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Title: True Irish Ghost Stories

Author: St John D Seymour

Release Date: November 20, 2004 [EBook #14099]

Language: English

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                        TRUE IRISH GHOST STORIES

                              COMPILED BY

                        ST JOHN D. SEYMOUR, B.D.

            AUTHOR OF "IRISH WITCHCRAFT AND DEMONOLOGY" ETC.

                                  AND

                      HARRY L. NELIGAN, D.I.R.I.C.

                                 1914




TO THREE LIVELY POLTERGEISTS W----, J----, AND G----, THIS BOOK IS
DEDICATED BY THE COMPILERS




FOREWORD


This book had its origin on this wise. In my _Irish Witchcraft and
Demonology_, published in October 1913, I inserted a couple of famous
17th century ghost stories which described how lawsuits were set on foot
at the instigation of most importunate spirits. It then occurred to me
that as far as I knew there was no such thing in existence as a book of
Irish ghost stories. Books on Irish fairy and folk-lore there were in
abundance--some of which could easily be spared--but there was no book of
ghosts. And so I determined to supply this sad omission.

In accordance with the immortal recipe for making hare-soup I had first
to obtain my ghost stories. Where was I to get them from? For myself I
knew none worth publishing, nor had I ever had any strange experiences,
while I feared that my friends and acquaintances were in much the
same predicament. Suddenly a brilliant thought struck me. I wrote out a
letter, stating exactly what I wanted, and what I did _not_ want, and
requesting the readers of it either to forward me ghost stories, or else
to put me in the way of getting them: this letter was sent to the
principal Irish newspapers on October 27, and published on October 29,
and following days.

I confess I was a little doubtful as to the result of my experiment, and
wondered what response the people of Ireland would make to a letter which
might place a considerable amount of trouble on their shoulders. My mind
was speedily set at rest. On October 30, the first answers reached me.
Within a fortnight I had sufficient material to make a book; within a
month I had so much material that I could pick and choose--and more was
promised. Further on in this preface I give a list of those persons whose
contributions I have made use of, but here I should like to take the
opportunity of thanking all those ladies and gentlemen throughout the
length and breadth of Ireland, the majority of whom were utter strangers
to me, who went to the trouble of sitting down and writing out page after
page of stories. I cannot forget their kindness, and I am only sorry that
I could not make use of more of the matter that was sent to me. As one
would expect, this material varied in value and extent. Some persons
contributed incidents, of little use by themselves, but which worked in
as helpful illustrations, while others forwarded budgets of stories,
long and short. To sift the mass of matter, and bring the various
portions of it into proper sequence, would have been a lengthy and
difficult piece of work had I not been ably assisted by Mr. Harry L.
Neligan, D.I.; but I leave it as a pleasant task to the Higher Critic to
discover what portions of the book were done by him, and what should be
attributed to me.

Some of the replies that reached me were sufficiently amusing. One
gentleman, who carefully signed himself "Esquire," informed me that he
was "after" reading a great book of ghost stories, but several letters of
mine failed to elicit any subsequent information. Another person offered
to _sell_ me ghost stories, while several proffered tales that had been
worked up comically. One lady addressed a card to me as follows:

"THE REVD. ----

(Name and address lost of the clergyman whose letter appeared lately in
_Irish Times, re_ "apparitions")

CAPPAWHITE."

As the number of clergy in the above village who deal in ghost stories is
strictly limited, the Post Office succeeded in delivering it safely. I
wrote at once in reply, and got a story. In a letter bearing the Dublin
postmark a correspondent, veiled in anonymity, sent me a religious tract
with the curt note, "_Re_ ghost stories, will you please read this." I
did so, but still fail to see the sender's point of view. Another person
in a neighbouring parish declared that if I were their rector they would
forthwith leave my church, and attend service elsewhere. There are many,
I fear, who adopt this attitude; but it will soon become out of date.

Some of my readers may cavil at the expression, "_True_ Ghost Stories."
For myself I cannot guarantee the genuineness of a single incident in
this book--how could I, as none of them are my own personal experience?
This at least I _can_ vouch for, that the majority of the stories were
sent to me as first or second-hand experiences by ladies and gentlemen
whose statement on an ordinary matter of fact would be accepted without
question. And further, in order to prove the _bona fides_ of this book, I
make the following offer. The original letters and documents are in my
custody at Donohil Rectory, and I am perfectly willing to allow any
responsible person to examine them, subject to certain restrictions,
these latter obviously being that names of people and places must not be
divulged, for I regret to say that in very many instances my
correspondents have laid this burden upon me. This is to be the more
regretted, because the use of blanks, or fictitious initials, makes
a story appear much less convincing than if real names had been employed.

Just one word. I can imagine some of my readers (to be numbered by the
thousand, I hope) saying to themselves: "Oh! Mr. Seymour has left out
some of the best stories. Did he never hear of such-and-such a haunted
house, or place?" Or, "I could relate an experience better than anything
he has got." If such there be, may I beg of them to send me on their
stories with all imagined speed, as they may be turned to account at
some future date.

I beg to return thanks to the following for permission to make use of
matter in their publications: Messrs. Sealy, Bryers, and Walker,
proprietors of the _New Ireland Review_; the editor of the _Review of
Reviews_; the editor of the _Proceedings_ of the Society for Psychical
Research; the editor of the _Journal_ of the American S.P.R.; the editor
of the _Occult Review_, and Mr. Elliott O'Donnell; Messrs. Longmans,
Green and Co., and Mrs. Andrew Lang; the editor of the _Wide World
Magazine_; the representatives of the late Rev. Dr. Craig.

In accordance with the promise made in my letter, I have now much
pleasure in giving the names of the ladies and gentlemen who have
contributed to, or assisted in, the compilation of this book, and as well
to assure them that Mr. Neligan and I are deeply grateful to them for
their kindness.

Mrs. S. Acheson, Drumsna, Co. Roscommon; Mrs. M. Archibald, Cliftonville
Road, Belfast; J.J. Burke, Esq., U.D.C., Rahoon, Galway; Capt. R.
Beamish, Passage West, Co. Cork; Mrs. A. Bayly, Woodenbridge, Co.
Wicklow; R. Blair, Esq., South Shields; Jas. Byrne, Esq.,
Castletownroche, Co. Cork; Mrs. Kearney Brooks, Killarney; H. Buchanan,
Esq., Inishannon, Co. Cork; J.A. Barlow, Esq., Bray, Co. Wicklow; J.
Carton, Esq., King's Inns Library, Dublin; Miss A. Cooke, Cappagh House,
Co. Limerick; J.P.V. Campbell, Esq. _Solicitor_, Dublin; Rev. E.G.S.
Crosthwait, M.A., Littleton, Thurles; J. Crowley, Esq., Munster and
Leinster Bank, Cashel; Miss C.M. Doyle, Ashfield Road, Dublin; J. Ralph
Dagg, Esq., Baltinglass; Gerald A. Dillon, Esq., Wicklow; Matthias and
Miss Nan Fitzgerald, Cappagh House, Co. Limerick; Lord Walter Fitzgerald,
Kilkea Castle; Miss Finch, Rushbrook, Co. Cork; Rev. H.R.B. Gillespie,
M.A., Aghacon Rectory, Roscrea; Miss Grene, Grene Park, Co. Tipperary;
L.H. Grubb, Esq. J.P., D.L., Ardmayle, Co. Tipperary; H. Keble Gelston,
Esq., Letterkenny; Ven. J.A. Haydn, LL.D., Archdeacon of Limerick; Miss
Dorothy Hamilton, Portarlington; Richard Hogan, Esq., Bowman St.,
Limerick; Mrs. G. Kelly, Rathgar, Dublin; Miss Keefe, Carnahallia, Doon;
Rev. D.B. Knox, Whitehead, Belfast; Rev. J.D. Kidd, M.A., Castlewellan;
E.B. de Lacy, Esq., Marlboro' Road, Dublin; Miss K. Lloyd, Shinrone,
King's Co.; Canon Lett, M.A., Aghaderg Rectory; T. MacFadden, Esq.,
Carrigart, Co. Donegal; Wm. Mackey, Esq., Strabane; Canon Courtenay
Moore, M.A., Mitchelstown, Co. Cork; J. McCrossan, Esq., _Journalist_,
Strabane; G.H. Miller, Esq., J.P., Edgeworthstown; Mrs. P.C.F. Magee,
Dublin; Rev. R.D. Paterson, B.A., Ardmore Rectory; E.A. Phelps, Esq.,
Trinity College Library; Mrs. Pratt, Munster and Leinster Bank,
Rathkeale; Miss Pim, Monkstown, Co. Dublin; Miss B. Parker, Passage West,
Co. Cork; Henry Reay, Esq., Harold's Cross, Dublin; M.J. Ryan, Esq.,
Taghmon, Co. Wexford; P. Ryan, Esq., Nicker, Pallasgrean; Canon
Ross-Lewin, Kilmurry, Limerick; Miss A. Russell, Elgin Road, Dublin;
Lt.-Col. the Hon. F. Shore, Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny; Mrs. Seymour,
Donohil Rectory; Mrs. E.L. Stritch, North Great Georges St., Dublin;
M.C.R. Stritch, Esq., Belturbet; Very Rev. the Dean of St. Patrick's.
D.D.; Mrs. Spratt, Thurles; W.S. Thompson, Esq., Inishannon, Co. Cork;
Mrs, Thomas, Sandycove, Dublin; Mrs. Walker, Glenbeigh, Co. Kerry; Miss
Wolfe, Skibbereen, Co. Cork; Mrs. E. Welsh, Nenagh; T.J. Westropp, Esq.,
M.A., M.R.I.A., Sandymount, Dublin; Mrs. M.A. Wilkins, Rathgar, Dublin;
John Ward, Esq., Ballymote; Mrs. Wrench, Ballybrack, Co. Dublin; Miss
K.E. Younge, Upper Oldtown, Rathdowney.

ST. JOHN D. SEYMOUR.

DONOHIL RECTORY,

CAPPAWHITE, TIPPERARY,
_February 2_, 1914.




CONTENTS


CHAP.

   I. HAUNTED HOUSES IN OR NEAR DUBLIN
  II. HAUNTED HOUSES IN CONN'S HALF
 III. HAUNTED HOUSES IN MOGH'S HALF
  IV. POLTERGEISTS
   V. HAUNTED PLACES
  VI. APPARITIONS AT OR AFTER DEATH
 VII. BANSHEES, AND OTHER DEATH-WARNINGS
VIII. MISCELLANEOUS SUPERNORMAL EXPERIENCES
  IX. LEGENDARY AND ANCESTRAL GHOSTS
   X. MISTAKEN IDENTITY--CONCLUSION




TRUE IRISH GHOST STORIES




CHAPTER I

HAUNTED HOUSES IN OR NEAR DUBLIN


Of all species of ghostly phenomena, that commonly known as "haunted
houses" appeals most to the ordinary person. There is something very
eerie in being shut up within the four walls of a house with a ghost. The
poor human being is placed at such a disadvantage. If we know that a
gateway, or road, or field has the reputation of being haunted, we can in
nearly every case make a detour, and so avoid the unpleasant locality.
But the presence of a ghost in a house creates a very different state of
affairs. It appears and disappears at its own sweet will, with a total
disregard for our feelings: it seems to be as much part and parcel of the
domicile as the staircase or the hall door, and, consequently, nothing
short of leaving the house or of pulling it down (both of these solutions
are not always practicable) will free us absolutely from the unwelcome
presence.

There is also something so natural, and at the same time so unnatural, in
seeing a door open when we know that no human hand rests on the knob, or
in hearing the sound of footsteps, light or heavy, and feeling that it
cannot be attributed to the feet of mortal man or woman. Or perhaps a
form appears in a room, standing, sitting, or walking--in fact, situated
in its three dimensions apparently as an ordinary being of flesh and
blood, until it proves its unearthly nature by vanishing before our
astonished eyes. Or perhaps we are asleep in bed. The room is shrouded
in darkness, and our recumbent attitude, together with the weight of
bed-clothes, hampers our movements and probably makes us more cowardly. A
man will meet pain or danger boldly if he be standing upright--occupying
that erect position which is his as Lord of Creation; but his courage
does not well so high if he be supine. We are awakened suddenly by the
feel that some superhuman Presence is in the room. We are transfixed with
terror, we cannot find either the bell-rope or the matches, while we
_dare_ not leap out of bed and make a rush for the door lest we should
encounter we know not what. In an agony of fear, we feel it moving
towards us; it approaches closer, and yet closer, to the bed, and--for
what may or may not then happen we must refer our readers to the pages of
this book.

But the sceptical reader will say: "This is all very well, but--there are
_no_ haunted houses. All these alleged strange happenings are due to a
vivid imagination, or else to rats and mice." (The question of deliberate
and conscious fraud may be rejected in almost every instance.) This
simple solution has been put forward so often that it should infallibly
have solved the problem long ago. But will such a reader explain how it
is that the noise made by rats and mice can resemble slow, heavy
footsteps, or else take the form of a human being seen by several
persons; or how our imagination can cause doors to open and shut, or else
create a conglomeration of noises which, physically, would be beyond the
power of ordinary individuals to reproduce? Whatever may be the ultimate
explanation, we feel that there is a great deal in the words quoted by
Professor Barrett: "In spite of all reasonable scepticism, it is
difficult to avoid accepting, at least provisionally, the conclusion that
there are, in a certain sense, haunted houses, _i.e._ that there are
houses in which similar quasi-human apparitions have occurred at
different times to different inhabitants, under circumstances which
exclude the hypothesis of suggestion or expectation."

We must now turn to the subject of this chapter. Mrs. G. Kelly, a lady
well known in musical circles in Dublin, sends as her own personal
experience the following tale of a most quiet haunting, in which the
spectral charwoman (!) does not seem to have entirely laid aside all her
mundane habits.

"My first encounter with a ghost occurred about twenty years ago. On that
occasion I was standing in the kitchen of my house in ---- Square, when a
woman, whom I was afterwards to see many times, walked down the stairs
into the room. Having heard the footsteps outside, I was not in the least
perturbed, but turned to look who it was, and found myself looking at a
tall, stout, elderly woman, wearing a bonnet and old-fashioned mantle.
She had grey hair, and a benign and amiable expression. We stood gazing
at each other while one could count twenty. At first I was not at all
frightened, but gradually as I stood looking at her an uncomfortable
feeling, increasing to terror, came over me. This caused me to retreat
farther and farther back, until I had my back against the wall, and then
the apparition slowly faded.

"This feeling of terror, due perhaps to the unexpectedness of her
appearance, always overcame me on the subsequent occasions on which I
saw her. These occasions numbered twelve or fifteen, and I have seen her
in every room in the house, and at every hour of the day, during a period
of about ten years. The last time she appeared was ten years ago. My
husband and I had just returned from a concert at which he had been
singing, and we sat for some time over supper, talking about the events
of the evening. When at last I rose to leave the room, and opened the
dining-room door, I found my old lady standing on the mat outside with
her head bent towards the door in the attitude of listening. I called
out loudly, and my husband rushed to my side. That was the last time I
have seen her."

"One peculiarity of this spectral visitant was a strong objection to
disorder or untidyness of any kind, or even to an alteration in the
general routine of the house. For instance, she showed her disapproval of
any stranger coming to sleep by turning the chairs face downwards on the
floor in the room they were to occupy. I well remember one of our guests,
having gone to his room one evening for something he had forgotten,
remarking on coming downstairs again, 'Well, you people have an
extraordinary manner of arranging your furniture! I have nearly broken my
bones over one of the bedroom chairs which was turned down on the floor.'
As my husband and I had restored that chair twice already to its proper
position during the day, we were not much surprised at his remarks,
although we did not enlighten him. The whole family have been disturbed
by a peculiar knocking which occurred in various rooms in the house,
frequently on the door or wall, but sometimes on the furniture, quite
close to where we had been sitting. This was evidently loud enough to be
heard in the next house, for our next-door neighbour once asked my
husband why he selected such curious hours for hanging his pictures.
Another strange and fairly frequent occurrence was the following. I had
got a set of skunk furs which I fancied had an unpleasant odour, as this
fur sometimes has; and at night I used to take it from my wardrobe and
lay it on a chair in the drawing-room, which was next my bedroom. The
first time that I did this, on going to the drawing-room I found, to my
surprise, my muff in one corner and my stole in another. Not for a moment
suspecting a supernatural agent, I asked my servant about it, and she
assured me that she had not been in the room that morning. Whereupon I
determined to test the matter, which I did by putting in the furs late at
night, and taking care that I was the first to enter the room in the
morning. I invariably found that they had been disturbed."

The following strange and pathetic incident occurred in a well-known
Square in the north side of the city. In or about a hundred years ago a
young officer was ordered to Dublin, and took a house there for himself
and his family. He sent on his wife and two children, intending to join
them in the course of a few days. When the latter and the nurse arrived,
they found only the old charwoman in the house, and she left shortly
after their arrival. Finding that something was needed, the nurse went
out to purchase it. On her return she asked the mother were the children
all right, as she had seen two ghostly forms flit past her on the
door-step! The mother answered that she believed they were, but on going
up to the nursery they found both the children with their throats cut.
The murderer was never brought to justice, and no motive was ever
discovered for the crime. The unfortunate mother went mad, and it is said
that an eerie feeling still clings to the house, while two little heads
are sometimes seen at the window of the room where the deed was
committed.

A most weird experience fell to the lot of Major Macgregor, and was
contributed by him to _Real Ghost Stories_, the celebrated Christmas
number of the _Review of Reviews_. He says: "In the end of 1871 I went
over to Ireland to visit a relative living in a Square in the north side
of Dublin. In January 1872 the husband of my relative fell ill. I sat up
with him for several nights, and at last, as he seemed better, I went to
bed, and directed the footman to call me if anything went wrong. I soon
fell asleep, but some time after was awakened by a push on the left
shoulder. I started up, and said, 'Is there anything wrong?' I got no
answer, but immediately received another push. I got annoyed, and said
'Can you not speak, man! and tell me if there is anything wrong.' Still
no answer, and I had a feeling I was going to get another push when I
suddenly turned round and caught a human hand, warm, plump, and soft. I
said, 'Who are you?' but I got no answer. I then tried to pull the person
towards me, but could not do so. I then said, 'I _will_ know who you
are!' and having the hand tight in my right hand, with my left I felt the
wrist and arm, enclosed, as it seemed to me, in a tight-fitting sleeve of
some winter material with a linen cuff, but when I got to the elbow all
trace of an arm ceased. I was so astounded that I let the hand go, and
just then the clock struck two. Including the mistress of the house,
there were five females in the establishment, and I can assert that the
hand belonged to none of them. When I reported the adventure, the
servants exclaimed, 'Oh, it must have been the master's old Aunt Betty,
who lived for many years in the upper part of that house, and had died
over fifty years before at a great age.' I afterwards heard that the room
in which I felt the hand had been considered haunted, and very curious
noises and peculiar incidents occurred, such as the bed-clothes torn off,
&c. One lady got a slap in the face from some invisible hand, and when
she lit her candle she saw as if something opaque fell or jumped off
the bed. A general officer, a brother of the lady, slept there two
nights, but preferred going to a hotel to remaining the third night. He
never would say what he heard or saw, but always said the room was
uncanny. I slept for months in the room afterwards, and was never in the
least disturbed."

A truly terrifying sight was witnessed by a clergyman in a school-house a
good many years ago. This cleric was curate of a Dublin parish, but
resided with his parents some distance out of town in the direction of
Malahide. It not infrequently happened that he had to hold meetings in
the evenings, and on such occasions, as his home was so far away, and as
the modern convenience of tramcars was not then known, he used to sleep
in the schoolroom, a large bare room, where the meetings were held. He
had made a sleeping-apartment for himself by placing a pole across one
end of the room, on which he had rigged up two curtains which, when drawn
together, met in the middle. One night he had been holding some meeting,
and when everybody had left he locked up the empty schoolhouse, and went
to bed. It was a bright moonlight night, and every object could be seen
perfectly clearly. Scarcely had he got into bed when he became conscious
of some invisible presence. Then he saw the curtains agitated at one end,
as if hands were grasping them on the outside. In an agony of terror he
watched these hands groping along outside the curtains till they reached
the middle. The curtains were then drawn a little apart, and a Face
peered in--an awful, evil Face, with an expression of wickedness and hate
upon it which no words could describe. It looked at him for a few
moments, then drew back again, and the curtains closed. The clergyman
had sufficient courage left to leap out of bed and make a thorough
examination of the room, but, as he expected, he found no one. He dressed
himself as quickly as possible, walked home, and never again slept a
night in that schoolroom.

The following tale, sent by Mr. E. B. de Lacy, contains a most
extraordinary and unsatisfactory element of mystery. He says: "When I was
a boy I lived in the suburbs, and used to come in every morning to school
in the city. My way lay through a certain street in which stood a very
dismal semi-detached house, which, I might say, was closed up regularly
about every six months. I would see new tenants coming into it, and then
in a few months it would be 'To let' again. This went on for eight or
nine years, and I often wondered what was the reason. On inquiring one
day from a friend, I was told that it had the reputation of being
haunted.

"A few years later I entered business in a certain office, and one day it
fell to my lot to have to call on the lady who at that particular period
was the tenant of the haunted house. When we had transacted our business
she informed me that she was about to leave. Knowing the reputation of
the house, and being desirous of investigating a ghost-story, I asked her
if she would give me the history of the house as far as she knew it,
which she very kindly did as follows:

"About forty years ago the house was left by will to a gentleman
named ----. He lived in it for a short time, when he suddenly went mad,
and had to be put in an asylum. Upon this his agents let the house to a
lady. Apparently nothing unusual happened for some time, but a few months
later, as she went down one morning to a room behind the kitchen, she
found the cook hanging by a rope attached to a hook in the ceiling. After
the inquest the lady gave up the house.

"It was then closed up for some time, but was again advertised 'To let,'
and a caretaker, a woman, was put into it. One night about one o'clock, a
constable going his rounds heard some one calling for help from the
house, and found the caretaker on the sill of one of the windows holding
on as best she could. He told her to go in and open the hall door and let
him in, but she refused to enter the room again. He forced open the door
and succeeded in dragging the woman back into the room, only to find she
had gone mad.

"Again the house was shut up, and again it was let, this time to a lady,
on a five-years' lease. However, after a few months' residence, she
locked it up, and went away. On her friends asking her why she did so,
she replied that she would rather pay the whole five years' rent than
live in it herself, or allow anyone else to do so, but would give no
other reason.

"'I believe I was the next person to take this house,' said the lady who
narrated the story to me (_i.e._ Mr. de Lacy). 'I took it about eighteen
months ago on a three years' lease in the hopes of making money by taking
in boarders, but I am now giving it up because none of them will stay
more than a week or two. They do not give any definite reason as to why
they are leaving; they are careful to state that it is not because they
have any fault to find with me or my domestic arrangements, but they
merely say _they do not like the rooms_! The rooms themselves, as you can
see, are good, spacious, and well lighted. I have had all classes of
professional men; one of the last was a barrister, and he said that he
had no fault to find except that _he did not like the rooms_! I myself do
not believe in ghosts, and I have never seen anything strange here or
elsewhere; and if I had known the house had the reputation of being
haunted, I would never have rented it."

Marsh's library, that quaint, old-world repository of ponderous tomes, is
reputed to be haunted by the ghost of its founder, Primate Narcissus
Marsh. He is said to frequent the inner gallery, which contains what was
formerly his own private library: he moves in and out among the cases,
taking down books from the shelves, and occasionally throwing them down
on the reader's desk as if in anger. However, he always leaves things in
perfect order. The late Mr. ----, who for some years lived in the
librarian's rooms underneath, was a firm believer in this ghost, and said
he frequently heard noises which could only be accounted for by the
presence of a nocturnal visitor; the present tenant is more sceptical.
The story goes that Marsh's niece eloped from the Palace, and was married
in a tavern to the curate of Chapelizod. She is reported to have written
a note consenting to the elopement, and to have then placed it in one of
her uncle's books to which her lover had access, and where he found it.
As a punishment for his lack of vigilance, the Archbishop is said to be
condemned to hunt for the note until he find it--hence the ghost.

