Set in 30 acres of woodlands and private gardens, and with a fine interior, bedecked by magnificent fireplaces and striking features, the 16th century Ballyseede Castle now serves as a luxury hotel retreat for the discerning traveller, and is a venue of choice for summer weddings.
While the magnificent halls, corridors, and rooms may echo with the sound of chat, music, and laughter, the castle itself has a much darker history and some believe that a few of its previous inhabitants have yet to check out. The hotel does not deny this.
On the 11th of November 1583, Gerald FitzGerald, Earl of Desmond (also known as “the Rebel Earl”), was beheaded in Glenageenty Wood, ending a bloody 300-year rebellion against the English crown. As punishment against the Fitzgerald clan, the land was confiscated and became home to Thomas Blennerhassett. As part of nominal ground rent, a single red rose from the castle garden would be presented each Midsummers day. This tradition continued for nearly four hundred years until the death of Hilda Blennerhassett in 1965, at which point the castle was sold and transformed into the Ballyseede Castle Hotel we know today.
Locals recalled seeing a woman in a black Victorian dress at the upper floor windows before the hotel was even opened. As it happened, when Hilda passed away, she was found wearing an old black dress. Her ghost is still seen wandering the upper floor bedrooms and on the main staircase. In May 2020, the castle owner was walking on the grounds when she spotted a figure looking out of one of the windows. The hotel was closed due to the global pandemic and there was nobody in that part of the building at the time.
Hilda’s friendly but watchful spirit has also made her presence known with the scent of roses on the main staircase when the flower itself is not present. Some claim that the 24th of March is a particular date that she likes to keep each year when she returns to her turret room and looks out across the estate from her window.
Whispering has been heard in the drawing-room and ghostly children dressed in period clothing have been seen and heard on the staircase and on the upper floors, wandering through corridors and even into guest bedrooms. Some believe that the children were in fact young servants running errands and that they may have been victims of the 19th-century famine.
The family of the hotel owner experienced unusual activity while staying in the building when it was closed for annual maintenance. One night they were disturbed by the sound of a slamming door. On investigation, a figure that was “large in stature and heavyset” was spotted running down the stairs, but there were no doors were unlocked and there was no evidence of any intrusion.
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