WITH All Hallows Eve almost upon us, what better way to mark the day than taking a look at Co Clare’s most haunted places. Wander here at your own risk and don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Legend has it that Maire Rua (Red Mary), used to hang her handmaidens by their hair from the tower and cut off their breasts. There is a lot of mystery surrounding the death of her third husband, Conor O’Brien, with some stories suggesting that she killed him herself. Another source believes that she had 25 husbands. Apparently the locals eventually had enough of her antics and sealed her alive in the hollow of a tree where she starved to death. Maire Rua haunts the front avenue of the castle near the Druid’s altar, with her red hair blowing in the wind.
This ruin is supposedly so haunted that not even paranormal explorers will go near it. Built in the latter half of the 15th century, the castle was owned by the McMahons, but has been totally abandoned for nearly a century. Like most castles of its day, it has a “murder hole”; a sealed room that allowed castle defenders to drop burning oil and other unpleasant things on their enemies. Legend has it, the last time someone was brave enough to go in there, they were found dead the following morning. Back in the 1920s, an exorcist decided to rid the castle of whatever was residing in there, but he was found cold with a look of terror on his face.
For those looking for a spooking this Halloween, Tuamgraney Woods is the place to go. Supposedly haunted on just one night of the year, the woods comes alive with demon beasts, complete with glowing red eyes. Some time ago, the story goes, a young man decided to take a stroll there, unaware of what he was letting himself in for. He stumbled around the woods, meeting a ghostly black dog, a black hare and a deer. Brandishing his stick, he braced himself to hit a ram that was coming at him. His stick only met thin air, but the ram managed to gore him with his horns.
Our Lady’s Hospital, Ennis
We don’t see how this couldn’t be haunted. There are countless horror movies out there based on “lunatic asylums”, with images of ghostly beings wearing white hospital gowns, dragging their bare feet along the cracked floor tiles. A professional photographer from Dublin, who goes under the pseudonym “Bill”, documented the inside of the building a few years ago. The images tell the story of peeling paint, old industrial kitchens and most unnerving of all, a black and white shot of a row of cell doors. There were still 600 residents here in the 1980s and the building didn’t close its doors until 2002.
Newhall Estate and Killone Lake
Originally the site of a 12th century Abbey, Newhall House was built on the grounds in the 18th century. Apparently a mermaid of Killone Lake has cursed the waters, which supposedly turn red every seven years, or every 40 years, depending on which verion of the story you read. One version states that wine was stored in the crypt at Newhall House. A servant noticed that the wine was going missing and he finally caught a mermaid in the act. The servant stabbed the mermaid repeatedly until she dragged herself to the edge of the lake, her blood turning the water crimson. The lake has been known to turn red from time to time. Whether the stories are true or whether this is a natural phenomenon, we don’t know.