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May 9, 2011

Foulksrath Castle is an Anglo-Norman tower house located in Co. Kilkenny just 5km from Kilkenny city. It was built in the 15th century by the Purcell family who also had a number of other castles in the area. During the Cromwellian invasion of Ireland the Purcell’s were ejected from the castle and forced to live in the stables, while Oliver Cromwell’s troops took over ownership. Up until last year the castle operated as a youth hostel, the oldest in Ireland. I stayed there once years ago when I was involved in medieval re-enactment. It was the perfect venue for a training weekend and is remarkably preserved. Being so old and with so much history, is it any surprise that there are rumours of ghosts? At one point a BBC television team of British Ghost hunters visited the hostel and sent back a report to say that ‘their machines recorded the best ghostly sounds of any place they visited in Ireland’.

The most common ghost story repeated about the castle is of a young woman. She was the daughter of Dean Swift, one of the later owners. The stories claim that she fell in love with a local Irish boy. Her father, being of wealthy Anglo-Irish descent, was not happy about this. He locked her in the ‘Cuckoo Nest’ room at the top of the castle to prevent her seeing this boy. Even this was seemingly not enough to quell her love and her father is reported to have killed her in a rage in that same room. To this day it is said her ghost still haunts the room, In 2002 a guest awoke to find their duvet covers moving in a wave like motion.

Another story is of a woman who was killed by her lover in the castle. She still wanders the castle, creating the scent of lilacs. I also remember hearing a story of a soldier on guard duty at the castle who fell foul of one of the owners (perhaps the same one who killed his daughter). He was on patrol on the battlement’s one night and since everything was quiet, decided to take a nap. His employer came upon him sleeping and in a rage threw him from the top of the castle. It is said that on a certain day of the year that guests will feel a coldness as they walk up the stairs and that this is the ghost of that poor unfortunate soldier heading to his final guard duty. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were plenty of other ghosts in a building that old.

Even from the outside it looks very dark and forbidding

The courtyard of the castle

The original stone spiral staircase that leads up to the ‘cuckoo nest’

I don’t know if Foulksrath will have a continued history as a hostel. It went up for sale last year. Even with it’s haunted reputation it was still a very cosy place to stay. If anyone is ever in that part of Ireland and looking for a haunted experience then I would definitely recommend stopping by Foulksrath.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 31, 2011 8:05 am

    I’d love to go there. It definitely looks like a place I’d like.

  2. July 11, 2013 3:05 pm

    This is the Castle as it is now:

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