Visit to Haunted Pubs of Portsmouth – April 26, 2014
It was a dark and stormy night….. actually, it was heavily overcast and the rain had stopped, but either way, good ambiance for a haunted pub tour around historic Portsmouth. Spirited stories of drunken sailors, ladies of the night and a powerful brew-lord were shared by our intrepid and highly entertaining tour guide Roxie Zwicker of New England Curiosities. Portsmouth’s long and sometimes colorful history offers tales of the paranormal that are fascinating, sometimes sordid, and definitely creepy.
Our first stop was the Blue Mermaid Island Grill, a former brothel turned Caribbean restaurant. Legend has it that Babe, the ex-Madam, was distraught at being jilted by her lover so she hanged herself from a beam central to what is now a dining room. According to our bartender, Babe often whistles loudly and turns water faucets on and off – that minx. Reviews for the Blue Mermaid are great, so I’m sad that we didn’t have time for dinner. BUT, I can vouch for the integrity of their dirty martini.
The tour continued with ghostly tales of a huntsman on horseback riding down a neighborhood street, harlots forever strolling in front of windows trying to entice would-be customers, and a gun moll that haunts a former speakeasy. Many of the stops are at existing establishments; others at former pubs now converted for other purposes or vacant. Doesn’t matter though, even the long-gone watering holes become very real as Roxie shares her stories about what still goes bump in the night.
Our last stop was Ri Ra Irish Pub, located in a beautifully remodeled former bank building. The phantom here was seen walking in and out of an old bank vault (the vaults remain, although some were moved). By this point in the evening, it was time to warm our bones with some beverages and a snack. The menu goes well beyond typical pub food, but you can still get a nice Guinness stew or plate of crispy fish & chips, if that’s what speaks to you. We sat at a cozy table in one of the vaults in the back of the restaurant. The bank-vault specter did not reveal himself, but the food and drink were quite enjoyable nonetheless.
Next time you are heading to Portsmouth, consider a haunted pub tour from New England Curiosities. The cost is minimal for two hours of great entertainment and the opportunity to drink with the ghosts of Portsmouth’s past.
More information about this and other haunted tours is available on the New England Curiosities website at www.newenglandcuriosities.com.
To find more haunted eateries in this area, visit our New Hampshire page.