Maynooth University home to notorious ‘ghost room’

Maynooth University, located outside Dublin, is the fastest growing university in Ireland. The school website boasts beautiful chapels and “world-class research laboratories.” But underneath the vaulted ceilings and within the storied halls of Maynooth University lies a dark story ripe for telling.

The College Chapel at Maynooth University · Photograph by Audrey Deiser

While my field reporting class, Covering Ireland and Northern Ireland, visited the university, our tour guide led us along the path, pointing out various buildings. Then she stopped and had us all look to our right.

The College Chapel at Maynooth University · Photograph by Audrey Deiser

Rhetoric House is an old building, with vines growing on the façade. At first glance, it looks like any other building on campus. The tour guide told us to look closer.

The middle window is boarded up. How that came to be chilled us to the bone. (Of course, that might have had something to do with the frigid temperatures, high wind and cold rain. But the other way makes for a better story).

That building, she said, is home to Maynooth’s most famous ghost story, a story of ghosts, demonic voices and death.

Rhetoric House, used to be housing for seminarians, or priests in training.
Many years ago, Maynooth University assigned a young seminarian to room 2. He told people he heard voices when he was in the room. They were telling him to kill himself.

The Rhetoric House is home to room 2, the famous “ghost room” of Maynooth University. The middle window is boarded up because no one is allowed to live in the room again. · Photo by Audrey Deiser

Days later, the student was found in his room. He had slashed his throat ear to ear.
After a few years of leaving the room empty, the university assigned another young seminarian to the room. He told stories of hearing voices, and the voices wanted him to take his own life.

Days later, the student was found in his room. He had slashed his throat ear to ear.

IU Religious Studies graduate student Maggie Slaughter reflects on the history of Maynooth Seminary. In the past 50 years, the enrollment has dropped from 450 students down to 30. · Photo by Audrey Deiser

The university decided to station a seasoned priest in the room to see if he could find out what was happening.
Days later, the priest emerged. He spoke gibberish, but he didn’t really need to say anything. The room was inhabitable. When the priest recovered, he ordered the room boarded up. He said no one should ever stay in that room again. And no one has.

Different versions of the stories exist online and around campus, but the core of the story is the same. Much like the stories we’re writing about in Ireland, this story has been told before. But also like the stories we’re telling, each storyteller will bring nuance and emphasis to the conversation that no one has before.