Ghost stories from Tullynally Castle

The Curse of the Pakenhams

Courtesy of Bartle D’Arcy

Tullynally Castle home to the Pakenham family dates back to the year 1655 and it has accumulated a multitude of ghosts over the centuries.

One of the earliest with reports recorded in the Tullynally archives dates from October 1739 is of what seems to be an entity or presence that can both manifest and occupy people.

…certain reports of excited and deranged accounts from the servants of an occurrence in Smyths Farm Cottage where a child fell into a stupor and items flew around the cottage on their own. Miss Gilseanan, Lady Elizabeth’s maid has sworn she was pinned to her bed by a force and that a dark face appeared at her window and this lasted for some time….”
Another entry details a visit by a group of Monks from the nearby Franciscan Abbey in Multyfarnham to “… calm down the servants and they engaged in blessings and the like, which seemed to work for a while…

Strange occurrences continued all over the estate during the 18th and early 19th Century and some pages have been removed. Thomas Pakenham the current owner has told me that there were several murders that took place during this time in the servants quarters and the pages would have been removed to prevent incrimination but he does feel that all the incidents could be related as he himself has often felt what he describes as an “insidious” presence in the Castle and has witnessed objects flying off shelves. He has remarked that there is a story about a family curse going back to Henry Pakenham the original owner who was a captain in Cromwell’s invading army. Whenever calamity befalls the Pakenhams the Curse of the Pakenhams is often mooted as the obvious cause.

In 1790 the Butler James Talbot seems to have taken a fancy to the 17 year old daughter of the 2nd Earl, known as Kitty which was a doomed romance from the start due to the class system. When the Earl discovered his Butlers intentions he made his way to the Butler’s room in the North Tower only to discover the heart broken Butler hanging from the staircase having taken his own life. The ghost of the heartbroken Butler is a regular apparition in Tullynally and nearly all of the present family have experienced him, usually when there are large family gatherings. A son in -law had the experience of some one handing him bottles of wine out of the wine cellar and when he went in to thank the person there was no body there. Kitty was always unlucky in love despite being described as “Lady Longford’s Lily” she famously married the Duke of Wellington which was an unhappy marriage and Kitty has been seen in her old bed chamber and also in the Library writing letters.

Kitty’s brother Edward Pakenham was killed in action at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815. His heart was cut out and planted under a pecan tree in New Orleans and on the anniversary of his death the tree is known to bleed red. A pecan tree grown from the original in 1965 on the Tullynally estate also bleeds red at the same time of the year. His body came home in a barrel of rum to preserve it and he was waked at the Castle. Some of his swords hang in the great hall and have been heard rattling late at night and on occasion have set off the alarm motion sensor.

The 5th Earl born 1864 had a twin brother who was born deformed and was hidden away in a basement nursery. Looked after by a retired maid called Agatha the child aged 5 who never even had a name was found dead outside the front door and the upstairs window was open. He would not have been able to make it from the basement nursery to the top of the West Tower on his own so suspicion fell on the nurse Agatha who also could not be found. In fact no trace was ever found of her and to this day it is believed that she was responsible for this foul murder. A sobbing Child has been heard in the basement on several occasions and a female face and figure dressed in black has been seen by visitors to the garden at the upstairs window in the West Tower. The 5th Earl was blown to smithereens by a Turkish Shell at Gallipoli in 1915.

A Victorian travelling circus came to Tullynally in 1879 and set up on the Castle terraces. Tragedy struck on the night of the first performance however as fire broke out in the Big Top and 3 Circus Clowns and 2 servant children lost their lives. The fire was deliberate and started by the head clown Garfield who was jealous of the younger clowns performance. He fled after the fire and despite a nationwide manhunt for him he couldn’t be found. In 1965 when the millpond was being drained for maintenance works a skeleton was found in the lower culvert still dressed in the remains of a clown costume. Since then over the years particularly around Hallowe’en time Garfield and his dead clown troupe have been sighted on the grounds but never inside the Castle.

The same ancient entity known as The Curse of the Pakenhams couldn’t possibly be responsible for all this and more. Could it?

Find out this Hallowe’en with Bartle D’Arcy at the The Tullynally Haunted Castle Tours 27th – 30th nightly. BOOK NOW!