Ireland is rich in ruins. Ruined castles and monasteries dot the countryside. While images of some feature on Irish gifts, others can look very forlorn particularly in autumn and winter. Many rural churches have a graveyard full of Celtic cross gravestones so old the ground has shifted and left them lurching at strange angles. These are the places most visitors would expect to find a ghost, and indeed, they are likely places to spot a wandering spirit.
Malahide Castle just north of Dublin city never went to ruin. In 1185, King Henry II granted the land to Sir Richard Talbot for his services in the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland. Talbot built the castle, and his family held it for generations except for a brief period when Cromwell seized it and gave it to one of his henchman, Miles Corbett – who now haunts the grounds. The Talbots regained the castle after Corbett was drawn and quartered, and the family held it until 1975 when the Irish government bought it. Now it is open to visitors, who should keep a sharp eye for ghosts while touring the grounds. Corbett is only one of five known to haunt the grounds. He is known for appearing and then falling to pieces, four pieces to be specific, as he did when he was quartered.
Love and Murder in Malahide Castle
The ability to tell a good story is one of our most popular Irish gifts, and the tragic tale of Puck the jester is a classic. Puck lived in the 16th century, and he was a court jester in service to the Talbot family at Malahide Castle. As such, he entertained visitors. On one occasion, he encountered a visiting noble woman and fell in love. The list of people who would be opposed to this union is long. A jester stood no chance with a noble woman, even if his feelings were reciprocated. But Puck was in love, and his feelings were obvious. One night, he was found dying after being stabbed. With his last breath, he revealed nothing about what had happened, but vowed to haunt the castle for eternity.
According to many visitors over the centuries, Puck has made good on his word. Many have seen his ghostly figure pacing outside the castle. When the castle’s contents were sold in the 1970s, Puck was greatly disturbed and made his presence known frequently. But no one knows if he is pacing back and forth while waiting to meet his beloved or to extract revenge on his killer.
More Ghosts Linger in the Castle
Corbett and Puck are only two of the many ghosts at Malahide Castle. A castle with a history this long has wracked up a few tortured spirits. Sir Walter Hussey is another ghost who was unlucky in love. He was sent into battle the day he intended to be married and was killed. His bride then married one of his chief rivals, and Hussey stalks the castle grounds eternally seeking revenge on her. Lady Maude Plunkett died angry at her husband, and apparently she didn’t finish arguing with him during her life. Now, she can sometimes be heard hectoring him in the castle. And the Great Hall is haunted by a servant whose fondness for drink led him to neglect his duties. He was so ashamed at having been caught drunk on the job that he hung himself, and he is still there watching over the Great Hall trying to make up for his failure. Today, you can tour the castle, learn about its history, and pick up some lovely Irish gifts. But don’t be surprised if you also encounter one of these restless spirits while there.