The ghost of a deceased Canon was seen in one of the Dublin cathedrals
by several independent witnesses, one of whom, a lady, gives her own
experience as follows: "Canon ---- was a personal friend of mine, and
we had many times discussed ghosts and spiritualism, in which he was a
profound believer, having had many supernatural experiences himself.
It was during the Sunday morning service in the cathedral that I saw
my friend, who had been dead for two years, sitting inside the
communion-rails. I was so much astonished at the flesh-and blood
appearance of the figure that I took off my glasses and wiped them with
my handkerchief, at the same time looking away from him down the church.
On looking back again he was still there, and continued to sit there for
about ten or twelve minutes, after which he faded away. I remarked a
change in his personal appearance, which was, that his beard was longer
and whiter than when I had known him--in fact, such a change as would
have occurred _in life_ in the space of two years. Having told my
husband of the occurrence on our way home, he remembered having heard
some talk of an appearance of this clergyman in the cathedral since his
death. He hurried back to the afternoon service, and asked the robestress
if anybody had seen Canon ----'s ghost. She informed him that _she_ had,
and that he had also been seen by one of the sextons in the cathedral. I
mention this because in describing his personal appearance she had
remarked the same change as I had with regard to the beard."

Some years ago a family had very uncanny experiences in a house in
Rathgar, and subsequently in another in Rathmines. These were
communicated by one of the young ladies to Mrs. M. A. Wilkins, who
published them in the _Journal_ of the American S.P.R.,[1] from which
they are here taken. The Rathgar house had a basement passage leading to
a door into the yard, and along this passage her mother and the children
used to hear dragging, limping steps, and the latch of the door rattling,
but no one could ever be found when search was made. The house-bells were
old and all in a row, and on one occasion they all rang, apparently of
their own accord. The lady narrator used to sleep in the back drawing
room, and always when the light was put out she heard strange noises, as
if some one was going round the room rubbing paper along the wall, while
she often had the feeling that a person was standing beside her bed. A
cousin, who was a nurse, once slept with her, and also noticed these
strange noises. On one occasion this room was given up to a very
matter-of-fact young man to sleep in, and next morning he said that the
room was very strange, with queer noises in it.

[Footnote 1: For September 1913.]

Her mother also had an extraordinary experience in the same house. One
evening she had just put the baby to bed, when she heard a voice calling
"mother." She left the bedroom, and called to her daughter, who was in a
lower room, "What do you want?" But the girl replied that she had _not_
called her; and then, in her turn, asked her mother if _she_ had been in
the front room, for she had just heard a noise as if some one was trying
to fasten the inside bars of the shutters across. But her mother had been
upstairs, and no one was in the front room. The experiences in the
Rathmines house were of a similar auditory nature, _i.e._ the young
ladies heard their names called, though it was found that no one in the
house had done so.

Occasionally it happens that ghosts inspire a law-suit. In the
seventeenth century they were to be found actively urging the adoption of
legal proceedings, but in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries they
play a more passive part. A case about a haunted house took place in
Dublin in the year 1885, in which the ghost may be said to have won. A
Mr. Waldron, a solicitor's clerk, sued his next-door neighbour, one
Mr. Kiernan, a mate in the merchant service, to recover £500 for damages
done to his house.

Kiernan altogether denied the charges, but asserted that Waldron's house
was notoriously haunted. Witnesses proved that every night, from August
1884 to January 1885, stones were thrown at the windows and doors, and
extraordinary and inexplicable occurrences constantly took place.

Mrs. Waldron, wife of the plaintiff, swore that one night she saw one of
the panes of glass of a certain window cut through with a diamond, and a
white hand inserted through the hole. She at once caught up a bill-hook
and aimed a blow at the hand, cutting off one of the fingers. This finger
could not be found, nor were any traces of blood seen.

A servant of hers was sorely persecuted by noises and the sound of
footsteps. Mr. Waldron, with the aid of detectives and policemen,
endeavoured to find out the cause, but with no success. The witnesses
in the case were closely cross-examined, but without shaking their
testimony. The facts appeared to be proved, so the jury found for
Kiernan, the defendant. At least twenty persons had testified on oath to
the fact that the house had been known to have been haunted.[2]

[Footnote 2: See _Sights and Shadows_, p. 42 ff.]

Before leaving the city and its immediate surroundings, we must relate
the story of an extraordinary ghost, somewhat lacking in good manners,
yet not without a certain distorted sense of humour. Absolutely
incredible though the tale may seem, yet it comes on very good authority.
It was related to our informant, Mr. D., by a Mrs. C., whose daughter he
had employed as governess. Mrs. C., who is described as "a woman of
respectable position and good education," heard it in her turn from her
father and mother. In the story the relationship of the different persons
seems a little involved, but it would appear that the initial A belongs
to the surname both of Mrs. C.'s father and grandfather.

This ghost was commonly called "Corney" by the family, and he answered to
this though it was not his proper name. He disclosed this latter to Mr.
C.'s mother, who forgot it. Corney made his presence manifest to the
A---- family shortly after they had gone to reside in ---- Street in the
following manner. Mr. A---- had sprained his knee badly, and had to use a
crutch, which at night was left at the head of his bed. One night his
wife heard some one walking on the lobby, thump, thump, thump, as if
imitating Mr. A----. She struck a match to see if the crutch had been
removed from the head of the bed, but it was still there.

From that on Corney commenced to talk, and he spoke every day from his
usual habitat, the coal-cellar off the kitchen. His voice sounded as if
it came out of an empty barrel.

He was very troublesome, and continually played practical jokes on the
servants, who, as might be expected, were in terror of their lives of
him; so much so that Mrs. A---- could hardly induce them to stay with
her. They used to sleep in a press-bed in the kitchen, and in order to
get away from Corney, they asked for a room at the top of the house,
which was given to them. Accordingly the press-bed was moved up there.
The first night they went to retire to bed after the change, the doors of
the press were flung open, and Corney's voice said, "Ha! ha! you devils,
I am here before you! I am not confined to any particular part of this
house."

Corney was continually tampering with the doors, and straining locks
and keys. He only manifested himself in material form to two persons;
to ----, who died with the fright, and to Mr. A---- (Mrs. C.'s father)
when he was about seven years old. The latter described him to his mother
as a naked man, with a curl on his forehead, and a skin like a
clothes-horse(!).

One day a servant was preparing fish for dinner. She laid it on the
kitchen table while she went elsewhere for something she wanted. When she
returned the fish had disappeared. She thereupon began to cry, fearing
she would be accused of making away with it. The next thing she heard was
the voice of Corney from the coal-cellar saying, "There, you blubbering
fool, is your fish for you!" and, suiting the action to the word, the
fish was thrown out on the kitchen floor.

Relatives from the country used to bring presents of vegetables, and
these were often hung up by Corney like Christmas decorations round the
kitchen. There was one particular press in the kitchen he would not allow
anything into. He would throw it out again. A crock with meat in pickle
was put into it, and a fish placed on the cover of the crock. He threw
the fish out.

Silver teaspoons were missing, and no account of them could be got until
Mrs. A---- asked Corney to confess if he had done anything with them. He
said, "They are under the ticking in the servants' bed." He had, so he
said, a daughter in ---- Street, and sometimes announced that he was
going to see her, and would not be here to-night.

On one occasion he announced that he was going to have "company" that
evening, and if they wanted any water out of the soft-water tank, to take
it before going to bed, as he and his friends would be using it.
Subsequently that night five or six distinct voices were heard, and next
morning the water in the tank was as black as ink, and not alone that,
but the bread and butter in the pantry were streaked with the marks of
sooty fingers.

A clergyman in the locality, having heard of the doings of Corney, called
to investigate the matter. He was advised by Mrs. A---- to keep quiet,
and not to reveal his identity, as being the best chance of hearing
Corney speak. He waited a long time, and as the capricious Corney
remained silent, he left at length. The servants asked, "Corney, why did
you not speak?" and he replied, "I could not speak while that good man
was in the house." The servants sometimes used to ask him where he was.
He would reply, "The Great God would not permit me to tell you. I was a
bad man, and I died the death." He named the room in the house in which
he died.

Corney constantly joined in any conversation carried on by the people of
the house. One could never tell when a voice from the coal-cellar would
erupt into the dialogue. He had his likes and dislikes: he appeared to
dislike anyone that was not afraid of him, and would not talk to them.
Mrs. C.'s mother, however, used to get good of him by coaxing. An uncle,
having failed to get him to speak one night, took the kitchen poker, and
hammered at the door of the coal-cellar, saying, "I'll make you speak";
but Corney wouldn't. Next morning the poker was found broken in two. This
uncle used to wear spectacles, and Corney used to call him derisively,
"Four-eyes." An uncle named Richard came to sleep one night, and
complained in the morning that the clothes were pulled off him. Corney
told the servants in great glee, "I slept on Master Richard's feet all
night."

Finally Mr. A---- made several attempts to dispose of his lease, but with
no success, for when intending purchasers were being shown over the house
and arrived at Corney's domain, the spirit would begin to speak and
the would-be purchaser would fly. They asked him if they changed house
would he trouble them. He replied, "No! but if they throw down this
house, I will trouble the stones."

At last Mrs. A---- appealed to him to keep quiet, and not to injure
people who had never injured him. He promised that he would do so, and
then said, "Mrs. A----, you will be all right now, for I see a lady in
black coming up the street to this house, and she will buy it." Within
half an hour a widow called and purchased the house. Possibly Corney is
still there, for our informant looked up the Directory as he was writing,
and found the house marked "Vacant."

Near Blanchardstown, Co. Dublin, is a house, occupied at present, or up
to very recently, by a private family; it was formerly a monastery, and
there are said to be secret passages in it. Once a servant ironing in the
kitchen saw the figure of a nun approach the kitchen window and look in.
Our informant was also told by a friend (now dead), who had it from the
lady of the house, that once night falls, no doors can be kept closed.
If anyone shuts them, almost immediately they are flung open again with
the greatest violence and apparent anger. If left open there is no
trouble or noise, but light footsteps are heard, and there is a vague
feeling of people passing to and fro. The persons inhabiting the house
are matter-of-fact, unimaginative people, who speak of this as if it were
an everyday affair. "So long as we leave the doors unclosed they don't
harm us: why should we be afraid of them?" Mrs. ---- said. Truly a most
philosophical attitude to adopt!

A haunted house in Kingstown, Co. Dublin, was investigated by Professor
W. Barrett and Professor Henry Sidgwick. The story is singularly well
attested (as one might expect from its being inserted in the pages of the
_Proceedings S.P.R._[3]), as the apparition was seen on three distinct
occasions, and by three separate persons who were all personally known to
the above gentlemen. The house in which the following occurrences took
place is described as being a very old one, with unusually thick walls.
The lady saw her strange visitant in her bedroom. She says: "Disliking
cross-lights, I had got into the habit of having the blind of the back
window drawn and the shutters closed at night, and of leaving the blind
raised and the shutters opened towards the front, liking to see the trees
and sky when I awakened. Opening my eyes now one morning, I saw right
before me (this occurred in July 1873) the figure of a woman, stooping
down and apparently looking at me. Her head and shoulders were wrapped in
a common woollen shawl; her arms were folded, and they were also wrapped,
as if for warmth, in the shawl. I looked at her in my horror, and dared
not cry out lest I might move the awful thing to speech or action. Behind
her head I saw the window and the growing dawn, the looking-glass upon
the toilet-table, and the furniture in that part of the room. After what
may have been only seconds--of the duration of this vision I cannot
judge--she raised herself and went backwards towards the window, stood at
the toilet-table, and gradually vanished. I mean she grew by degrees
transparent, and that through the shawl and the grey dress she wore I saw
the white muslin of the table-cover again, and at last saw that only in
the place where she had stood." The lady lay motionless with terror until
the servant came to call her. The only other occupants of the house at
the time were her brother and the servant, to neither of whom did she
make any mention of the circumstance, fearing that the former would laugh
at her, and the latter give notice.

[Footnote 3: July 1884, p. 141.]

Exactly a fortnight later, when sitting at breakfast, she noticed
that her brother seemed out of sorts, and did not eat. On asking
him if anything were the matter, he answered, "I have had a horrid
nightmare--indeed it was no nightmare: I saw it early this morning, just
as distinctly as I see you." "What?" she asked. "A villainous-looking
hag," he replied, "with her head and arms wrapped in a cloak, stooping
over me, and looking like this--" He got up, folded his arms, and put
himself in the exact posture of the vision. Whereupon she informed him of
what she herself had seen a fortnight previously.

About four years later, in the same month, the lady's married sister and
two children were alone in the house. The eldest child, a boy of about
four or five years, asked for a drink, and his mother went to fetch it,
desiring him to remain in the dining-room until her return. Coming back
she met the boy pale and trembling, and on asking him why he left the
room, he replied, "Who is that woman--who is that woman?" "Where?" she
asked. "That old woman who went upstairs," he replied. So agitated was
he, that she took him by the hand and went upstairs to search, but no one
was to be found, though he still maintained that a woman went upstairs. A
friend of the family subsequently told them that a woman had been killed
in the house many years previously, and that it was reported to be
haunted.




CHAPTER II

HAUNTED HOUSES IN CONN'S HALF


From a very early period a division of Ireland into two "halves"
existed. This was traditionally believed to have been made by Conn
the Hundred-fighter and Mogh Nuadat, in A.D. 166. The north was in
consequence known as Conn's Half, the south as Mogh's Half, the line of
division being a series of gravel hills extending from Dublin to Galway.
This division we have followed, except that we have included the whole
of the counties of West Meath and Galway in the northern portion. We had
hoped originally to have had _four_ chapters on Haunted Houses, one for
each of the four provinces, but, for lack of material from Connaught, we
have been forced to adopt the plan on which Chapters I-III are arranged.

Mrs. Acheson, of Co. Roscommon, sends the following: "Emo House, Co.
Westmeath, a very old mansion since pulled down, was purchased by my
grandfather for his son, my father. The latter had only been living in it
for a few days when knocking commenced at the hall door. Naturally he
thought it was someone playing tricks, or endeavouring to frighten him
away. One night he had the lobby window open directly over the door. The
knocking commenced, and he looked out: it was a very bright night, and as
there was no porch he could see the door distinctly; the knocking
continued, but he did not see the knocker move. Another night he sat up
expecting his brother, but as the latter did not come he went to bed.
Finally the knocking became so loud and insistent that he felt sure his
brother must have arrived. He went downstairs and opened the door, but no
one was there. Still convinced that his brother was there and had gone
round to the yard to put up his horse, he went out; but scarcely had he
gone twenty yards from the door when the knocking recommenced behind his
back. On turning round he could see no one."

"After this the knocking got very bad, so much so that he could not rest.
All this time he did not mention the strange occurrence to anyone. One
morning he went up through the fields between four and five o'clock. To
his surprise he found the herd out feeding the cattle. My father asked
him why he was up so early. He replied that he could not sleep. 'Why?'
asked my father. 'You know why yourself, sir--the knocking.' He then
found that this man had heard it all the time, though he slept at the end
of a long house. My father was advised to take no notice of it, for it
would go as it came, though at this time it was continuous and very loud;
and so it did. The country people said it was the late resident who could
not rest."

"We had another curious and most eerie experience in this house. A former
rector was staying the night with us, and as the evening wore on we
commenced to tell ghost-stories. He related some remarkable experiences,
and as we were talking the drawing-room door suddenly opened as wide as
possible, and then slowly closed again. It was a calm night, and at any
rate it was a heavy double door which never flies open however strong the
wind may be blowing. Everyone in the house was in bed, as it was after 12
o'clock, except the three persons who witnessed this, viz. myself, my
daughter, and the rector. The effect on the latter was most marked. He
was a big, strong, jovial man and a good athlete, but when he saw the
door open he quivered like an aspen leaf."

A strange story of a haunting, in which nothing was seen, but in which
the same noises were heard by different people, is sent by one of the
percipients, who does not wish to have her name disclosed. She says:
"When staying for a time in a country house in the North of Ireland some
years ago I was awakened on several nights by hearing the tramp, tramp,
of horses' hoofs. Sometimes it sounded as if they were walking on
paving-stones, while at other times I had the impression that they were
going round a large space, and as if someone was using a whip on them. I
heard neighing, and champing of bits, and so formed the impression that
they were carriage horses. I did not mind it much at first, as I thought
the stables must be near that part of the house. After hearing these
noises several times I began to get curious, so one morning I made a tour
of the place. I found that the side of the house I occupied overlooked a
neglected garden, which was mostly used for drying clothes. I also
discovered that the stables were right at the back of the house, and so
it would be impossible for me to hear any noises in that quarter; at any
rate there was only one farm horse left, and this was securely fastened
up every night. Also there were no cobble-stones round the yard. I
mentioned what I had heard to the people of the house, but as they would
give me no satisfactory reply I passed it over. I did not hear these
noises every night."

"One night I was startled out of my sleep by hearing a dreadful
disturbance in the kitchen. It sounded as if the dish-covers were being
taken off the wall and dashed violently on the flagged floor. At length I
got up and opened the door of my bedroom, and just as I did so an
appalling crash resounded through the house. I waited to see if there was
any light to be seen, or footstep to be heard, but nobody was stirring.
There was only one servant in the house, the other persons being my host,
his wife, and a baby, who had all retired early. Next morning I described
the noises in the kitchen to the servant, and she said she had often
heard them. I then told her about the tramping of horses: she replied
that she herself had never heard it, but that other persons who had
occupied my room had had experiences similar to mine. I asked her was
there any explanation; she said No, except that a story was told of a
gentleman who had lived there some years ago, and was very much addicted
to racing and gambling, and that he was shot one night in that house. For
the remainder of my visit I was removed to another part of the house, and
I heard no more noises."

A house in the North of Ireland, near that locality which is eternally
famous as having furnished the material for the last trial for witchcraft
in the country, is said to be haunted, the reason being that it is built
on the site of a disused and very ancient graveyard. It is said that when
some repairs were being carried out nine human skulls were unearthed. It
would be interesting to ascertain how many houses in Ireland are
traditionally said to be built on such unpleasant sites, and if they all
bear the reputation of being haunted. The present writer knows of one, in
the South, which is so situated (and this is supported, to a certain
extent, by documentary evidence from the thirteenth century down) and
which in consequence has an uncanny reputation. But concerning the above
house it has been found almost impossible to get any information. It is
said that strange noises were frequently heard there, which sometimes
seemed as if cartloads of stones were being run down one of the gables.
On one occasion an inmate of the house lay dying upstairs. A friend went
up to see the sick person, and on proceeding to pass through the bedroom
door was pressed and jostled as if by some unseen person hurriedly
leaving the room. On entering, it was found that the sick person had just
passed away.

An account of a most unpleasant haunting is contributed by Mr. W. S.
Thompson, who vouches for the substantial accuracy of it, and also
furnishes the names of two men, still living, who attended the "station."
We give it as it stands, with the comment that some of the details seem
to have been grossly exaggerated by local raconteurs. In the year 1869 a
ghost made its presence manifest in the house of a Mr. M---- in Co.
Cavan. In the daytime it resided in the chimney, but at night it left its
quarters and subjected the family to considerable annoyance. During the
day they could cook nothing, as showers of soot would be sent down the
chimney on top of every pot and pan that was placed on the fire. At night
the various members of the family would be dragged out of bed by the
hair, and pulled around the house. When anyone ventured to light a lamp
it would immediately be put out, while chairs and tables would be sent
dancing round the room. At last matters reached such a pitch that the
family found it impossible to remain any longer in the house. The night
before they left Mrs. M---- was severely handled, and her boots left
facing the door as a gentle hint for her to be off. Before they departed
some of the neighbours went to the house, saw the ghost, and even
described to Mr. Thompson what they had seen. According to one man it
appeared in the shape of a human being with a pig's head with long tusks.
Another described it as a horse with an elephant's head, and a headless
man seated on its back. Finally a "station" was held at the house by
seven priests, at which all the neighbours attended. The station
commenced after sunset, and everything in the house had to be uncovered,
lest the evil spirit should find any resting-place. A free passage was
left out of the door into the street, where many people were kneeling.
About five minutes after the station opened a rumbling noise was heard,
and a black barrel rolled out with an unearthly din, though to some
coming up the street it appeared in the shape of a black horse with
a bull's head, and a headless man seated thereon. From this time the
ghost gave no further trouble.

The same gentleman also sends an account of a haunted shop in which
members of his family had some very unpleasant experiences. "In October
1882 my father, William Thompson, took over the grocery and spirit
business from a Dr. S---- to whom it had been left by will. My sister was
put in charge of the business, and she slept on the premises at night,
but she was not there by herself very long until she found things amiss.
The third night matters were made so unpleasant for her that she had to
get up out of bed more dead than alive, and go across the street to Mrs.
M----, the servant at the R.I.C. barrack, with whom she remained until
the morning. She stated that as she lay in bed, half awake and half
asleep, she saw a man enter the room, who immediately seized her by the
throat and well-nigh choked her. She had only sufficient strength left to
gasp 'Lord, save me!' when instantly the man vanished. She also said that
she heard noises as if every bottle and glass in the shop was smashed to
atoms, yet in the morning everything would be found intact. My brother
was in charge of the shop one day, as my sister had to go to Belturbet to
do some Christmas shopping. He expected her to return to the shop that
night, but as she did not do so he was preparing to go to bed about
1 A.M., when suddenly a terrible noise was heard. The light was
extinguished, and the tables and chairs commenced to dance about the
floor, and some of them struck him on the shins. Upon this he left the
house, declaring that he had seen the Devil!" Possibly this ghost had
been a rabid teetotaller in the flesh, and continued to have a dislike to
the publican's trade after he had become discarnate. At any rate the
present occupants, who follow a different avocation, do not appear to be
troubled.

Ghosts are no respecters of persons or places, and take up their quarters
where they are least expected. One can hardly imagine them entering a
R.I.C. barrack, and annoying the stalwart inmates thereof. Yet more than
one tale of a haunted police-barrack has been sent to us--nay, in its
proper place we shall relate the appearance of a deceased member of the
"Force," uniform and all! The following personal experiences are
contributed by an ex-R.I.C. constable, who requested that all names
should be suppressed. "The barrack of which I am about to speak has now
disappeared, owing to the construction of a new railway line. It was a
three-storey house, with large airy apartments and splendid
accommodation. This particular night I was on guard. After the constables
had retired to their quarters I took my palliasse downstairs to the
day-room, and laid it on two forms alongside two six-foot tables which
were placed end to end in the centre of the room."

"As I expected a patrol in at midnight, and as another had to be sent out
when it arrived, I didn't promise myself a very restful night, so I threw
myself on the bed, intending to read a bit, as there was a large lamp
on the table. Scarcely had I commenced to read when I felt as if I was
being pushed off the bed. At first I thought I must have fallen asleep,
so to make sure, I got up, took a few turns around the room, and then
deliberately lay down again and took up my book. Scarcely had I done so,
when the same thing happened, and, though I resisted with all my
strength, I was finally landed on the floor. My bed was close to the
table, and the pushing came from that side, so that if anyone was playing
a trick on me they could not do so without being under the table: I
looked, but there was no visible presence there. I felt shaky, but
changed my couch to another part of the room, and had no further
unpleasant experience. Many times after I was 'guard' in the same room,
but I always took care not to place my couch in that particular spot."

"One night, long afterwards, we were all asleep in the dormitory, when we
were awakened in the small hours of the morning by the guard rushing
upstairs, dashing through the room, and jumping into a bed in the
farthest corner behind its occupant. There he lay gasping, unable to
speak for several minutes, and even then we couldn't get a coherent
account of what befel him. It appears he fell asleep, and suddenly awoke
to find himself on the floor, and a body rolling over him. Several men
volunteered to go downstairs with him, but he absolutely refused to leave
the dormitory, and stayed there till morning. Nor would he even remain
downstairs at night without having a comrade with him. It ended in his
applying for an exchange of stations."

