HOWTH Castle: The Haunted Soul of Ireland


One of the most haunted and scariest place of Ireland is Howth Castle. Howth Castle goes back with its origins into medieval times. The site was originated in the following way: the first Lord of Howth, whose name was Almeric, firstly voyaged to Ireland with John de Courcy back in 1177. According to the legend, on 10th August, the very holday of St Lawrence, at Evora Bridge, close to the Church of Ireland church he won a victory which was of a great luck for him, as it provided under his disposal the area of the Howth peninsula.
In gratitude for such an unpredictable victory, the first lord adapted the name of St Lawrence. The descendants of St. Lawrence still possess the ownership and inhabit the historical castle.
Historically, it is known that the castle was made of wood above the harbor, nonetheless, it is evident from a deed that by 1235 a new castle was constructed on the present site in the middle of the fertile land. The new castle was made of wood as well. Next generations largely modified and reconstructed the castle in order to redesign the latter as their times dictated. The current house is a vivid representation and a practical example remarkable of how historic houses evolved in Ireland over the long centuries.
However, let us understand why such a marvelous piece of architecture is considered one the most haunted places in Ireland. Primarily, as there are many legends connected with the house. One of which is “the Abduction of the Heir by Grace O Malley.”
The Story of the abduction of the heir of the house of Howth by Grainne Uaile, Grace O’Malley, is extremely popular due to all the fairy-tales associated with the house. Legend has it that in 1575, Grace O’Malley stopped by Howth and directed to the castle itself in the hope of being accepted to share a meal with Lord Howth as well as obtain all the necessary equipmenta and goods for her voyage back to Mayo. Grace discovered that the gates of the castle are closed against her. She thought of this as of a in the traditional Irish hospitality.
Later she abducted the heir to the Lord taking him to Clew Bay. The heir to the Lord was returned only with the condition that the gates will never be shut at the dinner hour and the owners will always provide a vacant place laid at table for any unexpected guest. It is needless to mention that even nowadays the extra place is laid.

Another legend closely linked with the given mysterious area is “the Berisford Ghost Legend.” There is the portrait of an amazingly enchanting woman in the Drawing Room of the castle. An unsigned and undated note is actually enclosed at the back of the portrait claiming that the painting once had a black ribbon round the wrist, which was later on removed most probably while the house was being cleaned.
As historians claim, the woman depicted in the portrait is Nicola Hamilton whose first husband was Sir Tristram Berisford and later on General Richard Gorges. The younger daughter of the marriage was Lucy Gorges, who in her turn was a wife of the 27th Lord Howth, Swift’s ‘blue-eyed nymph’. The legend is that the lady reached an agreement with John Le Poer, Earl of Tyrone at quite a young age. It turns out that the two of them, Nicola and Earl of Tyron, were unrelated orphans. They were brought up together until their early teens when they separated. Nonetheless, they remained close friends all their lives and as it has been mentioned made quite a significant agreement.
The essence of the agreement is the following: whoever died first would come back and appear to the other. A woman came to Lord Tyron at the foot of his bed with a robin redbreast sitting on her finger. The woman schooled the lord that he would die at midnight after three days. Sure enough, Lord Tyrone was found dead three days later, his watch stood at just after 12 o’clock. There were numerous speculations, mostly that the Lord had taken poison to fulfill the prophecy himself. So, after his death it was already Lord Tyrone’s turn to come to Nicola in the night. When he came he assured her of the truth of the Christian Revelation and made diverse assumptions, such as that Nicola’s first husband would die shortly after, that her son would marry the Tyrone heiress, and that she herself would die in her forty-seventh year. Needles to point out that all of these predictions came true.
The most mysterious aspect of the legend refers to the black ribbon. In order to convince the lady that all her dreams were real, the lord grasped her wrist causing an injury and permanent scar. The lady used a black ribbon in order to hide the scar from the public eye. She would wear it for the rest of her life as Lord Tyrone had strictly ordered her not to let anyone else see the scar. The ease with which the ribbon was pulled out from the portrait does little to enhance the trustworthiness of the narration. In particular, considering the lord’s strict order not to let anyone see the scar.
While Howth Castle remains a family home up to our days, many tourist organizations enjoy showing the house, its furnishing and tell the aforementioned legends to all the visiting tourists. Educational groups, notorious and renowned bodies or groups and associations with an extreme interest in seeing the castle and its contents are given guided tours if at all possible. Normally the tour is given by a member of the family, which adds the interests towards the history of the castle and the family itself. The Castle enchants with its legendary and mysterious atmosphere disclosing many more historical myths and legends. The interior reminds of the past and mesmerizes with its gloomy atmosphere.