Ardgillan Castle in County Dublin is a beautifully restored, 18th-century country house surrounded by beautiful gardens and blessed with panoramic sea and mountain views. Parts of the great house date back to 1738, with the east and west wings added in the 19th-century.
The lower sections of the building are now open to visitors, along with the magnificent gardens and there are several ghost stories associated with the property.
The ghost of the Reverend Henry Edward Taylor has been encountered at the house. He moved there with his wife, Marianne St Leger, in 1807 and died there on the 7th of June 1852 after a massive heart attack. At the time of his death, he was seated in the dining room and was reading his bible. It is said that as he fell to the floor, he lost grip of his precious book. Some would have you believe that his spirit (known as “Uncle Ned”) returns to the castle and walks the corridors, looking for his misplaced holy book. His form has also been encountered in the garden walking among the yew trees on several occasions.
Security guards patrolling Ardgillan Castle at night have been startled by a door that seemingly opens by itself, and a few strange experiences have been reported in rooms throughout the house. Some staff members refuse to venture into the kitchen on the lower floor alone, due to the phenomena they have encountered there.
An Irish spirit, known as a banshee, may have visited the castle. These sorrowful spirits are said to cry and wail, foretelling of imminent death or tragedy in certain families or homes. I, the owner of Spirited Isle, have heard her cries myself after a death in my own family. In many stories, a banshee will appear as a woman combing her hair. A ranger at the castle claimed to have met one such spirit while on his rounds. In an unusual turn in the most unusual of encounters, the banshee asked him for a lend of his comb. Neither the banshee nor the rangers comb was seen again.
The Dublin to Belfast line runs along part of the estate perimeter and a pedestrian bridge was constructed many years ago that residents could safely cross the track and access the private beach at Barnageera. The bridge was damaged in 2006 and was subsequently repaired meaning that it has a modern appearance these days, but the bridge is still referred to as “The Lady’s Stairs”. It is the stairs and the bridge that provide the backdrop to the most famous haunting at the property.
Legend tells of a man who went for a swim but never returned. His distraught wife went out looking for him but to no avail. Her concern turned to grief and then to obsession. She would venture down to the bridge and keep vigil, day in, day out, week after week, after week, after week – staring out to sea, hoping that her love would return. But he never did. The lady grew weak and weary and eventually died, but her obsession and her anger did not. The legend concludes with a warning that people should avoid the bridge at night, especially on Halloween – as the “lady of the stairs” will grab you and throw you over the bridge to your death.
The second version of the story tells how one Lady Louisa Langford arrived at Ardgillan Castle with her husband, and that she became bored after he left to go on a hunting trip. Louisa wanted to visit the beach and to go for a swim but was advised that this would be too dangerous. Undeterred, she set off to go swimming but was soon overcome by the strong tide. Louisa’s maid returned to the house to raise the alarm, but it was too late. Louisa’s body was recovered from the water a few days later. It is claimed that it is her ghost that often returns to the bridge, even to this day. Some claim she is dressed in her wedding gown, and waiting for her husband to return for her, while others say she is just trying to find her way back to the castle.
The lady on the stairs has been spotted many times over the years and at different times, day, and night. But for some reason, she seems to like Halloween, and sightings of her increase around that time. Just remember the cautionary tale of a potentially distraught and angry spirit who might turn her attentions to you if you get in her way.
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