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The Haunting in Marsh’s Library in Dublin – Moon Mausoleum

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Haunting the Marsh’s Library in Dublin is the Archbishop, who is still rummaging through the books on the shelves, in search for a letter that never reached him in his lifetime.

Marsh’s Library is a sanctuary of knowledge, revered as Ireland’s oldest free public library right behind Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. The building is one of the few in Dublin that is still used for its original purpose, and even today you can see the cages they used to lock readers inside to stop them from stealing the precious books. 

Haunting the Marsh's Library in Dublin is the Archbishop, who is still rummaging through the books on the shelves, in search for a letter that never reached him in his lifetime.
Books in Cages: Books once was much more expensive than today, and to prevent theft, the library had these cages for people to sit in and read. It now has over 25,000 rare texts and 300 manuscripts in its collection. Nearly all of these can be accessed online.

Over the years, many famous literary figures like Jonathan Swift, James Joyce, and Bram Stoker have used this library to research their works. 

Bram Stoker, the literary genius behind the iconic 1897 Gothic novel “Dracula,” found inspiration within the library’s walls according to local lore as he spent much of his time in Dublin. As he delved into its literary treasures, he may have unknowingly drawn from the ethereal aura that enveloped Marsh’s Library.

Read More: Check out all of the ghost stories from Ireland

While its shelves bear the weight of countless times, they also harbor a more spectral presence—the ghost of Archbishop Narcissus Marsh that is said to haunt the library.

Born in 1638 and passing away in 1713, Archbishop Narcissus Marsh, the founder of Marsh’s Library in 1707, left an indelible mark on Dublin’s literary heritage. Yet, even in death, his story took a mysterious turn.

A Niece’s Elopement

Haunting the Marsh's Library in Dublin is the Archbishop, who is still rummaging through the books on the shelves, in search for a letter that never reached him in his lifetime.
Narcissus Marsh, Archbishop of Armagh

The eerie tale begins with the Archbishop’s young niece, whom he had lovingly raised. She fell in love and secretly married the curate of Chapelizod village when she was 19 years old. Instead of telling her uncle, she decided to elope and run away with him. 

Incidentally the Chapelizod Village within Dublin has more than one tragic love story. The etymology of the village indicates an association with Princess Iseult or Isolde from the Arthurian legend of Tristan and Isolde that suffered their own Romeo and Juliette ending. The village derives its name from a chapel consecrated in her honor.

The niece decided to leave behind a cryptic note, concealed within one of the library’s countless volumes where she explained it all and asked her uncle for forgiveness. But she hid the note too well and the Archbishop never found it, something that drove him back from the afterlife in search for the answers he never got.  

The Restless Search in Marsh’s Library

It is said that Archbishop Marsh’s ghost roams the hallowed halls of his beloved library to this very day. His spectral presence is eternally on the hunt for that elusive note, rummaging through the books. In death, as in life, he searches for answers and perhaps a way to reconcile with the past.

It is also said that walking from the first gallery to the second one, you can feel the temperature drop, even on the hottest of days. 

The Ghost of Jonathan Swift

The Archbishop is not the only resident of the Marsh’s Library as a ghost though. Jonathan Swift, the author of Gulliver’s Travels for instance is also said to pay the library a haunted visit once in a while as well. 

Both he and his girlfriend, Stella, are buried next door in the Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. Esther Johnson as her real name was, could also been his secret wife and is rumoured to have married died some years before him. After she died in 1728, he made death mask of her and him and asked to be buried next to her.

Over a century later they were dug up again and it was hugely controversial. William Wilde who was the father of poet Oscar Wilde joined a team to exhume the bodies for examination in 1835. 

They made casts of both Swift’s and Stella’s skulls as part of the study. Although it was seen as a very unchristian thing to do, the library preserved the skull and the one belonging to Stella is in one of the cages at the back of the library. 

It is said that Swift comes to visit the Marsh’s Library to see Stella, as his skull is still in the cathedral. 

Dublin’s Haunted Treasure 

As the moon cast an ethereal glow through the stained glass windows, Archbishop Narcissus Marsh continued his restless search within the hallowed halls of Marsh’s Library. For centuries, he had combed through the shelves, hoping to find the elusive letter from his niece that had evaded him in life and death.

And so, Marsh’s Library remained a sanctuary of knowledge, where the living and the departed coexisted. A place where history, literature, and the supernatural converged, forever preserving the legacy of Dublin’s haunted treasure in the heart of the city.

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