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
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
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.
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.”
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
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
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.