"Another time I returned off duty at midnight, and after my comrade, a
married Sergeant, had gone outside to his quarters I went to the kitchen
to change my boots. There was a good fire on, and it looked so
comfortable that I remained toasting my toes on the hob, and enjoying my
pipe. The lock-up was a lean-to one-storey building off the kitchen, and
was divided into two cells, one opening into the kitchen, the other into
that cell. I was smoking away quietly when I suddenly heard inside the
lock-up a dull, heavy thud, just like the noise a drunken man would make
by crashing down on all-fours. I wondered who the prisoner could be, as I
didn't see anyone that night who seemed a likely candidate for free
lodgings. However as I heard no other sound I decided I would tell the
guard in order that he might look after him. As I took my candle from the
table I happened to glance at the lock-up, and, to my surprise, I saw
that the outer door was open. My curiosity being roused, I looked inside,
to find the inner door also open. There was nothing in either cell,
except the two empty plank-beds, and these were immovable as they were
firmly fixed to the walls. I betook myself to my bedroom much quicker
than I was in the habit of doing."

"I mentioned that this barrack was demolished owing to the construction
of a new railway line. It was the last obstacle removed, and in the
meantime workmen came from all points of the compass. One day a powerful
navvy was brought into the barrack a total collapse from drink, and
absolutely helpless. After his neckwear was loosened he was carried to
the lock-up and laid on the plank-bed, the guard being instructed to
visit him periodically, lest he should smother. He was scarcely half an
hour there--this was in the early evening--when the most unmerciful
screaming brought all hands to the lock-up, to find the erstwhile
helpless man standing on the plank-bed, and grappling with a, to us,
invisible foe. We took him out, and he maintained that a man had tried to
choke him, and was still there when we came to his relief. The strange
thing was, that he was shivering with fright, and perfectly sober, though
in the ordinary course of events he would not be in that condition for at
least seven or eight hours. The story spread like wildfire through the
town, but the inhabitants were not in the least surprised, and one old
man told us that many strange things happened in that house long before
it became a police-barrack."

A lady, who requests that her name be suppressed, relates a strange sight
seen by her sister in Galway. The latter's husband was stationed in that
town about seventeen years ago. One afternoon he was out, and she was
lying on a sofa in the drawing-room, when suddenly from behind a screen
(where there was no door) came a little old woman, with a small shawl
over her head and shoulders, such as the country women used to wear. She
had a most diabolical expression on her face. She seized the lady by the
hand, and said: "I will drag you down to Hell, where I am!" The lady
sprang up in terror and shook her off, when the horrible creature again
disappeared behind the screen. The house was an old one, and many stories
were rife amongst the people about it, the one most to the point being
that the apparition of an old woman, who was supposed to have poisoned
someone, used to be seen therein. Needless to say, the lady in question
never again sat by herself in the drawing-room.

Two stories are told about haunted houses at Drogheda, the one by A.G.
Bradley in _Notes on some Irish Superstitions_ (Drogheda, 1894), the
other by F.G. Lee in _Sights and Shadows_ (p. 42). As both appear to be
placed at the same date, _i.e._ 1890, it is quite possible that they
refer to one and the same haunting, and we have so treated them
accordingly. The reader, if he wishes, can test the matter for himself.

This house, which was reputed to be haunted, was let to a tailor and his
wife by the owner at an annual rent of £23. They took possession in due
course, but after a very few days they became aware of the presence of a
most unpleasant supernatural lodger. One night, as the tailor and his
wife were preparing to retire, they were terrified at seeing the foot of
some invisible person kick the candlestick off the table, and so quench
the candle. Although it was a very dark night, and the shutters were
closed, the man and his wife could see everything in the room just as
well as if it were the middle of the day. All at once a woman entered the
room, dressed in white, carrying something in her hand, which she threw
at the tailor's wife, striking her with some violence, and then vanished.
While this was taking place on the first floor, a most frightful noise
was going on overhead in the room where the children and their nurse were
sleeping. The father immediately rushed upstairs, and found to his horror
the floor all torn up, the furniture broken, and, worst of all, the
children lying senseless and naked on the bed, and having the appearance
of having been severely beaten. As he was leaving the room with the
children in his arms he suddenly remembered that he had not seen the
nurse, so he turned back with the intention of bringing her downstairs,
but could find her nowhere. The girl, half-dead with fright, and very
much bruised, had fled to her mother's house, where she died in a few
days in agony.

Because of these occurrences they were legally advised to refuse to pay
any rent. The landlady, however, declining to release them from their
bargain, at once claimed a quarter's rent; and when this remained for
some time unpaid, sued them for it before Judge Kisby. A Drogheda
solicitor appeared for the tenants, who, having given evidence of the
facts concerning the ghost in question, asked leave to support their
sworn testimony by that of several other people. This, however, was
disallowed by the judge. It was admitted by the landlady that nothing on
one side or the other had been said regarding the haunting when the house
was let. A judgment was consequently entered for the landlady, although
it had been shown indirectly that unquestionably the house had had the
reputation of being haunted, and that previous tenants had been much
inconvenienced.

This chapter may be concluded with two stories dealing with haunted
rectories. The first, and mildest, of these is contributed by the present
Dean of St. Patrick's; it is not his own personal experience, but was
related to him by a rector in Co. Monaghan, where he used to preach on
special occasions. The rector and his daughters told the Dean that they
had often seen in that house the apparition of an old woman dressed in a
drab cape, while they frequently heard noises. On one evening the rector
was in the kitchen together with the cook and the coachman. All three
heard noises in the pantry as if vessels were being moved. Presently they
saw the old woman in the drab cape come out of the pantry and move up the
stairs. The rector attempted to follow her, but the two servants held him
tightly by the arms, and besought him not to do so. But hearing the
children, who were in bed, screaming, he broke from the grip of the
servants and rushed upstairs. The children said that they had been
frightened by seeing a strange old woman coming into the room, but she
was now gone. The house had a single roof, and there was no way to or
from the nursery except by the stairs. The rector stated that he took to
praying that the old woman might have rest, and that it was now many
years since she had been seen. A very old parishioner told him that when
she was young she remembered having seen an old woman answering to the
rector's description, who had lived in the house, which at that time was
not a rectory.

The second of these, which is decidedly more complex and mystifying,
refers to a rectory in Co. Donegal. It is sent as the personal experience
of one of the percipients, who does not wish to have his name disclosed.
He says: "My wife, children, and myself will have lived here four years
next January (1914). From the first night that we came into the house
most extraordinary noises have been heard. Sometimes they were inside
the house, and seemed as if the furniture was being disturbed, and the
fireirons knocked about, or at other times as if a dog was running up and
down stairs. Sometimes they were external, and resembled tin buckets
being dashed about the yard, or as if a herd of cattle was galloping up
the drive before the windows. These things would go on for six months,
and then everything would be quiet for three months or so, when the
noises would commence again. My dogs--a fox-terrier, a boar-hound, and a
spaniel--would make a terrible din, and would bark at something in the
hall we could not see, backing away from it all the time.

"The only thing that was ever _seen_ was as follows: One night my
daughter went down to the kitchen about ten o'clock for some hot water.
She saw a tall man, with one arm, carrying a lamp, who walked out of the
pantry into the kitchen, and then through the kitchen wall. Another
daughter saw the same man walk down one evening from the loft, and go
into the harness-room. She told me, and I went out immediately, but could
see nobody. Shortly after that my wife, who is very brave, heard a knock
at the hall door in the dusk. Naturally thinking it was some friend, she
opened the door, and there saw standing outside the self-same man. He
simply looked at her, and walked through the wall into the house. She got
such a shock that she could not speak for several hours, and was ill for
some days. That is eighteen months ago, and he has not been seen since,
and it is six months since we heard any noises." Our correspondent's
letter was written on 25th November 1913. "An old man nearly ninety died
last year. He lived all his life within four hundred yards of this house,
and used to tell me that seventy years ago the parsons came with bell,
book, and candle to drive the ghosts out of the house." Evidently they
were unsuccessful. In English ghost-stories it is the parson who performs
the exorcism successfully, while in Ireland such work is generally
performed by the priest. Indeed a tale was sent to us in which a ghost
quite ignored the parson's efforts, but succumbed to the priest.




CHAPTER III

HAUNTED HOUSES IN MOGH'S HALF


The northern half of Ireland has not proved as prolific in stories of
haunted houses as the southern portion: the possible explanation of this
is, not that the men of the north are less prone to hold, or talk about,
such beliefs, but that, as regards the south half, we have had the good
fortune to happen upon some diligent collectors of these and kindred
tales, whose eagerness in collecting is only equalled by their kindness
in imparting information to the compilers of this book.

On a large farm near Portarlington there once lived a Mrs. ----, a
strong-minded, capable woman, who managed all her affairs for herself,
giving her orders, and taking none from anybody. In due time she died,
and the property passed to the next-of-kin. As soon, however, as the
funeral was over, the house was nightly disturbed by strange noises:
people downstairs would hear rushings about in the upper rooms, banging
of doors, and the sound of heavy footsteps. The cups and saucers used to
fall off the dresser, and all the pots and pans would rattle.

This went on for some time, till the people could stand it no longer,
so they left the house and put in a herd and his family. The latter was
driven away after he had been in the house a few weeks. This happened
to several people, until at length a man named Mr. B---- took the house.
The noises went on as before until some one suggested getting the priest
in. Accordingly the priest came, and held a service in the late
Mrs. ----'s bedroom. When this was over, the door of the room was locked.
After that the noises were not heard till one evening Mr. B---- came home
from a fair, fortified, no doubt, with a little "Dutch courage," and
declared that even if the devil were in it he would go into the locked
room. In spite of all his family could say or do, he burst open the door,
and entered the room, but apparently saw nothing. That night pandemonium
reigned in the house, the chairs were hurled about, the china was broken,
and the most weird and uncanny sounds were heard. Next day the priest
was sent for, the room again shut up, and nothing has happened from that
day to this.

Another strange story comes from the same town. "When I was on a visit to
a friend in Portarlington," writes a lady in the _Journal_ of the
American S.P.R.[4] "a rather unpleasant incident occurred to me. At about
two o'clock in the morning I woke up suddenly, for apparently no reason
whatever; however, I quite distinctly heard snoring coming from under or
in the bed in which I was lying. It continued for about ten minutes,
during which time I was absolutely limp with fright. The door opened,
and my friend entered the bedroom, saying, 'I thought you might want me,
so I came in.' Needless to say, I hailed the happy inspiration that sent
her to me. I then told her what I had heard; she listened to me, and then
to comfort (!) me said, 'Oh, never mind; _it is only grandfather_! He
died in this room, and a snoring is heard every night at two o'clock, the
hour at which he passed away.' Some time previously a German gentleman
was staying with this family. They asked him in the morning how he had
slept, and he replied that he was disturbed by a snoring in the room, but
he supposed it was the cat."

[Footnote 4: For September, 1913.]

A lady, formerly resident in Queen's Co., but who now lives near Dublin,
sends the following clear and concise account of her own personal
experiences in a haunted house: "Some years ago, my father, mother,
sister, and myself went to live in a nice but rather small house close to
the town of ---- in Queen's Co. We liked the house, as it was
conveniently and pleasantly situated, and we certainly never had a
thought of ghosts or haunted houses, nor would my father allow
any talk about such things in his presence. But we were not long settled
there when we were disturbed by the opening of the parlour door every
night regularly at the hour of eleven o'clock. My father and mother used
to retire to their room about ten o'clock, while my sister and I used to
sit up reading. We always declared that we would retire before the door
opened, but we generally got so interested in our books that we would
forget until we would hear the handle of the door turn, and see the door
flung open. We tried in every way to account for this, but we could find
no explanation, and there was no possibility of any human agent being
at work.

"Some time after, light was thrown on the subject. We had visitors
staying with us, and in order to make room for them, my sister was asked
to sleep in the parlour. She consented without a thought of ghosts,
and went to sleep quite happily; but during the night she was awakened by
some one opening the door, walking across the room, and disturbing the
fireirons. She, supposing it to be the servant, called her by name, but
got no answer: then the person seemed to come away from the fireplace,
and walk out of the room. There was a fire in the grate, but though she
heard the footsteps, she could see no one.

"The next thing was, that I was coming downstairs, and as I glanced
towards the hall door I saw standing by it a man in a grey suit. I went
to my father and told him. He asked in surprise who let him in, as the
servant was out, and he himself had already locked, bolted, and chained
the door an hour previously. None of us had let him in, and when my
father went out to the hall the man had disappeared, and the door was as
he had left it.

"Some little time after, I had a visit from a lady who knew the place
well, and in the course of conversation she said:

"'This is the house poor Mr. ---- used to live in.'

"'Who is Mr. ----?' I asked.

"'Did you never hear of him?' she replied. 'He was a minister who used to
live in this house quite alone, and was murdered in this very parlour.
His landlord used to visit him sometimes, and one night he was seen
coming in about eleven o'clock, and was seen again leaving about five
o'clock in the morning. When Mr. ---- did not come out as usual, the door
was forced open, and he was found lying dead in this room by the fender,
with his head battered in with the poker.'

"We left the house soon after," adds our informant.

The following weird incidents occurred, apparently in the Co. Kilkenny,
to a Miss K. B., during two visits paid by her to Ireland in 1880 and
1881. The house in which she experienced the following was really an old
barrack, long disused, very old-fashioned, and surrounded with a high
wall: it was said that it had been built during the time of Cromwell
as a stronghold for his men. The only inhabitants of this were Captain
C---- (a retired officer in charge of the place), Mrs. C----, three
daughters, and two servants. They occupied the central part of the
building, the mess-room being their drawing-room. Miss K. B.'s bedroom
was very lofty, and adjoined two others which were occupied by the three
daughters, E., G., and L.

"The first recollection I have of anything strange," writes Miss B., "was
that each night I was awakened about three o'clock by a tremendous noise,
apparently in the next suite of rooms, which was empty, and it sounded as
if some huge iron boxes and other heavy things were being thrown about
with great force. This continued for about half an hour, when in the room
underneath (the kitchen) I heard the fire being violently poked and raked
for several minutes, and this was immediately followed by a most terrible
and distressing cough of a man, very loud and violent. It seemed as if
the exertion had brought on a paroxysm which he could not stop. In large
houses in Co. Kilkenny the fires are not lighted every day, owing to the
slow-burning property of the coal, and it is only necessary to rake it up
every night about eleven o'clock, and in the morning it is still bright
and clear. Consequently I wondered why it was necessary for Captain
C---- to get up in the middle of the night to stir it so violently."

A few days later Miss B. said to E. C.: "I hear such strange noises every
night--are there any people in the adjoining part of the building?" She
turned very pale, and looking earnestly at Miss B., said, "Oh K., I am so
sorry you heard. I hoped no one but myself had heard it. I could have
given worlds to have spoken to you last night, but dared not move or
speak." K. B. laughed at her for being so superstitious, but E. declared
that the place was haunted, and told her of a number of weird things that
had been seen and heard.

In the following year, 1881, Miss K. B. paid another visit to the
barrack. This time there were two other visitors there--a colonel and his
wife. They occupied Miss B.'s former room, while to her was allotted a
huge bedroom on the top of the house, with a long corridor leading to it;
opposite to this was another large room, which was occupied by the girls.

Her strange experiences commenced again. "One morning, about four
o'clock, I was awakened by a very noisy martial footstep ascending the
stairs, and then marching quickly up and down the corridor outside
my room. Then suddenly the most violent coughing took place that I ever
heard, which continued for some time, while the quick, heavy step
continued its march. At last the footsteps faded away in the distance,
and I then recalled to mind the same coughing after exertion last year."
In the morning, at breakfast, she asked both Captain C---- and the
colonel had they been walking about, but both denied, and also said they
had no cough. The family looked very uncomfortable, and afterwards E.
came up with tears in her eyes, and said, "Oh K., please don't say
anything more about that dreadful coughing; we all hear it often,
especially when anything terrible is about to happen."

Some nights later the C----s gave a dance. When the guests had departed,
Miss B. went to her bedroom. "The moon was shining so beautifully that I
was able to read my Bible by its light, and had left the Bible open on
the window-sill, which was a very high one, and on which I sat to read,
having had to climb the washstand to reach it. I went to bed, and fell
asleep, but was not long so when I was suddenly awakened by the strange
feeling that some one was in the room. I opened my eyes, and turned
around, and saw on the window-sill in the moonlight a long, very thin,
very dark figure bending over the Bible, and apparently earnestly
scanning the page. As if my movement disturbed the figure, it suddenly
darted up, jumped off the window-ledge on to the washstand, then to the
ground, and flitted quietly across the room to the table where my
jewellery was." That was the last she saw of it. She thought it was some
one trying to steal her jewellery, so waited till morning, but nothing
was missing. In the morning she described to one of the daughters, G.,
what she had seen, and the latter told her that something always happened
when that appeared. Miss K. B. adds that nothing did happen. Later on she
was told that a colonel had cut his throat in that very room.

Another military station, Charles Fort, near Kinsale, has long had the
reputation of being haunted. An account of this was sent to the _Wide
World Magazine_ (Jan. 1908), by Major H. L. Ruck Keene, D.S.O.; he
states that he took it from a manuscript written by a Captain Marvell
Hull about the year 1880. Further information on the subject of the
haunting is to be found in Dr. Craig's _Real Pictures of Clerical Life in
Ireland_.

Charles Fort was erected in 1667 by the Duke of Ormonde. It is said to be
haunted by a ghost known as the "White Lady," and the traditional account
of the reason for this haunting is briefly as follows: Shortly after the
erection of the fort, a Colonel Warrender, a severe disciplinarian, was
appointed its governor. He had a daughter, who bore the quaint Christian
name of "Wilful"; she became engaged to a Sir Trevor Ashurst, and
subsequently married him. On the evening of their wedding-day the bride
and bridegroom were walking on the battlements, when she espied some
flowers growing on the rocks beneath. She expressed a wish for them, and
a sentry posted close by volunteered to climb down for them, provided Sir
Trevor took his place during his absence. He assented, and took the
soldier's coat and musket while he went in search of a rope. Having
obtained one, he commenced his descent; but the task proving longer than
he expected, Sir Trevor fell asleep. Meantime the governor visited the
sentries, as was his custom, and in the course of his rounds came to
where Sir Trevor was asleep. He challenged him, and on receiving no
answer perceived that he was asleep, whereupon he drew a pistol and shot
him through the heart. The body was brought in, and it was only then the
governor realised what had happened. The bride, who appears to have gone
indoors before the tragedy occurred, then learned the fate that befell
her husband, and in her distraction, rushed from the house and flung
herself over the battlements. In despair at the double tragedy, her
father shot himself during the night.

The above is from Dr. Craig's book already alluded to. In the _Wide World
Magazine_ the legend differs slightly in details. According to this the
governor's name was Browne, and it was his own son, not his son-in-law,
that he shot; while the incident is said to have occurred about a hundred
and fifty years ago.

The "White Lady" is the ghost of the young bride. Let us see what
accounts there are of her appearance. A good many years ago Fort-Major
Black, who had served in the Peninsular War, gave his own personal
experience to Dr. Craig. He stated that he had gone to the hall door one
summer evening, and saw a lady entering the door and going up the stairs.
At first he thought she was an officer's wife, but as he looked, he
observed she was dressed in white, and in a very old-fashioned style.
Impelled by curiosity, he hastened upstairs after her, and followed her
closely into one of the rooms, but on entering it he could not find the
slightest trace of anyone there. On another occasion he stated that two
sergeants were packing some cast stores. One of them had his little
daughter with him, and the child suddenly exclaimed, "Who is that white
lady who is bending over the banisters, and looking down at us?" The two
men looked up, but could see nothing, but the child insisted that she had
seen a lady in white looking down and smiling at her.

On another occasion a staff officer, a married man, was residing in the
"Governor's House." One night as the nurse lay awake--she and the
children were in a room which opened into what was known as the White
Lady's apartment--she suddenly saw a lady clothed in white glide to the
bedside of the youngest child, and after a little place her hand upon its
wrist. At this the child started in its sleep, and cried out, "Oh! take
that cold hand from my wrist!" the next moment the lady disappeared.

One night, about the year 1880, Captain Marvell Hull and Lieutenant
Hartland were going to the rooms occupied by the former officer. As they
reached a small landing they saw distinctly in front of them a woman in a
white dress. As they stood there in awestruck silence she turned and
looked towards them, showing a face beautiful enough, but colourless as a
corpse, and then passed on through a locked door.

But it appears that this presence did not always manifest itself in as
harmless a manner. Some years ago Surgeon L---- was quartered at the
fort. One day he had been out snipe-shooting, and as he entered the fort
the mess-bugle rang out. He hastened to his rooms to dress, but as he
failed to put in an appearance at mess, one of the officers went in
search of him, and found him lying senseless on the floor. When he
recovered consciousness he related his experience. He said he had stooped
down for the key of his door, which he had placed for safety under the
mat; when in this position he felt himself violently dragged across the
hall, and flung down a flight of steps. With this agrees somewhat the
experience of a Captain Jarves, as related by him to Captain Marvell
Hull. Attracted by a strange rattling noise in his bedroom, he
endeavoured to open the door of it, but found it seemingly locked.
Suspecting a hoax, he called out, whereupon a gust of wind passed him,
and some unseen power flung him down the stairs, and laid him senseless
at the bottom.

Near a seaside town in the south of Ireland a group of small cottages was
built by an old lady, in one of which she lived, while she let the others
to her relatives. In process of time all the occupants died, the cottages
fell into ruin, and were all pulled down (except the one in which the old
lady had lived), the materials being used by a farmer to build a large
house which he hoped to let to summer visitors. It was shortly afterwards
taken for three years by a gentleman for his family. It should be noted
that the house had very bare surroundings; there were no trees near, or
outhouses where people could be concealed. Soon after the family came to
the house they began to hear raps all over it, on doors, windows, and
walls; these raps varied in nature, sometimes being like a sledgehammer,
loud and dying away, and sometimes quick and sharp, two or three or five
in succession; and all heard them. One morning about 4 A.M., the mother
heard very loud knocking on the bedroom door; thinking it was the servant
wanting to go to early mass, she said, "Come in," but the knocking
continued till the father was awakened by it; he got up, searched the
house, but could find no one. The servant's door was slightly open, and
he saw that she was sound asleep. That morning a telegram came announcing
the death of a beloved uncle just about the hour of the knocking. Some
time previous to this the mother was in the kitchen, when a loud
explosion took place beside her, startling her very much, but no cause
for it could be found, nor were any traces left. This coincided with the
death of an aunt, wife to the uncle who died later.

One night the mother went to her bedroom. The blind was drawn, and the
shutters closed, when suddenly a great crash came, as if a branch was
thrown at the window, and there was a sound of broken glass. She opened
the shutters with the expectation of finding the window smashed, but
there was not even a crack in it. She entered the room next day at one
o'clock, and the same crash took place, being heard by all in the house:
she went in at 10 A.M. on another day, and the same thing happened,
after which she refused to enter that room again.

Another night, after 11 P.M., the servant was washing up in the kitchen,
when heavy footsteps were heard by the father and mother going upstairs,
and across a lobby to the servant's room; the father searched the house,
but could find no one. After that footsteps used to be heard regularly at
that hour, though no one could ever be seen walking about.

The two elder sisters slept together, and used to see flames shooting up
all over the floor, though there was no smell or heat; this used to be
seen two or three nights at a time, chiefly in the one room. The first
time the girls saw this one of them got up and went to her father in
alarm, naturally thinking the room underneath must be on fire.

The two boys were moved to the haunted room [which one?], where they
slept in one large bed with its head near the chimneypiece. The elder
boy, aged about thirteen, put his watch on the mantelpiece, awoke about
2 A.M., and wishing to ascertain the time, put his hand up for his watch;
he then felt a deathly cold hand laid on his. For the rest of that night
the two boys were terrified by noises, apparently caused by two people
rushing about the room fighting and knocking against the bed. About 6
A.M. they went to their father, almost in hysterics from terror, and
refused to sleep there again. The eldest sister, not being nervous, was
then given that room; she was, however, so disturbed by these noises that
she begged her father to let her leave it, but having no other room to
give her, he persuaded her to stay there, and at length she got
accustomed to the noise, and could sleep in spite of it. Finally the
family left the house before their time was up.[5]

[Footnote 5: _Journal of American S.P.R._ for September 1913.]

