WITCHES OF IRELAND PART 1 – ALICE KYTELER, THE BLACK WIDOW OF KILKENNY

alice

Long before the publication of Malleus Maleficarum, attention was brought to bear on the small medieval town of Kilkenny in the Kingdom of Ossory.  One of the earliest ever recorded witch trials took place in the early 14th century against a local businesswoman and serial bride by the name of Alice Kyteler – and what a sensational trial it was.

So who was the local entrepreneur and femme fatale who caused uproar in the Irish legal system and brought the Ecclesiastical authorities of Ireland to their knees?

THE BLACK WIDOW

Alice Kyteler’s family were Flemish brokers and they had settled in Kilkenny sometime towards the end of the 13th century with just one child, a daughter.  Alice learned the ropes of the family business and grew up to be very shrewd, so it came as no surprise that her first husband was an affluent local businessman and financier by the name of William Outlaw.

Believed to have married in 1280 when Alice would have been only sixteen or so, they went on to have a son, also called William.  The banker’s wife groomed her son for great things and by an early age he had gained positions of authority within the local community.  By 1302 William’s father was dead and Alice was already onto her second marriage.  Husband number two was another moneylender by the name of Adam le Blund, from the market town of Callan on the Kilkenny/Tipperary county borders.

Both parties were already wealthy before the union, however marriage brought them a new level of power and prosperity.   The couple’s wealth and status had left feelings of acrimony running high in the parish and rumours had already began to circulate that Alice’s first husband had not died from natural causes.  The locals were convinced that Alice and Adam had in fact, committed murder.

The fire of fear and distrust aimed at Alice Kyteler was beginning to take hold, however it would appear that Alice and the events surrounding her insisted on adding fuel to the growing flames.  In 1307, Adam le Blund relinquished all legal entitlement to his own wealth and gave what was effectively full Power of Attorney to his stepson William, together with the complete nullification of William’s debts agreements.  This incident was deemed all the more suspicious as Adam had offspring of his own from a prior marriage and was in seemingly good mental and physical health.  Two years later he was dead.

1309 saw Alice wed for the third time.  Richard de Valle was an affluent landowner from the neighbouring county of Tipperary and once again the marital union was short lived.  A seemingly fit and well Richard died mysteriously, leaving all his wealth to Alice.  The son of the unfortunate deceased, also called Richard, kept hold of the assets and was the subject of legal proceedings, as the widow demanded her rightful wealth.

By the time Alice Kyteler married yet another wealthy landlord, Sir John le Poer, the local rumour mill was in overdrive and the whispering of foul play continued.  In frighteningly similar circumstances to her first three husbands, John’s health began to decline, in spite of his relatively young age.   John’s finger nails and toe nails were discolouring and falling out, he was rapidly going bald, and the little hair he had left was devoid of pigmentation.  As his ailments increased and his already poor health took a decided turn for the worse, two game changing events took place.  First of all, with no regard for his own blood kin, John made a will bequeathing all his money and assets to Alice and her son William.  The second, fearing for his life, John turned to the church for help. By 1324 he was dead and the whispers had turned to shouts of witchcraft.

KYTELER’S INN

kytelers-inn

Despite marrying prosperous landowners, Alice insisted that she remain in her birthplace on St. Kieran’s Street in Kilkenny.

As a rich wife and ultimately an incredibly wealthy serial widow, Alice did not need to work, however her focus was on building and maintaining a thriving business.  She continued with her practice of moneylending, made easier by having the perfect location to conduct her affairs.

Kyteler’s Inn wasn’t just any old hostelry. It was a meeting place for local businessmen who all vied for the attention of the bewitching Alice, showering her with gifts and money.   It should therefore come as no surprise that this was the very place Alice set eyes on her ill-fated husbands to be.

Whilst the attention of so many of the wealthy local male population was scintillating for Alice, she was a canny businesswoman first and foremost.  She hired the most luscious and alluring of young women to work in her premises, enticing men from their wives and responsibilities and spending their money in Kyteler’s Inn, making her establishment the most successful in Kilkenny.

It was also here in the inn that Alice was said to work her sorcery and that her patrons were bewitched by Alice and her alleged coven.

