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Ardgillan Castle – the ghost of the Lady’s Stairs

Nikola Petrovski
Vasiok1 CC-BY 2.0

It is believed that anyone who dares to cross the bridge called the Lady’s Stairsla during the midnight hours of Halloween dooms themselves to be killed by the hand of a woman ghost. This bridge stands at the borders of a property, the saga of which begins with a wine merchant by the name of Robert Usher.

It was he that, according to a number of historical documents, bought this property in 1658. And the land remained in possession of his family for decades, until 1737, when the property was purchased by Reverend Robert Taylor. When he became the owner of the land, the whole area was a mere woodland.

Taylor wanted some of the area to be cleared, and for this, he hired a couple of soldiers from Bangor, a large city in County Down. Robert gave the soldiers 1 penny per day, plus a meal and a bed. The soldiers were also given a little bit of Irish whiskey that came from a village in Northern Ireland known as Bushmills; Taylor paid 2 shillings and 2 pence per gallon for the whiskey.

Part of the kitchen. Author: Leslie Noelle Sullivan CC BY-SA 4.0

Part of the kitchen. Author: Leslie Noelle Sullivan CC BY-SA 4.0

One year later, Robert built himself a castle on this same property, a lavish mansion that faced Barnageera Beach and by extension, the Irish Sea. The house itself was two stories tall and also had a basement. The ground floor was where the living chambers were. The west wing, as well as the east, was the servants’ lodgings, and a number of offices were housed here as well. The basement, on the other hand, was where the kitchen was and part of it, like many other basements, was used as a storage.

Ardgillan castle different angle. Author: Mateus Almério CC BY 2.0

Ardgillan castle different angle. Author: Mateus Almério CC BY 2.0

The castle was used until 1962 when it was purchased by Heir Henrich Potts. The house changed hands once more in 1982 when it was purchased by Fingal County Council. The new owners made some renovations and in 1992 opened the castle to the general public. It was Mary Therese Winifred Robinson, the first female President of Ireland, who had the honor of doing so.

Ardgillan castle. Author: Vasiok1 CC BY 2.0

Ardgillan castle. Author: Vasiok1 CC BY 2.0

At the end of these lands lies the Belfast railway line, fairly close to the Irish Sea, over which looms the bridge of Lady’s Stairs. The legend about this bridge begins with a loving couple.

It was a love of the sea that put a tragic end to their story. One day the husband went out to swim and relax as he often did, but this time he never came back. His wife set out to look for him; she climbed onto the bridge over the railway get a better view of the sea but she never found him for he had drowned and his body drifted away.

ArdgillanCaste and green grass. Author: Shannon Kauffman CC BY-SA 4.0

ArdgillanCaste and green grass. Author: Shannon Kauffman CC BY-SA 4.0

The faithful wife stayed on top of the bridge waiting for her husband until the day that she died and became a ghost that to this very day still awaits her husband to return. According to a local story, the ghost will push anyone over the bridge to their death if they dare cross at midnight on Halloween.

A fountain and the glasshouse in the background. Author: Plamen Dragozov CC BY 2.0

A fountain and the glasshouse in the background. Author: Plamen Dragozov CC BY 2.0

The castle itself has a reputation for being haunted too. It is the ghost of the Reverend that still roams the hallways of this castle well after his death. Also, the ghost of Louisa Augusta Connolly is said to moan in and around the castle after she drowned at the private beach belonging to Ardgillan Castle.

The castle and some of the land. Author: Dirk Heitepriem CC BY 2.0

The castle and some of the land. Author: Dirk Heitepriem CC BY 2.0

“She has been seen on a very regular basis at the castle on a very regular basis by different people over the years, by people who lived here, by people who work here and she’s been seen during the day and during the night and especially around Halloween.” writes independent.ie in their article about this castle.

The Glasshouse. Author: Dietrich CC BY-SA 3.0

The Glasshouse. Author: Dietrich CC BY-SA 3.0

Today this place attracts a great number of tourists that come here to spend a lovely time in the glasshouse or in one of the tea rooms, or just to see for themselves if the rumors of ghostly spirits are true.