8 chilling places for you to check out Northern Ireland's ghostly past
In recent years, Northern Ireland’s tourist attractions have grown, with many people visiting and exploring all of the unique culture on offer. With so many festivals, music, natural beauty and great hospitality, it’s no surprise that people are drawn here.
By Jessica Eve
Published 18th Oct 2023, 16:20 GMT
However, there is quite a lot of unknown history in regard to paranormal activities and unexplainable occurrences. With so much dark and mysterious history across Northern Ireland, there are many sites to be explored.
Whether you're fascinated with ghostly history and want to explore new stories, or terrified and want to avoid these locations, this is a list of haunted places and their stories across Northern Ireland.
1. Ballygally Castle, Coast Road, Ballygally, Larne, Co Antrim
Ballygally Castle is centuries old and currently stands as a hotel. It's said to be one of the most haunted places in all of Ulster. The ghostly castle was built back in 1625 by John Shaw of Greenock and was later restored in 1760 by relative James Shaw and his wife Isabella Brisbane. After many owners over the years, Ballygally Castle was transformed into a hotel with some ghostly guests. Ballygally’s most famous phantom is that of Lady Isabella Shaw who suffered great trauma within the castle walls. It is said after Lady Isabella gave birth to her daughter, her husband Lord James Shaw took the baby from her and left her locked in a small room and starved. After hearing her baby in distress, Isabella attempted to escape through a window, but unfortunately fell to her death. It is rumoured that Lady Isabella wanders the hotel hallways, knocking on doors in search of her baby girl. In recent years it's been said that guests visited the turret room after hearing the fascinating story, but when entering the Ghost Room a previously smiling 18-month old child became hysterical with terror. A former nineteenth century castle resident, Madame Nixon is also reported to still be wandering the corridors, with her silk skirts heard rustling as she walks through the night. Photo: ballygallycastlehotel.com
2. Friar’s Bush Graveyard, Stranmillis Road, Belfast
Located in the centre of Belfast’s University Quarter, Friar’s Bush Graveyard dates back even further than Belfast itself. The site has been used as a burial site since the fifth century, its peak was during the cholera epidemic in the 1800s and now is excessively overcrowded with hundreds of anonymous buried bodies. However some of the creepiest sightings have occurred below the surface, within the tunnels underneath the site. Multiple maintenance workers apparently have reported the feeling of hands touching and pulling at them. Friar’s Bush is easy to find. Check out visitbelfast.com for any forthcoming tours that you can join to learn more about its fascinating history. Photo: discovernorthernireland.com
3. Crumlin Road Gaol, 53-55 Crumlin Rd, Belfast
One of Ireland's most famous prisons, used from 1846 to 1996, is now home to one of Belfast’s most popular paranormal tours. Paranormal activity has roamed the building since it closed its doors in 1996, though previous prison officers and prisoners believe it’s been going on a lot longer. After the prison closed it was left abandoned for decades, allowing the suspected ghosts to roam freely, until its opening as a museum in 2010. It’s no surprise the building was supposedly left haunted after the prison walls absorbed and witnessed so many years of anger, torment and death. When exploring, guests have experienced unexplained sightings and noises, rumoured to be those of the prisoners who never left the site. Some of the alleged experiences include disembodied voices, footsteps, objects moving by themselves and doors slamming with no one around. Regularly paranormal investigators explore the site, with one of the biggest findings taking place Halloween night in 2016. During the investigation it is reported that a heavy steel door closed behind them and a number of strange noises were detected on their equipment. Photo: crumlinroadgaol.com
4. Crown Liquor Saloon, 46 Great Victoria Street, Belfast
Previously known as The Crown Bar, this spot is very popular with tourists and has a history dating back to the 1800s. Visitors are encouraged to not get distracted by the traditional furnishings and Victorian style decor within the pub that was once regarded as one of the finest gin palaces of all time, it's important to keep an eye and ear out for ghostly goings-on. The building is said to house two unwanted residents, that of Micheal Flanagan who had renovated it in 1885 and a lady of the night, Amelia who mysteriously died after falling down the stairs with their forms being allegedly spotted in the bar and sights of Amelia taking place near the staircase she lost her life on. Photo: visitbelfast.com