SORCERY, THE CHURCH AND THE LAW

Contrary to popular belief, the Church often turned a blind eye to sorcery, accepting that some forms of Malficium were minor offences and that the medical benefits offered by those who practiced such arts outweighed the ‘crime’.  As such, any issues relating to witchcraft were dealt with by the local authorities and not the Church, except in the case of direct heretical doctrine.

Unfortunately for Alice, this all changed when Pope John XXII came to the Papal Throne in 1316.  He was genuinely terrified of witchcraft and was convinced his life was in jeopardy, leading to the granting of sweeping powers to his Inquisitors.

Pope John XXII published a definitive list of practices that would constitute heresy and subsequent prosecution by the Church, particularly in relation to demon worship and pacts with the devil.

pope-john-xxii

Unfortunately for Alice, this canon law reached Ireland and in particular, Richard Ledrede, the Bishop of Ossory.

ACCUSATIONS, ARRESTS AND ABSCONDING

Whether out of bitterness of being cheated from their respective inheritance or genuine concern that Alice Kyteler was indeed a witch, the children of her last three deceased husbands joined together and called upon the assistance of Richard Ledrede.

Richard was a devout Christian and fanatical with seeking out and punishing heretics.  He was unhappy that respect for the Church and canon law were fading and that the law of the land took precedent.  He had the necessary background to implement Church doctrine and proceed with charges of heresy against Alice and her son William Outlaw, however he was up against resistance from local law enforcement and Alice’s very powerful contacts.

Having heard the allegations from Alice’s stepchildren, Ledrede went ahead and charged Alice, her maid Petronella and her son William with heresy.  The charges included denying the Faith, desecration of the church with black magic rituals, sorcery, demonic animal sacrifice, murder, controlling members of the local community with potions and spells and fornicating with a demon known by many names including Robin Artisson, in exchange for power and prosperity.

Richard’s first attempt at arrest was thwarted by the Chancellor of Ireland, Roger Outlaw, a relative of Alice’s first husband.  He advised Ledrede that there could be no warrant issued for the arrests without the accused having first been excommunicated for at least 40 days and a public hearing.  Meanwhile the well timed intervention of another relation by marriage, Sir Arnold de Poer, senior steward of Kilkenny allowed Alice to flee to Dublin and saw the imprisonment of Richard Ledrede.

While Richard was in prison, the whole of the diocese of Ossory saw an embargo on funerals, baptisms and marriage.  As the majority of the population believed in Hell and eternal damnation, the public outcry was too much and the Bishop of Ossory was released.

Incarceration left Ledrede incensed and he heightened his efforts to prosecute Alice, her son and maid by involving the Justice of Ireland, who insisted upon a full witch trial.

William Outlaw pleaded guilty to the charges of heresy, illegal money lending, adultery and perverting the course of justice.  His punishment was to attend three masses a day, donate to the poor and agree to reroof the cathedral with lead.

WITCH

In the meantime, Alice had absconded and the trial continued in her absence.  The alleged depths of her depravity and heresy began to be revealed to the court.  The witch Kyteler was said to have used a human skull to brew her potions, with ingredients including parts of corpses, the innards of fowl, worms and insects and the clothing of deceased infants.  The concoctions were said to rouse her innocent victims to do her bidding, with acts of love, hatred or murder.

Alice and her coven were said to have conducted black masses in the churches, sacrificed and dissected livestock to bargain with demons at crossroads and Alice herself was accused of continued carnal relations with a powerful demon in order to maintain her position of influence over the local community.

The final accusations were of the murder of each of her four husbands.  Evidence regarding her last husband, John le Poer was put forward.  He had no nails, they were ripped from their beds and left bleeding, all bodily hair had fallen out and he was completed withered away to a skeleton at the time of his death.

While Alice had disappeared, some say to England with the help of her well positioned male acquaintances, her maid was not so fortunate.

Petronella de Meath was tortured repeatedly in Kilkenny Jail until she confessed to being a witch and a member of the coven of Alice Kyteler.  On 3rd November 1324, Petronella was the first woman in Ireland to be burned at the stake as a witch.

burning-at-the-stake

THE LEGACY OF ALICE KYTELER

So what of Alice? Well Alice Kyteler was never heard of again – whether she used witchcraft to cloak her whereabouts or was helped abroad by calling on infatuated men of position we will never know.

