AUTHOR and blogger, Ann O’Regan, who specialises in writing about ghosts and hauntings, has advised that Carrigaholt Castle is best avoided this Hallowe’en week – or, indeed, at any time.
A room in the 15th-century, five-storey Loop Head peninsula castle has remained sealed since the 1920s and has not been tampered with since an exorcist was found dead the morning after attempting to enter the chamber, she says. What the writer describes as a “malevolent spirit” is believed to reside in the room.
Ann O’Regan, who writes for spookyisles.com, says that even paranormal investigators won’t venture near Carrigaholt Castle. “I’d know a few of the paranormal groups around Ireland and I don’t know any of them that have gone near it. That is the kind of room that is best left alone, to be honest with you. If you want to open it, fine, but wait until I’m at the other end of the country before you do it,” she suggested.
In her recent writings, Ann O’Regan listed Carrigaholt Castle, Scattery Island, Lemenagh Castle, Killone Lake and The Phantom Island of Kilstuitheen in Liscannor Bay as the five most haunted sites in Clare.
“Clare has an air of mystery about it that I’ve not found in any other county. I don’t know whether the landscape contributes to that or is it just the history you have there on the Atlantic coast. There is something special about it, for sure,” she stated.
Ann said the presence of a sea serpent has long been linked with Scattery Island.
“That is how Scattery Island was named. The name was based on the sea serpent that was terrorising the island before it was vanished by St Senan. Whether it is still there or not, who knows? It could be like Loch Ness. Scattery Island is a very mystical place. Even the fact that the ship captains from the Shannon were living there and they were the only people in the area protected from the Famine, lends credence to the belief that there is something about that place,” she suggested.
At the turn of the 19th century, a fisherman is said to have found himself needing sanctuary from a heavy storm and took refuge on Scattery. As it was a Sunday, he went into the church to pray.
As he knelt, eyes closed, he heard voices and looked up to see monks and priests in ceremonial garb around the altar. Terrified, he closed his eyes tightly again and prayed to be rid of the spirits before him. When he opened his eyes, they were gone, the clouds and birds passing over the roofless ruin.Meanwhile, a murdered mermaid is reputed to haunt Killone Lake, next to the ruins of Killone Abbey in Ballyea. The legacy of the mermaid is that the lake will turn red every 40 years, or when ownership of the Newhall Estate changes hands.
“There could be a factual side to that. They think there might be iron ore beneath the lake and that could be causing the water to turn red. But the fact is that a family did live there and they did have servants. Whether or not they killed someone and passed it off as a mermaid, it is said that the water turns red every 40 years on a change of hands,” Ann O’Regan revealed.
As for Lemenagh Castle in North Clare, Ann O’Regan hasn’t seen Máire Rua herself but she maintains there are several accounts of others having seen the infamous red head, whose husbands tended to come to abrupt ends.
“I don’t just go on hearsay. I research and research and make sure there is lots of information pertaining to the story. Call it folklore but people have said they have seen Máire Rua and it has been documented through history that she has been seen,” Ann said.
It is also believed that fishermen have seen glimpses of the city beneath the waters off Liscannor Bay and, every seven years, Kilstuitheen upsurges, just enough to be seen from the beach at Lahinch. However, be warned – if you sight the lost island from shore, it is said you will not live to see it rise.
“Ireland was built on dark history and mysticism,” Ann concluded, as Hallowe’en night approaches.