By Lee Daley.
There’s a ghost in the house. At least that’s the rumor at Ireland’s Kinnitty Castle.
Although the 13th century medieval castle is now a luxury hotel, guests who spend the night often report sounds and sightings of ghosts, phantoms and banshees. Perhaps that’s because this Irish castle was built on land that was originally the home of Druids. Many believe the spirits of these ancient sorcerers remain here where they haunt their former home. If you’re adventurous enough to try ghost hunting, you may meet the castle’s most famous spirit, the Phantom Monk, who reputedly still cruises the castle’s creaky corridors and hidden staircases. A social spirit, he has been reported by both guests and staff to communicate and sometimes take a solid form, prompting the question: “Is he still living or merely a shadowy phantom?”
Halloween may be the ideal time for a visit but ghosts and guests seem to enjoy the mystery and magic of Kinnitty Castle Hotel year round. Situated between Dublin and Limerick, the approach to the castle via a winding wooded road opens up to present a breathtaking view of the 13th century medieval structure. Surrounded by 650 acres of park land, sitting in the foothills of the Slieve Bloom Mountains, you’ll find not only the lavishness of a revival castle drenched in antiquity, but an outdoor paradise of natural beauty. Stay at Kinnitty for a few days and explore the mountains on foot or gallop through the valleys on horseback. Stop and take in the mist filled horizons where time has sheltered the streams and meandering rivers for centuries.
Inside the castle, enjoy a little piece of Irish magic as you wander through the drawing room, the inviting dark wood panelled Library Bar with its open hearth fireplace, the Sli Dala Restaurant, all with authentic character. Play a board game with friends or sip a glass of wine before one of the unique open fires, feast on the best of local cuisine prepared by Kinnitty’s executive chef.
To immerse yourself in the castle’s medieval past, have an evening night cap in the castle’s Dungeon Bar where you can conjure fantasies of Druids drifting by the windows in their nightly quest to quench their thirst. Or escape to the cozy Library Bar. Sink down into a comfy, well-worn leather chair and warm your bones in front of the roaring fire before retreating to your four poster bed in one of the castle’s high-ceilinged bedrooms.
According to historical records, Halloween actually originated in Ireland to celebrate the end of the harvest season; it was considered the last day of the year and treated very much like our modern day New Year’s Eve. This was also the time when the souls of those who had passed away would return to their earthly homes and when evil spirits assumed various shapes, seeking to wreak havoc on the living.
Even after the Halloween harvest mayhem, you will find magic at Kinnitty. In December, there will be “murder on the menu” when a festive four-course meal with mulled wine precedes a night of music. The suspense escalates with a reading of the will of a notorious character. What is his legacy and who is the heir? The discovery that someone in the crowd has been stabbed in the back asks the question: Could this be the result of paranormal activity or is there a murderer in the room? Ghostly goings on continue throughout the year.
IF YOU GO:
To take part in the mystery and the magic, visit www.kinnittycastlehotel.com
For information about travel and tourism in Ireland, contact the Irish Tourist Board, 345 Park Ave., New York, NY 10154 (tel. 800/223-6470 from the U.S., or 212/418-0800; fax 212/371-9052) Visit: www.ireland.com/tourism or www.discoverireland.ie