Thursday 22 March 2018

Ireland's most haunted house opens for 'paranormal lockdowns'

Loftus Hall: 666 years a' scaring

Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

Strike up a conversation about haunted houses in Ireland, and it's never long before Loftus Hall is mentioned.

Standing like a spectral shell on Wexford's Hook Peninsula, the building has put the shivers up passers-by in one shape or another since 1350.

This year, it's celebrating its 666th anniversary.

The opening of a visitor centre in June, new tours and a walled garden restoration have taken place, but all pale in comparison to plans for Halloween.

Along with day and night tours, Loftus Hall is gearing up to host a number of 'paranormal lockdowns' that see guests stay on site from 8.30pm to 3.30am.

A paranormal investigation by Irish Ghost Hunters (see trailer, above) sheds petrifying light on what happens in the building after dark.

Loftus Hall, Co. Wexford
Loftus Hall, Co. Wexford
Loftus Hall, Co. Wexford. Photo: Aidan Quigley/Fáilte Ireland
Loftus Hall at Halloween.
Grand stairway in Loftus Hall
Pictured is Aidan Quigley, proprietor of Loftus Hall and Mrs Bennett. Picture: Patrick Browne

"The atmosphere of the place is very strange," says David Tiernan, who directed the programme (it airs on 3e this Monday, October 31, at 10pm).

"Once you leave the airy modern visitor centre and step into the old house, there's a sharp, tonal change.... Weird things start to happen."

"There was one moment in particular where our thermal imager found something that certainly shouldn't have been there... whether someone had been in the room we were in, or was still in the room. The entire team was glued to each other."

Loftus Hall's most famous visitor knocked on the door in 1765.

On a foggy night, as the legend goes, a dark stranger called to the mansion, joining a game of cards with then-owners, the Tottenhams. As the stakes grew higher, cards fell from the table, and the stranger was seen to have a cloven hoof.

Unmasked as the devil, he bolted through the roof.

The photograph taken at Loftus Hall by English visitor Thomas Beavis, showing what is believed to be a ghostly apparition at the right-hand side
The photograph taken at Loftus Hall by English visitor Thomas Beavis, showing what is believed to be a ghostly apparition at the right-hand side

Other ghost stories abound about Anne Tottenham, who witnessed the events of that fateful night, and an exorcism later performed in the building.

Restored as a visitor attraction since its purchase by the Quigley family in 2011, the Hall continues to spark horror stories on the Hook.

In 2014, it made headlines when tourist Thomas Beavis, 21, snapped what appeared to be a ghostly apparition (above) in a window of the Hall.

Today, visitors can take house tours (€13/€10), while adult night tours (€16) and themed tours for families (€13/€10) are available over Halloween and mid-term.

Paranormal Lockdowns (€66pp) hosted by Paranormal Researchers Ireland (PRI) have sold out over Halloween, but availability remains on November 26th.

NB: All prices and dates subject to availability.

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