My Spooky Irish Adventure


Jake and Damien return to Ireland...by dolphin!

Jake and Damien return to Ireland…by dolphin!

Ever since I was a kid, I have been enamored of all things spooky – creepy houses, ghost stories, twisted tales, eerie sounds in the woods. If it sent a shiver up my spine and made my hair stand on end, then I liked it.

These spooky things made my mind reel with imagery and ideas and, as a result, my first short stories were born of them. A cabin in the woods had a disturbed past, a little girl standing on a path near a farm involved a macabre tale. Everything was subject to my dark imagination. In hindsight, I probably should have been sent to a psychologist.

The first time I visited Ireland, I fell in love immediately. Around every bend in the countryside there is another misty view of a castle, a green patch growing through a burned out cottage, or a farm on a distant hill. In every tiny hamlet there’s a Celtic cemetery, a 200-year-old pub, or some Druid ruins. Ireland is the place where your dark imagination is meant to run free.

Adding to this, there is also the dark folklore, mythology, and legend which mark Ireland’s character and history. There are stories of Druid sacrifice and generations of mysterious lore. There are creatures dwelling in woods and streams – banshees, leprechauns, a thing called ‘It’ at Leap Castle. In addition to – and possibly inspired by – the surroundings and legends, Irish writers have produced some of the great works of horror. Sheridan LaFenu, Bram Stoker, and William Hope Hodgson were Irish. Dracula and Uncle Silas came from the dark Irish imagination.

This summer, I will do what I have wanted to do for a long time – drive around Ireland in search of some of its haunted spots. I will be joined on this adventure by Jake Kepple. If you’re not sure if you know Jake, then you don’t know Jake. He is Jake. He is a former rugger and airborne ranger, he is a cynic extraordinaire, beer enthusiast and whiskey lover, and a man who can be found at most times of day with his nose buried in a book.

Though we have slated one or two stops, our trip is largely without an itinerary. There are hundreds of places in Ireland which have famous reputations for being haunted, the most perfunctory of Google searches will prove that. However, we are largely trying to avoid the well-known places in lieu of more off-the-beaten track locales. We are hoping to find these by talking to people in towns and pubs.

The last time we were in Ireland we were blown away by the friendliness, openness, and generosity of the Irish. They would engage us in bars, come to our table and tell us stories about the local history. People would stop in their cars and ask if we needed directions (we looked lost, and yes we did). An inn owner in a miniscule hamlet gave us a back room for half price so we could stay and watch the band play that night.

This trip starts and ends in Dublin, but otherwise we don’t know where we’re going to be. It really depends on what people recommend seeing and on our whim. We have 13 days, a rental car, and a taste for adventure (and beer). I am sure there will be a few walks among Druid altars, decrepit castles, and a burned out cottage or two. And hopefully there will be a few eerie and interesting experiences to report afterwards.

But as long as there is a good pub or two, I am sure we’ll be fine.

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