Mr. T.J. Westropp, to whom we are indebted for so much material, sends a
tale which used to be related by a relative of his, the Rev. Thomas
Westropp, concerning experiences in a house not very far from the city of
Limerick. When the latter was appointed to a certain parish he had some
difficulty in finding a suitable house, but finally fixed on one which
had been untenanted for many years, but had nevertheless been kept aired
and in good repair, as a caretaker who lived close by used to come and
look after it every day. The first night that the family settled there,
as the clergyman was going upstairs he heard a footstep and the rustle of
a dress, and as he stood aside a lady passed him, entered a door facing
the stairs, and closed it after her. It was only then he realised that
her dress was very old-fashioned, and that he had not been able to enter
that particular room. Next day he got assistance from a carpenter, who,
with another man, forced open the door. A mat of cobwebs fell as they did
so, and the floor and windows were thick with dust. The men went across
the room, and as the clergyman followed them he saw a small white bird
flying round the ceiling; at his exclamation the men looked back and also
saw it. It swooped, flew out of the door, and they did not see it again.
After that the family were alarmed by hearing noises under the floor of
that room every night. At length the clergyman had the boards taken up,
and the skeleton of a child was found underneath. So old did the remains
appear that the coroner did not deem it necessary to hold an inquest on
them, so the rector buried them in the churchyard. Strange noises
continued, as if some one were trying to force up the boards from
underneath. Also a heavy ball was heard rolling down the stairs and
striking against the study door. One night the two girls woke up
screaming, and on the nurse running up to them, the elder said she had
seen a great black dog with fiery eyes resting its paws on her bed. Her
father ordered the servants to sit constantly with them in the evenings,
but, notwithstanding the presence of two women in the nursery, the same
thing occurred. The younger daughter was so scared that she never quite
recovered. The family left the house immediately.

The same correspondent says: "An old ruined house in the hills of east
Co. Clare enjoyed the reputation of being 'desperately haunted' from, at
any rate, 1865 down to its dismantling. I will merely give the
experiences of my own relations, as told by them to me. My mother told
how one night she and my father heard creaking and grating, as if a door
were being forced open. The sound came from a passage in which was a door
nailed up and clamped with iron bands. A heavy footstep came down
the passage, and stopped at the bedroom door for a moment; no sound was
heard, and then the 'thing' came through the room to the foot of the bed.
It moved round the bed, they not daring to stir. The horrible unseen
visitant stopped, and they _felt_ it watching them. At last it moved
away, they heard it going up the passage, the door crashed, and all was
silence. Lighting a candle, my father examined the room, and found the
door locked; he then went along the passage, but not a sound was to be
heard anywhere.

"Strange noises like footsteps, sobbing, whispering, grim laughter, and
shrieks were often heard about the house. On one occasion my eldest
sister and a girl cousin drove over to see the family and stayed the
night. They and my two younger sisters were all crowded into a huge,
old-fashioned bed, and carefully drew and tucked in the curtains all
round. My eldest sister awoke feeling a cold wind blowing on her face,
and putting out her hand found the curtains drawn back and, as they
subsequently discovered, wedged between the bed and the wall. She reached
for the match-box, and was about to light the candle when a horrible
mocking laugh rang out close to the bed, which awakened the other girls.
Being always a plucky woman, though then badly scared, she struck a
match, and searched the room, but nothing was to be seen. The closed room
was said to have been deserted after a murder, and its floor was supposed
to be stained with blood which no human power could wash out."

Another house in Co. Clare, nearer the estuary of the Shannon, which was
formerly the residence of the D---- family, but is now pulled down, had
some extraordinary tales told about it in which facts (if we may use the
word) were well supplemented by legend. To commence with the former.
A lady writes: "My father and old Mr. D---- were first cousins. Richard
D---- asked my father would he come and sit up with him one night, in
order to see what might be seen. Both were particularly sober men. The
annoyances in the house were becoming unbearable. Mrs. D----'s work-box
used to be thrown down, the table-cloth would be whisked off the table,
the fender and fireirons would be hurled about the room, and other
similar things would happen. Mr. D---- and my father went up to one of
the bedrooms, where a big fire was made up. They searched every part of
the room carefully, but nothing uncanny was to be seen or found. They
then placed two candles and a brace of pistols on a small table between
them, and waited. Nothing happened for some time, till all of a sudden a
large black dog walked out from under the bed. Both men fired, and the
dog disappeared. That is all! The family had to leave the house."

Now to the blending of fact with fiction, of which we have already
spoken: the intelligent reader can decide in his own mind which is which.
It was said that black magic had been practised in this house at one
time, and that in consequence terrible and weird occurrences were quite
the order of the day there. When being cooked, the hens used to scream
and the mutton used to bleat in the pot. Black dogs were seen frequently.
The beds used to be lifted up, and the occupants thereof used to be
beaten black and blue, by invisible hands. One particularly ghoulish tale
was told. It was said that a monk (!) was in love with one of the
daughters of the house, who was an exceedingly fat girl. She died
unmarried, and was buried in the family vault. Some time later the vault
was again opened for an interment, and those who entered it found that
Miss D----'s coffin had been disturbed, and the lid loosened. They
then saw that all the fat around her heart had been scooped away.

Apropos of ineradicable blood on a floor, which is a not infrequent item
in stories of haunted houses, it is said that a manifestation of this
nature forms the haunting in a farmhouse in Co. Limerick. According to
our informants, a light must be kept burning in this house all night; if
by any chance it is forgotten, or becomes quenched, in the morning the
floor is covered with blood. The story is evidently much older than the
house, but no traditional explanation is given.

Two stories of haunted schools have been sent to us, both on very good
authority; these establishments lie within the geographical limits of
this chapter, but for obvious reasons, we cannot indicate their locality
more precisely, though the names of both are known to us. The first of
these was told to our correspondent by the boy Brown, who was in the
room, but did _not_ see the ghost.

When Brown was about fifteen he was sent to ---- School. His brother told
him not to be frightened at anything he might see or hear, as the boys
were sure to play tricks on all new-comers. He was put to sleep in a room
with another new arrival, a boy named Smith, from England. In the middle
of the night Brown was roused from his sleep by Smith crying out in great
alarm, and asking who was in the room. Brown, who was very angry at being
waked up, told him not to be a fool--that there was no one there. The
second night Smith roused him again, this time in greater alarm than the
first night. He said he saw a man in cap and gown come into the room with
a lamp, and then pass right through the wall. Smith got out of his bed,
and fell on his knees beside Brown, beseeching him not to go to sleep. At
first Brown thought it was all done to frighten him, but he then saw that
Smith was in a state of abject terror. Next morning they spoke of the
occurrence, and the report reached the ears of the Head Master, who sent
for the two boys. Smith refused to spend another night in the room. Brown
said he had seen or heard nothing, and was quite willing to sleep there
if another fellow would sleep with him, but he would not care to remain
there alone. The Head Master then asked for volunteers from the class of
elder boys, but not one of them would sleep in the room. It had always
been looked upon as "haunted," but the Master thought that by putting in
new boys who had not heard the story they would sleep there all right.

Some years after, Brown revisited the place, and found that another
attempt had been made to occupy the room. A new Head Master who did not
know its history, thought it a pity to have the room idle, and put a
teacher, also new to the school, in possession. When this teacher came
down the first morning, he asked who had come into his room during the
night. He stated that a man in cap and gown, having books under his arm
and a lamp in his hand, came in, sat down at a table, and began to read.
He knew that he was not one of the masters, and did not recognise him as
one of the boys. The room had to be abandoned. The tradition is that many
years ago a master was murdered in that room by one of the students. The
few boys who ever had the courage to persist in sleeping in the room said
if they stayed more than two or three nights that the furniture was
moved, and they heard violent noises.

The second story was sent to us by the percipient herself, and is
therefore a firsthand experience. Considering that she was only a
schoolgirl at the time, it must be admitted that she made a most plucky
attempt to run the ghost to earth.

"A good many years ago, when I first went to school, I did not believe in
ghosts, but I then had an experience which caused me to alter my opinion.
I was ordered with two other girls to sleep in a small top room at the
back of the house which overlooked a garden which contained ancient
apple-trees.

"Suddenly in the dead of night I was awakened out of my sleep by the
sound of heavy footsteps, as of a man wearing big boots unlaced, pacing
ceaselessly up and down a long corridor which I knew was plainly visible
from the landing outside my door, as there was a large window at the
farther end of it, and there was sufficient moonlight to enable one to
see its full length. After listening for about twenty minutes, my
curiosity was aroused, so I got up and stood on the landing. The
footsteps still continued, but I could see nothing, although the sounds
actually reached the foot of the flight of stairs which led from the
corridor to the landing on which I was standing. Suddenly the footfall
ceased, pausing at my end of the corridor, and I then considered it was
high time for me to retire, which I accordingly did, carefully closing
the door behind me.

"To my horror the footsteps ascended the stairs, and the bedroom door was
violently dashed back against a washing-stand, beside which was a bed;
the contents of the ewer were spilled over the occupant, and the steps
advanced a few paces into the room in my direction. A cold perspiration
broke out all over me; I cannot describe the sensation. It was not actual
fear--it was more than that--I felt I had come into contact with the
Unknown.

"What was about to happen? All I could do was to speak; I cried out, "Who
are you? What do you want?" Suddenly the footsteps ceased; I felt
relieved, and lay awake till morning, but no further sound reached my
ears. How or when my ghostly visitant disappeared I never knew; suffice
it to say, my story was no nightmare, but an actual fact, of which there
was found sufficient proof in the morning; the floor was still saturated
with water, the door, which we always carefully closed at night, was wide
open, and last, but not least, the occupant of the wet bed had heard all
that had happened, but feared to speak, and lay awake till morning.

"Naturally, we related our weird experience to our schoolmates, and it
was only then I learned from one of the elder girls that this ghost had
manifested itself for many years in a similar fashion to the inhabitants
of that room. It was supposed to be the spirit of a man who, long years
before, had occupied this apartment (the house was then a private
residence), and had committed suicide by hanging himself from an old
apple tree opposite the window. Needless to say, the story was hushed up,
and we were sharply spoken to, and warned not to mention the occurrence
again.

"Some years afterwards a friend, who happened at the time to be a boarder
at this very school, came to spend a week-end with me. She related an
exactly similar incident which occurred a few nights previous to her
visit. My experience was quite unknown to her."

The following account of strange happenings at his glebe-house has been
sent by the rector of a parish in the diocese of Cashel: "Shortly after
my wife and I came to live here, some ten years ago, the servants
complained of hearing strange noises in the top storey of the Rectory
where they sleep. One girl ran away the day after she arrived, declaring
that the house was haunted, and that nothing would induce her to sleep
another night in it. So often had my wife to change servants on this
account that at last I had to speak to the parish priest, as I suspected
that the idea of 'ghosts' might have been suggested to the maids by
neighbours who might have some interest in getting rid of them. I
understand that my friend the parish priest spoke very forcibly from the
altar on the subject of spirits, saying that the only spirits he believed
ever did any harm to anyone were ----, mentioning a well-known brand of
the wine of the country. Whether this priestly admonition was the cause
or not, for some time we heard no more tales of ghostly manifestations.

"After a while, however, my wife and I began to hear a noise which, while
in no sense alarming, has proved to be both remarkable and inexplicable.
If we happen to be sitting in the dining-room after dinner, sometimes we
hear what sounds like the noise of a heavy coach rumbling up to the hall
door. We have both heard this noise hundreds of times between eight P.M.
and midnight. Sometimes we hear it several times the same night, and then
perhaps we won't hear it again for several months. We hear it best on
calm nights, and as we are nearly a quarter of a mile from the high
road, it is difficult to account for, especially as the noise appears to
be quite close to us--I mean not farther away than the hall-door. I may
mention that an Englishman was staying with us a few years ago. As we
were sitting in the dining-room one night after dinner he said, 'A
carriage has just driven up to the door'; but we knew it was only the
'phantom coach,' for we also heard it. Only once do I remember hearing it
while sitting in the drawing-room. So much for the 'sound' of the
'phantom coach,' but now I must tell you what I _saw_ with my own eyes as
clearly as I now see the paper on which I am writing. Some years ago in
the middle of the summer, on a scorching hot day, I was out cutting
some hay opposite the hall door just by the tennis court. It was between
twelve and one o'clock. I remember the time distinctly, as my man had
gone to his dinner shortly before. The spot on which I was commanded
a view of the avenue from the entrance gate for about four hundred yards.
I happened to look up from my occupation--for scything is no easy
work--and I saw what I took to be a somewhat high dogcart, in which two
people were seated, turning in at the avenue gate. As I had my coat and
waistcoat off, and was not in a state to receive visitors, I got behind a
newly-made hay-cock and watched the vehicle until it came to a bend in
the avenue where there is a clump of trees which obscured it from my
view. As it did not, however, reappear, I concluded that the occupants
had either stopped for some reason or had taken by mistake a cart-way
leading to the back gate into the garden. Hastily putting on my coat, I
went down to the bend in the avenue, but to my surprise there was nothing
to be seen.

"Returning to the Rectory, I met my housekeeper, who has been with me for
nearly twenty years, and I told her what I had seen. She then told me
that about a month before, while I was away from home, my man had one day
gone with the trap to the station. She saw, just as I did, a trap coming
up the avenue until it was lost to sight owing to the intervention of the
clump of trees. As it did not come on, she went down to the bend, but
there was no trap to be seen. When the man came in some half-hour after,
my housekeeper asked him if he had come half-way up the avenue and turned
back, but he said he had only that minute come straight from the station.
My housekeeper said she did not like to tell me about it before, as she
thought I 'would have laughed at her.' Whether the 'spectral gig' which I
saw and the 'phantom coach' which my wife and I have often heard are one
and the same I know not, but I do know that what I saw in the full blaze
of the summer sun was not inspired by a dose of the spirits referred to
by my friend the parish priest.

"Some time during the winter of 1912, I was in the motor-house one dark
evening at about 6 P.M. I was working at the engine, and as the car was
'nose in' first, I was, of course, at the farthest point from the door.
I had sent my man down to the village with a message. He was gone about
ten minutes when I heard heavy footsteps enter the yard and come over to
the motor-house. I 'felt' that there was some one in the house quite
close to me, and I said, 'Hullo, ----, what brought you back so soon,' as
I knew he could not have been to the village and back. As I got no reply,
I took up my electric lamp and went to the back of the motor to see who
was there, but there was no one to be seen, and although I searched the
yard with my lamp, I could discover no one. About a week later I heard
the footsteps again under almost identical conditions, but I searched
with the same futile result.

"Before I stop, I must tell you about a curious 'presentiment' which
happened with regard to a man I got from the Queen's County. He arrived
on a Saturday evening, and on the following Monday morning I put him to
sweep the avenue. He was at his work when I went out in the motor car at
about 10:30 A.M. Shortly after I left he left his wheel-barrow and tools
on the avenue (just at the point where I saw the 'spectral gig'
disappear) and, coming up to the Rectory, he told my housekeeper in a
great state of agitation that he was quite sure that his brother, with
whom he had always lived, was dead. He said he must return home at once.
My housekeeper advised him to wait until I returned, but he changed his
clothes and packed his box, saying he must catch the next train. Just
before I returned home at 12 o'clock, a telegram came saying his brother
had died suddenly that morning, and that he was to return at once. On my
return I found him almost in a state of collapse. He left by the next
train, and I never heard of him again."

K---- Castle is a handsome blending of ancient castle and modern
dwelling-house, picturesquely situated among trees, while the steep glen
mentioned below runs close beside it. It has the reputation of being
haunted, but, as usual, it is difficult to get information. One
gentleman, to whom we wrote, stated that he never saw or heard anything
worse than a bat. On the other hand, a lady who resided there a good many
years ago, gives the following account of her extraordinary experiences
therein:

DEAR MR. SEYMOUR,

I enclose some account of our experiences in K---- Castle. It would be
better not to mention names, as the people occupying it have told me they
are afraid of their servants hearing anything, and consequently giving
notice. They themselves hear voices often, but, like me, they do not
mind. When first we went there we heard people talking, but on looking
everywhere we could find no one. Then on some nights we heard fighting in
the glen beside the house. We could hear voices raised in anger, and the
clash of steel: no person would venture there after dusk.

One night I was sitting talking with my governess, I got up, said
good-night, and opened the door, which was on the top of the back
staircase. As I did so, I _heard_ some one (a woman) come slowly
upstairs, walk past us to a window at the end of the landing, and then
with a shriek fall heavily. As she passed it was bitterly cold, and I
drew back into the room, but did not say anything, as it might frighten
the governess. She asked me what was the matter, as I looked so white.
Without answering, I pushed her into her room, and then searched the
house, but with no results.

Another night I was sleeping with my little girl. I awoke, and saw a girl
with long, fair hair standing at the fireplace, one hand at her side, the
other on the chimney-piece. Thinking at first it was my little girl, I
felt on the pillow to see if she were gone, but she was fast asleep.
There was no fire or light of any kind in the room.

Some time afterwards a friend was sleeping there, and she told me that
she was pushed out of bed the whole night. Two gentlemen to whom I had
mentioned this came over, thinking they would find out the cause. In the
morning when they came down they asked for the carriage to take them to
the next train, but would not tell what they had heard or seen.
Another person who came to visit her sister, who was looking after the
house before we went in, slept in this room, and in the morning said she
must go back that day. She also would give no information.

On walking down the corridor, I have heard a door open, a footstep cross
before me, and go into another room, _both_ doors being closed at the
time. An old cook I had told me that when she went into the hall in the
morning, a gentleman would come down the front stairs, take a plumed hat
off the stand, and vanish _through_ the hall door. This she saw nearly
every morning. She also said that a girl often came into her bedroom, and
put her hand on her (the cook's) face; and when she would push her away
she would hear a girl's voice say, "Oh don't!" three times. I have often
heard voices in the drawing-room, which decidedly sounded as if an old
gentleman and a girl were talking. Noises like furniture being moved were
frequently heard at night, and strangers staying with us have often asked
why the servants turned out the rooms underneath them at such an unusual
hour. The front-door bell sometimes rang, and I have gone down, but found
no one.

Yours very sincerely,
F.T.

"Kilman" Castle, in the heart of Ireland--the name is obviously a
pseudonym--has been described as perhaps the worst haunted mansion in the
British Isles. That it deserves this doubtful recommendation, we cannot
say; but at all events the ordinary reader will be prepared to admit that
it contains sufficient "ghosts" to satisfy the most greedy ghost-hunter.
A couple of months ago the present writer paid a visit to this castle,
and was shown all over it one morning by the mistress of the house, who,
under the _nom de plume_ of "Andrew Merry" has published novels dealing
with Irish life, and has also contributed articles on the ghostly
phenomena of her house to the _Occult Review_ (Dec. 1908 and Jan. 1909).

The place itself is a grim, grey, bare building. The central portion, in
which is the entrance-hall, is a square castle of the usual type; it is
built on a rock, and a slight batter from base to summit gives an added
appearance of strength and solidity. On either side of the castle are
more modern wings, one of which terminates in what is known as the
"Priest's House."

Now to the ghosts. The top storey of the central tower is a large,
well-lighted apartment, called the "Chapel," having evidently served that
purpose in times past. At one end is what is said to be an _oubliette_,
now almost filled up. Occasionally in the evenings, people walking along
the roads or in the fields see the windows of this chapel lighted up for
a few seconds as if many lamps were suddenly brought into it. This is
certainly _not_ due to servants; from our experience we can testify that
it is the last place on earth that a domestic would enter after dark. It
is also said that a treasure is buried somewhere in or around the castle.
The legend runs that an ancestor was about to be taken to Dublin on a
charge of rebellion, and, fearing he would never return, made the best of
the time left to him by burying somewhere a crock full of gold and
jewels. Contrary to expectation, he _did_ return; but his long
confinement had turned his brain, and he could never remember the spot
where he had deposited his treasure years before. Some time ago a lady, a
Miss B., who was decidedly psychic, was invited to Kilman Castle in the
hope that she would be able to locate the whereabouts of this treasure.
In this respect she failed, unfortunately, but gave, nevertheless, a
curious example of her power. As she walked through the hall with her
hostess, she suddenly laid her hand upon the bare stone wall, and
remarked, "There is something uncanny here, but I don't know what it is."
In that very spot, some time previously, two skeletons had been
discovered walled up.

The sequel to this is curious. Some time after, Miss B. was either trying
automatic writing, or else was at a sťance (we forget which), when a
message came to her from the Unseen, stating that the treasure at Kilman
Castle was concealed in the chapel under the tessellated pavement near
the altar. But this spirit was either a "lying spirit," or else a most
impish one, for there is no trace of an altar, and it is impossible to
say, from the style of the room, where it stood; while the tessellated
pavement (if it exists) is so covered with the debris of the former
roof that it would be almost impossible to have it thoroughly cleared.

There is as well a miscellaneous assortment of ghosts. A monk with
tonsure and cowl walks in at one window of the Priest's House, and out at
another. There is also a little old man, dressed in the antique garb
of a green cut-away coat, knee breeches, and buckled shoes: he is
sometimes accompanied by an old lady in similar old-fashioned costume.
Another ghost has a penchant for lying on the bed beside its lawful and
earthly occupant; nothing is seen, but a great weight is felt, and a
consequent deep impression made on the bedclothes.

The lady of the house states that she has a number of letters from
friends, in which they relate the supernatural experiences they had while
staying at the Castle. In one of these the writer, a gentleman, was
awakened one night by an extraordinary feeling of intense cold at his
heart. He then saw in front of him a tall female figure, clothed from
head to foot in red, and with its right hand raised menacingly in the
air: the light which illuminated the figure was from within. He lit a
match, and sprang out of bed, but the room was empty. He went back to
bed, and saw nothing more that night, except that several times the same
cold feeling gripped his heart, though to the touch the flesh was quite
warm.

But of all the ghosts in that well-haunted house the most unpleasant is
that inexplicable thing that is usually called "It." The lady of the
house described to the present writer her personal experience of this
phantom. High up round one side of the hall runs a gallery which connects
with some of the bedrooms. One evening she was in this gallery leaning on
the balustrade, and looking down into the hall. Suddenly she felt two
hands laid on her shoulders; she turned round sharply, and saw "It"
standing close beside her. She described it as being human in shape, and
about four feet high; the eyes were like two black holes in the face, and
the whole figure seemed as if it were made of grey cotton-wool, while it
was accompanied by a most appalling stench, such as would come from a
decaying human body. The lady got a shock from which she did not recover
for a long time.




CHAPTER IV

POLTERGEISTS


Poltergeist is the term assigned to those apparently meaningless noises
and movements of objects of which we from time to time hear accounts. The
word is, of course, German, and may be translated "boisterous ghost." A
poltergeist is seldom or never seen, but contents itself by moving
furniture and other objects about in an extraordinary manner, often
contrary to the laws of gravitation; sometimes footsteps are heard, but
nothing is visible, while at other times vigorous rappings will be heard
either on the walls or floor of a room, and in the manner in which the
raps are given a poltergeist has often showed itself as having a close
connection with the physical phenomena of spiritualism, for cases have
occurred in which a poltergeist has given the exact number of raps
mentally asked for by some person present. Another point that is worthy
of note is the fact that the hauntings of a poltergeist are generally
attached to a certain individual in a certain spot, and thus differ from
the operations of an ordinary ghost.

The two following incidents related in this chapter are taken from a
paper read by Professor Barrett, F.R.S., before the Society for Psychical
Research.[6] In the case of the first anecdote he made every possible
inquiry into the facts set forth, short of actually being an eye-witness
of the phenomena. In the case of the second he made personal
investigation, and himself saw the whole of the incidents related. There
is therefore very little room to doubt the genuineness of either story.

[Footnote 6: _Proceedings_, August 1911, pp. 377-95.]

