Beware! This story is not for the faint of heart!
The Night the Devil came to dinner at Castletown
Tom Conolly of Castletown had the first pack of hunting hounds ever kept in Ireland. He had stables at Castletown and also on the Curragh and was known as ‘Squire’ Conolly. After a hunt, there was always a lavish hunt dinner and Tom’s hunt dinners were legendary.
One day on a hunt, they were approached by a stranger. He was dressed all in black and rode a large black horse. He wore a hood, but Tom could see thick dark hair protruding from his nose and ears. He asked to join in the hunt and Tom, who was a hospitable man, agreed. After the hunt, they all returned to Castletown for a post hunt dinner. They enjoyed seven courses, all prepared in the Kitchen wing and carried through the sweeping colonnade to the Dining Room. After dinner, they set to playing a game of cards. During the game, Tom got a feeling that something wasn’t quite right. The stranger was winning every hand. Tom was convinced the stranger was hiding cards under the table and bent down to check. When he looked under the table, he saw that the stranger had kicked off his boots and revealed the cloven hoofs of the devil! Tom jumped up from his seat, pointed at the man and roared ‘You’re the devil! You are not welcome here. Leave immediately!’
The devil just smiled, he sat back in his chair and said ‘I’m quite happy here. There is good food, good wine and I have no intention of leaving.’
Tom shouted to a servant girl who stood quivering in fear in the corner to run to the village and fetch Father Mulcahy. She took off running as fast as she could and in no time returned with the local priest. Fr. Mulcahy stormed into the Dining Room holding a bible in one hand and a crucifix in the other. He roared at the devil to leave immediately and the devil again smiled and refused to go. In a rage, the priest raised the bible in his right hand and threw it at the devil’s head. It bounced off his head and hit the mirror behind him. The crack in the mirror remains to this day.
The devil decided he would leave, and he disappeared up the chimney in a puff of smoke, cracking the hearthstone as he went and despite numerous repairs over the years, the crack keeps re appearing in the same place!