In Dublin’s fair city, where the girls are so pretty, you’ll be forgiven for allowing the beautiful surroundings to charm you into thinking a place this warm and welcoming couldn’t ever be scary. However, under the ceol and craic façade of Dublin lies a sinister and gruesome past. As host to a number of bloody revolutions and countless acts of extreme violence, the city is teaming with haunted locations that will, as the locals say, “Scare the bejesus out of you.”
If you’re feeling brave, BUCKiTDREAMER, and we mean really brave, then fill your BUCKiTDREAM planner with a few of these spooky spots. We can guarantee you’ll be shaking in your boots by the time you can finish your pint of Guinness.
Get Locked Up in Kilmainham Gaol The vast behemoth that is Kilmainham Gaol — gaol means jail in Irish — is the largest unoccupied prison on the island of Ireland. With its echoing atrium and never-ending corridors, the jail paints an all-too-vivid picture of the horrors that the occupants must have endured while interned here. With a long and gruesome history that spans nearly 150 years, Kilmainham Gaol isn’t lacking in paranormal activity. Although no area of the gaol has gone without a sighting of some spooky entity, there is no area more malevolently haunted than the balcony of the chapel. Tour guides and visitors alike swear that as soon as you enter the chapel, you feel an evil, threatening force glaring down at you from the balcony. Unlike other specters, who most people agree to seem to be friendly, protective spirits, found in the main body of the gaol, whatever haunts that balcony is an entity so fearsome that tours are no longer allowed to go up to it. Kilmainham Gaol is one of Dublin’s most popular attractions, so tickets sell out early. To make sure you’re not disappointed, get your tickets before you arrive.
Discover Your Inner Hedonist at the Hell Fire Club Nestled high in the Dublin mountains, the aptly named Hell Fire Club has long been the paranormal go-to for curious Dubliners. Formerly a clubhouse for debaucherous hedonists, the Hell Fire Club saw more than its fair share of gruesome activities and on one occasion even played host to the devil himself. Getting to the Hell Fire Club can only be done by renting a car, and thankfully, Dublin is full of cheap rental places. Once you’ve parked at the base of the hill, you’ll make a 25-minute hike to its peak. On the hike up, watch out for invisible hands, which have been known to grab at hikers’ jewelry, especially if that jewelry just so happens to be a crucifix. When you reach the summit, you’ll be greeted with some of the most spectacular views of Dublin, which will only be slightly spoiled by the sporadic screams of the spirit of a woman who was brutally murdered on the site. Exploring the old shell of the clubhouse is a must if only so you can experience firsthand the chill you feel the second you cross its threshold. If there’s a group of you, why not see who can last the longest in the clubhouse on their own without giving in to the overwhelming feeling that someone — or something — is watching your every move?
Embrace the Darkness in St. Michan’s Church Although most churches hide some sort of creepy secret — especially in Ireland — no secret is quite as creepy as what is found beneath this 11th-century church in Dublin’s city center. On arrival at St. Michan’s Church, after purchasing a €6 ticket, make your way to the church’s left side where you’ll be greeted by a man who will not only act as your tour guide but who will also give you the most accurate experience of a true Irishman: friendly, interesting and incredibly funny. Next, you’ll descend into the bowels of the church via two wrought-iron doors. As your eyes adjust to the darkness, you’ll notice that you’re in a long corridor flanked by chambers. Most of these chambers are filled with stacked coffins with various mummified body parts — and some whole bodies — peeking out as if they’re posing for some macabre family photo. Disembodied voices are commonplace in this spooky charnel house, but some visitors also get the rather unwelcome feeling of an ice-cold hand running down their back as they stop to pay their respects to the mummified residents of this subterranean world.
Grab a Pint in John Kavanagh’s Gravediggers Pub The aptly nicknamed Gravediggers sits on the outer boundaries of the sprawling Glasnevin Cemetery. The cemetery has a particularly gruesome history: They had to build a watchtower at the entrance to ward off the countless grave-snatchers looking to make a quick buck from a newly buried corpse. When you’re in the pub, you might get lucky and run into Jim, a modern day local gravedigger, who will fill your mind spine-chilling stories. One pub regular, who won’t be quite as talkative, is the chap dressed in tweed who is often spied enjoying a pint at the end of the bar — and then disappearing into thin air as soon as the beer is gone.
Lose Your Head in Dublin Castle Wandering around the splendor of Dublin Castle, it’s dreadfully easy to forget about the countless decapitated corpses buried right beneath your feet. Or their heads, which once found a home on the spikes surrounding the perimeter of the castle. Or their vengeful spirits that roam the grounds, thirsty for blood revenge.
The scares on this citywide tour are enough to drive anyone to drink. If you feel like your nerves need some serious calming after your descent onto the dark side, why not check out some of the best traditional Irish pubs in Dublin, where you’ll be served a pint of the black stuff delicious enough to make you feel at ease again. One more thing, though: With a city as laden in history as Dublin, there aren’t many pubs without some manner of a paranormal resident. Don’t worry, though, BUCKiTDREAMER, most of the ghosts and ghouls you come across are will friendly!