What we do know, is that the accusations and the trial were very real indeed.  They remain documented as they have been for centuries and the trial changed the balance of law and power back in favour of the Church.

The most exciting revelation of this account is that the locations remain.  The Jail still stands, bars on windows.  As you stand on the street, peering into the eerie darkness of the cold, cramped cells, a shiver runs up your spine at the realization there could be something ethereal staring back at you, perhaps the tormented blackened soul of Petronella de Meath.

Kyteler’s Inn is still the most famous hostelry in Kilkenny and the spirit of Alice is said to remain, watching over her establishment and the revelers within for eternity.

So was Alice Kyteler indeed a witch, or just the most successful and richest business woman in medieval Ireland? Perhaps if you come across her in Kyteler’s Inn, you can ask her yourself!

alice-sculpture

I shall leave you with Alice, immortalised in the words of W. B Yeats:

"A sudden blast of dusty wind and after
Thunder of feet, tumult of images,
Their purpose in the labyrinth of the wind;
And should some crazy hand dare touch a daughter
All turn with amorous cries, or angry cries,
According to the wind, for all are blind.
But now wind drops, dust settles; thereupon
There lurches past, his great eyes without thought
Under the shadow of stupid straw-pale locks,
That insolent fiend Robert Artisson
To whom the love-lorn Lady Kyteler brought
Bronzed peacock feathers, red combs of her cocks."

 

 

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NEVER HOSTAGE TO THE DEVIL OR THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH – WHO WAS FATHER MALACHI MARTIN?

Malachi-Martin

Perhaps one of the most famous names to come out of the Vatican, the former Jesuit priest, best-selling author and professional Exorcist was as well-known as a scholar as he was for his outspoken writings and speeches against certain teachings and practices of the Roman Catholic Church.

A writer of both novels and non-fiction and the subject of many rumours himself, sometimes the lines between fact and fiction were blurred – so just who was Malachi Martin and what role did he play in the Vatican’s battle against evil and satanic influence?

THE FORMATIVE YEARS

Malachi Martin was born into a fairly well to do family in the village of Ballylongford just outside of Listowel in County Kerry, Ireland in 1921. Despite claims in later years that Malachi was of Jewish descent, his parents were in fact English and Irish.  There were four boys in total and all of them went on to join the priesthood.

The young Malachi entered the Jesuit Order at the age of eighteen after completing his senior education in Dublin. Although further travels and studies were preferred, the outbreak of the Second World War put paid to that and Malachi remained in Ireland, obtaining degrees in Semitic Languages and Oriental Studies.

Once it became safe to travel, the scholar continued his education in Europe with post graduate studies in several areas including Intertestamentary Studies and education in Hebrew and Arabic Manuscripts. By 1954 Malachi Martin was a fully ordained Jesuit priest.

Always wanting to learn more, Malachi continued to research in the Middle East, including emphasis on the Dead Sea Scrolls and Semitic Palaeography, a study of the methods and context of ancient Middle Eastern writings and scripts.

It was at this time that the young priest found himself assisting on his very first Exorcism in Egypt in the mid nineteen fifties.

SATANISM IN THE VATICAN

Inside Saint Peter's Basilica, Rome

Inside Saint Peter’s Basilica, Rome

Father Martin long believed and had studied and witnessed evidence of the Roman Catholic Church’s involvement on a covert level with satanic worship and was not shy to publish his findings, both in non-fiction and loosely veiled fiction writing.

Of course general knowledge of the dark side of the church goes back to Pope Benedict IX from the 11th century and his notorious papacy – known to have embraced satanic worship and the black arts, this pope committed atrocities that led to his temporary banishment from Rome. It may well be that he was possessed by the very demons that our 20th Century Exorcist feared.

Despite the fact that being a Freemason is forbidden in the Roman Catholic Church, Malachi gave credence to the belief that there were at least two popes involved in the secret sect and that the Illuminati had infiltrated the Vatican. He also believed that nuns were partaking in rituals associated with dark witchcraft.

THE CALL TO ROME

The young man from a small village in Ireland had come to the attention of the Pope and the Vatican with his prolific studies, dedication and involvement in exorcisms. In 1958 he was called to Rome and took up the position of private secretary to Cardinal Bea, a biblical scholar and a mediator for Catholic-Jewish relations – a mantel Malachi would also take on.