In the year 1910, in a certain house in Court Street, Enniscorthy, there
lived a labouring man named Redmond. His wife took in boarders to
supplement her husband's wages, and at the time to which we refer there
were three men boarding with her, who slept in one room above the
kitchen. The house consisted of five rooms--two on the ground-floor, of
which one was a shop and the other the kitchen. The two other rooms
upstairs were occupied by the Redmonds and their servant respectively.
The bedroom in which the boarders slept was large, and contained two
beds, one at each end of the room, two men sleeping in one of them; John
Randall and George Sinnott were the names of two, but the name of the
third lodger is not known--he seems to have left the Redmonds very
shortly after the disturbances commenced.

It was on July 4, 1910, that John Randall, who is a carpenter by trade,
went to live at Enniscorthy, and took rooms with the Redmonds. In a
signed statement, now in possession of Professor Barrett, he tells a
graphic tale of what occurred each night during the three weeks he lodged
in the house, and as a result of the poltergeist's attentions he lost
three-quarters of a stone in weight. It was on the night of Thursday,
July 7, that the first incident occurred, when the bedclothes were gently
pulled off his bed. Of course he naturally thought it was a joke, and
shouted to his companions to stop. As no one could explain what was
happening, a match was struck, and the bedclothes were found to be at the
window, from which the other bed (a large piece of furniture which
ordinarily took two people to move) had been rolled just when the clothes
had been taken off Randall's bed. Things were put straight and the light
blown out, "but," Randall's account goes on to say, "it wasn't long until
we heard some hammering in the room--tap-tap-tap-like. This lasted for a
few minutes, getting quicker and quicker. When it got very quick, their
bed started to move out across the room.... We then struck a match and
got the lamp. We searched the room thoroughly, and could find nobody.
Nobody had come in the door. We called the man of the house (Redmond); he
came into the room, saw the bed, and told us to push it back and get into
bed (he thought all the time one of us was playing the trick on the
other). I said I wouldn't stay in the other bed by myself, so I got in
with the others; we put out the light again, and it had only been a
couple of minutes out when the bed ran out on the floor with the three of
us. Richard struck a match again, and this time we all got up and put on
our clothes; we had got a terrible fright and couldn't stick it any
longer. We told the man of the house we would sit up in the room till
daylight. During the time we were sitting in the room we could hear
footsteps leaving the kitchen and coming up the stairs; it would stop on
the landing outside the door, and wouldn't come into the room. The
footsteps and noises continued through the house until daybreak."

The next night the footsteps and noises were continued, but the
unfortunate men did not experience any other annoyance. On the following
day the men went home, and it is to be hoped they were able to make up
for all the sleep they had lost on the two previous nights. They returned
on the Sunday, and from that night till they finally left the house the
men were disturbed practically every night. On Monday, 11th July the bed
was continually running out from the wall with its three occupants. They
kept the lamp alight, and a chair was seen to dance gaily out into the
middle of the floor. On the following Thursday we read of the same
happenings, with the addition that one of the boarders was lifted out
of the bed, though he felt no hand near him. It seems strange that they
should have gone through such a bad night exactly a week from the night
the poltergeist started its operations. So the account goes on; every
night that they slept in the room the hauntings continued, some nights
being worse than others. On Friday, 29th July, "the bed turned up on one
side and threw us out on the floor, and before we were thrown out, the
pillow was taken from under my head three times. When the bed rose up, it
fell back without making any noise. This bed was so heavy, it took both
the woman and the girl to pull it out from the wall without anybody in
it, and there were only three castors on it." The poltergeist must have
been an insistent fellow, for when the unfortunate men took refuge in the
other bed, they had not been long in it before it began to rise, but
could not get out of the recess it was in unless it was taken to pieces.

"It kept very bad," we read, "for the next few nights. So Mr. Murphy,
from the _Guardian_ office, and another man named Devereux, came and
stopped in the room one night."

The experiences of Murphy and Devereux on this night are contained in a
further statement, signed by Murphy and corroborated by Devereux. They
seem to have gone to work in a business-like manner, as before taking
their positions for the night they made a complete investigation of the
bedroom and house, so as to eliminate all chance of trickery or fraud. By
this time, it should be noted, one of Mrs. Redmond's lodgers had
evidently suffered enough from the poltergeist, as only two men are
mentioned in Murphy's statement, one sleeping in each bed. The two
investigators took up their position against the wall midway between the
two beds, so that they had a full view of the room and the occupants of
the beds. "The night," says Murphy, "was a clear, starlight night. No
blind obstructed the view from outside, and one could see the outlines of
the beds and their occupants clearly. At about 11.30 a tapping was heard
close at the foot of Randall's bed. My companion remarked that it
appeared to be like the noise of a rat eating at timber.

"Sinnott replied, 'You'll soon see the rat it is.' The tapping went on
slowly at first ... then the speed gradually increased to about a hundred
or a hundred and twenty per minute, the noise growing louder. This
continued for about five minutes, when it stopped suddenly. Randall then
spoke. He said: 'The clothes are slipping off my bed: look at them
sliding off. Good God, they are going off me.' Mr. Devereux immediately
struck a match, which he had ready in his hand. The bedclothes had partly
left the boy's bed, having gone diagonally towards the foot, going out at
the left corner, and not alone did they seem to be drawn off the bed, but
they appeared to be actually going back under the bed, much in the same
position one would expect bedclothes to be if a strong breeze were
blowing through the room at the time. But then everything was perfectly
calm."

A search was then made for wires or strings, but nothing of the sort
could be found. The bedclothes were put back and the light extinguished.
For ten minutes silence reigned, only to be broken by more rapping which
was followed by shouts from Randall. He was told to hold on to the
clothes, which were sliding off again. But this was of little use, for he
was heard to cry, "I'm going, I'm going, I'm gone," and when a light was
struck he was seen to slide from the bed and all the bedclothes with him.
Randall, who, with Sinnott, had shown considerable strength of mind by
staying in the house under such trying circumstances, had evidently had
enough of ghostly hauntings, for as he lay on the floor, trembling in
every limb and bathed in perspiration, he exclaimed: "Oh, isn't this
dreadful? I can't stand it; I can't stay here any longer." He was
eventually persuaded to get back to bed. Later on more rapping occurred
in a different part of the room, but it soon stopped, and the rest of the
night passed away in peace.

Randall and Sinnott went to their homes the next day, and Mr. Murphy
spent from eleven till long past midnight in their vacated room, but
heard and saw nothing unusual. He states in conclusion that "Randall
could not reach that part of the floor from which the rapping came on any
occasion without attracting my attention and that of my comrade."

The next case related by Professor Barrett occurred in County Fermanagh,
at a spot eleven miles from Enniskillen and about two miles from the
hamlet of Derrygonelly, where there dwelt a farmer and his family of four
girls and a boy, of whom the eldest was a girl of about twenty years of
age named Maggie. His cottage consisted of three rooms, the kitchen, or
dwelling-room, being in the centre, with a room on each side used as
bedrooms. In one of these two rooms Maggie slept with her sisters, and it
was here that the disturbances occurred, generally after they had all
gone to bed, when rappings and scratchings were heard which often lasted
all night. Rats were first blamed, but when things were moved by some
unseen agent, and boots and candles thrown out of the house, it was seen
that something more than the ordinary rat was at work. The old farmer,
who was a Methodist, sought advice from his class leader, and by his
directions laid an open Bible on the bed in the haunted room, placing a
big stone on the book. But the stone was lifted off by an unseen hand,
the Bible moved out of the room, and seventeen pages torn out of it. They
could not keep a lamp or candle in the house, so they went to their
neighbours for help, and, to quote the old farmer's words to Professor
Barrett, "Jack Flanigan came and lent us a lamp, saying the devil himself
would not steal it, as he had got the priest to sprinkle it with holy
water." "But that," the old man said, "did us no good either, for the
next day it took away that lamp also."

Professor Barrett, at the invitation of Mr. Thomas Plunkett of
Enniskillen, went to investigate. He got a full account from the farmer
of the freakish tricks which were continually being played in the house,
and gives a graphic account of what he himself observed: "After the
children, except the boy, had gone to bed, Maggie lay down on the bed
without undressing, so that her hands and feet could be observed. The
rest of us sat round the kitchen fire, when faint raps, rapidly
increasing in loudness, were heard coming apparently from the walls,
the ceiling, and various parts of the inner room, the door of which was
open. On entering the bedroom with a light the noises at first ceased,
but recommenced when I put the light on the window-sill in the kitchen. I
had the boy and his father by my side, and asked Mr. Plunkett to look
round the house outside. Standing in the doorway leading to the bedroom,
the noises recommenced, the light was gradually brought nearer, and after
much patience I was able to bring the light into the bedroom whilst the
disturbances were still loudly going on. At last I was able to go up to
the side of the bed, with the lighted candle in my hand, and closely
observed each of the occupants lying on the bed. The younger children
were apparently asleep, and Maggie was motionless; nevertheless, knocks
were going on everywhere around; on the chairs, the bedstead, the walls
and ceiling. The closest scrutiny failed to detect any movement on the
part of those present that could account for the noises, which were
accompanied by a scratching or tearing sound. Suddenly a large pebble
fell in my presence on to the bed; no one had moved to dislodge it, even
if it had been placed for the purpose. When I replaced the candle on the
window-sill in the kitchen, the knocks became still louder, like those
made by a heavy carpenter's hammer driving nails into flooring."

A couple of days afterwards, the Rev. Maxwell Close, M.A., a well-known
member of the S.P.R., joined Professor Barrett and Mr. Plunkett, and
together the party of three paid visits on two consecutive nights to the
haunted farm-house, and the noises were repeated. Complete search was
made, both inside and outside of the house, but no cause could be found.
When the party were leaving, the old farmer was much perturbed that they
had not "laid the ghost." When questioned he said he thought it was
fairies. He was asked if it had answered to questions by raps and he said
he had; "but it tells lies as often as truth, and oftener, I think. We
tried it, and it only knocked at L M N when we said the alphabet over."
Professor Barrett then tested it by asking mentally for a certain number
of raps, and immediately the actual number was heard. He repeated this
four times with a different number each time, and with the same result.

Perhaps the most interesting part of this particular case is at the end
of Professor Barrett's account, when, at the request of the old farmer,
Mr. Maxwell Close read some passages from Scripture, followed by the
Lord's Prayer, to an accompaniment of knockings and scratches, which were
at first so loud that the solemn words could hardly be heard, but which
gradually ceased as they all knelt in prayer. And since that night no
further disturbance occurred.

Another similar story comes from the north of Ireland. In the year 1866
(as recorded in the _Larne Reporter_ of March 31 in that year), two
families residing at Upper Ballygowan, near Larne, suffered a series of
annoyances from having stones thrown into their houses both by night and
by day. Their neighbours came in great numbers to sympathise with them in
their affliction, and on one occasion, after a volley of stones had been
poured into the house through the window, a young man who was present
fired a musket in the direction of the mysterious assailants. The reply
was a loud peal of satanic laughter, followed by a volley of stones and
turf. On another occasion a heap of potatoes, which was in an inner
apartment of one of the houses, was seen to be in commotion, and shortly
afterwards its contents were hurled into the kitchen, where the inmates
of the house, with some of their neighbours, were assembled.

The explanation given by some people of this mysterious affair was as
mysterious as the affair itself. It was said that many years before the
occurrences which we have now related took place, the farmer who then
occupied the premises in which they happened was greatly annoyed by
mischievous tricks which were played upon him by a company of fairies who
had a habit of holding their rendezvous in his house. The consequence was
that this man had to leave the house, which for a long time stood a
roofless ruin. After the lapse of many years, and when the story about
the dilapidated fabric having been haunted had probably been forgotten,
the people who then occupied the adjoining lands unfortunately took some
of the stones of the old deserted mansion to repair their own buildings.
At this the fairies, or "good people," were much incensed; and they
vented their displeasure on the offender in the way we have described.

A correspondent from County Wexford, who desires to have his name
suppressed, writes as follows: "Less than ten miles from the town
of ----, Co. Wexford, lives a small farmer named M----, who by dint of
thrift and industry has reared a large family decently and comfortably.

"Some twenty years ago Mr. M----, through the death of a relative, fell
in for a legacy of about a hundred pounds. As he was already in rather
prosperous circumstances, and as his old thatched dwelling-house was not
large enough to accommodate his increasing family, he resolved to spend
the money in building a new one.

"Not long afterwards building operations commenced, and in about a year
he had a fine slated cottage, or small farm-house, erected and ready for
occupation: so far very well; but it is little our friend M----
anticipated the troubles which were still ahead of him. He purchased some
new furniture at the nearest town, and on a certain day he removed all
the furniture which the old house contained into the new one; and in the
evening the family found themselves installed in the latter for good, as
they thought. They all retired to rest at their usual hour; scarcely were
they snugly settled in bed when they heard peculiar noises inside the
house. As time passed the din became terrible--there was shuffling of
feet, slamming of doors, pulling about of furniture, and so forth. The
man of the house got up to explore, but could see nothing, neither was
anything disturbed. The door was securely locked as he had left it. After
a thorough investigation, in which his wife assisted, he had to own he
could find no clue to the cause of the disturbance. The couple went to
bed again, and almost immediately the racket recommenced, and continued
more or less till dawn.

"The inmates were puzzled and frightened, but determined to try whether
the noise would be repeated the next night before telling their
neighbours what had happened. But the pandemonium experienced the first
night of their occupation was as nothing compared with what they had
to endure the second night and for several succeeding nights. Sleep was
impossible, and finally Mr. M---- and family in terror abandoned their
new home, and retook possession of their old one.

"That is the state of things to this day. The old house has been repaired
and is tenanted. The new house, a few perches off, facing the public
road, is used as a storehouse. The writer has seen it scores of times,
and its story is well known all over the country-side. Mr. M---- is
disinclined to discuss the matter or to answer questions; but it is said
he made several subsequent attempts to occupy the house, but always
failed to stand his ground when night came with its usual rowdy
disturbances.

"It is said that when building operations were about to begin, a little
man of bizarre appearance accosted Mr. M---- and exhorted him to build on
a different site; otherwise the consequences would be unpleasant for him
and his; while the local peasantry allege that the house was built across
a fairy pathway between two _raths_, and that this was the cause of the
trouble. It is quite true that there are two large _raths_ in the
vicinity, and the haunted house is directly in a bee-line between them.
For myself I offer no explanation; but I guarantee the substantial
accuracy of what I have stated above."

Professor Barrett, in the paper to which we have already referred, draws
certain conclusions from his study of this subject; one of the chief of
these is that "the widespread belief in fairies, pixies, gnomes,
brownies, etc., probably rests on the varied manifestations of
poltergeists." The popular explanation of the above story bears out this
conclusion, and it is further emphasized by the following, which comes
from Portarlington: A man near that town had saved five hundred pounds,
and determined to build a house with the money. He fixed on a certain
spot, and began to build, very much against the advice of his friends,
who said it was on a fairy path, and would bring him ill-luck. Soon the
house was finished, and the owner moved in; but the very first night his
troubles began, for some unseen hand threw the furniture about and broke
it, while the man himself was injured. Being unwilling to lose the value
of his money, he tried to make the best of things. But night after night
the disturbances continued, and life in the house was impossible; the
owner chose the better part of valour and left. No tenant has been found
since, and the house stands empty, a silent testimony to the power of the
poltergeist.

Poltergeistic phenomena from their very nature lend themselves to
spurious reproduction and imitation, as witness the famous case of Cock
Lane and many other similar stories. At least one well-known case
occurred in Ireland, and is interesting as showing that where fraud is at
work, close investigation will discover it. It is related that an old
Royal Irish Constabulary pensioner, who obtained a post as emergency man
during the land troubles, and who in 1892 was in charge of an evicted
farm in the Passage East district, was being continually disturbed by
furniture and crockery being thrown about in a mysterious manner. Reports
were brought to the police, and they investigated the matter; but nothing
was heard or seen beyond knocking on an inside wall of a bedroom in which
one of the sons was sleeping; this knocking ceased when the police were
in the bedroom, and no search was made in the boy's bed to see if he had
a stick. The police therefore could find no explanation, the noises
continued night after night, and eventually the family left and went to
live in Waterford. A great furore was raised when it was learnt that the
hauntings had followed them, and again investigation was made, but it
seems to have been more careful this time: an eye was kept on the
movements of the young son, and at least two independent witnesses saw
him throwing things about--fireirons and jam-pots--when he thought his
father was not looking. It seems to have been a plot between the mother
and son owing to the former's dislike to her husband's occupation, which
entailed great unpopularity and considerable personal risk. Fearing for
her own and her family's safety, the wife conceived of this plan to force
her husband to give up his post. Her efforts were successful, as the man
soon resigned his position and went to live elsewhere.[7]

[Footnote 7: _Proceedings_, S.P.R.]




CHAPTER V

HAUNTED PLACES


That houses are haunted and apparitions frequently seen therein are
pretty well established facts. The preceding chapters have dealt with
this aspect of the subject, and, in view of the weight of evidence to
prove the truth of the stories told in them, it would be hard for anyone
to doubt that there is such a thing as a haunted house, whatever
explanation maybe given of "haunting." We now turn to another division of
the subject--the outdoor ghost who haunts the roadways, country lanes,
and other places. Sceptics on ghostly phenomena are generally pretty full
of explanations when they are told of a ghost having been seen in a
particular spot, and the teller may be put down as hyper-imaginative, or
as having been deluded by moonlight playing through the trees; while
cases are not wanting where a reputation for temperance has been lost by
a man telling his experiences of a ghost he happens to have met along
some country lane; and the fact that there are cases where an imaginative
and nervous person has mistaken for a ghost a white goat or a sheet
hanging on a bush only strengthens the sceptic's disbelief and makes him
blind to the very large weight of evidence that can be arrayed against
him. Some day, no doubt, psychologists and scientists will be able to
give us a complete and satisfactory explanation of these abnormal
apparitions, but at present we are very much in the dark, and any
explanation that may be put forward is necessarily of a tentative nature.

The following story is sent us by Mr. J. J. Crowley, of the Munster and
Leinster Bank, who writes as follows: "The scene is outside Clonmel, on
the main road leading up to a nice old residence on the side of the
mountains called ---- Lodge. I happened to be visiting my friends, two
other bank men. It was night, about eight o'clock, moonless, and
tolerably dark, and when within a quarter of a mile or perhaps less of
a bridge over a small stream near the house I saw a girl, dressed in
white, wearing a black sash and long flowing hair, walk in the direction
from me up the culvert of the bridge and disappear down the other side.
At the time I saw it I thought it most peculiar that I could distinguish
a figure so far away, and thought a light of some sort must be falling on
the girl, or that there were some people about and that some of them had
struck a match. When I got to the place I looked about, but could find no
person there.

"I related this story to my friends some time after arriving, and was
then told that one of them had wakened up in his sleep a few nights
previously, and had seen an identical figure standing at the foot of his
bed, and rushed in fright from his room, taking refuge for the night with
the other lodger. They told the story to their landlady, and learned from
her that this apparition had frequently been seen about the place, and
was the spirit of one of her daughters who had died years previously
rather young, and who, previous to her death, had gone about just as we
described the figure we had seen. I had heard nothing of this story until
after I had seen the ghost, and consequently it could not be put down to
hallucination or over-imagination on my part."

The experiences of two constables of the Royal Irish Constabulary while
on despatch duty one winter's night in the early eighties has been sent
us by one of the men concerned, and provides interesting reading. It was
a fine moonlight night, with a touch of frost in the air, when these two
men set out to march the five miles to the next barrack. Brisk walking
soon brought them near their destination. The barrack which they were
approaching was on the left side of the road, and facing it on the other
side was a whitethorn hedge. The road at this point was wide, and as the
two constables got within fifty yards of the barrack, they saw a
policeman step out from this hedge and move across the road, looking
towards the two men as he did so. He was plainly visible to them both.
"He was bare-headed" (runs the account), "with his tunic opened down the
front, a stout-built man, black-haired, pale, full face, and short
mutton-chop whiskers." They thought he was a newly-joined constable who
was doing "guard" and had come out to get some fresh air while waiting
for a patrol to return. As the two men approached, he disappeared into
the shadow of the barrack, and apparently went in by the door; to their
amazement, when they came up they found the door closed and bolted, and
it was only after loud knocking that they got a sleepy "All right" from
some one inside, and after the usual challenging were admitted. There
was no sign of the strange policeman when they got in, and on inquiry
they learnt that no new constable had joined the station. The two men
realised then that they had seen a ghost, but refrained from saying
anything about it to the men at the station--a very sensible precaution,
considering the loneliness of the average policeman's life in this
country.

Some years afterwards the narrator of the above story learnt that a
policeman had been lost in a snow-drift near this particular barrack.
Whether this be the explanation we leave to others: the facts as stated
are well vouched for. There is no evidence to support the theory of
hallucination, for the apparition was so vivid that the idea of its being
other than normal never entered the constables' heads _till they had got
into the barrack_. When they found the door shut and bolted, their
amazement was caused by indignation against an apparently unsociable
or thoughtless comrade, and it was only afterwards, while discussing the
whole thing on their homeward journey, that it occurred to them that it
would have been impossible for any ordinary mortal to shut, bolt, and bar
a door without making a sound.

In the winter of 1840-1, in the days when snow and ice and all their
attendant pleasures were more often in evidence than in these degenerate
days, a skating party was enjoying itself on the pond in the grounds of
the Castle near Rathfarnham, Co. Dublin. Among the skaters was a man who
had with him a very fine curly-coated retriever dog. The pond was
thronged with people enjoying themselves, when suddenly the ice gave
way beneath him, and the man fell into the water; the dog went to his
rescue, and both were drowned. A monument was erected to perpetuate the
memory of the dog's heroic self-sacrifice, but only the pedestal now
remains. The ghost of the dog is said to haunt the grounds and the public
road between the castle gate and the Dodder Bridge. Many people have seen
the phantom dog, and the story is well known locally.

The ghost of a boy who was murdered by a Romany is said to haunt one of
the lodge gates of the Castle demesne, and the lodge-keeper states that
he saw it only a short time ago. The Castle, however, is now in
possession of Jesuit Fathers, and the Superior assures us that there has
been no sign of a ghost for a long time, his explanation being that the
place is so crowded out with new buildings "that even a ghost would have
some difficulty in finding a comfortable corner."

It is a fairly general belief amongst students of supernatural phenomena
that animals have the psychic faculty developed to a greater extent than
we have. There are numerous stories which tell of animals being scared
and frightened by something that is invisible to a human being, and the
explanation given is that the animal has seen a ghost which we cannot
see. A story that is told of a certain spot near the village of G----, in
Co. Kilkenny, supports this theory. The account was sent us by the
eye-witness of what occurred, and runs as follows: "I was out for a walk
one evening near the town of G---- about 8.45 P.M., and was crossing the
bridge that leads into the S. Carlow district with a small wire-haired
terrier dog. When we were about three-quarters of a mile out, the dog
began to bark and yelp in a most vicious manner at 'nothing' on the
left-hand side of the roadway and near to a straggling hedge. I felt a
bit creepy and that something was wrong. The dog kept on barking, but I
could at first see nothing, but on looking closely for a few seconds I
believe I saw a small grey-white object vanish gradually and noiselessly
into the hedge. No sooner had it vanished than the dog ceased barking,
wagged his tail, and seemed pleased with his successful efforts." The
narrator goes on to say that he made inquiries when he got home, and
found that this spot on the road had a very bad reputation, as people had
frequently seen a ghost there, while horses had often to be beaten,
coaxed, or led past the place. The explanation locally current is that a
suicide was buried at the cross-roads near at hand, or that it may be the
ghost of a man who is known to have been killed at the spot.

