The huge staircase of crumbling old Charleville Castle is reportedly visited by the ghost of a young girl named Harriet. The legend, passed down through generations of the local people in County Offaly, goes as follows: Harriet was the youngest daughter of the third Earl of Charleville. On April 8th, 1861, she was sent upstairs to wash her hands before eating. In a playful mood, the Earl's daughter thought it would be fun to make a grand entrance on her return down the stairs, by sliding down the balustrade. To the horror of her parents, Harriet's prank did not fare well, as she lost her grip and crashed to the hard floor, meeting an untimely end.
Visitors have felt the chill of her presence while climbing the stairs, and have seen her ghostly figure skipping past. Some people claim they have heard a small girl singing during the night, laughing, screams. Some people think they have caught her on their cameras as they can see shadows or mists on the pictures they took within the castle... Others have also said to have seen an image of a little girl with a blue and white dress, with golden curls with blue ribbons in the hair. Sometimes, she is seen in the company of a small boy.
Clues on the Bannister
After Harriet's unfortunate death, her grief-stricken parents had a railing erected on the banister. Now removed, notches are still visible all along the railing, indicating where the railing had been attached.
Staircase at Charleville Castle. Image by Matt McKnight.