With apartments in the Vatican, the scholarly Father Martin also took the position of Professor of Aramaic, Palaeography, Hebrew and Sacred Scripture at the Pontifical Biblical Institute.

Malachi’s vast knowledge and diplomacy brought him into contact with many other faiths as an interpreter, from relationships formed with prominent Rabbis to work behind the Iron Curtain with the Russian Orthodox Church.

By 1964 Malachi Martin was on a different path and his traditional approach caused him to be at odds with the outlines laid out by the Second Vatican council. In February of 1965 Father Malachi Martin was released from his vows of poverty and finally released from the Jesuit Order in June of the same year.

Brian Doran released an audio account of the life of Malachi Martin told through second hand accounts by those who knew the man called ‘God’s Messenger’ – according to Doran, Pope Paul VI had “given the priest a general commission for exercising an apostolate in media and communications.”

THE USA AND GUGGENHEIM

hostage

Once Malachi Martin arrived in the United States, he turned his hand to writing and applied for the Guggenheim Fellowship in 1967. This was a grant awarded to the successful applicant for “demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts.”

Malachi was awarded the grant and this lead to the launch of his first successful book in 1969, ‘The Encounter: Religion in Crisis.’ This was Martin’s views on why Christianity, Judaism and Islam were in crisis and had failed the modern man.

Following this success, Malachi Martin was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship for a second time which enabled the priest to write his most famous published work, which went to press in 1975. That book was ‘Hostage to the Devil: The Possession and Exorcism of Five Living Americans.’

Malachi Martin became a U.S Citizen in 1970 and by the end of his life has published some sixty times including thinly veiled insights into the satanic rites of the Vatican with novels such as ‘Windswept House: A Vatican Novel’ and a description of the ‘Enthronement of the Fallen Angel of Lucifer.’ When asked in an interview with ‘The New American’ Martin stated these things had happened but could only be published in a novel.

In 1981 Malachi published ‘The Decline and Fall of the Roman Church’, which was a historical volume that focused on the changes through the years and the shifts between progressive supremacy and spiritualism.

Despite having spent more than a quarter of a century as an ordained priest of the Jesuit Order, in 1987 Martin published ‘Jesuits: The Society of Jesus and the Betrayal of the Roman Catholic Church.’ This was an inflammatory and extremely critical view of his former brethren and how he believed they destabilised the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church methodically and deliberately.

WHISPERS

Children of Fatima

Children of Fatima

With so much controversy and celebrity status (Martin was a regular on radio shows and published interviews along with his books) the rumour mill surrounding both him and his own opinions was in overdrive.

Malachi Martin had publicly stated that he believed at least two popes of the 20th century, Pope Pius XI and Pope John Paul 1 were murdered.

Several mysteries surrounded Malachi himself, including whether or not he was actually ordained a bishop. He was also accused among other things of being a spy for the Israelis due to his Jewish sympathising and a story was given of him having Jewish heritage which was proved to be false.

He was a staunch advocate of the Three Secrets of Fatima. These were three secrets allegedly revealed to three cousins in Portugal over six visits between May and October of 1917.  The secrets were:

  1. The admission of the existence and description of Hell.
  2. Information regarding the First and Second World Wars.
  3. The attempted assassination of Pope John Paul 11.

These secrets have been disputed for decades and it is believed they were never revealed in full.

Malachi Martin also discredited the religious site of Medjugorje, claiming his previous accreditation was given after being misled.

There were also rumours regarding books he may have written under pseudonyms, with at least one being proven.

In a strange twist the notorious serial killer David Berkowitz, known as the Son of Sam, initially claimed on arrest to have been possessed by a demon, however revealed this to be false during meetings with a court psychiatrist. Later while in prison, the convicted Son of Sam actually made approaches to Malachi Martin to assist in writing his autobiography which Martin declined.

EXORCISM

Exorcism

According to Malachi Martin, he had performed thousands of what he referred to as minor exorcisms and participated in a few hundred major exorcisms in his lifetime. As well as private exorcisms, he had worked with renowned Demonologist, Dave Considine and paranormal researcher, John Zaffis.