The following story has been sent us by the Rev. H.R.B. Gillespie, to
whom it was told by one of the witnesses of the incidents described
therein. One bright moonlight night some time ago a party consisting of a
man, his two daughters, and a friend were driving along a country road in
County Leitrim. They came to a steep hill, and all except the driver got
down to walk. One of the two sisters walked on in front, and after her
came the other two, followed closely by the trap. They had not gone far,
when those in rear saw a shabbily-dressed man walking beside the girl who
was leading. But she did not seem to be taking any notice of him, and,
wondering what he could be, they hastened to overtake her. But just when
they were catching her up the figure suddenly dashed into the shadow of a
disused forge, which stood by the side of the road, and as it did so the
horse, which up to this had been perfectly quiet, reared up and became
unmanageable. The girl beside whom the figure had walked had seen and
heard nothing. The road was not bordered by trees or a high hedge, so
that it could not have been some trick of the moonlight. One of the girls
described the appearance of the figure to a local workman, who said, "It
is very like a tinker who was found dead in that forge about six months
ago."

Here is another story of a haunted spot on a road, where a "ghost" was
seen, not at the witching hour of night, not when evening shadows
lengthen, but in broad daylight. It is sent to us by the percipient,
a lady, who does not desire to have her name mentioned. She was walking
along a country road in the vicinity of Cork one afternoon, and passed
various people. She then saw coming towards her a country-woman dressed
in an old-fashioned style. This figure approached her, and when it drew
near, suddenly staggered, as if under the influence of drink, and
disappeared! She hastened to the spot, but searched in vain for any clue
to the mystery; the road was bounded by high walls, and there was no
gateway or gap through which the figure might slip. Much mystified, she
continued on her way, and arrived at her destination. She there mentioned
what had occurred, and was then informed by an old resident in the
neighbourhood that that woman had constantly been seen up to twenty years
before, but not since that date. By the country-people the road was
believed to be haunted, but the percipient did not know this at the time.

The following is sent us by Mr. T. J. Westropp, and has points of its own
which are interesting; he states: "On the road from Bray to Windgates, at
the Deerpark of Kilruddy, is a spot which, whatever be the explanation,
is distinguished by weird sounds and (some say) sights. I on one occasion
was walking with a friend to catch the train at Bray about eleven o'clock
one evening some twenty-five years ago, when we both heard heavy steps
and rustling of bracken in the Deerpark; apparently some one got over the
gate, crossed the road with heavy steps and fell from the wall next Bray
Head, rustling and slightly groaning. The night was lightsome, though
without actual moonlight, and we could see nothing over the wall where we
had heard the noise.

"For several years after I dismissed the matter as a delusion; but when I
told the story to some cousins, they said that another relative (now a
Fellow of Trinity College, Dublin) had heard it too, and that there was
a local belief that it was the ghost of a poacher mortally wounded by
gamekeepers, who escaped across the road and died beyond it." Mr.
Westropp afterwards got the relative mentioned above to tell his
experience, and it corresponded with his own, except that the ghost was
visible. "The clergyman who was rector of Greystones at that time used to
say that he had heard exactly similar noises though he had seen nothing."

The following story of an occurrence near Dublin is sent us by a lady who
is a very firm believer in ghosts. On a fine night some years ago two
sisters were returning home from the theatre. They were walking along a
very lonely part of the Kimmage Road about two miles beyond the tram
terminus, and were chatting gaily as they went, when suddenly they heard
the "clink, clink" of a chain coming towards them. At first they thought
it was a goat or a donkey which had got loose, and was dragging its chain
along the ground. But they could see nothing, and could hear no noise but
the clink of the chain, although the road was clear and straight. Nearer
and nearer came the noise, gradually getting louder, and as it passed
them closely they distinctly felt a blast or whiff of air. They were
paralysed with an indefinable fear, and were scarcely able to drag
themselves along the remaining quarter of a mile to their house. The
elder of the two was in very bad health, and the other had almost to
carry her. Immediately she entered the house she collapsed, and had
to be revived with brandy.

An old woman, it seems, had been murdered for her savings by a tramp near
the spot where this strange occurrence took place, and it is thought that
there is a connection between the crime and the haunting of this part of
the Kimmage Road. Whatever the explanation may be, the whole story bears
every evidence of truth, and it would be hard for anyone to disprove it.

Churchyards are generally considered to be the hunting-ground of all
sorts and conditions of ghosts. People who would on all other occasions,
when the necessity arises, prove themselves to be possessed of at any
rate a normal amount of courage, turn pale and shiver at the thought of
having to pass through a churchyard at dead of night. It may be some
encouragement to such to state that out of a fairly large collection of
accounts of haunted places, only one relates to a churchyard. The story
is told by Mr. G. H. Millar of Edgeworthstown: "During the winter of
1875," he writes, "I attended a soiree about five miles from here. I was
riding, and on my way home about 11.30 P.M. I had to pass by the old
ruins and burial-ground of Abbeyshrule. The road led round by two sides
of the churchyard. It was a bright moonlight night, and as my girth broke
I was walking the horse quite slowly. As I passed the ruin, I saw what I
took to be a policeman in a long overcoat; he was walking from the centre
of the churchyard towards the corner, and, as far as I could see, would
be at the corner by the time I would reach it, and we would meet. Quite
suddenly, however, he disappeared, and I could see no trace of him. Soon
after I overtook a man who had left the meeting long before me. I
expressed wonder that he had not been farther on, and he explained that
he went a 'round-about' way to avoid passing the old abbey, as he did not
want to see 'The Monk.' On questioning him, he told me that a monk was
often seen in the churchyard."

A story told of a ghost which haunts a certain spot on an estate near the
city of Waterford, bears a certain resemblance to the last story for the
reason that it was only after the encounter had taken place in both cases
that it was known that anything out of the ordinary had been seen. In the
early eighties of last century ---- Court, near Waterford, was occupied
by Mr. and Mrs. S---- and their family of two young boys and a girl of
twenty-one years of age. Below the house is a marshy glen with a big open
drain cut through it. Late one evening the daughter was out shooting
rabbits near this drain and saw, as she thought, her half-brother
standing by the drain in a sailor suit, which like other small boys he
wore. She called to him once or twice, and to her surprise got no reply.
She went towards him, and when she got close he suddenly disappeared. The
next day she asked an old dependent, who had lived many years in the
place, if there was anything curious about the glen. He replied at once:
"Oh! you mean the little sailor man. Sure, he won't do you any harm."
This was the first she had heard of anything of the sort, but it was then
found that none of the country-people would go through the glen after
dusk.

Some time afterwards two sons of the clergyman of the parish in
which ---- Court stands were out one evening fishing in the drain, when
one of them suddenly said, "What's that sailor doing there?" The other
saw nothing, and presently the figure vanished. At the time of the
appearance neither had heard of Miss S----'s experience, and no one has
been able to explain it, as there is apparently no tradition of any
"little sailor man" having been there in the flesh.

Mr. Joseph M'Crossan, a journalist on the staff of the _Strabane
Chronicle_, has sent us a cutting from that paper describing a ghost
which appeared to men working in an engine-house at Strabane railway
station on two successive nights in October 1913. The article depicts
very graphically the antics of the ghost and the fear of the men who saw
it. Mr. M'Crossan interviewed one of these men (Pinkerton by name), and
the story as told in his words is as follows: "Michael Madden, Fred
Oliphant, and I were engaged inside a shed cleaning engines, when, at
half-past twelve (midnight), a knocking came to all the doors, and
continued without interruption, accompanied by unearthly yells. The three
of us went to one of the doors, and saw--I could swear to it without
doubt--the form of a man of heavy build. I thought I was about to faint.
My hair stood high on my head. We all squealed for help, when the
watchman and signalman came fast to our aid. Armed with a crowbar, the
signalman made a dash at the 'spirit,' but was unable to strike down the
ghost, which hovered about our shed till half-past two. It was moonlight,
and we saw it plainly. There was no imagination on our part. We three
cleaners climbed up the engine, and hid on the roof of the engine, lying
there till morning at our wit's end. The next night it came at half-past
one. Oliphant approached the spirit within two yards, but he then
collapsed, the ghost uttering terrible yells. I commenced work, but the
spirit 'gazed' into my face, and I fell forward against the engine. Seven
of us saw the ghost this time. Our clothes and everything in the shed
were tossed and thrown about."

The other engine-cleaners were interviewed and corroborated Pinkerton's
account. One of them stated that he saw the ghost run up and down a
ladder leading to a water tank and disappear into it, while the signalman
described how he struck at the ghost with a crowbar, but the weapon
seemed to go through it. The spirit finally took his departure through
the window.

The details of this affair are very much on the lines of the good
old-fashioned ghost yarns. But it is hard to see how so many men could
labour under the same delusion. The suggestion that the whole thing was
a practical joke may also be dismissed, for if the apparition had flesh
and bones the crowbar would have soon proved it. The story goes that a
man was murdered near the spot some time ago; whether there is any
connection between this crime and the apparition it would be hard to say.
However, we are not concerned with explanations (for who, as yet, can
explain the supernatural?); the facts as stated have all the appearance
of truth.

Mr. Patrick Ryan, of P----, Co. Limerick, gives us two stories as he
heard them related by Mr. Michael O'Dwyer of the same place. The former
is evidently a very strong believer in supernatural phenomena, but he
realises how strong is the unbelief of many, and in support of his
stories he gives names of several persons who will vouch for the truth
of them. With a few alterations, we give the story in his own words: "Mr.
O'Dwyer has related how one night, after he had carried the mails to the
train, he went with some fodder for a heifer in a field close to the
railway station near to which was a creamery. He discovered the animal
grazing near the creamery although how she came to be there was a
mystery, as a broad trench separated it from the rest of the field,
which is only spanned by a plank used by pedestrians when crossing the
field. 'Perhaps,' he said in explanation, 'it was that he _should_ go
there to hear.' It was about a quarter to twelve (midnight), and, having
searched the field in vain, he was returning home, when, as he crossed
the plank, he espied the heifer browsing peacefully in the aforementioned
part of the field which was near the creamery. He gave her the fodder
and--Heavens! was he suffering from delusions? Surely his ears were not
deceiving him--from the creamery funnel there arose a dense volume of
smoke mingled with the sharp hissing of steam and the rattling of cans,
all as if the creamery were working, and it were broad daylight. His
heifer became startled and bellowed frantically. O'Dwyer, himself a man
of nerves, yet possessing all the superstitions of the Celt, was startled
and ran without ceasing to his home near by, where he went quickly to
bed.

"O'Dwyer is not the only one who has seen this, as I have been told by
several of my friends how they heard it. Who knows the mystery
surrounding this affair!"

The second story relates to a certain railway station in the south of
Ireland; again we use Mr. Ryan's own words: "A near relative of mine" (he
writes) "once had occasion to go to the mail train to meet a friend.
While sitting talking to O'Dwyer, whom he met on the platform, he heard
talking going on in the waiting-room. O'Dwyer heard it also, and they
went to the door, but saw nothing save for the light of a waning moon
which filtered in through the window. Uncertain, they struck matches, but
saw nothing. Again they sat outside, and again they heard the talking,
and this time they did not go to look, for they knew about it. In the
memory of the writer a certain unfortunate person committed suicide on
the railway, and was carried to the waiting-room pending an inquest. He
lay all night there till the inquest was held next day. 'Let us not look
further into the matter,' said O'Dwyer, and my relative having
acquiesced, he breathed a shuddering prayer for the repose of the dead."

The following story, which has been sent as a personal experience by Mr.
William Mackey of Strabane, is similar in many ways to an extraordinary
case of retro-cognitive vision which occurred some years ago to two
English ladies who were paying a visit to Versailles; and who published
their experiences in a book entitled, _An Adventure_ (London, 1911). Mr.
Mackey writes: "It was during the severe winter of the Crimean War, when
indulging in my favourite sport of wild-fowl shooting, that I witnessed
the following strange scene. It was a bitterly cold night towards the end
of November or beginning of December; the silvery moon had sunk in the
west shortly before midnight; the sport had been all that could be
desired, when I began to realise that the blood was frozen in my veins,
and I was on the point of starting for home, when my attention was drawn
to the barking of a dog close by, which was followed in a few seconds by
the loud report of a musket, the echo of which had scarcely died away in
the silent night, when several musket-shots went off in quick succession;
this seemed to be the signal for a regular fusillade of musketry, and it
was quite evident from the nature of the firing that there was attack and
defence.

"For the life of me I could not understand what it all meant; not being
superstitious I did not for a moment imagine it was supernatural,
notwithstanding that my courageous dog was crouching in abject terror
between my legs; beads of perspiration began to trickle down from my
forehead, when suddenly there arose a flame as if a house were on fire,
but I knew from the position of the blaze (which was only a few hundred
yards from where I stood), that there was no house there, or any
combustible that would burn, and what perplexed me most was to see pieces
of burning thatch and timber sparks fall hissing into the water at my
feet. When the fire seemed at its height the firing appeared to weaken,
and when the clear sound of a bugle floated out on the midnight air, it
suddenly ceased, and I could hear distinctly the sound of cavalry coming
at a canter, their accoutrements jingling quite plainly on the frosty
air; in a very short time they arrived at the scene of the fight. I
thought it an eternity until they took their departure, which they
did at the walk.

"It is needless to say that, although the scene of this tumult was on my
nearest way home, I did not venture that way, as, although there are many
people who would say that I never knew what fear was, I must confess on
this occasion I was thoroughly frightened.

"At breakfast I got a good sound rating from my father for staying out so
late. My excuse was that I fell asleep and had a horrible dream, which I
related. When I finished I was told I had been dreaming with my eyes
open!--that I was not the first person who had witnessed this strange
sight. He then told me the following narrative: 'It was towards the end
of the seventeenth century that a widow named Sally Mackey and her three
sons lived on the outskirts of the little settlement of the Mackeys. A
warrant was issued by the Government against the three sons for high
treason, the warrant being delivered for execution to the officer in
command of the infantry regiment stationed at Lifford. A company was told
off for the purpose of effecting the arrest, and the troops set out from
Lifford at 11 P.M.

"'The cottage home of the Mackeys was approached by a bridle-path,
leading from the main road to Derry, which only permitted the military to
approach in single file; they arrived there at midnight, and the first
intimation the inmates had of danger was the barking, and then the
shooting, of the collie dog. Possessing as they did several stand of
arms, they opened fire on the soldiers as they came in view and killed
and wounded several; it was the mother, Sally Mackey, who did the
shooting, the sons loading the muskets. Whether the cottage went on fire
by accident or design was never known; it was only when the firing from
the cottage ceased and the door was forced open that the officer in
command rushed in and brought out the prostrate form of the lady, who was
severely wounded and burned. All the sons perished, but the soldiers
suffered severely, a good many being killed and wounded.

"'The firing was heard by the sentries at Lifford, and a troop of cavalry
was despatched to the scene of conflict, but only arrived in time to see
the heroine dragged from the burning cottage. She had not, however, been
fatally wounded, and lived for many years afterwards with a kinsmen. My
father remembered conversing with old men, when he was a boy, who
remembered her well. She seemed to take a delight in narrating incidents
of the fight to those who came to visit her, and would always finish up
by making them feel the pellets between the skin and her ribs.'"




CHAPTER VI

APPARITIONS AT OR AFTER DEATH


It has been said by a very eminent literary man that the accounts of the
appearance of people at or shortly after the moment of death make very
dull reading as a general rule. This may be; they are certainly not so
lengthy, or full of detail, as the accounts of haunted houses--nor could
such be expected. In our humble opinion, however, they are full of
interest, and open up problems of telepathy and thought-transference to
which the solutions may not be found for years to come. That people have
seen the image of a friend or relative at the moment of dissolution,
sometimes in the ordinary garb of life, sometimes with symbolical
accompaniments, or that they have been made acquainted in some abnormal
manner with the fact that such a one has passed away, seems to be
demonstrated beyond all reasonable doubt. But we would hasten to add that
such appearances are not a proof of existence after death, nor can they
be regarded in the light of special interventions of a merciful
Providence. Were they either they would surely occur far oftener. The
question is, Why do they occur at all? As it is, the majority of them
seem to happen for no particular reason, and are often seen by persons
who have little or no connection with the deceased, not by their nearest
and dearest, as one might expect. It is supposed they are _veridical_
hallucinations, _i.e._ ones which correspond with objective events at a
distance, and are caused by a telepathic impact conveyed from the mind of
an absent agent to the mind of the percipient.

From their nature they fall under different heads. The majority of them
occur at what may most conveniently be described as the time of death,
though how closely they approximate in reality to the instant of the
Great Change it is impossible to say. So we have divided this chapter
into three groups:

(1) Appearances at the time of death (as explained above).

(2) Appearances clearly _after_ the time of death.

(3) In this third group we hope to give three curious tales of
appearances some time _before_ death.


GROUP I

We commence this group with stories in which the phenomena connected with
the respective deaths were not perceived as representations of the human
form. In the first only sounds were heard. It is sent as a personal
experience by the Archdeacon of Limerick, Very Rev. J. A. Haydn, LL.D.
"In the year 1879 there lived in the picturesque village of Adare, at a
distance of about eight or nine miles from my residence, a District
Inspector named ----, with whom I enjoyed a friendship of the most
intimate and fraternal kind. At the time I write of, Mrs. ---- was
expecting the arrival of their third child. She was a particularly tiny
and fragile woman, and much anxiety was felt as to the result of the
impending event. He and she had very frequently spent pleasant days
at my house, with all the apartments of which they were thoroughly
acquainted--a fact of importance in this narrative.

"On Wednesday, October 17, 1879, I had a very jubilant letter from my
friend, announcing that the expected event had successfully happened on
the previous day, and that all was progressing satisfactorily. On the
night of the following Wednesday, October 22, I retired to bed at about
ten o'clock. My wife, the children, and two maid-servants were all
sleeping upstairs, and I had a small bed in my study, which was on the
ground floor. The house was shrouded in darkness, and the only sound that
broke the silence was the ticking of the hall-clock.

"I was quietly preparing to go to sleep, when I was much surprised at
hearing, with the most unquestionable distinctness, the sound of light,
hurried footsteps, exactly suggestive of those of an active, restless
young female, coming in from the hall door and traversing the hall. They
then, apparently with some hesitation, followed the passage leading to
the study door, on arriving at which they stopped. I then heard the sound
of a light, agitated hand apparently searching for the handle of the
door. By this time, being quite sure that my wife had come down and
wanted to speak to me, I sat up in bed, and called to her by name, asking
what was the matter. As there was no reply, and the sounds had ceased, I
struck a match, lighted a candle, and opened the door. No one was visible
or audible. I went upstairs, found all the doors shut and everyone
asleep. Greatly puzzled, I returned to the study and went to bed, leaving
the candle alight. Immediately the whole performance was circumstantially
repeated, but _this_ time the handle of the door was grasped by the
invisible hand, and _partly_ turned, then relinquished. I started out of
bed and renewed my previous search, with equally futile results. The
clock struck eleven, and from that time all disturbances ceased.

"On Friday morning I received a letter stating that Mrs. ---- had died at
about midnight on the previous Wednesday. I hastened off to Adare and had
an interview with my bereaved friend. With one item of our conversation I
will close. He told me that his wife sank rapidly on Wednesday, until
when night came on she became delirious. She spoke incoherently, as if
revisiting scenes and places once familiar. 'She thought she was in
_your_ house,' he said, 'and was apparently holding a conversation with
_you_, as she used to keep silence at intervals as if listening to your
replies.' I asked him if he could possibly remember the hour at which
the imaginary conversation took place. He replied that, curiously enough,
he could tell it accurately, as he had looked at his watch, and found the
time between half-past ten and eleven o'clock--the exact time of the
mysterious manifestations heard by me."

A lady sends the following personal experience: "I had a cousin in the
country who was not very strong, and on one occasion she desired me to go
to her, and accompany her to K----. I consented to do so, and arranged a
day to go and meet her: this was in the month of February. The evening
before I was to go, I was sitting by the fire in my small parlour about
5 P.M. There was no light in the room except what proceeded from the
fire. Beside the fireplace was an armchair, where my cousin usually sat
when she was with me. Suddenly that chair was illuminated by a light
so intensely bright that it actually seemed to _heave_ under it, though
the remainder of the room remained in semi-darkness. I called out in
amazement, 'What has happened to the chair?' In a moment the light
vanished, and the chair was as before. In the morning I heard that my
cousin had died about the same time that I saw the light."

We now come to the ordinary type, _i.e._ where a figure appears. The
following tale illustrates a point we have already alluded to, namely,
that the apparition is sometimes seen by a disinterested person, and
_not_ by those whom one would naturally expect should see it. A lady
writes as follows: "At Island Magee is the Knowehead Lonan, a long,
hilly, narrow road, bordered on either side by high thorn-hedges and
fields. Twenty years ago, when I was a young girl, I used to go to the
post-office at the Knowehead on Sunday mornings down the Lonan, taking
the dogs for the run. One Sunday as I had got to the top of the hill
on my return journey, I looked back, and saw a man walking rapidly after
me, but still a good way off. I hastened my steps, for the day was muddy,
and I did not want him to see me in a bedraggled state. But he seemed to
come on so fast as to be soon close behind me, and I wondered he did not
pass me, so on we went, I never turning to look back. About a quarter of
a mile farther on I met A. B. on 'Dick's Brae,' on her way to church or
Sunday school, and stopped to speak to her. I wanted to ask who the man
was, but he seemed to be so close that I did not like to do so, and
expected he had passed. When I moved on, I was surprised to find he was
still following me, while my dogs were lagging behind with downcast heads
and drooping tails.

"I then passed a cottage where C. D. was out feeding her fowls. I spoke
to her, and then feeling that there was no longer anyone behind, looked
back, and saw the man standing with her. I would not have paid any
attention to the matter had not A. B. been down at our house that
afternoon, and I casually asked her:

"'Who was the man who was just behind me when I met you on Dick's Brae?'

"'What man?' said she; and noting my look of utter astonishment, added,
'I give you my word I never met a soul but yourself from the time I left
home till I went down to Knowehead Lonan.'

"Next day C. D. came to work for us, and I asked her who was the man who
was standing beside her after I passed her on Sunday.

"'Naebody!' she replied,' I saw naebody but yoursel'.'

"It all seemed very strange, and so they thought too. About three weeks
later news came that C. D.'s only brother, a sailor, was washed overboard
that Sunday morning."

The following story is not a first-hand experience, but is sent by the
gentleman to whom it was related by the percipient. The latter said to
him:

"I was sitting in this same chair I am in at present one evening, when I
heard a knock at the front door. I went myself to see who was there, and
on opening the door saw my old friend P. Q. standing outside with his gun
in his hand. I was surprised at seeing him, but asked him to come in and
have something. He came inside the porch into the lamplight, and stood
there for a few moments; then he muttered something about being sorry he
had disturbed me, and that he was on his way to see his brother, Colonel
Q., who lived about a mile farther on. Without any further explanation he
walked away towards the gate into the dusk.

"I was greatly surprised and perplexed, but as he had gone I sat down
again by the fire. About an hour later another knock came to the door,
and I again went out to see who was there. On opening it I found P. Q.'s
groom holding a horse, and he asked me where he was, as he had missed his
way in the dark, and did not know the locality. I told him, and then
asked him where he was going, and why, and he replied that his master was
dead (at his own house about nine miles away), and that he had been sent
to announce the news to Colonel Q."

Miss Grene, of Grene Park, Co. Tipperary, relates a story which was told
her by the late Miss ----, sister of a former Dean of Cashel. The latter,
an old lady, stated that one time she was staying with a friend in a
house in the suburbs of Dublin. In front of the house was the usual grass
plot, divided into two by a short gravel path which led down to a gate
which opened on to the street. She and her friend were one day engaged in
needlework in one of the front rooms, when they heard the gate opening,
and on looking out the window they saw an elderly gentleman of their
acquaintance coming up the path. As he approached the door both
exclaimed: "Oh, how good of him to come and see us!" As he was not shown
into the sitting-room, one of them rang the bell, and said to the maid
when she appeared, "You have not let Mr. So-and-so in; he is at the door
for some little time." The maid went to the hall door, and returned to
say that there was no one there. Next day they learnt that he had died
just at the hour that they had seen him coming up the path.

