The story of a spectacular castellated Gothic castle complete with gardens, towers, thirty rooms and statues expanding over 12,000 acres beings with a man named Thomas Duckett. While not the first Duckett to arrive in Ireland, he purchased a 500 acre small town on the northern edge of the Lake District known as Kneestown from Thomas Crosthwaite of Cockermouth in 1695. Crosthwaite had obtained extensive land property in Ireland under the Acts of Settlement of 1666 to 1684 during the reign of Charles II.
Thomas married Judith de la Poer, heiress to her father’s estates in County Waterford. However, it was his grandson William's marriage that turned things around for the Duckett family. William married Elisabeth Dawson-Coates, co-heiress of wealthy Dublin banker John Dawson-Coate in 1790. The couple had four sons. On November 19, 1895, William remarried at the age of 73 to Maria Georgina Thompson. He died on June 22, 1908 and was the last family member to be buried in the family burial ground at Knocknacree.
The mansion house at Duckett’s Grove was built during the 1700s, replacing a smaller house. In 1830, William acquired the services of architect Thomas A. Cobden to Gothicise the family estate to include Gothic towers, turrets, arches, niches, crenulations, loops, high-stacked chimneys, statues, urns and oriel windows. During a time when labor was cheap, tradesmen were paid about 9 shillings a week, about the same amount earned by farm workers. Eleven men were employed full-time maintaining the lawns, gardens and drives leading to the mansion from its three gate-lodges on the Castledermot Road, The Iron House and The Western Gate. After William's death, the castle was left to his widow in absence of a male heir. She abandoned the property in 1916.
The estate was put under the management of an agent until 1921. A group of local farmers and laborers under the umbrella of the Killerig Land Committee, purchased the estate with a £32,000 loan from the Bank of Ireland. By 1925, the Killerig farmers had failed to agree on the division of the land and no repayments of interest or capital had been made to the Bank. On June 20th of the same year, the Bank issued all the committee members with a bill for £38,217.18.6, with a threat that legal action would be taken against them. Two years later, the Land Commission took over the estate, cleared the bank debt.
Sometime in the 1920s, the property was used as a training camp for the Irish Republican Army. When the Land Commission purchased the estate, the bank retained the mansion and eleven acres of land, which was sold in 1931 to Frederick George Thompson of Hanover Works, Carlow for £320. Some of the outbuildings were demolished and the granite was used in the building of a new Christian Brothers school in Carlow town called named Bishop Foley National School. The remaining outbuildings were used as stables and a riding school by Frances Brady who occupied a wing of the old mansion until the estate was purchased by Carlow County Council.
There are several stories attached to Duckett Grove giving it a well rounded paranormal history. One of the main stories is that of the banshee. In Irish folklore, the banshee is an ancestral spirit associated with certain Irish families who forewarns death in the family with a recognizable wail. She's often known to have long flowing hair and wears cloaks or shrouds. She is also known to use a comb to lure people. If you touch the comb, you'll suffer dire consequences.
In this particular case, Duckett Grove's banshee is supposedly that of a woman who William Duckett had an affair with. She was the daughter of a farmer who died while riding her horse. After her death, her mother put the "Widow's Curse" on William and thus the Duckett Banshee was born. She's seen and heard throughout the property. Witnesses even claimed to have heard her wail for two days straight from one of the towers. As a result of this, a woman walking on a path on the property died suddenly. A former caretaker saw the banshee several times in the mansion. She became very fearful of the entity and abandoned the property, never returning. A man saw and heard the banshee in the walled garden. His mother died the next day.
A man on horseback was riding by Duckett Grove when his horse suddenly stopped and stared at the gate. The horse wouldn't budge until the man placed his rosary on the animal. It, then, felt safe enough to continue on the journey. It's unknown why the horse was so fascinated with the property. A mysterious fire broke out on April 20, 1933, reducing the mansion to ruins. Interesting enough, people witnessed smoke coming from the mansion a week earlier. Their swift actions put the blaze out, saving it. Luck would not be on their side twice. The origins of the second fire was never determined.
The Banshee is not the only entity supposedly haunting Duckett Grove. Members of the Duckett family and servants have also been seen and heard throughout the property. Eyewitnesses have reported seeing mysterious lights, noises, voices, shadows, apparitions, and sounds of servants working in the kitchen. There is also reports of a phantom horse and carriage seen in the front of the castle.
Currently, Duckett Grove is being renovated by the Carlow County Council. You can keep up-to-date with their efforts by visiting their website: http://www.duckettsgrove.eu/. If by chance you didn't watch the Destination Truth live episode, you can view various pictures of the castle and investigation at http://twitpic.com/photos/dtlive.