13 Haunted Places in Northern Ireland for a Spooky Adventure
Updated On: March 06, 2023
The mysticism surrounding haunted places acts as a luring and frightening factor for visitors. On the one hand, curiosity pushes the human soul to discover the secrets hidden behind such places. And on the other hand, fear of being touched by a wandering spirit limits this curiosity. However, whoever said, “without curiosity, comes no knowledge”, was a wise man. In this regard, we bring you the most famous haunted places in Northern Ireland to lure you in.
The Most Renowned Haunted Places in Northern Ireland
The haunted places in Northern Ireland tell plenty of thrilling, spooky tales that can give you goosebumps. In general, you will want to find out more about those places, whether you’re interested in horror stories and curious enough to check these places out or your fear drives you away from them.
Crumlin Road Gaol, Belfast
Crumlin Road Gaol, grimly known as the Crum, is an ominous prison over 170 years old. The tightly-secured prison was built in 1845 to replace that of Carrickfergus, and the first prisoners to reside at the Crum were those who walked from Carrickfergus, County Antrim. The gaol’s fearsome reputation started with its early residents when young children were imprisoned for stealing food or seeking proper clothing. Although some saw imprisoning children as an appropriate disciplinary method, some children ended up hanging themselves from the dire living conditions.
In later years, political prisoners made up the majority of residents at the Crum, and continuous executions followed in the 20th century. Despite the prison’s evacuation and renovation as a museum and a conference centre that hosts concerts now, the prison’s small chambers and graveyard still serve as shelter for old souls. Society believed executed, or dead prisoners deserved burial on unconsecrated grounds, which meant that dissatisfied spirits lurk around the gaol’s small chambers until this day.
Old Smithfield Market, Belfast
When strong bonds break, their effect resounds through history and, sometimes, for the end of time. The old Smithfield Market in Belfast, built in the 1700s, retells the story of two lovers, or rather requited love. When ambitious and hardworking Luke White began to gain commercial importance as a used or secondhand bookseller, he met Biddy Farrelly. Although many scholars assumed they were lovers, other historians state they were only friends. The Old Smithfield Market was famous for its bars, 27 bars precisely, which meant every night was full of quarrels and street fights.
Luke’s ambitions took him to Dublin, where he became a wealthy bookseller and politician. He got married twice and accumulated enough wealth to support his children long after his death. Nothing much is known of Biddy during Luke’s time away in Dublin, but after Luke’s death at 84, her broken heart sought solace in one of the market’s bars, and she was found dead the following day. Today, Biddy’s spirit roams Gresham Street in Belfast as she still mourns her lost love.
Crown Bar, Belfast
The Crown Bar is a bustling Belfast pub with unmatched beautiful architecture. Patrick Flanagan spent hours trying to convince Italian craftsmen, who were in Belfast working on local churches, to renovate the tavern pub into a masterpiece. The craftsmen embellished the pub with all the distinctive elements of Victorian architecture, such as polychromatic tiles, mosaics and an altar-style bar. When the craftsmen were done, the Crown Bar became one of the country’s finest gin palaces.
Pubgoers stated they spotted a man and a woman in Victorian-style clothes roaming the place. History books mention the man is Michael Flanagan, Patrick’s father, who bought the tavern pub in 1885. Unfortunately, nothing is known of Michael after this. Perhaps this unknown fate is why his soul still haunts the pub today. On the other hand, the woman is Amelia; locals believe she fell down the stairs and met her end, which is why she’s often seen sitting by the stairs. Are Michael’s and Amelia’s souls connected? No one can tell.
Belvoir Park Hospital, Belfast
Belvoir Park Hospital had several names throughout its history and service as a regional centre for cancer treatment. It was initially a fever hospital in 1906 and acquired its current name in the 1960s. Since then, the hospital has become the regional centre for cancer treatment, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy. After Belfast City Hospital took over Belvoir Park Hospital’s treatments in 2006, the building shut down until it was sold and refurbished in 2014 and turned into luxurious lodgings.
The current luxurious lodgings hide an unusual terror story. There were never reports of abnormal activity in the building during its time as a hospital. However, after the building’s closure in 2006, security guards reported sightings of several shadows lurking between the lodgings and scary sounds. The guards also reported strange noises emanating from various spots in the building; however, when they checked the source, they found nothing.
Friar’s Bush Graveyard, Belfast
Friar’s Graveyard has been the main burial spot in Belfast since the 5th century, although the oldest tombstone in the graveyard bears an inscription of 1717. The cemetery holds victims of several natural disasters, such as Cholera and the Great Irish Famine from the 1830s and 1840s. When the graveyard became overcrowded, burial rights shifted to Milltown Cemetery.
Above the ground, Friar’s Graveyard holds solemn and ominous memories. However, beneath the graveyard, a tunnel connects to the Ashby Building of the Queen’s University in Belfast, located across the street. People brave enough to venture into the tunnel reported feeling eerie hands on their shoulders, and coincidentally, the tunnel became too cold at that moment. Some allege these unusual incidents date back to grave snatchers stealing dead bodies from the graveyard during the 1800s and using the tunnel to smuggle the bodies.
The Giant’s Ring, Belfast
At a certain point in time, archaeologists chose the Giza Pyramids as the oldest discovered historical site until they unearthed the Giant’s Ring in Belfast. Archaeologists estimate the ring date back to the Neolithic period, and they’re certain it was an altar to pay respects to and venerate the dead. These archaeological finds gave way to paranormal sightings by the ring. After the turn of the 19th century, families visiting the holy site reported they couldn’t find their way out of the ring as thick mist filled the entire place. They found themselves at the centre stones whenever they attempted to get out again.
