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Haunted Cork

October 30, 2011

Since it is Halloween tomorrow I figured it would be nice to give a brief rundown of some buildings around Cork that have a reputation for being haunted

Cork City Gaol

No surprise that an old jail should have plenty of reports of ghosts. Prisoners were kept there from 1824 to 1923. Hangings used to take place where the disabled parking spots are now.

Charles Fort Kinsale

The most famous ghost of Kinsale is known as the White Lady. Constructed in1677 on the site of an earlier coastal fortification, this star-shaped fortress, with its five bastions and two surviving brick sentry boxes, straddles a sea swept rocky trajectory. Not long after the completion of the fort Colonel Warrender became its commanding officer. He was a strict authoritarian who believed in a rigorous regime of discipline and had little sympathy for any man who stinted or faltered at his duties. His daughter, Wilful, a vivacious and beautiful girl, fell in love with Sir Trevor Ashurst, who was an officer at the fort, and the two were duly married. At sunset on the day of their wedding, the newly married couple were strolling along the battlements when the bride noticed some flowers growing on the rock beneath and commented on their beauty. A sentry agreed to climb down and pick them for her on the condition that her husband would take his place on duty. Sir Trevor agreed, donned the soldier’s greatcoat, took his musket and entered the sentry box, whilst its original occupant began the perilous descent to the rocks below. It had been a long day, and no sooner had Ashurst sat down than he fell fast asleep. Just then, Colonel Warrender began his routine inspection of the fort’s sentry boxes. He was furious to find a guardsman asleep on duty and, drawing his pistol, shot the man through the heart. As the sentry fell to the ground dead, his coat came open and the Colonel saw that he had killed his own son-in-law. When Wilful learnt of her husband’s death she was inconsolable and, letting out a howl of despair, raced to the battlements, from which she threw herself to her death. The sight of her body proved too much for Colonel Warrender and, placing his pistol against his head, he pulled the trigger and blew out his brains. Three tragic deaths on a day that should have been a celebration have, inevitably, left their mark upon the ether of this casemated, windswept monument. It is the ghost of Wilful Warrender who haunts the garrison. Wearing a flowing white dress, she drifts in mournful despair, either around the ramparts or up and down the stairs of the stronghold. Those who encounter her silent wraith describe her as very beautiful but very pale. She passes by them, her dark eyes fixed on some distant objective. She pays them no heed, and soldiers used to speak of their alarm at seeing her pass straight through locked doors, whilst others complained of being pushed down the stairs by an unseen hand, presumably hers.

Barryscourt Castle

The castle in it’s present form dates from the 15th or 16th centuries but the land was occupied by the Anglo-Norman de Barry family from the 12th century. This Barrymore dynasty owned the castle up until the 18th century when the land passed to the Coppingers. Ghost hunters who have visited the castle have claimed they discovered two ghosts in the dungeons and one in the great hall. Local legend has it that anyone passing the castle at night will spot a light coming from the great hall where a woman can be seen brushing her hair. It is believed this is the spirit of the Lady Catherine who was disinherited after the lands passed to her cousin when there were no other male heirs.


There is a legend relating to Christchurch and the Siege of Cork. The story goes that during the Siege in 1690, 1,300 Protestants were held captive in Christchurch, St Peter’s Church, and the Court House. When the city fell to the Williamite troops, Protestants held captive in Christchurch were released and in turn Roman Catholics were then locked up. Tradition has it that of the 760 Roman Catholics imprisoned in Christchurch only 26 emerged alive. In the late 19th century a pit was recorded and partially excavated to the east of the former primary school in Bishop Lucey Park. The human bone remains in the pit were thought by the excavators to be victims of the Siege but no evidence is cited to support this conclusion and the remains were later lost. It is possible that these remains were from a charnel pit which was associated with the adjacent graveyard in Christchurch. Regardless of the accuracy of the legend there have been a few reports of strange goings on in the building, such as a ghostly wind that seems to come from nowhere. Perhaps some of the occupants of the crypt are still hanging around.

There are plenty of other haunted places throughout Cork and Ireland so if anyone has some stories please pass them on. It is Halloween after all 🙂

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 30, 2011 10:12 pm

    There’s something strange about having the disabled parking placed at such a spot!.

    Regarding the human remains found at Christchurch, was that the excavation that was done over the last couple of years? it’s very recent, and cool you got your hands on the information if so.

    • October 30, 2011 10:28 pm

      Those particular human remains were found in the late 1800s. However the recent excavations did turn up 52 skeletons buried in and around the church. The city archaeologist forwarded on the reports to us. Next time you are down in Cork I will give you the full tour.

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