One foggy night in 1765, a dark stranger called to Loftus Hall.
Having lost his way on the Hook Peninsula, the stranger was invited to stay, and it wasn’t long before he was playing cards and making a passionate impression on a young lady, Anne Tottenham.
As the stakes grew higher, Anne dropped her cards onto the floor. Dipping down to recover her hand, she saw that the stranger bore a cloven hoof.
Unmasked, the devil bolted through the roof in a ball of fire, creating a hole said to resist repair to this day. And despite a later rebuild (not to mention an exorcism), there remained a hole in the ceiling when I visited on a wild day almost 250 years later. Here it is:
After years falling into dereliction, Wexford’s own Wuthering Heights has been bought by local man Aidan Quigley. “It’s not Disneyland,” he intoned, leading me past a magnificent oak staircase, the door through which it’s said the devil entered, and the drawing room where he was found out.
Now, every Halloween, Loftus Hall stages some seriously spooky house tours. Actors and interactive elements are all drafted in to scare the pants off visitors, but if you ask me, the house itself makes for a pretty haunting visit… even in broad daylight. Combined with the desolation of the Hook Peninsula, its exposed position, and the derelict interiors, the drawing room makes an indelible impression.
Halloween tours cost €12pp, but you can also take house tours at other times, before grabbing a snack or coffee at the new café, shop and courtyard. To my mind it’s a must-do on the peninsula at any time of year, and for visitors interested in history and architecture as much as the paranormal.
Once again, this haunted old shell is taking its place at the heart of the Hook.