With all the history surrounding our village, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Delvin has one or two ghost stories attached. So, make yourself comfortable and read all about the ghosts of Delvin.
Located at the northern boundary of Delvin Village is Ballinlough Castle, home to the award winning Body&Soul Festival. While the building and its impressive grounds are not generally open to the public, Sir Nicholas Nugent has shared tales of its ghostly residents. The forlorn spectre of a young girl has reportedly been seen, brushing her hair at a dressing table in one of the impressive bedrooms, while sheets have been violently pulled off the beds of sleeping guests. A strange light has been spotted in the former butler’s quarters, while the eerie sound of a horse and carriage approaching along the sweeping driveway has also been recalled. Ghosts have also been spotted wandering the grounds by former castle workers.
Delvin Historical Society led a walk through nearby Bracklyn in August 2010 and spoke about the murder of landowner Howard Fetherstonhaugh in 1868. Local folklore has it that Howard’s blood splattered ghost knocked on the door of his home in Bracklyn and was greeted by his wife, shortly after his murder in nearby Killucan that evening.
In 2005, several old buildings in the village centre were demolished to make way for the new Courtyard Development. The buildings that were knocked included a courthouse, outdoor handball alley and a pub known as the Castle Inn.
The Castle Inn was reputedly haunted by the ghost of an old blacksmith (some stories suggest it was the original landlord) that used to live and work on the site. Local folklore has it that the spectre of the blacksmith stood at the door of the property on the day of his own funeral and watched the procession as it passed. In later days, as the building awaited demolition, it was this image that was painted on the boards that covered up the door to the abandoned pub.
One former landlord of the pub recounted how his children used to watch their programmes on the colour television in the bar on a Saturday morning but suddenly stopped – opting for the old black and white television in the kitchen upstairs instead. When questioned, the children said that there was a man in the bar and they were scared of him. This however was at a time when there were no customers in the pub.
On another occasion, the landlord himself was painting a ceiling in the bar late one night, after hours. He recalled the distinct feeling that he was not alone and turned around to greet what he thought would be a guest that was staying with the family at the time. However, he was completely alone. Unnerved, he checked the living quarters and found the family and their visiting guest were all sound asleep in their beds upstairs.
After many years of trade, the finally pub closed and the building was abandoned. When the bulldozers arrived to pull it down, workmen accidentally pulled down a power cable rendering part of the street “live” and trapping one of the workmen in the cab of his digger. When he was later freed, he reported seeing a man walking through the rubble of the old pub. The description he gave matched that of the old blacksmith.
The site is now occupied by Delvin Youth Reach and the local credit union. There have been no recent reports of paranormal activity, but that is not to say that the site is quiet.
Within the grounds of the castle is a wooded area known as “Cottages Hill”. Many years ago there was a cottage in the centre of the woodlands and this was occupied by the ladies of the Nugent family while the castle was being rebuilt. Legend has it that the cottage was once occupied by two ladies, one of whom died in her room under mysterious circumstances – possibly at the hands of the other. Shortly afterwards, the cottage was abandoned and fell in to ruin, however it has been said that a white lady is still seen walking through the woods.
St Mary’s Church
The ruined tower of St Mary’s Church is reputedly haunted by a banshee and shapes have also been seen looking out through the broken shutters. In recent years, a man dressed in full druid costume was spotted wandering the ruins of the church before silently walking out towards Mullingar and disappearing in to the night.
St Patrick’s Hall
St Patrick’s Hall was built in 1832 and originally served as the village chapel. The ghost of an old priest was said to appear to people as they passed by, a ghostly light would be seen and footsteps heard as if a priest was walking around saying his prayers. On occasion, a priest would hear late confessions and it was said that if the last person did not walk the priest home to the rectory on the Ballyhealy Road afterwards, the ghost of the dead priest would walk with him instead. The ghost of the priest is still said to follow the route from the hall to the old rectory on occasion.
In 1918, the hall caretaker was locking up for the night and had just turned the key in the door on his way out when he heard the distinct sound of footsteps walking across the wooden floor followed by one piercing note being struck on the piano – which was locked at the time. On investigation, he found that the hall was completely empty and all doors and windows sealed. To this day, visitors still occasionally report an eerie feeling near the stage.
Thank you to the brave souls who shared their tales and their photos of Delvin’s haunted heritage. Further information taken from the book “The Great Delvin” by Hannah Fitzsimons. Sleep tight! 🙂