Just on the outskirts of Dublin lies the historic university town of Maynooth. It is the home of Ireland’s main Roman Catholic seminary, St Patrick’s College, which has been churning out priests since 1795.
One particular room in the college has been associated with demonic apparitions, suicide and paranormal activity for over 150 years.
In the mid 19th century in Room Two of Rhetoric House, two young seminarists took their own lives, nineteen years apart, and the room has been the source of many tales ever since.
Rhetoric House in the South Campus, built in 1834, was formerly a residential house for trainee priests. It now hosts the Department of History.
On 1 March 1841, a young student from Limerick by the name of Sean O’Grady (b. 1820) jumped out of room and fell to his death. (1) It is not known as to what possessed O’Grady to do such a thing but the common legend suggests that a ‘diabolic presence‘ had something to do with it.
Nineteen years later student Thomas McGinn (b. 16 June 1833) from Kilmore, Co. Wexford came up to college in a week early to take his matriculation tests. (2) During this time he stayed in Room No. 2. When term began, he was moved to a different room and was subsequently told that he had spent a week in a room where a previous student had killed himself. It preyed on his mind night and day. On a Friday morning after mass, McGinn went into Room No. 2 cut himself with a razor and then threw himself out of the window.
Dr. McCarthy, the former Vice-President of the college, visited him in the infirmary before he succumbed to his injuries. Apparently he gave them an account of the demonic occurrences that happened in the room that led to his actions. His grave marking state states that he died on April 21 1860.
After this, the tale goes on, a priest spent the night in the room and was so terrified by whatever he saw – he refused to speak about it – that his hair turned bright white.
Obviously shaken by all the events that had just taken took place, Dr. McCarthy urged the Trustees to take action, and the result was the resolution in the Trustees’ Journal which reads:
“October 23rd 1860. The President is authorised to convert room No. 2 on the top corridor of Rhetoric House into an Oratory of St. Joseph and to fit up an oratory of St. Aloysius in the prayer hall of the Junior Students”.
St. Joseph is the Patron of a Peaceful Death.
The dead students are buried in unconsecrated ground on the fringe of the college cemetery, but the graves are marked.
The two students names are clear to see on the Graveyard burial list:
Room No. 2 has since become a waiting area among academic offices , but the statue still remains and the window is sealed off, though visible from the outside. There is a recurring story among Maynooth students that the dark stains on the floor are human blood (allegedly confirmed by the college’s chemistry department) and that they can’t be removed no matter what cleaning products are used.
In November 1985, RTE filmed and broadcast a documentary on the Ghost Room.
Some people believe that three people altogether died in the room but I have found no proof of a third. Let me know if you have anymore information.
(1) Seosamh Ó Dufaigh, Obit: Tomás Ó Fiaich, Seanchas Ardmhacha: Journal of the Armagh Diocesan Historical Society, Vol. 9, No.1, Silver Jubilee Issue (1978), 10
(2) P. M. L., Review: Window on Maynooth, An Irish Quarterly Review, Vol. 38, No. 151 (Sep., 1949),469