Perhaps one of the most forthright and knowledgeable authorities on exorcism, Malachi Martin stated that a person cannot unknowingly be possessed or taken against their will, they must actively allow a possession. He believed it to be a systematic and gradual deception by the entity.

Malachi described the process of exorcism as a confrontation between the wills of the exorcist and the demon. In order to succeed, the exorcist has to be empowered by God, through the Church, and have a cleansed soul by way of confession.  The process would usually involve the Exorcist and an assisting priest, with lay people used for restraining purposes when required.

Father Martin was adamant there were different levels of possession from partial or normal to total where “…a veil is drawn aside, and you realise you don’t know this person. They have a truly evil look.”

He also made it clear that the retelling in film of Exorcisms was not as dramatic but there would be temperature drops, bad odours and occasional manifestations. He revealed to Donna Anderson of the Examiner, the worst part was:

“…at a certain moment, if it’s really in the possession of a threatening spirit, a demon, everyone will know there’s something in the room that wants you dead. It’s a horrible feeling knowing that unless something happens you are going to die now.  It’s like an invisible animal with claws and it want you dead.”

LATER LIFE AND DEATH

Malachi continued to be vocal in his opposition to the Jesuit teachings and aspects of the Vatican as well as insisting that Black Masses and Satanism and sacrifice were happening even within a stone’s throw from his residence in New York.

In July 1999, Martin had an alleged fall at his apartment in Manhattan which led to a cerebral haemorrhage and his death at the age of seventy eight. Even now conspiracy theorists believe his fall was not accidental and he was in fact killed by the Vatican to silence his outspoken opposition.

Indeed when questioned during an interview if he feared for his life, he stated he was however, he was too old to change.

LEGACY

It has been sixteen years since the death of this remarkable man and his books continue to be of major interest among scholars, conspiracy theorists and paranormal researchers to name a few.

His legacy will continue as Marty Stalker, a filmmaker from Northern Ireland has taken Martin Malachi’s most famous book, ‘Hostage to the Devil’ and made it into a film of the same title, which includes the use of archive footage.  With new media attention and continuing paranormal interest, Malachi Martin will continue to be studied and remembered for decades to come.

I shall leave you with a final word from Malachi Martin:

“Anybody who is acquainted with the state of affairs in the Vatican in the last 35 years is well aware that the prince of darkness has had and still has his surrogates in the court of St. Peter in Rome.”

I shall leave you with a final word from Malachi Martin:

“Anybody who is acquainted with the state of affairs in the Vatican in the last 35 years is well aware that the prince of darkness has had and still has his surrogates in the court of St. Peter in Rome.”

IRELAND’S 8 MOST TERRIFYING HEADLESS GHOSTS!

Headless horseman

When it comes to Spooky ghosts and Halloween, none are quite as unnerving as the Headless variety! Here I look at Ireland’s 8 most feared Decapitated Spectres!

http://www.spookyisles.com/2015/10/irelands-8-most-terrifying-headless-ghosts/

LOCKDOWN AT LOFTUS HALL – IRELAND’S MOST HAUNTED HOUSE

IGH Loftus Hall

Loftus Hall is known as Ireland’s most Haunted House and with good reason.  Overlooking acres of a desolate and harsh landscape on the Hook Peninsula, County Wexford, this three storey mansion owned by Aiden Quigley has been the subject of several paranormal investigations, including many by paranormal investigative team, Irish Ghost Hunters.

With another public lockdown hosted by Irish Ghost Hunters this weekend, it seemed timely to write about Loftus Hall, a place so notoriously dark and foreboding, the Devil himself made it his home for a while.

Loftus Hall, a History

Loftus Hall b

There has been a residence on the site since the Redmond family built their home on lands they acquired on the Hook Peninsula.  In 1350 at the height of The Black Death, they erected their formal home and estate which would remain in their possession until the mid-seventeenth century.

During the height of the Cromwellian invasion, head of the family Alexander Redmond defended his home time and again from the English onslaught and eventually retained his property under agreement until his death.  At this point in time the remaining Redmond family were evicted under Cromwellian confiscations.

The Loftus family were English and were located in the surrounding area.  They were formally granted ownership of the estate by the reinstated King Charles II, with son Henry Loftus taking up official residence in 1666, a year that may well have been a portent of events to come.

