By Kayla Webb
Don’t panic. If you’re into local haunts, then follow the will-o’-the-wisp to mystical Dublin, Ireland. The path might not be safe, but the path is never safe in legends. Wander through lands where the folklore was never quite abandoned: banshees still wail, fairies still flit, and ghost-sightings are a rite of passage. Once believed to be a potential purgatory, Dublin is now home to some of the great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandchildren of ancient druids, making these Dubliners no stranger to the macabre and creepy. If you’re looking for goose-bump raising, scream-ripping, stomach turning ghost stories hidden amidst history and local landmarks, Dublin is sure to be a source of your traveler dreams (or nightmares).
Located on the outskirts of Dublin, perched atop Montpelier Hill, sits Hellfire Club. The place to be for Irishmen keen on perfecting the dark arts, Hellfire Club is a must-see folkloric landscape for any ghost hunter. With countless stories of depravity, madness, debauchery, demonisms, and human sacrifice, as well as recent ghost sightings, the Hellfire Club is not for the faint of heart. While you won’t be forced to attend a meeting with a reserved seat for Satan, you can explore the ruins of this former hunting lodge, experience for yourself the strange sensation of invisible fingers on the back of your neck, all the while getting a great view of Dublin.
If you’re not ready to meet Satan quite yet, check out Malahide Castle, one of Ireland’s oldest castles. Some Dubliners will tell you every castle in Ireland is haunted, but most castles have a ghost, maybe two. Malahide Castle, on the other hand, has at least five documented ghosts, including Puck, the 16th century court jester who was stabbed through the heart for loving a lady of the court. Other Malahide ghosts have been seen running the halls, chasing their dead husbands, pulling party tricks like falling apart dismembered, and a few have even shown up in a photograph or two.
If you prefer the physically creepy, St. Michan’s Church is not only known for un-divine visits, but is also known for the mummies in its basement. Visitors can peek into open caskets and gaze upon the mummies of nuns, revolutionaries, and unknown chopped up bodies. The basement also hides disembodied spirits unable to cross over, and who have been known to tickle the backs of necks, send cold shivers down spines, and whisper in ears.
Other creepy ghost dwellings include Kilmainham Gaol, Ireland’s largest unoccupied prison. While Kilmainham Gaol locked up the worst of the worse in its prime, watch your back because the guardsmen are the restless souls haunting this prison today.
Afterwards you can lie with some peaceful spirits at Glasnevin Cemetery, the burial ground of 1.5 million Irish (all of whom you can visit). Today, this cemetery is a popular tourist attraction if chilling with the resting dead is your thing.
As your day comes to a close, stop by An Evening of Food, Folklore, and Fairies for a nice bed time story where you can reminisce about the oral traditions of old. While these aren’t ghost stories, they are grounded in Irish folklore and are just as mystical as the locations listed.
GRAB A PINT
If you still can’t sleep, you can drown your fears in a frothy pint at one of the many old pubs in Dublin: John Kavanagh, John Mulligans, Darkey Kelly’s. Like Irish castles, most pubs are said to have their own resident specter, whom you’ll be sure to see after a couple of pints!
Need a hand to hold? The Haunted History Walking Tour will (hopefully) keep you safe as you explore the most popular spooky spots in Dublin and learn about some of Ireland’s most gruesome history and folklore.
About the author: Kayla Webb is an English Literature and Creative Writing major at Seattle Pacific University. After traveling abroad to Spain and Morocco as a freshmen in college, she hasn’t been able to stop dreaming about faraway places and planning a million possible trips around the world. When she’s not in California, she lives as a blanket burrito in Seattle, creates Instagram captions for the pictures she would take in faraway places, and befriends dogs.