Tom Connolly and the Devil at Castletown



The ghost of a gentleman in a long grey coat was seen walking down a staircase, ten years before a staircase was ever built. This ghost is a permanent souvenir of his visit to Castletown, Celbridge, Co. Kildare.

This strange visitor first came in 1767. The owner of the mansion then was Thomas Connolly, nephew of the Speaker of the House of Commons. He had spent the day hunting with the local pack and he was returning home alone at dusk when he was joined by another rider. He did not recognise this man but assumed that he was part of the hunt that day. Connolly, always a ready and hospitable host invited the man back to Castletown where the rest of the hunt would be, rounding off their day of sport. The stranger accepted the invite and the two of them then rode on to Castletown House. Later, after availing of Connolly's liberal hospitality, the stranger fell asleep on a chair. Thinking that his guest would be more comfortable if his boots were removed, he instructed his servant to do so. To the horror of all gathered, on removing the strangers boot, a cloven foot was revealed. The stranger then jumped up, looked around at all the occupants in the room and laughed at them. A priest that was present threw a book at him. The book passed through him, and smashed against the mirror over the fireplace breaking it into a hundred fragments. Still screaming, the stranger was suddenly surrounded by a burst of vivid yellow flame. Then, the flame and the stranger vanished. Connolly and his guests discovered a crack in the floor where the stranger had stood crack that is still there to this day.

The second occurrence of the man in the long grey coat was experienced by Connolly?s widow who survived him by many years. She saw this strange spectre on the top gallery laughing mockingly. The figure then moved following the descent of the grand staircase, which at the time had not been built. When it was built ten years later, its position corresponded to the apparitions movements.

It is perhaps mere coincidence, that this legend of demoniac manifestation is attached to a house built by man who was also the owner of the Hell Fire Club.


There was a man who lived in Castletown House who was a very bad and wicked man.

One morning as he was mounting his horse to go hunting he said he would ride against the devil or get the foxes brush. As he left his house he was saluted by a gentleman who then proceeded to accompany him.

Connolly had a powerful horse, but when he caught and killed the fox the stranger was still by his side. Connolly than invited the stranger to dinner. After dinner they played some cards, and the stranger won every game. A card fell on the floor and when Connolly reached down to pick it up he saw that the stranger had hooves instead of feet. Immediately he summoned all his servants to try and get him out of the house, but they all failed. He then sent for a clergyman, but the devil just laughed at him. All the animals were breaking loose, and running madly around the grounds outside. The Parish Priest was then called to the house, and he prayed there for a long time, until the devil finally disappeared, through a stone in the fireplace, leaving behind a crack in it. The Parish Priest, Fr. Kenny, only lived for nine more months.

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