The Redmond family, feeling hard done by disputed ownership through the courts, however their efforts failed – an outcome they would have been thankful for in the long run no doubt!

In 1917 Loftus Hall was purchased by a religious order and adapted into a convent and school for girls wishing to take Holy Vows.  It continued under religious ownership until it was purchased by Michael Deveraux in 1983.

Mr Deveraux converted the imposing historical building into a hotel and spent much effort and money to create the Loftus Hall Hotel.  It would appear that the house was in some way cursed to failure, as the hotel was forced to close just a few short years later.

Loftus Hall remained under ownership of the Deveraux family until 2011, at which point it was purchased as an abandoned building by the current proprietor Aidan Quigley.

The Stranger, the Card Game, Anne Tottenham and the Devil

Devil card

While under the ownership of the Loftus family, Charles Tottenham, his second wife and daughter from his first marriage, Anne, arrived at Loftus Hall.  They were there to mind the property as the proprietors were away on business in 1766.

During their occupation, an unusually heavy storm covered the Hook Peninsula in fog and an unfamiliar ship set anchor.  A stranger arrived at Loftus Hall seeking refuge from the Tempest and was welcomed into the home.

The charismatic young man soon charmed his way into the affections of Anne Tottenham and the couple began relations under the roof of Loftus Hall.

One night the family were sat around the table playing cards with the mysterious visitor dealing.  As Anne seemed to only have been dealt two cards as opposed to the usual three, she glanced to the floor to see a third one lying beneath the table.

Assuming she had dropped it, Anne stooped down to retrieve the fallen card.  At this point she cried out in horror, as the man she had given her heart to had revealed cloven hooves for feet.

Upon being discovered, the creature shot skyward, smashing a hole through the roof of Loftus Hall.

Anne Tottenham became crazed with grief over her lost love and an embarrassment to her family.  She was locked out of sight in the Tapestry Room, where she sat hunched, not taking any sustenance -just staring out of the window pining and hoping for the return of the ship to Dunmore East until she died.

The Exorcist

exorcising

It was believed that the presence of the Dark Lord lingered and Poltergeist activity became rife in the house, escalating to such a point that the Protestant clergy were powerless to abate it.

In desperation the Loftus family called upon Father Thomas Broaders, a Catholic priest residing on the townland also known as Loftus Hall.  He performed an exorcism and appeared to banish the demons within.

Broaders rose to the position of Parish Priest and remained as Canon until his death in 1773.  He is buried in the old Horetown Cemetery and his gravestone reads:

“Here lies the body of Thomas Broaders,

Who did good and prayed for all.

And banished the Devil from Loftus Hall.”

Hauntings

stairs

For all his good work, the priest had failed to drive the supernatural from Loftus Hall.

The spectre of a lady believed to be the tormented Anne Tottenham has been seen over the years, in the area of the Tapestry room and walking down the grand staircase.

As recently as 2014 a tourist taking a photograph was astounded to discover what appeared to be the ghostly image of a woman appearing in the window.

Disembodied children’s voices, phantom cries and the sound of ghostly horses have all fallen on terrified ears.  Sudden temperature drops, feelings of foreboding and flickering lights have all been witnessed.

Lockdown with Irish Ghost Hunters

IGH Loftus stairs

Irish Ghost Hunters was founded eight years ago by Tim Kelly and they have steadily built up a reputation as a professional, scientific paranormal group searching for solid evidence among the tales of ghosts, poltergeists and other unexplained phenomena.

A team of eight, headed by Tim and lead investigator and location manager Tina Barcoe regularly attend Ireland’s supernatural hotspots, yet Loftus Hall is so terrifying, seasoned IGH member Tina rates it as a 10 on the most haunted scale!

On a recent lockdown with the public, Tina from IGH said that while everyone held their ground and lasted the entire investigation, the night was far from uneventful.

“Our first Loftus lockdown had many personal experiences.  Members of the public were being pushed and pulled, others overwhelmed with feelings of nausea.  There were growls, children’s voices and numerous unexplained shadows – it was an amazing night!

