Horror Hotspots

hh1With Halloween just around the corner I decided to take a bike ride around the local area to find out where our top horror hotspots are.

First stop Misery Hill, Grand Canal Quay. In the 1500s, Misery Hill was home to a set of gallows where thieves and pirates would meet a sudden end. A large sign displayed on a wall reads: ‘After a public execution, the corpses were left hanging in chains, often for a period of six to eight months as a warning to other criminals.’

Public executions in this area were a common practice well into the 1800s, and it is said two of Republican Robert Emmet’s men were hanged here. In David Wheatley’s book ‘Misery Hill’ (2000), the author uses poetry to encapsulate the area. ‘A name on a map but even at that / more solid than so many other ghosts / I have stalked in our snap-together capital / of forgetfulness.’ Wheatley’s poems bring life to the area that, even after the refurbishment, still reeks of ghostly occurrences.

A close neighbour to Misery Hill is Blood Stoney Road which stands as a barrier between new Ireland and the one gone by. Named after one of Dublin’s most famous civil engineers Bindon Blood Stoney, the street has become famous for its ghoulish sights and strange stories. It is said that the headless bodies of victims from Misery Hill would come back down through the Blood Stoney Road leaving a trail of blood behind. Creepy!

The Malt House also at Grand Canal Quay is a far cry from where it was when it was used as a shipping dock. Now, media companies have taken over and helped banish its old roots, but not the ghosts apparently. Inside the Malt House a local radio station deals with a grey lady who haunts the halls. On a variety of occasions – and from first hand experience – you would often get that feeling that there was something present or you were being watched. It is said that ghostly sailors, who met a sudden end in the nearby docks, haunt the whole complex. The hairs on the back of my neck stood to attention so I hopped back on my bike and quickly moved on.

Back down at the end of Thorncastle Street in Ringsend an old dog food factory used to introduce some delightful leftovers into the nearby water. One NewsFour reader regales me with this story from when he was a kid, “I would go for a swim in the nearby dock. On one occasion, I remember it was during summer, a good friend of mine (I won’t mention his name!) got drenched in a flood of maggots and slime.” This was a result of sludge expelled from the factory during the food-making process. “Open-topped vans were a regular sight in the area carrying severed animal heads and other ghastly animal body parts. The smell was vile.”

The area continues to have a number of ghostly stories that have become local folklore such as the haunting of the nearby Regal Cinema, although this particular NewsFour reader said, “There was more action on the seats than on the screen,” referring to their infestation by fleas!

My final destination was the East Pier near the East Link Bridge. In ‘Ghosts of Old Dublin’ (1975) author Patrick F. Byrne describes in detail the story of Captain McNeill and the phantom dog. In 1861, McNeill’s ship was attempting to dock in the nearby harbour but ‘one of the worst gales ever reported sprung up in the Irish Sea,’ relates Byrne.

The storm had swept one boat, ‘The Neptune’, into the nearby rocks of the East Pier. In an attempt to save the ship, Captain McNeill was killed by a large wave and his boat was destroyed. The captain’s dog joined the search for the body and lay next to the coffin as the body lay in state in the Cathedral, and later followed it to the gravesite. ‘When the grave was filled in it lay on top and refused to leave, eventually dying of hunger,’ continues Byrne. Since then a figure of a black dog has been seen at the gravesite.

Well, needless to say I couldn’t pedal home quick enough after the day’s eerie events.

By Liam Cahill