From specters to strange appearances, here are ten of some of the spookiest encounters in Ireland just in time for Halloween.
Are you a believer or a skeptic?
Virgin and Child on a tree stump, Rathkeale, Co Limerick
Legend has it that a female specter who haunted the churchyard in Rathkeale, Limerick was so terrifying that all who looked upon her died soon after. A local man banished the ghost by slicing off her arm with his sword and praying for the rest of the night.
In an odd coincidence in 2009, the Limerick Newswire reported that a tree stump in the churchyard contains the image of the Virgin Mary and Child and that hundreds of visitors had come to the area to pray.
Short Green Men, Co Galway
Perhaps a leprechaun sighting? In 1992, a 15-year-old boy spied two figures just over three feet tall sea-fishing on the Aran Islands in Galway. The figures were each reportedly dressed in green and wearing brown shoes and were speaking to each other in Irish before they disappeared.
One of the small figures left behind a pipe that the 15-year-old witness took possession of, although it curiously disappeared later despite being “safely” locked away.
Waiting Lady at Ardgillan Castle, Dublin
In a location known as The Lady’s Stairs at Ardgillan Castle in Dublin, there have been reports of a recurring apparition of a lady, known as the Waiting Lady. The phantom woman is said to be waiting for her husband, who had drowned one night leaving his wife waiting on the bridge for him.
One version of the story says that whoever sees the Lady on Halloween night will be picked up and thrown into the ocean.
Lilac Balls of Light, Dublin
Reports are split as to what these apparent Balls of Light spotted in Glenasmole, Bohernabreena Dublin, actually are. Some locals believe that their lilac color lends itself to fairies, while others believe the lights are the manifestation of a lady who lost her way in a snowstorm in the middle ages and died.
It’s said that she now manifests herself in these balls of light to guide others home safely.
Headless Horseman, Dublin
Roper’s Rest, off Blackpitts Road in Dublin, was the home of Thomas Roper who became Viscount Baltinglass. Local residents have reported seeing a headless horseman riding by after nightfall.
Although no specific connection has been established between Roper’s Rest and the horseman, it is rumored to be associated with a gruesome incident in which a member of the Roper family died and was unattended to for several days before burial.
Screams of Spanish Soldiers at Dun an Oir, Co Kerry
Over 800 Spanish soldiers landed in the area of Dun an Oir in 1580, overrunning an English garrison. Spanish reinforcements failed to come, however, and their victory was short-lived when more English troops arrived forcing the Spaniards to surrender and meet their deaths. Their death throes echo around the area on October 1, the anniversary of their defeat.
Robed Figure at Kilbeggan Distillery, Co Westmeath
Whiskey isn’t the only spirit at this distillery! In 2007, several people reported having seen a robed figure walking around the site, which is the oldest distillery in the world, dating back to 1757.
The Westmeath Examiner reported that Derek Acorah, the star of TV`s `Most Haunted` and `Ghost Towns,` said he felt ‘engulfed’ by spirits when he entered the distillery.
Weeping Statue in Dungloe at the Kerrytown shrine, Co Donegal
The Irish Independent reported that on September 29, 2009, 14 people claimed to witness crosses that formed in the sky above the shrine, before the statue became animated and began to weep. The shrine became a popular site after producing a religious apparition in 1939.
War Staff Apparitions, City of Derry Airport
This Derry Airport, formerly known as Eglinton Air Base, was a thriving location in the 1940s as it served as a base during WWII. The staff there have reported seeing figures dressed in World War Two clothing around the airport.
Rocking Virgin Mary at Ballinspittle Grotto, Co Cork
Cathy O'Mahony and her mother observed the statue of the Virgin Mary rocking on its heels on July 22, 1985. The following night they returned with friends who observed the same event. Since this time, tens of thousands of people have visited the shrine in the hope of seeing something. The Irish Independent reported more recently that O’Mahony stands by her observations, despite others ridiculing her.
*Originally published in 2013. Last updated in 2022.
There have been many more famous ghost sightings in Ireland. Do you have a favorite? Have you ever seen one? Let us know in the comment section.