Each time we return activity peaks a bit more as if the house knows us now. We as a team are passionate about Loftus and we love to share our findings with the public while we stand back and let them experience first-hand.  Our team are scientific which means we use tried and tested paranormal scientific equipment to gather evidence.  Whilst we are open-minded towards them, we do not use mediums and rely on our equipment to provide proof in addition to personal accounts.”

These continued visits to Loftus Hall are to solidify the consensus that the place is undoubtedly haunted and IGH believe in continuing to collect evidence on such a high profile location to maintain the validity of claims as well as give members of the general public an opportunity they would not ordinarily get to experience.

Lucifer and Loftus Hall

Loftus Hall at night

If the account of the Devil reminds you of another tale you may have heard, it should.  An identical story was told of a card game being held at the notorious Hellfire Club of Dublin on Montpelier Hill, where a stranger with cloven hooves for feet sat at the table.

As well as the Hellfire Club, Montpelier Hill was the site of a hunting lodge known as Dolly Mount.  This lodge was owned by Henry Loftus.

So the question must be asked, with Henry Loftus taking residence in 1666 and the second visit by a cloven hooved stranger to the Hellfire Club on the very land in Dublin previously owned by the Loftus family, was Anne Tottenham an unfortunate victim in the wrong place at the wrong time?

What is the meaning of the Loftus association with signs of the Devil and was a pact made with Lucifer for the Redmond Estate?

We will never know for sure, however next year marks the 666th anniversary of the founding of the Mansion House known as Loftus Hall – will Satan return again and will you dare to be there if he does?

For now there are more than enough chilling experiences awaiting members of the public this weekend.  These daring individuals, under the watchful eye of Irish Ghost Hunters will hear the main doors bang with a thunderous echo behind them as they begin their lockdown at Loftus Hall.

IRELAND’S FIVE MOST TERRIFYING POLTERGEISTS!

The media interest surrounding the Enfield Haunting and the associated television mini series has caused quite a stir more than 30 years after the original claims of activity.

Ireland has a history of poltergeists, much going back to the bloodshed and dark history in castles in ancient buildings.   Such activity was deemed the work of demons and possession and the Catholic Church would not admit to its existence or any involvement in clearing such entities.  As a result those affected would  not come forward for fear of reprisals.

I was surprised therefore to find 20th and 21st century documented accounts, particularly in residential homes.  Here are my top five Irish Poltergeist Hauntings.

Olympia Theatre, Dublin - home to poltergeist activity

Olympia Theatre, Dublin – home to poltergeist activity

Ireland’s Five Most Terrifying Poltergeists

MACABRE MONTPELIER HILL – WELCOME TO DUBLIN’S HELLFIRE CLUB

Mount Pelier House

Montpelier Hill is an ancient mound in the County of Dublin.  Its original title has long been forgotten and it got its current name from the hunting lodge built upon it.  That hunting lodge became a meeting place for the Hellfire Club.

MOUNT PELIER LODGE

In 1725, Speaker of the House of Commons in Ireland, William Conolly erected a hunting lodge at the top of what is now known as Montpelier Hill.  By building on top of an ancient burial site and using stones from the remaining cairn, the project was never going to be blessed – no one however, expected the portents of darkness to happen so soon.

With the construction almost completed, including the use of a Menhir for the mantle of the great fireplace, the roof detached and was destroyed in high winds.  Locals at the time believed it to be the work of the Devil in punishment for the desecration of sacred ground.

The roof was replaced with one in an arch formation and the property was complete.  The lodge was hardly used however and Conolly died in 1729.

In around 1737 members of a secret sect leased the premises from the remaining Conolly family. In a strange twist, the land on which the lodge was built was purchased from Phillip, Duke of Wharton, original founder of the renowned Hellfire Club.  A man whose lifestyle had led him into debt and alcoholism and forced him to sell his Irish estates.

'The Hellfire Club, Dublin' portrait in the National Gallery of Ireland

‘The Hellfire Club, Dublin’ portrait in the National Gallery of Ireland

HELLFIRE CLUB

There were several Hellfire Clubs throughout Britain and Ireland.  Members were of Libertine persuasion and indulged in drinking, debauchery and occult practices including ritual sacrifice.  The Dublin branch of this illustrious cadre was established by Richard Parsons, the 1st Earl of Rosse and James Worsdale, a portrait artist and chancer.

