Through the ages, Dublin's narrow lanes and cobbled streets have seen Viking violence, the plague, revolutions, and wars. These streets were home to Gothic novelist Bram Stoker, and the city is packed with macabre history, gruesome ghosts, and supernatural characters.
Get creeped out by the most unsettling paranormal experiences at the spookiest sites and the eeriest events in Ireland's capital.
Stop at the eerie St Michan’s Church
This 9th-century church has cold, dark vaults containing the mummified remains of a 400-year-old nun, an 800-year-old crusader, a body with severed hands and feet, and the death mask of Wolfe Tone, a famous Irish revolutionary. Be sure to make time for this unique, historical, and quietly eerie pitstop.
Feel chills down your spine at Malahide Castle
Malahide Castle, set in sprawling grounds, has an 800-year history, taking in battles and bloodshed. Little wonder then that some of the lovelorn and terrifying creatures continue to haunt the hallways and turrets such as Puck the court jester or the Lady in White. Lots of visitors have reported spine-tingling presences as they toured the building.
Have some paranormal with your pint at the Brazen Head
Dublin’s oldest pub, the Brazen Head is worthy of a visit even if you're not interested in the ghosts of its customers, Robert Emmet and his executioner. A famous Irish revolutionary who was hanged nearby in 1803, Emmet planned part of his rebellion inside the walls of the pub. He and his hangman often appear after last orders.
Wander the ruins of the infamous Hellfire Club
Dating from the 18th century, and built using stones from an old graveyard, this club for wealthy young gentlemen is considered Ireland’s most-haunted building. The scene of drinking, gambling, debauchery, torture, Satan-worshipping, and even murder, the Hellfire is synonymous with the occult in Ireland. The sheriff of Dublin, Simon Luttrell (linked to alleged serial killer Darkey Kelly) is said to have sold his soul to the devil here. The ruins on Montpelier Hill are well preserved and accessible by car, and the site additionally affords some of the best views of Dublin City and Bay. But, can you handle it in the dark?
Tour the unsettling Kilmainham Gaol
A barbaric jail for 130 years from its opening in 1796, Kilmainham Gaol is the site of numerous public hangings as well as the execution by firing squad of the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising. Throughout the restoration in the 1950s, many tales of the paranormal emerged and still to this day people report being pushed by unseen hands while lights turn themselves off and on at will. Learn about Irish history on a thought-provoking guided tour of this eerie prison.
Take a hellish ride on the Ghostbus
Tales from Dublin’s ghastly history abound on this highly entertaining and inventive theatrical Ghostbus Tour, complete with professional actors. Stops include a hidden city cemetery and a medieval vault at Dublin Castle. This tour offer a less-scary toned-down family-friendly version for ages seven to 14.
Experience the horrors of the Black Death on the Gravedigger Ghost Tour
Set in the time of the Black Death, this bus tour starts at the location of an old plague house, a home to people afflicted with the dreaded disease. It takes in Kilmainham Gaol, where you can meet the prisoner with the never-ending sentence, and many other lurid locations include the Gravediggers Pub. Complete with actors and storytellers, the bus itself is a moving house of horrors.
Brave the Haunted History Walking Tour of Dublin
This unique 90-minute walking tour features tales of Darkey Kelly, her connections to the Hellfire Club in the Dublin Mountains, and her gruesome death at the stake. It also visits the cobbled streets where the demonic Dolocher – a convicted prisoner with the appearance of a pig-like wild beast – roamed the streets. This tour finishes in Dublin’s "Hell", an area near Christchurch with an unsavoury history.
Be there and be scared at Dublin's best Halloween events
Time your visit just right for the best spooks and thrills at these only-in-Dublin celebrations of all that's unsettling.
Join the Macnas Halloween Parade
Macnas, a legendary and unique Irish interactive performing arts group, is named after the Irish word meaning joyful abandonment. As masters of storytelling and intrigue, they’ve toured with U2 and done shows with MTV. Based in Galway in the West of Ireland, each year the group brings its family-oriented Halloween Street Parade to Ireland’s capital city.
Celebrate the Gothic at Bram Stoker Festival
Born in Dublin in 1847 and suffering ill-health as a child, this Trinity College graduate gifted the world perhaps the most famous literary horror of all time – Dracula. Bram Stoker Festival takes place near Halloween each year in venues around Dublin and offers a playful yet Gothic glimpse into the Dublin of Stoker’s time, explores his influences, and sinks its fangs into the supernatural.
Plunge yourself into The Nightmare Realm
Positioned as a horror film that you walk-through, this immersive Halloween event takes you through a maze of rooms and is guaranteed to delve into your deepest nightmares. Go to hell with terrifying zones such as The Butcher Boys and The Church of the Damned.
What to read and watch before you go
Be armed and ready for the very best of Dublin's hair-raising horrors with these books and movies.
Dracula, Bram Stoker: Set between Transylvania and London, this classic gothic novel was birthed in Dublin and no experience of Dublin’s specters and spirits would be complete without first reading it.
The Cock and Anchor, Sheridan le Fanu: Set in Dublin in the turbulent mid-eighteenth century, this under-rated Gothic novel thriller features young lovers try a daring escape from villains in a haunted house.
The Eclipse (2009): This movie tells an eerie ghost story set in a fictional Irish seaside town when a visiting horror novelist strikes up a relationship with an Irish widower.
The Cured (2017): Somewhat prophetically positioned given the COVID-19 pandemic, this horror movie is set in a post-plague world. The outbreak of a virus has been mainly brought under control, but the sick are kept locked up while the cured are allowed to lead almost normal lives. It was filmed around north inner city Dublin.