666 years of haunting at Loftus Hall

by david looby

Published 12/03/2016 | 00:00

Horror and history at Ireland's most haunted house where six events are taking place this year to mark its 666th anniversary.
Horror and history at Ireland's most haunted house where six events are taking place this year to mark its 666th anniversary.

IRELAND'S most haunted house, Loftus Hall, on the remote Hook Peninsula, is 666 years in existence this year and its owners have devised six major events to mark the spooky anniversary.

At a launch at Loftus Hall on Tuesday, the hall's owner Aidan Quigley revealed plans for a new interactive visitor centre which will open to the public on June 6, bringing the hall's bloodcurdling history to life in living colour. The new centre will give visitors the opportunity to discover more about the fascinating heritage of Loftus Hall. A historical timeline will chart key moments in the hall's history, such as the invasion by Norman knight Raymond Le Gros, the Redmonds' Cromwellian battle and the 4th Marquess of Ely's extensive renovations in anticipation of a visit by Queen Victoria.

An incremental restorative walled garden project launch will take place between March 19 and April 3. An historical House Tour launch runs from April 30 to May 2. Loftus Hall's birthday celebrations take place on the weekend of July 16 and July 17, The Raymond Le Gros Norman Festival takes place on the weekend of September 3 and September 4, and Halloween at the Hall runs from October 21 to November 6.

Nestled on the Hook Peninsula, on 60 acres of barren and austere surroundings, the 22 bedroom period mansion's heritage dates back 666 years. The hall, with its crepuscular interior, has been the setting of many battles and much bloodshed over the centuries.

Built over the remains of Redmond Hall, and home of the Redmond family since around 1350, in 1666 it became the home of the Loftus family and was renamed Loftus Hall.

The ghostly tours are based on the story of Anne Tottenham and a mysterious visitor to the house in the 18th century. During a card game, Tottenham is said to have looked down only to see hooves where the man's feet should have been. The devil went 'through the roof', leaving a hole in the ceiling which is visible to this day, and left young Anne Tottenham in a state of terror.

She was put into a room known as the Tapestry Room to rest, and it is here that she stayed completely silent until her death in 1775.

Mr Quigley and his family purchased the hall in 2011 and ever since have been working on reviving and consolidating it as a unique tourist destination. Mr Quigley said: 'We didn't have a blank canvas, as such, to work with when we purchased Loftus Hall, as it came with over 600 years of history, intrigue and some rather unexplained spectral phenomenon. However, we were determined to make the hall's 666th year rather special with a broad appeal to people of all ages and interests.'

While Loftus Hall is synonymous with its hugely successful house tours and paranormal investigation lockdowns, Mr Quigley is determined to showcase other elements of the hall.

'The gardens and grounds of the hall are hugely significant. In the 17th century Henry Loftus took great care in enclosing the gardens to preserve newly planted fruit trees with high stone walls. We plan to progressively restore the five-acre garden in the spirit of the period and aim to plant trees, flowers and shrubs which would have been available to Henry Loftus in the 17th century. Fortunately, the walls are in a reasonable state of repair and some of the original garden ornaments remain on the property.'

Mr Quigley, who is currently in his final year of a Conservation and Restoration Diploma, is focused on broadening the historical appeal of the area and is working closely with Wexford County Council, The Three Sisters Bid Team and Failte Ireland's Ireland's Ancient East initiative to showcase the culture and appeal of Wexford.

'Wexford has a rich and varied offering. It's coastal and rugged, lush and beautiful, historical and contemporary. By working together with local authorities, tourism providers and neighbouring counties, Wexford and the south east has the potential to become the go-to tourist destination for national and overseas visitors.

If we, collectively, can offer an experience that is unique, exciting, fresh and appealing, the region is destined to flourish.'

To find out more about Loftus Hall and its 666th Anniversary events visit www.loftushall.ie or call 051 397728.

Wexford People

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