Parsons was a Libertine and founder of the sacred sect of Dionysus.  He was also twice elected Grandmaster of the Irish Freemasons.  Worsdale on the other hand, had little to offer in pedigree and relied on his personality and own liberal approach to life to move in the most exclusive circles, his only real legacy being his portrait, ‘The Hellfire Club, Dublin, hanging in the National Gallery of Ireland.

Here, as with all of the clubs, as well as identical practices and the mascot of a black cat, there were traditions to be upheld.  The Hellfire gents would toast the Devil with a potent punch known as scaltheen, a heady mix of whiskey and rancid butter, whilst leaving an empty seat at the table for his arrival.

One famous tale tells of a stranger entering the club and joining the men for a game of cards.  When retrieving a fallen card, a startled club member saw the guest had cloven hooves – on recognition the dark stranger vanished in flames.

This story is identical to the one from the infamous Loftus Hall in Wexford, however it seems more than coincidence as the family had property on Montpelier Hill also.

There were reports of murder and animal sacrifice, including that of a black cat who was exorcised by a priest and a demon was seen fleeing.  Further tales abounded of a member, Simon Luttrell who allegedly sold his soul to the Devil in order to clear his debts, to be collected in seven years.  The Devil arrived at the Lodge to collect his bounty, however the resourceful Luttrell diverted the attention of his soul reaper and escaped for many more years.

During this period in the club’s history, a horrendous fire took hold during a meeting and several lives were lost.

The exact cause of the fire is unknown, yet claims have been made of everything from a footman accidentally spilling a flammable drink to the deliberate act of the members due to a non-renewal of lease.

Either way, the club moved premises to the Steward’s House some short distance down the hill.  Now the remains of the Lodge stand in ruins, but not abandoned, at least not by the living.

The screams of a woman being bowled to her death in a burning barrel echo over the hill, a smell of brimstone fills the air and invisible hands grabbing at throats to tear off jewellery are just some of the claims of paranormal activity at the top of Montpelier Hill.

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STEWARD’S HOUSE

Steward's House, also known as Kilakee House

Steward’s House, also known as Kilakee House

Built in around 1765, the property became a welcome replacement for the burned out lodge as a meeting place for the Club where the depraved practices continued until the Hellfire club was extinguished with the demise of notorious member and revivalist of the same, Thomas “Buck” Whaley.

In the late 1960’s workers began repairs and renovations to the Steward’s House and witnessed many apparitions including that of a man in black believed to be the priest who exorcised the cat at the Hellfire Club at Mount Pelier Lodge.

Further sightings were made of nuns alleged to have participated in black masses on the hill and a black cat with glowing red eyes.

Other activities include hearing the sounds of bells ringing and poltergeist activity.  In 1971 a plumber carrying out work unearthed a grave containing the remains of a child or small human, thought to be a ritual sacrifice of the brethren of the Hellfire Club.

MASSY’S ESTATE

In the late 19th century, the Massy family of Limerick took ownership of Kilakee House and surrounding land on Montpelier Hill.  In a cruel twist reminiscent of those involved with the Hellfire Club, the party loving Baron Hugh Massy who inherited the property from his family was declared bankrupt, becoming known as the Penniless Peer.   The house itself was destroyed upon repossession.

With the exception of the Steward’s House which is privately owned, the area on Montpelier Hill including the Hellfire Club site and remaining cairn form Lord Massy’s Estate, open to the public.

The subject of many paranormal investigations, the Lodge, Steward’s House and surrounding Massy woods remain a place of mystery with little documented evidence to verify many of the stories and alleged events, largely due to the isolation and secrecy of the Hellfire Club.

That said, when you build a lodge by desecrating a sacred burial site, then invite members of the one of the darkest and debauched societies in history to carry out their Devil Worship in that location, macabre occurrences are guaranteed.

Massy woods

So look for your proof as needs be, although perhaps searching for protection from the Devil would be more prudent – and if you smell brimstone, run, before you become a permanent member of the Hellfire Club.

 

THE DEADLY LURE OF THE SUPERNATURAL IRISH FEMME FATALE

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For centuries there have been tales of supernatural women, enticing and killing mortal men, demon, vampire, witch and siren to name a few.  Read my article for Spooky Isles to find out more…The Deadly Lure of the Irish Femme Fatale