The following tale contains a curious point. A good many years ago the
Rev. Henry Morton, now dead, held a curacy in Ireland. He had to pass
through the graveyard when leaving his house to visit the parishioners.
One beautiful moonlight night he was sent for to visit a sick person, and
was accompanied by his brother, a medical man, who was staying with him.
After performing the religious duty they returned through the churchyard,
and were chatting about various matters when to their astonishment a
figure passed them, both seeing it. This figure left the path, and went
in among the gravestones, and then disappeared. They could not understand
this at all, so they went to the spot where the disappearance took place,
but, needless to say, could find nobody after the most careful search.
Next morning they heard that the person visited had died just after their
departure, while the most marvellous thing of all was that the burial
took place at the very spot where they had seen the phantom disappear.

The Rev. D. B. Knox communicates the following: In a girls'
boarding-school several years ago two of the boarders were sleeping
in a large double-bedded room with two doors. About two o'clock in the
morning the girls were awakened by the entrance of a tall figure in
clerical attire, the face of which they did not see. They screamed in
fright, but the figure moved in a slow and stately manner past their
beds, and out the other door. It also appeared to one or two of the other
boarders, and seemed to be looking for some one. At length it reached the
bed of one who was evidently known to it. The girl woke up and recognised
her father. He did not speak, but gazed for a few moments at his
daughter, and then vanished. Next morning a telegram was handed to her
which communicated the sad news that her father had died on the previous
evening at the hour when he appeared to her.

Here is a story of a very old type. It occurred a good many years ago. A
gentleman named Miller resided in Co. Wexford, while his friend and
former schoolfellow lived in the North of Ireland. This long friendship
led them to visit at each other's houses from time to time, but for Mr.
Miller there was a deep shadow of sorrow over these otherwise happy
moments, for, while he enjoyed the most enlightened religious opinions,
his friend was an unbeliever. The last time they were together Mr. Scott
said, "My dear friend, let us solemnly promise that whichever of us shall
die first shall appear to the other after death, if it be possible." "Let
it be so, if God will," replied Mr. Miller. One morning some time after,
about three o'clock, the latter was awakened by a brilliant light in his
bedroom; he imagined that the house must be on fire, when he felt what
seemed to be a hand laid on him, and heard his friend's voice say
distinctly, "There is a God, just but terrible in His judgments," and all
again was dark. Mr. Miller at once wrote down this remarkable experience.
Two days later he received a letter announcing Mr. Scott's death on the
night, and at the hour, that he had seen the light in his room.

The above leads us on to the famous "Beresford Ghost," which is generally
regarded as holding the same position relative to Irish ghosts that Dame
Alice Kyteler used to hold with respect to Irish witches and wizards. The
story is so well known, and has been published so often, that only a
brief allusion is necessary, with the added information that the best
version is to be found in Andrew Lang's _Dreams and Ghosts_, chapter
viii. (Silver Library Edition). Lord Tyrone appeared after death one
night to Lady Beresford at Gill Hall, in accordance with a promise (as in
the last story) made in early life. He assured her that the religion as
revealed by Jesus Christ was the only true one (both he and Lady
Beresford had been brought up Deists), told her that she was _enceinte_
and would bear a son, and also foretold her second marriage, and the time
of her death. In proof whereof he drew the bed-hangings through an iron
hook, wrote his name in her pocket-book, and finally placed a hand cold
as marble on her wrist, at which the sinews shrunk up. To the day of her
death Lady Beresford wore a black ribbon round her wrist; this was taken
off before her burial, and it was found the nerves were withered, and the
sinews shrunken, as she had previously described to her children.


GROUP II

We now come to some stories of apparitions seen some time after the hour
of death. Canon Ross-Lewin, of Limerick, furnishes the following incident
in his own family. "My uncle, John Dillon Ross-Lewin, lieutenant in the
30th Regiment, was mortally wounded at Inkerman on November 5, 1854, and
died on the morning of the 6th. He appeared that night to his mother, who
was then on a visit in Co. Limerick, intimating his death, and indicating
where the wound was. The strangest part of the occurrence is, that when
news came later on of the casualties at Inkerman, the first account as to
the wound did _not_ correspond with what the apparition indicated to his
mother, but the final account did. Mrs. Ross-Lewin was devoted to her
son, and he was equally attached to her; she, as the widow of a field
officer who fought at Waterloo, would be able to comprehend the battle
scene, and her mind at the time was centred on the events of the Crimean
War."

A clergyman, who desires that all names be suppressed, sends the
following: "In my wife's father's house a number of female servants were
kept, of whom my wife, before she was married, was in charge. On one
occasion the cook took ill with appendicitis, and was operated on in the
Infirmary, where I attended her as hospital chaplain. She died, however,
and was buried by her friends. Some days after the funeral my wife was
standing at a table in the kitchen which was so placed that any person
standing at it could see into the passage outside the kitchen, if the
door happened to be open. [The narrator enclosed a rough plan which made
the whole story perfectly clear.] She was standing one day by herself at
the table, and the door was open. This was in broad daylight, about
eleven o'clock in the morning in the end of February or beginning of
March. She was icing a cake, and therefore was hardly thinking of ghosts.
Suddenly she looked up from her work, and glanced through the open
kitchen door into the passage leading past the servants' parlour into the
dairy. She saw quite distinctly the figure of the deceased cook pass
towards the dairy; she was dressed in the ordinary costume she used to
wear in the mornings, and seemed in every respect quite normal. My wife
was not, at the moment, in the least shocked or surprised, but on the
contrary she followed, and searched in the dairy, into which she was just
in time to see her skirts disappearing. Needless to say, nothing was
visible."

Canon Courtenay Moore, M.A., Rector of Mitchelstown, contributes a
personal experience. "It was about eighteen years ago--I cannot fix the
exact date--that Samuel Penrose returned to this parish from the
Argentine. He was getting on so well abroad that he would have remained
there, but his wife fell ill, and for her sake he returned to Ireland. He
was a carpenter by trade, and his former employer was glad to take him
into his service again. Sam was a very respectable man of sincere
religious feelings. Soon after his return he met with one or two rather
severe accidents, and had a strong impression that a fatal one would
happen him before long; and so it came to pass. A scaffolding gave way
one day, and precipitated him on to a flagged stone floor. He did not die
immediately, but his injuries proved fatal. He died in a Cork hospital
soon after his admission: I went to Cork to officiate at his funeral.
About noon the next day I was standing at my hall door, and the form of
poor Sam, the upper half of it, seemed to pass before me. He looked
peaceful and happy--it was a momentary vision, but perfectly distinct.
The truncated appearance puzzled me very much, until some time after I
read a large book by F.W.H. Myers, in which he made a scientific analysis
and induction of such phenomena, and said that they were almost
universally seen in this half-length form. I do not profess to explain
what I saw: its message, if it had a message, seemed to be that poor Sam
was at last at rest and in peace."

A story somewhat similar to the above was related to us, in which the
apparition seems certainly to have been sent with a definite purpose. Two
maiden ladies, whom we shall call Miss A. X. and Miss B. Y., lived
together for a good many years. As one would naturally expect, they were
close friends, and had the most intimate relations with each other, both
being extremely religious women. In process of time Miss B. Y. died, and
after death Miss A. X. formed the impression, for some unknown reason,
that all was not well with her friend--that, in fact, her soul was not at
rest. This thought caused her great uneasiness and trouble of mind. One
day she was sitting in her armchair thinking over this, and crying
bitterly. Suddenly she saw in front of her a brilliant light, in the
midst of which was her friend's face, easily recognisable, but
transfigured, and wearing a most beatific expression. She rushed towards
it with her arms outstretched, crying, "Oh! B., why have you come?" At
this the apparition faded away, but ever after Miss A. N. was perfectly
tranquil in mind with respect to her friend's salvation.

This group may be brought to a conclusion by a story sent by Mr. T.
MacFadden. It is not a personal experience, but happened to his father,
and in an accompanying letter he states that he often heard the latter
describe the incidents related therein, and that he certainly saw the
ghost.

"The island of Inishinny, which is the scene of this story, is one of the
most picturesque islands on the Donegal coast. With the islands of Gola
and Inismaan it forms a perfectly natural harbour and safe anchorage for
ships during storms. About Christmas some forty or fifty years ago a
small sailing-ship put into Gola Roads (as this anchorage is called)
during a prolonged storm, and the captain and two men had to obtain
provisions from Bunbeg, as, owing to their being detained so long, their
supply was almost exhausted. They had previously visited the island on
several occasions, and made themselves at home with the people from the
mainland who were temporarily resident upon it.

"The old bar at its best was never very safe for navigation, and this
evening it was in its element, as with every storm it presented one
boiling, seething mass of foam. The inhabitants of the island saw the
frail small boat from the ship securely inside the bar, and prophesied
some dire calamity should the captain and the two sailors venture to
return to the ship that night. But the captain and his companions, having
secured sufficient provisions, decided (as far as I can remember the
story), even in spite of the entreaties of those on shore, to return to
the ship. The storm was increasing, and what with their scanty knowledge
of the intricacies of the channel, and the darkness of the night, certain
it was the next morning their craft was found washed ashore on the
island, and the body of the captain was discovered by the first man who
made the round of the shore looking for logs of timber, or other useful
articles washed ashore from wrecks. The bodies of the two sailors were
never recovered, and word was sent immediately to the captain's wife in
Derry, who came in a few days and gave directions for the disposal of her
husband's corpse.

"The island was only temporarily inhabited by a few people who had cattle
and horses grazing there for some weeks in the year, and after this
catastrophe they felt peculiarly lonely, and sought refuge from their
thoughts by all spending the evening together in one house. This
particular evening they were all seated round the fire having a chat,
when they heard steps approaching the door. Though the approach was
fine, soft sand, yet the steps were audible as if coming on hard ground.
They knew there was no one on the island save the few who were sitting
quietly round the fire, and so in eager expectation they faced round to
the door. What was their _amazement_ when the door opened, and a tall,
broad-shouldered man appeared and filled the whole doorway--and that man
the captain who had been buried several days previously. He wore the
identical suit in which he had often visited the island and even the
"cheese-cutter" cap, so common a feature of sea-faring men's apparel, was
not wanting. All were struck dumb with terror, and a woman who sat in a
corner opposite the door, exclaimed in Irish in a low voice to my father:

"'O God! Patrick, there's the captain.'

"My father, recovering from the first shock, when he saw feminine courage
finding expression in words, said in Irish to the apparition:

"'Come in!'

"They were so certain of the appearance that they addressed him in his
own language, as they invariably talked Irish in the district in those
days. But no sooner had he uttered the invitation than the figure,
without the least word or sign, moved back, and disappeared from their
view. They rushed out, but could discover no sign of any living
person within the confines of the island. Such is the true account of an
accident, by which three men lost their lives, and the ghostly sequel, in
which one of them appeared to the eyes of four people, two of whom are
yet alive, and can vouch for the accuracy of this narrative."


GROUP III

We now come to the third group of this chapter, in which we shall relate
two first-hand experiences of tragedies being actually witnessed some
time before they happened, as well as a reliable second-hand story of an
apparition being seen two days before the death occurred. The first of
these is sent by a lady, the percipient, who desires that her name be
suppressed; with it was enclosed a letter from a gentleman who stated
that he could testify to the truth of the following facts:

"The morning of May 18, 1902, was one of the worst that ever dawned in
Killarney. All through the day a fierce nor'-wester raged, and huge
white-crested waves, known locally as 'The O'Donoghue's white horses,'
beat on the shores of Lough Leane. Then followed hail-showers such as I
have never seen before or since. Hailstones quite as large as small
marbles fell with such rapidity, and seemed so hard that the glass in the
windows of the room in which I stood appeared to be about to break into
fragments every moment. I remained at the window, gazing out on the
turbulent waters of the lake. Sometimes a regular fog appeared, caused by
the terrible downpour of rain and the fury of the gale.

"During an occasional lull I could see the islands plainly looming in the
distance. In one of these clear intervals, the time being about 12.30
P.M., five friends of mine were reading in the room in which I stood.
'Quick! quick!' I cried. 'Is that a boat turned over?' My friends all ran
to the windows, but could see nothing. I persisted, however, and said,
'It is on its side, with the keel turned towards us, and it is empty.'
Still none of my friends could see anything. I then ran out, and got one
of the men-servants to go down to a gate, about one hundred yards nearer
the lake than where I stood. He had a powerful telescope, and remained
with great difficulty in the teeth of the storm with his glass for
several minutes, but could see nothing. When he returned another man took
his place, but he also failed to see anything.

"I seemed so distressed that those around me kept going backwards and
forwards to the windows, and then asked me what was the size of the boat
I had seen. I gave them the exact size, measuring by landmarks. They then
assured me that I must be absolutely wrong, as it was on rare occasions
that a 'party' boat, such as the one I described, could venture on the
lakes on such a day. Therefore there were seven persons who thought I was
wrong in what I had seen. I still contended that I saw the boat, the
length of which I described, as plainly as possible.

"The day wore on, and evening came. The incident was apparently more or
less forgotten by all but me, until at 8 A.M. on the following morning,
when the maid brought up tea, her first words were, 'Ah, miss, is it not
terrible about the accident!' Naturally I said, 'What accident, Mary?'
She replied, 'There were thirteen people drowned yesterday evening out of
a four-oared boat.' That proved that the boat I had seen at 12.30 P.M.
was a vision foreshadowing the wreck of the boat off Darby's Garden at
5.30 P.M. The position, shape, and size of the boat seen by me were
identical with the one that was lost on the evening of May 18, 1902."

The second story relates how a lady witnessed a vision (shall we call it)
of a suicide a week before the terrible deed was committed. This incident
surely makes it clear that such cannot be looked upon as special
interventions of Providence, for if the lady had recognised the man, she
might have prevented his rash act. Mrs. MacAlpine says: "In June 1889, I
drove to Castleblaney, in Co. Monaghan, to meet my sister: I expected her
at three o'clock, but as she did not come by that train, I put up the
horse and went for a walk in the demesne. At length becoming tired, I sat
down on a rock by the edge of a lake. My attention was quite taken up
with the beauty of the scene before me, as it was a glorious summer's
day. Presently I felt a cold chill creep through me, and a curious
stiffness came over my limbs, as if I could not move, though wishing to
do so. I felt frightened, yet chained to the spot, and as if impelled to
stare at the water straight before me. Gradually a black cloud seemed
to rise, and in the midst of it I saw a tall man, in a tweed suit, jump
into the water, and sink. In a moment the darkness was gone, and I again
became sensible of the heat and sunshine, but I was awed, and felt eerie.
This happened about June 25, and on July 3 a Mr.----, a bank clerk,
committed suicide by drowning himself in the lake.[8]"

[Footnote 8: _Proceedings S.P.R._, x. 332.]

The following incident occurred in the United States, but, as it is
closely connected with this country, it will not seem out of place to
insert it here. It is sent by Mr. Richard Hogan as the personal
experience of his sister, Mrs. Mary Murnane, and is given in her own
words.

"On the 4th of August 1886, at 10.30 o'clock in the morning, I left my
own house, 21 Montrose St., Philadelphia, to do some shopping. I had not
proceeded more than fifty yards when on turning the corner of the street
I observed my aunt approaching me within five or six yards. I was greatly
astonished, for the last letter I had from home (Limerick) stated that
she was dying of consumption, but the thought occurred to me that she
might have recovered somewhat, and come out to Philadelphia. This opinion
was quickly changed as we approached each other, for our eyes met, and
she had the colour of one who had risen from the grave. I seemed to feel
my hair stand on end, for just as we were about to pass each other she
turned her face towards me, and I gasped, 'My God, she is dead, and is
going to speak to me!' but no word was spoken, and she passed on. After
proceeding a short distance I looked back, and she continued on to
Washington Avenue, where she disappeared from me. There was no other
person near at the time, and being so close, I was well able to note what
she wore. She held a sunshade over her head, and the clothes, hat, etc.,
were those I knew so well before I left Ireland. I wrote home telling
what I had seen, and asking if she was dead. I received a reply saying
she was not dead at the date I saw her, but had been asking if a letter
had come from me for some days before her death. It was just two days
before she actually died that I had seen her."




CHAPTER VII

BANSHEES, AND OTHER DEATH-WARNINGS


Of all Irish ghosts, fairies, or bogles, the Banshee (sometimes called
locally the "Boh[-e][-e]ntha" or "Bank[-e][-e]ntha") is the best known to
the general public: indeed, cross-Channel visitors would class her with
pigs, potatoes, and other fauna and flora of Ireland, and would expect
her to make manifest her presence to them as being one of the sights of
the country. She is a spirit with a lengthy pedigree--how lengthy no man
can say, as its roots go back into the dim, mysterious past. The most
famous Banshee of ancient times was that attached to the kingly house of
O'Brien, Aibhill, who haunted the rock of Craglea above Killaloe, near
the old palace of Kincora. In A.D. 1014 was fought the battle of
Clontarf, from which the aged king, Brian Boru, knew that he would never
come away alive, for the previous night Aibhill had appeared to him to
tell him of his impending fate. The Banshee's method of foretelling death
in olden times differed from that adopted by her at the present day: now
she wails and wrings her hands, as a general rule, but in the old Irish
tales she is to be found washing human heads and limbs, or bloodstained
clothes, till the water is all dyed with human blood--this would take
place before a battle. So it would seem that in the course of centuries
her attributes and characteristics have changed somewhat.

Very different descriptions are given of her personal appearance.
Sometimes she is young and beautiful, sometimes old and of a fearsome
appearance. One writer describes her as "a tall, thin woman with
uncovered head, and long hair that floated round her shoulders, attired
in something which seemed either a loose white cloak, or a sheet thrown
hastily around her, uttering piercing cries." Another person, a coachman,
saw her one evening sitting on a stile in the yard; she seemed to be a
very small woman, with blue eyes, long light hair, and wearing a red
cloak. Other descriptions will be found in this chapter. By the way, it
does not seem to be true that the Banshee exclusively follows families of
Irish descent, for the last incident had reference to the death of a
member of a Co. Galway family English by name and origin.

One of the oldest and best-known Banshee stories is that related in the
_Memoirs_ of Lady Fanshaw.[9] In 1642 her husband, Sir Richard, and she
chanced to visit a friend, the head of an Irish sept, who resided in his
ancient baronial castle, surrounded with a moat. At midnight she was
awakened by a ghastly and supernatural scream, and looking out of bed,
beheld in the moonlight a female face and part of the form hovering at
the window. The distance from the ground, as well as the circumstance
of the moat, excluded the possibility that what she beheld was of this
world. The face was that of a young and rather handsome woman, but pale,
and the hair, which was reddish, was loose and dishevelled. The dress,
which Lady Fanshaw's terror did not prevent her remarking accurately,
was that of the ancient Irish. This apparition continued to exhibit
itself for some time, and then vanished with two shrieks similar to that
which had first excited Lady Fanshaw's attention. In the morning, with
infinite terror, she communicated to her host what she had witnessed,
and found him prepared not only to credit, but to account for the
superstition. "A near relation of my family," said he, "expired last
night in this castle. We disguised our certain expectation of the event
from you, lest it should throw a cloud over the cheerful reception which
was your due. Now, before such an event happens in this family or castle,
the female spectre whom you have seen is always visible. She is believed
to be the spirit of a woman of inferior rank, whom one of my ancestors
degraded himself by marrying, and whom afterwards, to expiate the
dishonour done to his family, he caused to be drowned in the moat." In
strictness this woman could hardly be termed a Banshee. The motive for
the haunting is akin to that in the tale of the Scotch "Drummer of
Cortachy," where the spirit of the murdered man haunts the family out of
revenge, and appears before a death.

[Footnote 9: Scott's _Lady of the Lake_, notes to Canto III (edition of
1811).]

Mr. T.J. Westropp, M.A., has furnished the following story: "My maternal
grandmother heard the following tradition from her mother, one of the
Miss Ross-Lewins, who witnessed the occurrence. Their father, Mr.
Harrison Ross-Lewin, was away in Dublin on law business, and in his
absence the young people went off to spend the evening with a friend who
lived some miles away. The night was fine and lightsome as they were
returning, save at one point where the road ran between trees or high
hedges not far to the west of the old church of Kilchrist. The latter,
like many similar ruins, was a simple oblong building, with long
side-walls and high gables, and at that time it and its graveyard were
unenclosed, and lay in the open fields. As the party passed down the long
dark lane they suddenly heard in the distance loud keening and clapping
of hands, as the country-people were accustomed to do when lamenting
the dead. The Ross-Lewins hurried on, and came in sight of the church, on
the side wall of which a little gray-haired old woman, clad in a dark
cloak, was running to and fro, chanting and wailing, and throwing up her
arms. The girls were very frightened, but the young men ran forward and
surrounded the ruin, and two of them went into the church, the apparition
vanishing from the wall as they did so. They searched every nook, and
found no one, nor did anyone pass out. All were now well scared, and got
home as fast as possible. On reaching their home their mother opened the
door, and at once told them that she was in terror about their father,
for, as she sat looking out the window in the moonlight, a huge raven
with fiery eyes lit on the sill, and tapped three times on the glass.
They told her their story, which only added to their anxiety, and as they
stood talking, taps came to the nearest window, and they saw the
bird again. A few days later news reached them that Mr. Ross-Lewin had
died suddenly in Dublin. This occurred about 1776."

Mr. Westropp also writes that the sister of a former Roman Catholic
Bishop told his sisters that when she was a little girl she went out one
evening with some other children for a walk. Going down the road, they
passed the gate of the principal demesne near the town. There was a rock,
or large stone, beside the road, on which they saw something. Going
nearer, they perceived it to be a little dark, old woman, who began
crying and clapping her hands. Some of them attempted to speak to her,
but got frightened, and all finally ran home as quickly as they could.
Next day the news came that the gentleman, near whose gate the Banshee
had cried, was dead, and it was found on inquiry that he had died at the
very hour at which the children had seen the spectre.

A lady who is a relation of one of the compilers, and a member of a Co.
Cork family of English descent, sends the two following experiences of a
Banshee in her family. "My mother, when a young girl, was standing
looking out of the window in their house at Blackrock, near Cork. She
suddenly saw a white figure standing on a bridge which was easily visible
from the house. The figure waved her arms towards the house, and my
mother heard the bitter wailing of the Banshee. It lasted some seconds,
and then the figure disappeared. Next morning my grandfather was walking
as usual into the city of Cork. He accidentally fell, hit his head
against the curbstone, and never recovered consciousness.

"In March 1900, my mother was very ill, and one evening the nurse and I
were with her arranging her bed. We suddenly heard the most extraordinary
wailing, which seemed to come in waves round and under her bed. We
naturally looked everywhere to try and find the cause, but in vain. The
nurse and I looked at one another, but made no remark, as my mother did
not seem to hear it. My sister was downstairs sitting with my father. She
heard it, and thought some terrible thing had happened to her little boy,
who was in bed upstairs. She rushed up, and found him sleeping quietly.
My father did not hear it. In the house next door they heard it, and ran
downstairs, thinking something had happened to the servant; but the
latter at once said to them, 'Did you hear the Banshee? Mrs. P---- must
be dying.'"

A few years ago (_i.e._ before 1894) a curious incident occurred in a
public school in connection with the belief in the Banshee. One of the
boys, happening to become ill, was at once placed in a room by himself,
where he used to sit all day. On one occasion, as he was being visited by
the doctor, he suddenly started up from his seat, and affirmed that he
heard somebody crying. The doctor, of course, who could hear or see
nothing, came to the conclusion that the illness had slightly affected
his brain. However, the boy, who appeared quite sensible, still persisted
that he heard someone crying, and furthermore said, "It is the Banshee,
as I have heard it before." The following morning the head-master
received a telegram saying that the boy's brother had been accidentally
shot dead.[10]

[Footnote 10: A.G. Bradley, _Notes on some Irish Superstitions_, p. 9.]

That the Banshee is not confined within the geographical limits of
Ireland, but that she can follow the fortunes of a family abroad, and
there foretell their death, is clearly shewn by the following story. A
party of visitors were gathered together on the deck of a private yacht
on one of the Italian lakes, and during a lull in the conversation one of
them, a Colonel, said to the owner, "Count, who's that queer-looking
woman you have on board?" The Count replied that there was nobody except
the ladies present, and the stewardess, but the speaker protested that he
was correct, and suddenly, with a scream of horror, he placed his hands
before his eyes, and exclaimed, "Oh, my God, what a face!" For some
time he was overcome with terror, and at length reluctantly looked up,
and cried:

"Thank Heavens, it's gone!"

