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!
Although only ruins now, the outline of the towers and turrets of Duckett’s Grove stand resplendent against the horizon and surrounding countryside of the estate to which they have belonged for nearly two centuries.
Duckett’s Grove was originally a modest two story house built in the style of its day in the mid eighteenth century by a descendant of the Duckett family, who arrived to the townland of Kneestown in County Carlow some 100 years previously.
As the family grew in wealth and social standing in both Carlow and Dublin city, it became clear that the somewhat ordinary family home was insufficient to meet the Duckett needs. Owner William Duckett, married an heiress by the name of Harriet in order to further his aspirations of grandeur.
In 1830 therefore, the services of Thomas A Cobden, renowned architect were secured and work began on making Duckett’s Grove a Gothic revival masterpiece of epic proportion, with regal arches, neo-gothic oriel windows and grotesques added to the majestic towers and imposing structure.
Now believing his home was suitable for his social needs, William Duckett began to throw lavish parties inviting the socialites of Dublin to mingle with local gentry and the Duckett family. William was somewhat of a philanderer and married his second wife, Maria Thompson in 1895 when he was 73 years old, bringing her and her daughter Olive to reside at Ducketts Grove.
William passed away in 1908 and was buried in the family plot at nearby Knocknacree. Maria continued to live in solitude at the mock Gothic castle as she and her daughter had become estranged. Finally Maria abandoned the property in 1916 to live in Dublin.
In a twist, when Maria died she was still so furious with Olive, that in her will she left nothing but what was known as the ‘Angry Shilling’ to her absentee offspring.
Not wishing to be done out of her inheritance, Olive went to court and in a week and a half long hearing, it was revealed that mother and daughter had a tempestuous and physically violent relationship, much to the shock of the Dublin city social scene. Maria was given a cash settlement and the Ducketts of Duckett’s Grove were no more.
Originally purchased by a farmer’s collective, bickering and greed over shares led to default on payment and the Land Commission stepped in and took over. During this time in the early 1920’s the IRA made use of Duckett’s Grove for training purposes and it was the base of its flying column, a mobile armed unit of soldiers.
Despite the nature of its use post-Duckett, the great house was well maintained until it was brought to a smoking shell by way of a catastrophic fire on 20 April 1933 – the cause of which was never discovered.
Although nothing but a husk, it would seem that the events within Duckett’s Grove have left their mark, with several agitated spirits being witnessed over the decades, making the building ruins a hotspot for numerous paranormal investigations, including America’s Destination Truth in 2011.
The most notorious entity identified is the Duckett’s Grove Banshee. Banshees have forever been known as portents of death, with most connected to families and more than a few of these wailing spirits seeking death for revenge and torment.
In this instance, the Banshee is the result of a Piseóg, a curse placed on the house and family to bring about death, despair and financial ruin. This particular curse was cast by the angry grieving mother of a young girl who had been having an affair with William Duckett and was riding on the estate when she fell from her horse.
The bringer of death can be heard shrieking on the wind through the ruins of Duckett’s Grove from the towers for two days and nights, with stories of those that heard her suffering fatality and family tragedy. Noted accounts include a woman who dropped dead in the grounds and a worker in the gardens who heard the feared cry and whose mother died the follow morning.
Servants have distinctly been heard working in what was formerly the kitchens and pantry and a phantom horse and carriage has rolled up to the former entrance.
Disembodied voices, bangs, floating balls of light and spectral shadows are just a few more of the paranormal phenomena to occur in the Carlow castle. Apparitions of various figures, believed to be members of the Duckett family have been seen, including what is believed to be the ghost of William Duckett himself, riding a horse on his estate.
The Ducketts had extremely strong ties to the Protestant church and a vocalised hatred of Catholicism, so some investigators have provoked heightened paranormal responses from the entities of Duckett’s Grove, by bringing Catholic relics such as rosary beads to investigations.
Now Duckett’s Grove is open to the public, with visitors touring the extensive gardens and woodlands. For those who look at the Gothic skeleton that remains, it is a statuesque reminder of the opulent and lavish lifestyle that used to be lived within.
For those who are braver, the ruins provide a hive of paranormal occurrences to be witnessed from the brightest and busiest of tourist days to the dead of night.
With a family history of materialism, violence and infidelity, and with a Duckett family motto of ‘Let us be judged by our acts’, it is little wonder therefore that this noble family and those whose lives they touched remain the eternally restless residents of Duckett’s Grove.
Ireland has long been famed for the number of female hauntings across the country and many of them have been associated with colour. Here I look at thirteen of the most colourful in more ways than one! 13 Shades of Fear: Ireland’s Most Colourful Female Ghosts
From haunted pubs to witches and from St Patrick to the Devil himself – Tipperary has it all!
If you regard Offaly as a quiet and unassuming place you would be wrong! Four of the most haunted places in Ireland lie within the boundaries of this Midlands county. Read why some of the world’s most famous Paranormal Investigators have been terrified within these castle walls!
Blarney Castle is in the heart of Blarney Village in County Cork, beside the River Martin where the ghosts of salmon can be seen trying to catch flies. A castle has stood on the site since the tenth century and the third incarnation is the prominent stone structure you see today, built by Dermot McCarthy, King of Munster in 1446. It is home to the world famous Blarney Stone, known as the Stone of Eloquence, believed to be a half of the Stone of Scone itself following the McCarthy family alliance with Robert the Bruce in 1314. If you are prepared to climb the steps to the top, a kiss of this rock will mean you will never be lost for words. Kissed by everyone from tourists, to Mick Jagger and Laurel and Hardy, it is set high on top of the castle, over 130 feet from the ground.
The Badger Caves run beneath the castle and are known for enabling the Castle Garrison to evade Lord Broghill, who was attacking on the orders of Oliver Cromwell. Now with little of them accessible to the public they were said to contain three secret passages that lead to the Lake, to Cork and to Kerry. The Garrison are believed to have taken with them the treasure of the castle and thrown it into the lake. Later owners all but drained the lake to try and find it, but the treasure remains undiscovered.
Hidden behind the Battlements is the Poison Garden in which grow lethal and debilitating plants, from Deadly Nightshade and Hellebore, to plants made famous by Harry Potter such as Mandrake and Wolfsbane.
The castle is just the beginning as there is so much more to explore. In the shadow of the Keep stands Blarney House. Originally built at the start of the eighteenth century, it was destroyed by fire and rebuilt in 1874. This imposing gothic house would not be out of place in a Hammer Horror film and remains a family home today.
Rock Close is the place for all things magical and mysterious. It is thought that a Witch dwelling in Blarney since the dawn of time told the McCarthy clan the power of the Blarney Stone. She is imprisoned in the Witch Stone until nightfall, where she goes to her Kitchen, a cave beside the Witch Stone. If you get there very early you may still see the embers dying, long after she is once again imprisoned. For years the Witch has taken firewood from the estate for her kitchen and in return she must grant wishes for castle visitors who use the Wishing Steps. It is said that if you close your eyes and climb down and back up the steps and if you focus on just one wish, it will come true within the year. No peeking!
Druids were believed to have been on the land many centuries ago and you can see evidence of this today. A Druid cave, a circle of stones for gatherings and a Sacrificial Altar for sacrifices to the Pagan gods all remain.
A Fairy Glade also stands within Rock Close and you are welcome to enter, but remember they are cunning folk and should you see a Fairy, don’t let yourself get fooled.
At Blarney Castle there are tourist traps, there is history, there is folklore, and there is mystery. It is down to you to figure it out. Time stands still in Blarney so don’t be in a hurry. And do kiss the Blarney Stone and climb the Wishing Steps, because you never know…….