On a stormy night in the 18th century, a stranger came knocking on the door of Ireland’s Loftus Hall. Since the property’s private shoreline was a common stopping point for sailors navigating turbulent weather, its residents—the Tottenham family—didn’t find the visit unusual.
The man stayed for several days, befriending the family and taking a particular shine to one of the owner’s daughters, Anne. One day, the Tottenhams gathered to play a game of cards with their guest. They were about to start a round when Anne realized she’d dropped either her ring or a card. When she leaned down to pick it up, she saw that the stranger had cloven hooves—a sure sign of a satanic spirit.
As Anne screamed with fright, the man escaped through the ceiling. A sudden clap of thunder sounded, and a cloud of smoke appeared, leaving the family surrounded by the smell of burning sulfur. Anne never recovered from the shock, and after her death, her restless spirit started wandering the house’s halls—or so the story goes.
Loftus Hall’s most recent owners, Shane and Aidan Quigley, purchased the home in 2011, completing serious structural renovations while retaining the home’s spooky character. They also started offering haunted tours and overnight programs.
The County Wexford estate made headlines in 2014, when visitor Thomas Beavis snapped a photo that some observers interpreted as two ghostly figures standing in a window, per Joanna Gillan of Ancient Origins. The following year, American TV show “Ghost Adventures” spotlighted the hall in a Halloween special.
According to Irish Central, the Marquis of Ely built the mansion seen today over the ruins of Redmond Hall, a 14th-century property purchased by the eponymous Loftus family during the 17th century.
Constructed between 1865 and 1875, the current building almost entirely replaced the one featured in the ghost story. Long after the stranger’s visit, renovations reportedly unearthed the remains of a young infant hidden in the walls of the tapestry room, where Anne was supposedly isolated after her brush with the devil. The discovery led some to speculate that the young woman was shut away after getting pregnant out of wedlock—perhaps due to a rendezvous with the mysterious stranger later cast as the devil in disguise, writes Linda Daly for Mansion Global.
During the 20th century, the 22-bedroom mansion served as a convent and a hotel. (Per the Sunday Times, author Eoin Colfer based the Artemis Fowl series’ Fowl Manor on Loftus Hall after working at the then-hotel as a teenager.) But by the time the Quigleys purchased the property in 2011, it was in a decidedly derelict state.
The family undertook extensive construction work, including repairing the roof and restoring the great hall’s Italian staircase and stained-glass skylight. Though they intentionally preserved certain historical features, like the house’s peeling wallpaper, they also added modern amenities such as a café and a reception area.
The 27,124-square-foot property’s next owner will have their work cut out for them: Replacing the building’s 97 windows alone could cost more than $400,000, Aiden Quigley tells the Irish Times’ Alanna Gallagher. Understandably, Aiden explains to the Times, he intends to sell Loftus Hall to someone who’s willing to put in the effort.
“I’m not just going to sell it to anyone,” he says. “I’ll be interviewing potential buyers. If a state body comes in, that’s an option. If an American owner wants to live here, I’d be keen to work with them to restore it.”