Aug 28, 2022 I Paul Seaburn

Face in Photo at Haunted Lackeen Castle Could Be a Ghost or a Shapeshifting Púca

Shapeshifters are the scariest and often the most evil of paranormal entities. No one likes to be fooled or tricked … especially when the perpetrator goes beyond causing a simple startle or embarrassment to creating mayhem, terror and perhaps even death. It is no wonder then that so many memorable horror movies and novels use shapeshifting as a plot twist – after all, stories of shapeshifters have been scaring humans for centuries. That is why paranormal investigations into buildings or areas allegedly haunted by shapeshifters tend to be the most dangerous. That didn’t seem to deter the folks at Paranormal Supernatural Investigations Ireland, who recently ventured into Ireland’s legendary Lackeen Castle in hopes of encountering that building’s legendary shapeshifter – the 'Púca'. They saw something … and have photos of it. Was it the shapeshifting Púca?

“Lackeen Castle, in Irish Folklore the Pooka resides here. The shape-shifter. We investigated here last night here is the first bit of footage we captured here. Still lots to go through.”

Paranormal Supernatural Investigations Ireland posted a photo on its Facebook page (see it here) of an anomaly in a window of Lackeen Castle. While the group did not identify it as the Púca or Pooka, it did mention the entity in the description and the Púca is the main reason most investigators and curious tourists visit Lackeen Castle. In a comment, the organization did point out that the castle is “absolutely active in spiritual terms.”

"We as a group believe folklore and history play a massive part into our research before we investigate places like Lackeen Castle."

An example of a tower house like Lackeen Castle

As the group explains in The Irish Sun, there is plenty of history in Lackeen Castle, located in  Abbeville in County Tipperary, Ireland. What is referred to as a “castle” is actually a tall tower house – the size and height made it a both a place to live and a defensive mini fortress when combined with the bawn or defensive wall surrounding it – remains of the Lackeen Castle bawn can still be seen. While it was useful in keeping invaders out in times of strife (weren’t they all?), a bawn also kept the family’s or clan’s cattle in. The clan in this case was the O’Kennedys or Kennedys or Ó Cinnéide, an Irish royal dynasty founded in the 10th century CE. As the O’Kennedys rose to power in far eastern Clare, northern Limerick, Mayo, and northern Tipperary, they built a number of castles in or near Tipperary, with Lackeen Castle going up in the 12th century. Its good looks for its age (photos here) comes from the fact that it was rebuilt in the 16th century, and part of its non- Púca fame comes from the clan name and the Lorrha Missal, an Irish illuminated sacramentary manuscript (“illuminated” means the text is highlighted with elaborate flourishes and borders), an eighth century Latin and Gaelic book stored there for centuries.

Of course, the reason why the Paranormal Supernatural Investigations Ireland team was at Lackeen Castle was for the Púca and perhaps even some regular ghosts. Many battles were fought in the area by the O’Kennedys, and the tower house was surrendered to Oliver Cromell’s English Parliamentarian forces in 1653, but later returned to the O’ Kennedys. In the rebuilt Lackeen Castle, there is a secret chamber on the third floor that could have been used for hiding, smuggling or other nefarious purposes. However, any ghost stories at Lackeen Castle have been pushed aside by its alleged Púca. If you’re going to encounter a shapeshifter, a Púca is a good one to choose. In Celtic folklore, they are said to bring both of good and bad fortune while appearing as horses, goats, cats, dogs, rabbits and occasionally humans with animal ears or tails.  

The Púca of Lackeen Castle seems to be a little of both. According to the most common tale, a member of the O’ Kennedy clan caught two men in a local church stealing valuables from the corpse of a deceased woman. The grave robbers summoned a Púca – described in this tale as a red eyed monster with flames coming out of its nostrils – but the heroic O’Kennedy managed to overcome the shapeshifter, capture it and take it back to Lackeen Castle. As a side note, while other cultures also have legends of Púcas, only the Irish through in the twist that humans can take control of them. When the imprisoned Púca threatened to burn down the castle, the O’Kennedy man made a deal – he would free the creature if it promised to never bring harm to any member of the O’Kennedy clan … forever. The Púca agreed and the rest is history, Irish folklore and paranormal experiences – many people claim to have seen a black goat roaming the grounds of Lackeen Castle late at night.

An example of an Irish castle surrounded by a brawn

“When we reviewed this image we spotted the face straight away. Like all our evidence that we get, we never state on the post first of what we see as we do not want to contaminate people's perception or thoughts.”

Paranormal Supernatural Investigations Ireland posted the photo on its Facebook page (see it here with magnification) and notes that there is something resembling a face that seems to be peering through a window. It is not much of a jump for most people to connect the dots and think Púca. The group takes pains to avoid jumping to that conclusion and points out in a comment that its team returned to the Lackeen Castle area to follow up on the possible sighting “to see if we could de-bunk.” It doesn’t appear they did as there were no further comments of that nature.

Take a look at the photo again here. Do you see something in the window? Does it look like a face or something else? Are there any red eyes, animal ears or fire-breathing nostrils? As Paranormal Supernatural Investigations Ireland stated, the history of these old buildings is fascinating, especially the events that could have started the stories that became the legends on entities like the shapeshifting Púca.

Paul Seaburn

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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