Abandoned ireland


The Most Haunted House in Ireland,

County Dublin

A Ghost Story


This hideous tale is not suitable for those who are easily shocked, or for those who are of a nervous disposition.

Captain Tobias Black had been warned to avoid any damage to the ancient cairn which stood on his newly purchased Woodville* estate. The ignorant Captain Black, however, took an axe and swiftly cut down the May tree whose gnarled roots had pushed through the cairn’s stones over countless years.

Local labourers wanted nothing to do with the construction of the Captain’s new mansion so it was arranged that a team of workers and craftsmen would be dispatched from England. Perhaps as a sign of the sorry events which would later occur, their vessel was caught in the Great Storm of 1839 and all crew and passengers drowned.

Many months later, another group of workers eventually arrived at Woodville* and soon the cairn and the ancient tomb within it, were obliterated, making way for the mansion house to begin to take shape. The workers, however, never seemed to stay for more than a few months and construction was painfully slow. It was a little over a decade later that Woodville House* was finally complete. Just as the Great Famine was taking grip on the surround countryside, Captain Black moved in with his new bride, Elizabeth.

The Great Famine brought terrible hardship to his tenants. The Captain, however, ruthlessly enforced his collection of rent and anybody who could not pay was, promptly, evicted. More than a dozen times, groups of famished men and women with crying children were reduced to seeking refuge in hedges and under trees. Woodville House and its occupants became a focus for community hatred and it wasn’t long before the tenants formed a plan. A hag was brought from the country and employed to practise her foul arts and bring an end to Captain Tobias Black.

The first recorded deaths were Elizabeth and her unborn child; she apparently tripped on the staircase and broke her neck in the fall. The Captain took his own life three days later. His body was found swinging from a balcony, his head almost severed by his makeshift noose.

The Captain’s two brothers, Edward and Charles, arranged for the bodies to be interred into what would become the Woodville Graveyard, a few hundred metres west of the house, in a patch of land that overlooked the River Liffey.

Within six months both Edward and Charles had joined their brother in the graveyard; Edward killed by a fall from his horse and then Charles apparently suffering from heart failure. A relative inherited the estate, but wanted nothing to do with the house and arranged for it to be advertised to let in the national press. The advertisement ran for a number of months and eventually Mr Clement Scott signed a lease for the house, and took up residence with his wife Mabel, and their three daughters Alice, Elizabeth and Mary.

Elizabeth grew sick first, shortly followed by Alice and then their father. They were struck by vomiting then endless diarrhoea. Within days Elizabeth was dead. A doctor diagnosed cholera, suspecting that the well that supplied the house with drinking water was tainted by some kind of infection. He fought to save the lives of Alice and her father but by the end of the week they were also both dead. The grim bodies of all three members of the Scott family were interred in the graveyard behind the house. Mabel Scott and her only surviving daughter, Mary, fled to England, apparently saying that the house was cursed.

The Most Haunted House, 
Co. Dublin

The house was again advertised to let, but stories of the cursed Woodville House began to spread and there were no new tenants. The house was closed up and it was left for the grass, weeds and undergrowth to claim back for nature. It stayed like this for the next twenty years, falling into a gloomy state of abandonment. Tales of the curse were further propagated by frequent sightings of the ghastly spectre of the headless Captain Black. Sometimes he was seen riding his horse, as if patrolling his demesne, other times he stood on the road waiting beside the overgrown gateway that led to Woodville House. On one occasion, all six crew members of a barge travelling on the River Liffey witnessed the menacing apparition of the Captain and his two brothers standing on the river bank below the house. The three ghastly phantoms apparently pointed in turn at each member of the crew. On another occasion the path of two horse riders, who were crossing the Woodville estate, was blocked by the ghosts of Mr Scott and his two daughters.

In the early years of the twentieth century, Patrick O'Brien, his wife, Kate and their six year old son, James, became the last people to occupy Woodville House. On their third night inside the house, Patrick apparently strangled Kate in a fit of rage, then hung himself from the same balcony where Captain Black had taken his only life half a century earlier. The young James was found wandering on the road in a dazed state a few days later. Something had also apparently tried to strangle him, as indicated by the bruised marks of hands closing around his throat. James insisted that it was the headless Captain Black who had tried to end his earthly days. He was transferred to the Richmond District Lunatic Asylum, where he spent the rest of his life babbling about phantoms and demons.

Woodville House was never again occupied. The Land Commission took control of the estate, the land was divided amongst local farmers and the fields quickly ploughed up.

Nobody wanted anything to do with the house. It was abandoned and left to its ghosts.

* Name changed.

This article is the copyright of Tarquin Blake, Abandoned Ireland, and may not be reproduced in any form without permission.