Rhetoric House

Rhetoric House
Maynooth, Kildare, Ireland.

Rhetoric House dates to 1834. Originally constructed as a seminary, it is now attached to Maynooth College.

Despite serving as a centre of learning for those seeking to enter the priesthood, it is widely believed that true evil infiltrated this devout holy space and that at least two lives were lost while trying to flee its clutches.

On the 1st of March 1841, the Dean made his way up the stairs towards room 2, in a bid to challenge and chastise a twenty one year old seminarist by the name of Sean O’Grady. O’Grady had been neglecting his studies, had missed a few too many Masses and was generally letting his standards slip. A sharp talk was needed and that was what the Dean expected to deliver as he walked into the young man’s room. What he found however, was a picture of horror. O’Grady had slit his own throat and lay dead on the floor before him. The disturbed young man, had spoken of experiencing a diabolical presence in the room but nobody had believed him.

Nineteen years later, a second student, Thomas McGinn, was assigned to a different room after spending two weeks in room 2. He complained that he was having bad dreams, that he couldn’t focus on his work and generally felt depressed. He was given another room and according to some reports, he was told only at that point what had happened in that room some years before. One day, after attending Mass, McGinn returned to the bedroom he had initially been given. He claimed to have seen the face of a demon looking back at him from a mirror, and was overcome with a powerful urge to harm himself. He held a razor in his hand and felt an unseen force take control. His only escape was through the upper floor window. From his bed in the hospital, he recounted this experience to the Vice-President of the college before succumbing to his injuries on the 21st of April 1860.

Despite the efforts of the authorities, word of the two suicides at Rhetoric House soon got out and began to draw attention, including that of a priest who decided to visit the house with the intention of cleansing the ill fated room of whatever darkness was lurking within. But the priest himself was overcome with shear terror and was found the next morning, alive but shaking and incoherent, crouched in the corner of the room. He refused to ever speak of whatever it was that he saw during the night.

Dr. McCarthy, Vice-President of the college, authorised conversion of the cursed room into an “Oratory of St. Joseph”, Joseph being the Patron of a Peaceful Death.

Room No. 2 underwent several changes over the years and the last I heard was that it is mainly left empty, except a religious statue. Dark stains on the floor are said to be of human blood and attempts to remove them over many years have been unsuccessful. Mirrors are not allowed in the room, and the window that Thomas McGinn leapt from, although clearly visible from outside, has been bricked off in the room itself.


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