Ballyheigue Castle was built in the 19th-century and would have been a fine country house in its day. Today, the property is a shell having been ravaged by fire in May 1921 during the Irish War of Independence. In 1996, a golf club opened on the surrounding lands and the castle now features as its backdrop.
On the 4th of June 1962, a man visited the ruins of the old house accompanied by his son. He took several photos of the imposing ruin and on his return home, had them processed. When the photographs were developed, he was astonished to see a figure standing in one of the windows of the old ruin. The figure appeared to be a sailor carrying a sword. Checks were carried out to ensure that it was not simply a case of double exposure or some other easily explained anomaly, but this was quickly ruled out. Unfortunately, further investigation required for the photo and negative to be posted to a specialist, and they were lost in transit. Efforts were made to get the image returned, but these were unsuccessful. The publicity that arose at the time did however raise a line of investigation which might explain the presence of a ghostly figure.
In 1730, a Danish ship, the Golden Lyon, was wrecked off the coast at Balyheigue during a storm. It was said that the Crosbie family – the owners of the great house – deliberately set up lights to lure unsuspecting ships off-course so that they could “salvage” their goods. On this occasion, the bounty included trunks of silver. The crew was offered accommodation at Ballyheigue Castle and the cargo was brought in for safekeeping. When Sir Thomas Crosbie died soon after, his wife immediately claimed compensation from the ship’s captain, claiming that he owed the family for helping his crew to salvage their goods and in respect of the strain which allegedly led to the untimely death of her husband. But the captain was wary of her true intention and mounted a guard to protect the remaining horde until it could be safely shipped back to Denmark.
Curiously, the castle was raided soon after and the remaining trunks of silver were taken. Some stories suggest that a sailor intervened and tried to stop the robbery, but he was killed in the process. The date of the raid was June 4, 1731 – 231 years to the day before the mysterious photo was taken by the father and his son. So, does the ghost now return on the anniversary of his death each year?
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Part of the castle has been restored and is privately occupied. Please respect the privacy of residents when visiting the castle and be aware that a golf club also operates here.
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