Newbridge man reveals Maynooth’s ghostly past

THEY don’t tell you this on the course application form, because if they did students in Maynooth might have more to worry about than examinations.

THEY don’t tell you this on the course application form, because if they did students in Maynooth might have more to worry about than examinations.

When ghost writer and Newbridge native Joe Byrne is finished, Maynooth’s haunted past may leave some worrying about more than exam grades.

The former Cultural Affairs and Irish Language officer in NUIM Student Union, now a postgraduate chemistry student in Trinity, is collaborating with Erin Barclay from Richmond, Virginia, USA, to produce a book of all the ghost stories relating to the college.

Last Thursday, 25 October, as Halloween approached, they launched the publication in the darkness of night and followed it with a walking ghost tour.

“The book retails for E8 as an e-book. It is not in the real world yet although I am talking to the Maynooth book shop about that,” said Joe, from Moorefield Drive, an NUIM chemistry graduate.

“It’s based on stories I collected for a tour when I was Cultural Affairs Officer in the Students Union. In previous years the tours attracted great interest with up to a hundred students taking part.”

Not everyone believes in ghosts, but for those who do, the book contains plenty to raise the hairs on one’s head, should one have hairs.

These include the tale of the notorious ‘Blood Room’ in Rhetoric House, and tales associated with Maynooth’s haunted theatre, the Aula Maxima and the Fitzgerald castle near the University’s south gates.

“The ancient campuses shared by NUI Maynooth and St Patrick’s College have accumulated a wonderful array of stories used as tools to scare younger students,” said Joe, who collected them through a series of interviews, lengthy research and a spirit of inquisitiveness.

The result has been a guided tour of Maynooth’s College under cover of darkness to the sites of the various tales.

The book is based on a walking tour which took place “on a dark and gloomy night” in October 2009.

Joe said the project evolved from a curiosity about the various ghost stories students are told on first arriving in Maynooth and a desire to place these stories in some kind of historical and geographical context.

“Once collected together, it seemed appropriate to share them with as many people as possible, in order to introduce students to parts of the campus they’d never seen before and elements of its history they might know nothing about,” he said.

“Halloween is an interesting time of year and people are always interested in something a bit different, as has been evidenced by the hundred of students who have attended the tours in recent years.”

He said college staff and authorities were always very helpful in facilitating these tours.

A Walking Tour of the Ghost Stories of Maynooth College, by Joe Byrne and Erin Barclay can be purchased via both and for E8. 

Maynooth Students’ Union and Cuallacht na Gaeilge hosted a reception in Seomra na Gaeilge in the Arts Building at NUI Maynooth last Thursday to celebrate the launch of the book.

- Henry Bauress