Ballygally Castle Hotel, County Antrim
Ballygally Castle Hotel is a haunted living postcard; the castle’s teal exterior lures visitors to spend the night among wandering spirits. James Shaw built the castle in the first quarter of the 17th century, and it remains the only standing castle from that era that’s still used as a residence. The castle offers visitors an exceptional view of the Ballygally Bay, with the sea stretching as far as eyes can see.
Despite its charming beauty and breathtaking sea views, Ballygally Castle is one of the most haunted castles in Northern Ireland. Mediums who stayed at the castle over the years said they felt more spirits were wandering around the castle than guests staying at the hotel. One of the rooms in the castle’s corner tower earned the name “Ghost Room” over the years due to the chilling experiences visitors went through inside, and the room isn’t currently used.
Dobbins Inn, Carrickfergus, County Antrim
Dobbins Inn is a warm and inviting medieval tower from the 13th century that once served as a bakery, barracks, and residence. Since Reginald D’Aubin built the tower, it underwent several renovations until the last one in 2019, which restored many of the original decorative 13th-century works. The 15-suite hotel earned three stars for its high level of service, inviting bar and soul-warming fireplace.
Hotel staff and visitors reported seeing two spirits in the hotel. Some visitors claimed they felt a gentle stroke on their faces in their sleep, which locals explained to be the ghost of Elizabeth Dobyn. Elizabeth was a married woman in the 17th century who had an affair. When her husband Hugh discovered her infidelity, he rid her and her lover of their lives. As Elizabeth’s ghost stares down at sleeping visitors, her lover’s ghost is believed to cause chaos in the reception and the kitchen.
Bruce’s Castle, Rathlin Island, County Antrim
Bruce’s Castle, or Rathlin Castle, is a ruinous castle on Rathlin Island and one of John de Courcy’s structural achievements in Ireland. King Robert I of Scotland, or Robert the Bruce, took shelter at Rathlin Castle with his men from the freezing Irish winter, although some scholars claim he was fleeing King Edward’s army. The castle owners at the time, the Bissets, were later punished for taking in King Robert and his men when the English crown stripped them of their lands.
The mystery surrounding Bruce’s Castle started with Robert the Bruce himself. After he took refuge with his men in the castle, they fell into a deep slumber and had a vision of where his unification of Scotland would commence from Rathlin. Another mystical recount comes from a group of fishermen who gathered around a night fire, and a dismembered hand joined them for a drink. When the hand’s cup was full, it disappeared without notice.
Castle Espie Wetland, County Down
Castle Espie was a majestic castle in Comber, and although nothing remains of it today, the nearby wetland still bears its name. This swamp has a reputation for being the gathering and hibernation spot of many native and exotic birds, such as ducks and swans. Available facilities by the wetland promise an interactive adventure. However, this marvellous wetland by day welcomes a troubled soul at night. A Victorian woman with a serene look on her face, a quiet baby on one arm with a lantern in the other, floats above the water, wailing and asking for shelter.
Grace Neill’s, Donaghadee, County Down
Grace Neill’s, or the King’s Arms, is a stone-lined timber pub from the early 17th century in Donaghadee. Since its opening, it bore the name the King’s Arms even when Grace Neill received the pub as a wedding gift from her father. Grace, a reputed Donaghadee lady, ran the pub for most of her life until her death in the 1910s, after which the pub was renamed to her name.
Czar Peter the Great, poet John Keats and singing sensation Tina Truner all enjoyed their time at Grace Neill’s, soaking in the vintage atmosphere and memorabilia. Owners and pubgoers revealed sightings of books and glasses moving from one place to another inside the pub and mysterious light twitching. They believe Grace keeps an observant eye on her beloved pub from beyond our world.
Springhill House, County Londonderry
Springhill House is a seven-window townhouse from the 17th century in Moneymore. Throughout its history, the house has been the property of The Conyngham Family, who owned and lived there until the mid-20th century. Since then, the National Trust has been in charge of the estate and conducted extensive restorations to restore the house’s original Victorian style.
Unlike the souls lurking around our list of haunted places in Northern Ireland, the ghost that roams Springhill House is a welcoming one. Olivia Stewart was George Lenox-Conyngham’s second wife; however, it’s unclear how she died or why she wanders inside and around the house, greeting guests from time to time. Because visitors can see her, she became the most reputed and documented ghost in Ireland.
Crom Estate, County Fermanagh
Crom Estate refers to a nature reserve encompassing thick woodland, the ruins of the old Crom House and the new Crom House. During the Plantation of Ulster, Michael Balfour built the currently ruined house in the 1610s. Jacobites attacked the old house twice before it fell into ruins after a raging fire took it down in the 1760s. The new Crom House was built in 1840 and remained privately owned by the Earl of Erne.
You can enjoy various recreational activities at the reserve, such as outdoor bowling. You can book a ghost tour, where you will have a guided tour through the old Crom House’s ruins and meet some of the oldest trees in Ireland; some are 1000 years old. Keep an eye on the lights sparkling above Lough Erne theatres; haunting spirits might send you a message.
Many people say one must steer away from haunted places, which is why in our list of choices, we made sure to include places that might give you an eerie feeling, enough to send a chill down your spine, yet stay friendly enough not to scare the living daylights out of you.