark night with rain lashing the window panes and you are sure to feel some shivers running down your spine. But caveat emptor - while you will have a good pint or night's rest in all mentioned houses, otherworldly apparitions cannot be guaranteed!
1. Ross Castle
Mount Nugent, Co. Cavan
Situated on the Southern side of Lough Sheelin (where you may fish for the brown trout) Ross Castle is rumored to be haunted by several specters and ghosts. An investigation in the Summer of 2006 provided no conclusive tangible evidence - but the participants agreed that "there was something". By the way ... the haunting is supposed to have started with the tragic love story of Sabrina and Orwin. Honeymooning couples are advised to avoid boat trips!
2. Kavanagh's ("The Grave Diggers")
1 Prospect Square, Glasnevin, Dublin
This pub from 1833 is named after the former landlord John Kavanagh - who fathered no less than 25 children! Commonly known as "The Gravediggers" due to its proximity to Prospect Cemetery and the frequently observed custom to order a pint by throwing a shovel of earth from the cemetery against the pub's wall. The resident ghost is said to be an elderly man in old-fashioned tweeds, sitting at the bar and enjoying a pint ... until he disappears without trace.
3. The Castle Inn
5 Lord Edward Street, Dublin
Birthplace of James Clarence Mangan (1803) and one of Michael Collins' favorite watering holes ... with Mangan still hanging around today. The poet (his best known work is "Roisin Dubh") died of cholera in 1849 after a drug-fueled short life. Today the temperature is said to dip and the mood to darken whenever Mangan's ghost decides to drop into the Castle Inn. Unfortunately he hasn't left any new poetry during his visits - and the pub has been modernized.[/p
33 High Street, Donaghadee, Co. Down
This is reputed to be the oldest original pub in Ireland - built in 1611 as "The King's Arms". Your hostess Grace Neill will make the stay memorable. Mainly because she died in 1916, aged 98. This does not stop her frequenting the front bar, straightening glasses and furniture, switching lights on and off. You may also hear her shuffling about on the second floor and occasionally glimpse an old woman wearing Victorian clothing in dark corners.
Renvyle, Co. Galway
Once owned by Oliver St. John Gogarty and burned down by the IRA this hotel has been completely rebuilt - which did not get rid of several ghosts residing there. Even W.B.Years has witnessed the haunting, doors opening and closing, groans, bedsheets flying off or sleepers being thrown out of their beds and other unexplained happenings. Some female guests undressing have even spotted voyeuristic ghosts in the mirror - at least those shouldn't be vampires then!
274 Coast Road, Ballygally, Larne, Co. Antrim
This (comfortably converted) castle from the 17th century has its own "haunted room", home to the ghost of Lady Isabella Shaw. She was imprisoned up here because she gave birth to a girl instead of a boy. Broken-hearted Lady Isabella clutched her child and leapt to her death. Today, Isabella's knocking at doors is said to disturb the occasional guest ... but to be much less frightening than the wailing of a child heard on other occasions.
20 Lower Bridge Street, Dublin
Said to be Dublin's oldest pub (though the current building is not the original one) and formerly used by "Bold" Robert Emmet for meetings. He was hanged in September 1803 but still visits the "Brazen Head" in spectral form. Usually taking a place in the corner and looking out for enemies. Quite rightly so - today British tourists flock into the pub near the Liffey and even Emmet's executioner was a regular here.
Kieran Street, Kilkenny, Co. Kilkenny
This pub is named after Dame Alice Kyteler, the "Witch of Kilkenny" - because it occupies the ground where her house once stood. She had somehow managed to survive several wealthy husbands. Accusations of wrongdoing and witchcraft followed. While Alice and her son bought their freedom back, her servant Petronella was burned at the stake. It is said that she is the female ghost haunting the premises, though more snobbish folk insist that it is Alice herself.
6-8 High Street, Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim
This hotel used to be a tower erected by Reginald d'Aubin in the 13th century. The family name changed via Dobyn to Dobbins and fair Elizabeth Dobbins began an affair with a soldier. Which did not please husband Hugh who cut both of them down with his sword. Ever since then Elizabeth has been haunting the house ... caressing sleeping guest's faces, disappearing into the big chimney or simply hanging out in the reception.
10. O'Brien's Bar
Churchtown, Co. Cork
This pub is not haunted! But it was one of the favorite haunts for actor Oliver Reed, well-known as a great thespian and even greater drinker. Since his last (CGI-facilitated) appearance in "Gladiator" Ollie Reed is said to make occasional comebacks in Churchtown - he is buried in the graveyard opposite O'Brien's Bar and every once in a while can be seen merrily waving to drinkers leaving the pub late at night. Definitely not a CGI ...