The Emerald Isle of Ireland is undoubtedly a beautiful and historic place, filled with amazing cities, gorgeous landscapes, and a thriving culture that stretches back centuries. However, with that storied past come some bloody, spooky, and troubling interludes. So, what are the ten spookiest mysteries in Ireland? Let’s dive in and find out!
10 The Murder of William Desmond Taylor
The name of this Irish director might not be known to you now, but in his day, he was pretty well known. He became more famous still after his violent and mysterious murder. As most successful directors do, William Desmond Taylor moved to Los Angeles to continue his craft. Once there, he began a relationship with the comic actress Mabel Normand and was stalked by an obsessed former child star named Mary Miles Minter.
The women in his life suddenly became murder suspects as soon as he was shot to death in his LA bungalow. It was well known at the time that Normand had a drug problem and could’ve shot Taylor in a fury. Perhaps it was Minter or Minter’s mother, both of whom were near his home at the time. Finally, Taylor’s cook and valet, Henry Peavey, was also a suspect and died in an asylum from syphilis-induced dementia nine years later. All these people were involved to some extent, but the murderer was never found and never brought to justice.
9 The Vanishing Triangle
When we think of mysterious and spooky triangles, we normally think of the Illuminati or Bermuda—rarely do we think of Ireland. However, in the mid-1990s, around the Leinster area of Ireland, a series of women disappeared without a trace. When mapping this area, a triangle formed, and the media thus dubbed the area “the vanishing circle.”
In total, eight women—all of similar ages—went missing and were never found. One of the most disturbing things is that most of the women were taken in broad daylight! The leading theory was that a serial killer was operating in the area. Although this has never been confirmed, the disappearances did stop in 2001 when a rapist and attempted murderer was caught in the nearby Wicklow Mountains. That being said, the man never admitted to being involved in the other eight disappearances. The case remains unsolved.
8 Who Is Peter Bergmann?
Fake identities and mysterious drop-off points are both things we associate with spy movies, but not in Sligo in 2009. Coming into Sligo from Belfast, a man who gave the alias Peter Bergmann checked into a hotel and each day would wander the town with a plastic bag full of belongings, leave them in different places, and return to the hotel with an empty bag.
He then asked a taxi driver to take him to a place where he could swim, so they drove up to Rose Point, upon which Bergmann asked the driver to take him back to the hotel. The next day, people began to notice his weird behavior. He was in the cafe by the bus station reading scraps of paper, tearing them up, and disposing of them in different bins. He then got on a bus to Rose Point, and it was there that his body was found the next day. His clothes were strewn about the beach, and all identifying labels and objects were removed. So, who was Peter Bergmann really? We’ll likely never know.
7 Aer Lingus Flight 712
Few things are more concerning or bizarre than a missing plane or a mystery surrounding a plane crash. After all, how can something so big, with so many trackers, just disappear? Back in 1968, Aer Lingus Flight 712, going from Cork to London, crashed just off the coast. All 61 people onboard died, and the agencies looking into it were none the wiser.
Of course, plenty of things can bring a plane down, but there were conspiracies surrounding this plane’s demise. Rumors included a Welsh training missile misfiring and taking out the plane accidentally or a collision with a training flight by the French/Irish Air Corp. Neither was confirmed, but years later, a crew member of the HMS Penelope discovered that part of the plane wreckage was secretly removed and taken by the UK, further fanning the flames of a cover-up.
6 What Happened to Mary Boyle?
When a six-year-old goes missing, it always makes the news, and everyone sets out to find the kid in question. Back in 1977, on St Patrick’s Day, a young Mary Boyle was spending time with family at her grandparents’ house.
At one point, her uncle left to visit the neighbor’s house, about a third of a mile away (500 meters). The path was across a marshy area, and at some point, Mary decided to turn back to her grandparents’ house. She’s never been seen since, and this remains Ireland’s longest-running missing person’s case, with celebrities even lending a hand to try and find her.
5 The Tale of Joseph Michael Maloney
Murder, asylums, poison, and a mysterious escape, this next spooky tale has it all. A man of Irish descent from Rochester, New York, throws a joint fifth birthday party with his estranged wife. Suddenly, the wife dies of poisoning after drinking a spiked drink. The husband, Joseph Michael Maloney, pled insanity and went to an asylum.
Unbeknownst to the judge or prosecutors, Maloney used to work in the asylum and knew how to escape. Years later, in Dublin, the police were called to a burglary. They took the prints of a man called Michael O’Shea, who lived there, to eliminate his prints. When they ran the prints, they found a match to a case in the U.S. This was Maloney, who was now sought after by the FBI and Interpol, but there was no extradition between Ireland and the U.S. at the time. When it did become legal, a technicality meant Maloney/O’Shea wasn’t prosecuted. Even then, O’Shea insisted he wasn’t Maloney.
4 The Stranger at Loftus Hall
Moving onto the spooky folklore of Ireland, we have the tale of the stranger at Loftus Hall. Located on the Hook Peninsula in County Wexford, a ship sought out shelter from a storm, with the stranger coming up to the house and being greeted by Lord Tottenham.
The daughter of the lord, Anne, became quite taken with the stranger. They sat by the fire and played cards throughout the night. Anne dropped a card, and when she leaned down to pick it up, she saw that the stranger had cloven hooves. Traumatized, young Anne screamed. The devil disappeared through the ceiling in a plume of hellfire. Anne never recovered, and now Loftus Hall is one of the most haunted places in Ireland.
3 What Happened to Shergar?
While not exactly spooky, the mystery of Shergar is certainly intriguing. Shergar was an elite but retired racehorse that was worth around £10 million. In 1983, an armed group decided to storm the yard and steal the horse for ransom.
They asked the syndicate that owned Shergar for £2 million for the horse’s unscathed release, but the owners said no. Their logic was that if they paid up, it would open the door for more people seeking to make a quick buck. What happened to Shergar after that? No one knows. The gang didn’t claim to kill the horse, nor was the horse ever released. We still don’t know for sure who the gang even was.
2 The Monster of Glenade Lake
Many cultures have tales of terrifying beasts that lurk under the watery depths of the country’s lakes, and Ireland is no different. The legend of Dobhar Chu in Glenade Lake has been around for centuries. It’s alleged that Dobhar Chu is a giant water hound that looks like an otter and a dog but is the size of a crocodile. Feared by the locals, Dobhar Chu is as adept on land as underwater and has a mighty shriek.
In 1722, a woman named Grainne Ni Conalai was minding her business washing clothes in the lake when Dobhar Chu came for her. She screamed, and her husband came running, but he was too late. After stabbing the beast, its scream awoke a second Dobhar Chu, leading to an intense fight, which the husband won. That being said, sightings have been reported as recently as 2003…
1 The Vanishing Island at Ballycotton
People might go missing, but it’s unusual for an entire island to appear and disappear the next day. That’s the case with the vanishing island at Ballycotton. In 1878, the locals looked out from the beach and saw an island emerging out of the mist, with distinct features including mountains and valleys.
Excited, the fishermen headed out to explore, but the island disappeared. Was it an illusion? Was it the mystical island of Hy Brasil, as promised by St. Brendan the Navigator? If it is the latter, the human eye can only see the island for one day every seven years before it again disappears from view!