Front Exterior of Loftus Hall

Loftus Hall: The Most Haunted House in Ireland

In Irish Mythology, Places to See in Ireland by Leslie O'Malley1 Comment

On a tiny spit of land known as the Hook Peninsula in County Wexford, Ireland, is Loftus Hall, formerly known as Redmond Hall.  Loftus Hall is widely known as the most haunted house in Ireland and has been featured on both the Irish TV show Ghost Hunters and the American TV show Ghost Adventures, as well as being the subject of the documentary film The Legend of Loftus Hall.  Loftus Hall was also the shooting location for the upcoming film, The Lodgers starring David Bradley and Eugene Simon of Game of Thrones fame.  Though it seems awfully ambitious for a house with only one ghost story to its name to call itself the most haunted house in Ireland, Loftus Hall’s ghost story involves the devil himself.

In 1170, Raymond Le Gros accompanied Richard de Clare, the 2nd Earl of Pembroke, to Ireland.  Le Gros acquired title to lands in County Wexford and built The Hall at Houseland near Portersgate.  During the Black Death plague in 1350, the family replaced this castle with a newer one further down the peninsula.   Thereafter it was referred to as Redmond Hall or simply “The Hall”.

In 1641, the Irish Confederate Wars broke out and by 1642 the fighting had made its way to County Wexford.  This made Redmond Hall vulnerable to the English forces garrisoned at Duncannon.   Rumor had it that the owner of the Hall, Alexander Redmond, was known to be sympathetic to the Irish Rebels.  English Captain Thomas Aston believed Redmond Hall could be easily taken, so on July 20, 1642, he set sail with 90 men and two small cannons, and landed near the Hall.  There were only ten abled bodies on site to defend the Hall: Alexander, his sons Robert and Michael, two men at arms, a few tenants and an itinerant tailor who happened to be at Redmond Hall.

Fortunately for the Hall defenders, the cannons were too small to breach the main door, which led to half of Aston’s forces abandoned him to pillage the countryside.  This allowed the Redmonds and their company to hold off the English until Rebel help arrived from nearby Shielbaggan.  About one-third of the English force escaped and made their way back to the fort.  Meanwhile Captain Aston and many others were killed during the skirmish while several others were taken as prisoners and hanged the next day.

Alexander had to defend Redmond Hall a few more times against Cromwell’s forces in the late 1640’s, but he was able to broker a deal allowing the family to stay in Redmond Hall for as long as he survived.  Upon Alexander’s death around 1650, the family was evicted and allowed to retain only one-third of their original holdings in County Wexford.

The Loftus family were English planters who arrived in the neighborhood around 1590.  Nicholas Loftus acquired Fethard-on-Sea in 1634 and soon after acquired the Hall and made it his family castle.   After such bloody battles to hold the Hall and such a cruel eviction, it seemed strange that the Loftus family was unmolested by any angry or vindictive spirits for the next 100 years.  But when trouble came, it struck with a vengeance.

In the mid-18th century, most likely about 1765 or 1766, the Tottenham family came to stay at the Hall as caretakers while the Loftus family was away on business.  The family consisted of Charles Tottenham, his second wife and a daughter from his first marriage, Anne Tottenham.  According to legend, a frightful storm blew up one night and forced a mysterious young man to land his boat near the Hall and seek shelter from the storm.  The young man and Anne were quite taken with each other so the man decided to stay a few days, a decision aided by the relentless weather.

One night, the family and the young man were playing cards.  Everyone’s hand had been dealt, but Anne had one fewer card than the others at the table.  Thinking that she had dropped one of her cards, Anne bent down to search for it.  As she did so, she happened to glance at the young man’s legs under the table.

She saw a cloven foot.

Anne leapt to her feet, screamed, and according to some accounts, accused the young man of having a cloven foot.  The young man rose from the table and flew through the ceiling, never to be seen again.  The hole he left could never be properly repaired, and even today, there is allegedly one section of the ceiling that looks different from the rest.

Anne was left insensate by terror and, apparently, a broken heart.  She fainted, and when she awoke, was addled.  The family locked her away in the Tapestry Room, her favorite room in the house, where she could be comfortable (and hopefully comforted), but out of sight.  Various reports stated that Anne never spoke another word until she died some years later.

Meanwhile, the devil returned to terrorize the family with persistent, and escalating, poltergeist activity.  The family, which was Protestant, eventually became desperate enough to call upon a tenant who was also a Catholic priest, Father Thomas Broaders, to exorcise the devil.  Upon his death in 1773, Broaders’s tombstone was inscribed with the epitaph “Here lies the body of Thomas Broaders, who did good and prayed for us all.  And banished the devil from Loftus Hall.”

But driving off the devil was not enough to end the ghostly activity at Loftus Hall.  The ghost of a young woman, believed to be Anne Tottenham, reportedly made frequent appearances at the Hall—appearances which continue to this day.  It is apparently Anne’s ghost seen in the 2014 tourist photo taken that created such a stir at the time.

Despite such an unnerving encounter with evil, the Loftus family continued to prosper.  They rose in the peerage, eventually acquiring the title Marquess of Ely in 1800.  The fourth Marquess of Ely, John Henry Wellington Graham Loftus, demolished Redmond Hall around 1870 and used the existing foundation to build Loftus Hall, a three-story non-basement mansion that still stands today.

Today Loftus Hall is owned by the Quigley family from Carrig on Bannow and is open to visitors.  There is a 45-minute interactive tour, an adult night tour, paranormal lock-ins and numerous Halloween special events.

Comments

  1. Norma

    It’s such a shame that they have let this house go to ruin its really a criminal act why hasn’t the houses got protection on them surely it must be at least a grade one

Leave a Comment