IT’S official, Shankill Castle is haunted and that will come as no surprise to people living around Paulstown who have grown up with numerous legends surrounding the imposing 17th century residence and the goings on there.
The volunteers from Kilkenny Investigative Paranormal Society visited the family home recently and were at the centre of a number of unexplainable experiences.
Jay O’Donoghue has a lot of experience in dealing with the unexplained and even he was unprepared for the sudden drop in temperature in one room while they were investigating. “We heard a faint cry and later we found on the Electronic Voice Phenomenon recorder that it was the voice of a little girl crying ooooh,” he said.
When they sent to the servants quarter things got scarier. “ A man’s voice told us to back off,” he said.
However, the most spectacular event took place when they were outside having a cigarette during a break in the night long escapade “We saw a tree light up with no source of power near it,” he said.
This is near to the famous “haunted gates” of Shankill Castle which never opened, apparently, since they were cursed by an unidentified priest during Penal times. It is said that the cleric swore that the gates would never close and that grass would grow up along the avenue and that’s exactly what happened.
It was only when they were going home in the early morning that Jay found out from two other volunteers with KIPS that they had heard a name called out in another part of the Castle that might have been Tina or Georgina.
It’s all very timely because the official ghost tour at Shankill castle is on this Halloween.
When the present owners of the castle moved in, the father Geoffrey decided to tackle the ghost of Peter Aylward, who is supposed to haunt one of the bedrooms, head on. He called out Mr Aylward’s name but there was no reply. The following day he went with a friend to Galway and he visited another period home and when he entered the building was told that it had been designed and built by the same Peter Aylward.
Not only will the castle’s haunting be revealed over the weekend, but guests will also be able to see the decapitated head of Saint Vitalus of Assisi. There is a lot of mystery surrounding the saint’s skull as it was bought at auction by a Canadian tribal art collector and head-hunter Billie Jamieson, who subsequently died on the day that the payment went through for his newly acquired head. The head is on loan to Shankill Castle as the estate of the late Mr. Jamieson decides what is to become of the unusual relic.
The Ghost tour is part of the ScareTrail at the ScareFest that starts on Friday and runs until the witching hour (midnight) on Monday . The tours start every evening on the hour from 6 till late. Tickets can be booked on the Shankill Castle website.