The Blennerhassett family had lived on the Ballyseede Castle Estate of 30 acres since 1590. The main castle was built in 1721, being extended in the later years of the 1700s, all the time remaining within the family ownership up to the death of Hilda Blennerhassett in 1965.
The ghostly legend of Ballyseede Castle is deeply interwoven with the story of the rose. In the 1500s, the castle ownership lay with Sir Edward Denny who rented the property to the Blennerhassetts, before they built their home on the site. The legend describes that on the feast day of John the Baptist, Midsummers day on the 21st June, the payment of a single red rose would be exchanged as a ground rent for the castle. The castle was known for its rose collection, producing large heady scented blooms from its rich dark soil.
A lot of people independently say that at different times of the year, on the main staircase, they get a very strong smell of roses, even though no roses are present.
The scent is an eerie aromatic announcement that precedes the appearance of the ghost of Hilda Blennerhassett herself. She is mostly seen roaming around the upper floor bedrooms of the castle and the main staircase. She appears outside our world, an occasional visitor who doesn’t interact with those she chooses to meet. A fleeting glance in the corner of an eye, once she has made her presence known, she fades away.
Old patrons who frequent the hotel bar recount memories of their childhoods robbing apples from the castle orchard. They recall catching glimpses of an old woman in a black Victorian dress seen at the upper windows. When she passed away, she was found still wearing the long black dress but it was very tattered and worn threadbare with age. The rose beds may have gone but the presence of Hilda’s ghost still roams the castle, the last of the Blennerhassett family line.
Guests have also reported seeing and hearing the spirits of children dressed in period clothing. Possibly victims of the Irish Famine of the mid-19th Century, these unfortunate and somewhat solemn spirits are seen only within the castle itself.
Again, like Hilda, they frequent the main staircase on the upper levels but can also allegedly be seen in the bedrooms. The belief is that these children are as little people labouring. Never at play, these wanting spirits may have served within the castle as house children, working in the kitchens, carrying goods to the upper rooms and seeing to the fireplaces.
They bear no connection to sightings of Hilda but it’s interesting to wonder if she ever experienced them when she lived alone in the castle?
Although no-one has ever experienced a kind of negative or upsetting experience in the castle, the castles proprietors Marnie & Rory, did encounter what could be described as a poltergeist, or ‘noisy ghost’.
The hotel closes between January and March each year for decoration purposes and any alterations that need to be carried out on the property. During one such closure, their family had moved into the hotel as their own house was also being renovated. Over the winter period, with the front gate locked, they were the soul occupants of the castle.
The unexplained noise occurred at around 4am. Awoken into the pitch darkness of his bedroom, Rory heard a bedroom door being slammed, but as he recalls “almost slammed in anger”. The shock of being awoken was then followed by what seemed to be of a more immediate danger as “a physical running down the stairs”. Whoever it was, was large in stature and heavyset, bounding out each flight of stairs, from the top of the castle to the front door.
His initial thought was that they were being robbed and he began to search the castle, expecting damage or some evidence of a disturbance. The front door still locked had not let anyone out or in. A contrasting stillness hung on the staircase.
Are there ghosts at Ballyseede Castle? Who knows, how much you believe is up to yourself!