Acknowledged as one of the most haunted castles in Northern Ireland, Ballygally Castle is haunted by the Ballygally Castle Ghost Lady Isabella Shaw. The castle was built in 1625 on the serene coast of Antrim by Lord James Shaw and his wife, Lady Isabella Shaw, fostering a chilling history of 400 years.
Ballygally Castle Ghost Stories
The renowned theory or circulated stories proclaim that Lord James Shaw wanted a son and an heir, but Isabella birthed a daughter. Consequently, he snatched the baby and locked her in a room in the tower on the far side of the castle. Having no way out of her room, and in a desperate attempt to escape, she jumped from the window to escape and find her daughter, but unfortunately, she did not survive the fall. There is also a theory that she might not have jumped on her own accord but was pushed by one of Lord James’s many henchmen. However, one may never know the truth of it unless the castle walls speak for themselves.
There exists a room in the old castle side of the hotel, which is believed to have been where Isabella was locked, known today as the ‘Ghost Room.’ There are signs on the wooden staircase directing guests to the ‘Ghost Room.’ Inside the Ballygally Castle Ghost Room, her bed is still in its original place. The boards gracing the walls in the room recite the tragic story of the castle ghost and describe an instance where a BBC reporter had been staying overnight in the ‘Ghost Room’ along with a medium a few years earlier. However, the visit did not even last until morning as they could not tolerate the presence of Isabella in the room and ran downstairs to their hotel rooms.
Since the castle has been reformed as a hotel by the Hastings Group, many guests have wandered these halls in search of any instance or evidence which proves the existence of a spirit in the castle. Some have experienced the presence of the castle ghost, while some have blissfully ignored any possibilities. In many instances, the guests have reported strange experiences and have felt a presence in their rooms. There are many accounts of guests of unexplained noises in the night and an eerie glowing green mist over the castle yard. Moreover, they stated that there had been instances where someone knocked on their doors late at night and disappeared when the door was opened. The castle ghost has also made her presence known through sudden temperature changes odd smells. It is believed that it is Isabelle who is looking for her daughter.
Olga Henry, manager of the Ballygally castle in 2003, shared the experience of a guest staying whose room was right beneath the ‘Ghost room.’ The guest relayed that he woke up in the middle of the night, thinking he was still in his own home, and he sensed that one of his children had laid a hand on his back. He could also hear the sound of a child running in his room, laughing, though he did not see who it was but could hear it clearly. After realizing it, He wildly ran out of his room in fear.
Another incident which she spoke about also took place in the year 2003. Ogla had set up the dungeon’s room in the turret, anticipating some guests who had ordered the table for a meal. After a while, when she returned to check up on the room, she witnessed napkins were unfolded, glasses with odd scum around them had been reorganized in a circle on the table.
The Restaurant Manager Norma, who has worked in the hotel for 23 years, had revealed to a guest staying at the hotel that once two nuns were staying at Ballygally Castle, precisely at 3 am; the nuns hurried downstairs to the reception in panic. They claimed that they had felt a presence in their room, and the Bible had slid from the table, fell on the floor, and opened the very same chapter the nuns were reading earlier that evening.
Norma had revealed another incident to the guest that had occurred on Christmas when the hotel was already closed to guests. The whole staff gathered around the fireplace in the lounge for a festive drink and to celebrate the holy day. Everyone was huddled up together, and then suddenly they heard footsteps from the reception even though all of the staff were in the lounge. She recalled that The whole hallway was echoing, and in a fleeting moment, the glasses on the table started sliding from the table. Two of the glasses even smashed on the floor. She has also claimed that in the Garden Restaurant, often after the guests have left, the cutlery suddenly starts spinning on the tables, even when no one is near them. She has also claimed that the castle ghost is ‘friendly’ and can coexist with the staff and guests while sometimes causing you sleepless nights.
Mediums who have spent the night in the castle have claimed that the Ballygally castle hotel is haunted by many ghosts apart from Isabella. Also, it came to notice to the medium that there were more ghosts than guests residing at the hotel. Even though the Ballygally Castle Ghost has been recounted as ‘friendly’ and the pride of the castle by Scott Weatherup, General Manager of Ballygally Castle, can one discount the bizarre experiences of the many guests who have stated otherwise? Would you dare to spend the night in the ‘Ghost Room’ to experience the horror and put truth to the stories?