"What was it?" asked the Count.

"Nothing human," replied the Colonel--"nothing belonging to this world.
It was a woman of no earthly type, with a queer-shaped, gleaming face, a
mass of red hair, and eyes that would have been beautiful but for their
expression, which was hellish. She had on a green hood, after the fashion
of an Irish peasant."

An American lady present suggested that the description tallied with that
of the Banshee, upon which the Count said:

"I am an O'Neill--at least I am descended from one. My family name is, as
you know, Neilsini, which, little more than a century ago, was O'Neill.
My great-grandfather served in the Irish Brigade, and on its dissolution
at the time of the French Revolution had the good fortune to escape the
general massacre of officers, and in company with an O'Brien and a
Maguire fled across the frontier and settled in Italy. On his death his
son, who had been born in Italy, and was far more Italian than Irish,
changed his name to Neilsini, by which name the family has been known
ever since. But for all that we are Irish."

"The Banshee was yours, then!" ejaculated the Colonel. "What exactly does
it mean?"

"It means," the Count replied solemnly, "the death of some one very
nearly associated with me. Pray Heaven it is not my wife or daughter."

On that score, however, his anxiety was speedily removed, for within two
hours he was seized with a violent attack of angina pectoris, and died
before morning.[11]

[Footnote 11: _Occult Review_ for September, 1913.]

Mr. Elliott O'Donnell, to whose article on "Banshees" we are indebted for
the above, adds: "The Banshee never manifests itself to the person whose
death it is prognosticating. Other people may see or hear it, but the
fated one never, so that when everyone present is aware of it but one,
the fate of that one may be regarded as pretty well certain."

We must now pass on from the subject of Banshees to the kindred one of
"Headless Coaches," the belief in which is widespread through the
country. Apparently these dread vehicles must be distinguished from
the phantom coaches, of which numerous circumstantial tales are also
told. The first are harbingers of death, and in this connection are very
often attached to certain families; the latter appear to be spectral
phenomena pure and simple, whose appearance does not necessarily portend
evil or death.

"At a house in Co. Limerick," writes Mr. T.J. Westropp, "occurred the
remarkably-attested apparition of the headless coach in June 1806, when
Mr. Ralph Westropp, my great-grandfather, lay dying. The story was told
by his sons, John, William, and Ralph, to their respective children, who
told it to me. They had sent for the doctor, and were awaiting his
arrival in the dusk. As they sat on the steps they suddenly heard a heavy
rumbling, and saw a huge dark coach drive into the paved court before
the door. One of them went down to meet the doctor, but the coach swept
past him, and drove down the avenue, which went straight between the
fences and hedges to a gate. Two of the young men ran after the coach,
which they could hear rumbling before them, and suddenly came full tilt
against the avenue gate. The noise had stopped, and they were surprised
at not finding the carriage. The gate proved to be locked, and when they
at last awoke the lodge-keeper, he showed them the keys under
his pillow; the doctor arrived a little later, but could do nothing, and
the sick man died a few hours afterwards."

Two other good stories come from Co. Clare. One night in April 1821, two
servants were sitting up to receive a son of the family, Cornelius
O'Callaghan, who had travelled in vain for his health, and was returning
home. One of them, Halloran, said that the heavy rumble of a coach roused
them. The other servant, Burke, stood on the top of the long flight of
steps with a lamp, and sent Halloran down to open the carriage door. He
reached out his hand to do so, saw a skeleton looking out, gave one yell,
and fell in a heap. When the badly-scared Burke picked himself up there
was no sign or sound of any coach. A little later the invalid arrived, so
exhausted that he died suddenly in the early morning.

On the night of December 11, 1876, a servant of the MacNamaras was going
his rounds at Ennistymon, a beautiful spot in a wooded glen, with a broad
stream falling in a series of cascades. In the dark he heard the rumbling
of wheels on the back avenue, and, knowing from the hour and place that
no mortal vehicle could be coming, concluded that it was the death coach,
and ran on, opening the gates before it. He had just time to open the
third gate, and throw himself on his face beside it, when he heard a
coach go clanking past. On the following day Admiral Sir Burton Macnamara
died in London.

Mr. Westropp informs us that at sight or sound of this coach all gates
should be thrown open, and then it will not stop at the house to call for
a member of the family, but will only foretell the death of some relative
at a distance. We hope our readers will carefully bear in mind this
simple method of averting fate.

We may conclude this chapter with some account of strange and varied
death-warnings, which are attached to certain families and foretell the
coming of the King of Terrors.

In a Co. Wicklow family a death is preceded by the appearance of a
spectre; the doors of the sitting-room open and a lady dressed in white
satin walks across the room and hall. Before any member of a certain
Queen's Co. family died a looking-glass was broken; while in a branch of
that family the portent was the opening and shutting of the avenue gate.
In another Queen's Co. family approaching death was heralded by the cry
of the cuckoo, no matter at what season of the year it might occur. A
Mrs. F---- and her son lived near Clonaslee. One day, in mid-winter,
their servant heard a cuckoo; they went out for a drive, the trap jolted
over a stone, throwing Mrs. F---- out, and breaking her neck. The ringing
of all the house-bells is another portent which seems to be attached to
several families. In another the aeolian harp is heard at or before
death; an account of this was given to the present writer by a clergyman,
who declares that he heard it in the middle of the night when one of his
relatives passed away. A death-warning in the shape of a white owl
follows the Westropp family. This last appeared, it is said, before a
death in 1909, but, as Mr. T. J. Westropp remarks, it would be more
convincing if it appeared at places where the white owl does _not_ nest
and fly out every night. No doubt this list might be drawn out to much
greater length.

A lady correspondent states that her cousin, a Sir Patrick Dun's
nurse, was attending a case in the town of Wicklow. Her patient was
a middle-aged woman, the wife of a well-to-do shopkeeper. One evening the
nurse was at her tea in the dining-room beneath the sick-room, when
suddenly she heard a tremendous crash overhead. Fearing her patient had
fallen out of bed, she hurried upstairs, to find her dozing quietly, and
there was not the least sign of any disturbance. A member of the family,
to whom she related this, told her calmly that that noise was always
heard in their house before the death of any of them, and that it was a
sure sign that the invalid would not recover. Contrary to the nurse's
expectations, she died the following day.

Knocking on the door is another species of death-warning. The Rev.
D. B. Knox writes: "On the evening before the wife of a clerical friend
of mine died, the knocker of the hall-door was loudly rapped. All in
the room heard it. The door was opened, but there was no one there.
Again the knocker was heard, but no one was to be seen when the door
was again opened. A young man, brother of the dying woman, went into
the drawing-room, and looked through one of the drawing-room windows.
The full light of the moon fell on the door, and as he looked the knocker
was again lifted and loudly rapped."

The following portent occurs in a Co. Cork family. At one time the lady
of the house lay ill, and her two daughters were aroused one night by
screams proceeding from their mother's room. They rushed in, and found
her sitting up in bed, staring at some object unseen to them, but which,
from the motion of her eyes, appeared to be moving across the floor. When
she became calm she told them, what they had not known before, that
members of the family were sometimes warned of the death, or approaching
death, of some other member by the appearance of a ball of fire, which
would pass slowly through the room; this phenomenon she had just
witnessed. A day or two afterwards the mother heard of the death of her
brother, who lived in the Colonies.

A strange appearance, known as the "Scanlan Lights," is connected with
the family of Scanlan of Ballyknockane, Co. Limerick, and is seen
frequently at the death of a member. The traditional origin of the lights
is connected with a well-known Irish legend, which we give here briefly.
Scanlan Mor (died A.D. 640), King of Ossory, from whom the family claim
descent, was suspected of disaffection by Aedh mac Ainmire, Ard-Righ of
Ireland, who cast him into prison, and loaded him with fetters. When St.
Columcille attended the Synod of Drom Ceat, he besought Aedh to free his
captive, but the Ard-Righ churlishly refused; whereupon Columcille
declared that he should be freed, and that that very night he should
unloose his (the Saint's) brogues. Columcille went away, and that night a
bright pillar of fire appeared in the air, and hung over the house where
Scanlan was imprisoned. A beam of light darted into the room where he
lay, and a voice called to him, bidding him rise, and shake off his
fetters. In amazement he did so, and was led out past his guards by an
angel. He made his way to Columcille, with whom he was to continue that
night, and as the Saint stooped down to unloose his brogues Scanlan
anticipated him, as he had prophesied.[12]

[Footnote 12: Canon Carrigan, in his _History of the Diocese of Ossory_
(I. 32 intro.), shows that this legend should rather be connected
with Scanlan son of Ceannfaeladh.]

Such appears to be the traditional origin of the "Scanlan lights." Our
correspondent adds: "These are always seen at the demise of a member of
the family. We have ascertained that by the present head of the family
(Scanlan of Ballyknockane) they were seen, first, as a pillar of fire
with radiated crown at the top; and secondly, inside the house, by the
room being lighted up brightly in the night. By other members of the
family now living these lights have been seen in the shape of balls of
fire of various sizes." The above was copied from a private manuscript
written some few years ago. Our correspondent further states: "I also
have met with four persons in this county [Limerick] who have seen the
lights on Knockfierna near Ballyknockane before the death of a Scanlan,
one of the four being the late head of the family and owner, William
Scanlan, J.P., who saw the flames on the hill-side on the day of his
aunt's death some years ago. The last occasion was as late as 1913, on
the eve of the death of a Scanlan related to the present owner of
Ballyknockane."

In front of the residence of the G---- family in Co. Galway there is, or
formerly was, a round ring of grass surrounded by a low evergreen hedge.
The lady who related this story to our informant stated that one evening
dinner was kept waiting for Mr. G----, who was absent in town on some
business. She went out on the hall-door steps in order to see if the
familiar trot of the carriage horses could be heard coming down the road.
It was a bright moonlight night, and as she stood there she heard a child
crying with a peculiar whining cry, and distinctly saw a small childlike
figure running round and round the grass ring inside the evergreen hedge,
and casting a shadow in the moonlight. Going into the house she casually
mentioned this as a peculiar circumstance to Mrs. G----, upon which, to
her great surprise, that lady nearly fainted, and got into a terrible
state of nervousness. Recovering a little, she told her that this crying
and figure were always heard and seen whenever any member met with an
accident, or before a death. A messenger was immediately sent to meet Mr.
G----, who was found lying senseless on the road, as the horses had taken
fright and bolted, flinging him out, and breaking the carriage-pole.

But of all the death-warnings in connection with Irish families surely
the strangest is the Gormanstown foxes. The crest of that noble family is
a running fox, while the same animal also forms one of the supporters of
the coat-of-arms. The story is, that when the head of the house is dying
the foxes--not spectral foxes, but creatures of flesh and blood--leave
the coverts and congregate at Gormanstown Castle.

Let us see what proof there is of this. When Jenico, the 12th Viscount,
was dying in 1860, foxes were seen about the house and moving towards the
house for some days previously. Just before his death three foxes were
playing about and making a noise close to the house, and just in front of
the "cloisters," which are yew-trees planted and trained in that shape.
The Hon. Mrs. Farrell states as regards the same that the foxes came in
pairs into the demesne, and sat under the Viscount's bedroom window, and
barked and howled all night. Next morning they were to be found crouching
about in the grass in front and around the house. They walked through
the poultry and never touched them. After the funeral they disappeared.

At the death of Edward, the 13th Viscount, in 1876, the foxes were also
there. He had been rather better one day, but the foxes appeared, barking
under the window, and he died that night contrary to expectation.

On October 28, 1907, Jenico, the 14th Viscount, died in Dublin. About 8
o'clock that night the coachman and gardener saw two foxes near the
chapel (close to the house), five or six more round the front of the
house, and several crying in the "cloisters." Two days later the Hon.
Richard Preston, R.F.A., was watching by his father's body in the above
chapel. About 3 A.M. he became conscious of a slight noise, which seemed
to be that of a number of people walking stealthily around the chapel on
the gravel walk. He went to the side door, listened, and heard outside
a continuous and insistent snuffling or sniffing noise, accompanied by
whimperings and scratchings at the door. On opening it he saw a
full-grown fox sitting on the path within four feet of him. Just in the
shadow was another, while he could hear several more moving close by in
the darkness. He then went to the end door, opposite the altar, and on
opening it saw two more foxes, one so close that he could have touched it
with his foot. On shutting the door the noise continued till 5 A.M., when
it suddenly ceased.[13]

[Footnote 13: _New Ireland Review_ for April 1908, by permission of
the publishers, Messrs Sealy Bryers, & Walker.]




CHAPTER VIII

MISCELLANEOUS SUPERNORMAL EXPERIENCES


The matter in this chapter does not seem, strictly speaking, to come
under the head of any of the preceding ones: it contains no account of
houses or places permanently haunted, or of warnings of impending death.
Rather we have gathered up in it a number of tales relative to the
appearance of the "wraiths" of living men, or accounts of visions,
strange apparitions, or extraordinary experiences; some few of these
have a purpose, while the majority are strangely aimless and
purposeless--something is seen or heard, that is all, and no results,
good or bad, follow.

We commence with one which, however, certainly indicates a purpose which
was fulfilled. It is the experience of Mrs. Seymour, wife to one of the
compilers. When she was a little girl she resided in Dublin; amongst the
members of the family was her paternal grandmother. This old lady was not
as kind as she might have been to her grand-daughter, and consequently
the latter was somewhat afraid of her. In process of time the grandmother
died. Mrs. Seymour, who was then about eight years of age, had to pass
the door of the room where the death occurred in order to reach her own
bedroom, which was a flight higher up. Past this door the child used to
fly in terror with all possible speed. On one occasion, however, as she
was preparing to make the usual rush past, she distinctly felt a hand
placed on her shoulder, and became conscious of a voice saying, "Don't be
afraid, Mary!" From that day on the child never had the least feeling of
fear, and always walked quietly past the door.

The Rev. D. B. Knox sends a curious personal experience, which was shared
by him with three other people. He writes as follows: "Not very long ago
my wife and I were preparing to retire for the night. A niece, who was in
the house, was in her bedroom and the door was open. The maid had just
gone to her room. All four of us distinctly heard the heavy step of a
man walking along the corridor, apparently in the direction of the
bathroom. We searched the whole house immediately, but no one was
discovered. Nothing untoward happened except the death of the maid's
mother about a fortnight later. It was a detached house, so that the
noise could not have been made by the neighbours."

In the following tale the "double" or "wraith" of a living man was seen
by three different people, one of whom, our correspondent, saw it through
a telescope. She writes: "In May 1883 the parish of A---- was vacant, so
Mr. D----, the Diocesan Curate, used to come out to take service on
Sundays. One day there were two funerals to be taken, the one at a
graveyard some distance off, the other at A---- churchyard. My brother
was at both, the far-off one being taken the first. The house we then
lived in looked down towards A---- churchyard, which was about a quarter
of a mile away. From an upper window my sister and I saw _two_ surpliced
figures going out to meet the coffin, and said, 'Why, there are two
clergy!' having supposed that there would be only Mr. D----. I, being
short-sighted, used a telescope, and saw the two surplices showing
between the people. But when my brother returned he said, 'A strange
thing has happened. Mr. D---- and Mr. W----(curate of a neighbouring
parish) took the far-off funeral. I saw them both again at A----, but
when I went into the vestry I only saw Mr. W----. I asked where Mr.
D---- was, and he replied that he had left immediately after the first
funeral, as he had to go to Kilkenny, and that he (Mr. W----) had come on
_alone_ to take the funeral at A----.'"

Here is a curious tale from the city of Limerick of a lady's "double"
being seen, with no consequent results. It is sent by Mr. Richard Hogan
as the personal experience of his sister, Mrs. Mary Murnane. On Saturday,
October 25, 1913, at half-past four o'clock in the afternoon, Mr. Hogan
left the house in order to purchase some cigarettes. A quarter of an hour
afterwards Mrs. Murnane went down the town to do some business. As she
was walking down George Street she saw a group of four persons standing
on the pavement engaged in conversation. They were: her brother, a Mr.
O'S----, and two ladies, a Miss P. O'D----, and her sister, Miss M.
O'D----. She recognised the latter, as her face was partly turned towards
her, and noted that she was dressed in a knitted coat, and light blue
hat, while in her left hand she held a bag or purse; the other lady's
back was turned towards her. As Mrs. Murnane was in a hurry to get her
business done she determined to pass them by without being noticed, but a
number of people coming in the opposite direction blocked the way, and
compelled her to walk quite close to the group of four; but they were so
intent on listening to what one lady was saying that they took no notice
of her. The speaker appeared to be Miss M. O'D----, and, though Mrs.
Murnane did not actually hear her _speak_ as she passed her, yet from
their attitudes the other three seemed to be listening to what she was
saying, and she heard her _laugh_ when right behind her--not the laugh of
her sister P.--and the laugh was repeated after she had left the group a
little behind.

So far there is nothing out of the common. When Mrs. Murnane returned to
her house about an hour later she found her brother Richard there before
her. She casually mentioned to him how she had passed him and his three
companions on the pavement. To which he replied that she was quite
correct except in one point, namely that there were only _three_ in the
group, as M. O'D---- _was not present_ as she had not come to Limerick at
all that day. She then described to him the exact position each one of
the four occupied, and the clothes worn by them; to all of which facts he
assented, except as to the presence of Miss M. O'D----. Mrs. Murnane
adds, "That is all I can say in the matter, but most certainly the fourth
person was in the group, as I both saw and heard her. She wore the same
clothes I had seen on her previously, with the exception of the hat;
but the following Saturday she had on the same coloured hat I had seen on
her the previous Saturday. When I told her about it she was as much
mystified as I was and am. My brother stated that there was no laugh from
any of the three present."

Mrs. G. Kelly sends an experience of a "wraith," which seems in some
mysterious way to have been conjured up in her mind by the description
she had heard, and then externalised. She writes: "About four years ago a
musical friend of ours was staying in the house. He and my husband
were playing and singing Dvorak's _Spectre's Bride_, a work which he had
studied with the composer himself. This music appealed very much to both,
and they were excited and enthusiastic over it. Our friend was giving
many personal reminiscences of Dvorak, and his method of explaining the
way he wanted his work done. I was sitting by, an interested listener,
for some time. On getting up at last, and going into the drawing-room,
I was startled and somewhat frightened to find a man standing there in a
shadowy part of the room. I saw him distinctly, and could describe his
appearance accurately. I called out, and the two men ran in, but as
the apparition only lasted for a second, they were too late. I described
the man whom I had seen, whereupon our friend exclaimed, 'Why, that was
Dvorak himself!' At that time I had never seen a picture of Dvorak, but
when our friend returned to London he sent me one which I recognised
as the likeness of the man whom I had seen in our drawing-room."

A curious vision, a case of second sight, in which a quite unimportant
event, previously unknown, was revealed, is sent by the percipient, who
is a lady well known to both the compilers, and a life-long friend of one
of them. She says: "Last summer I sent a cow to the fair of Limerick, a
distance of about thirteen miles, and the men who took her there the day
before the fair left her in a paddock for the night close to Limerick
city. I awoke up very early next morning, and was fully awake when I saw
(not with my ordinary eyesight, but apparently _inside_ my head) a light,
an intensely brilliant light, and in it I saw the back gate being opened
by a red-haired woman and the cow I had supposed in the fair walking
through the gate. I then knew that the cow must be home, and going to the
yard later on I was met by the wife of the man who was in charge in a
great state of excitement. 'Oh law! Miss,' she exclaimed, 'you'll be mad!
Didn't Julia [a red-haired woman] find the cow outside the lodge gate as
she was going out at 4 o'clock to the milking!' That's my tale--perfectly
true, and I would give a good deal to be able to control that light, and
see more if I could."

Another curious vision was seen by a lady who is also a friend of both
the compilers. One night she was kneeling at her bedside saying her
prayers (hers was the only bed in the room), when suddenly she felt a
distinct touch on her shoulder. She turned round in the direction of the
touch and saw at the end of the room a bed, with a pale,
indistinguishable figure laid therein, and what appeared to be a
clergyman standing over it. About a week later she fell into a long and
dangerous illness.

An account of a dream which implied an extraordinary coincidence, if
coincidence it be and nothing more, was sent as follows by a
correspondent, who requested that no names be published. "That which I am
about to relate has a peculiar interest for me, inasmuch as the central
figure in it was my own grand-aunt, and moreover the principal witness
(if I may use such a term) was my father. At the period during which
this strange incident occurred my father was living with his aunt and
some other relatives.

"One morning at the breakfast-table, my grand-aunt announced that she had
had a most peculiar dream during the previous night. My father, who was
always very interested in that kind of thing, took down in his notebook
all the particulars concerning it. They were as follows.

"My grand-aunt dreamt that she was in a cemetery, which she recognised as
Glasnevin, and as she gazed at the memorials of the dead which lay so
thick around, one stood out most conspicuously, and caught her eye, for
she saw clearly cut on the cold white stone _an inscription bearing her
own name:_

CLARE S.D--
Died 14th of March, 1873
Dearly loved and ever mourned.
R.I.P.

while, to add to the peculiarity of it, the date on the stone as given
above was, from the day of her dream, exactly a year in advance.

"My grand-aunt was not very nervous, and soon the dream faded from her
mind. Months rolled by, and one morning at breakfast it was noticed that
my grand-aunt had not appeared, but as she was a very religious woman it
was thought that she had gone out to church. However, as she did not
appear my father sent someone to her room to see if she were there, and
as no answer was given to repeated knocking the door was opened, and my
grand-aunt was found kneeling at her bedside, dead. The day of her death
was March 14, 1873, corresponding exactly with the date seen in her dream
a twelvemonth before. My grand-aunt was buried in Glasnevin, and on her
tombstone (a white marble slab) was placed the inscription which she had
read in her dream." Our correspondent sent us a photograph of the stone
and its inscription.

The present Archdeacon of Limerick, Ven. J. A. Haydn, LL.D., sends the
following experience: "In the year 1870 I was rector of the little rural
parish of Chapel Russell. One autumn day the rain fell with a quiet,
steady, and hopeless persistence from morning to night. Wearied at length
from the gloom, and tired of reading and writing, I determined to walk
to the church about half a mile away, and pass a half-hour playing the
harmonium, returning for the lamp-light and tea.

"I wrapped up, put the key of the church in my pocket, and started.
Arriving at the church, I walked up the straight avenue, bordered with
graves and tombs on either side, while the soft, steady rain quietly
pattered on the trees. When I reached the church door, before putting
the key in the lock, moved by some indefinable impulse, I stood on the
doorstep, turned round, and looked back upon the path I had just trodden.
My amazement may be imagined when I saw, seated on a low, tabular
tombstone close to the avenue, a lady with her back towards me. She was
wearing a black velvet jacket or short cape, with a narrow border of
vivid white: her head, and luxuriant jet-black hair, were surmounted by a
hat of the shape and make that I think used to be called at that time
a "turban"; it was also of black velvet, with a snow-white wing or
feather at the right-hand side of it. It may be seen how deliberately and
minutely I observed the appearance, when I can thus recall it after
more than forty years.

"Actuated by a desire to attract the attention of the lady, and induce
her to look towards me, I noisily inserted the key in the door, and
suddenly opened it with a rusty crack. Turning round to see the effect of
my policy--the lady was gone!--vanished! Not yet daunted, I hurried to
the place, which was not ten paces away, and closely searched the stone
and the space all round it, but utterly in vain; there were absolutely no
traces of the late presence of a human being! I may add that nothing
particular or remarkable followed the singular apparition, and that I
never heard anything calculated to throw any light on the mystery."

Here is a story of a ghost who knew what it wanted--and got it! "In the
part of Co. Wicklow from which my people come," writes a Miss D----,
"there was a family who were not exactly related, but of course of the
clan. Many years ago a young daughter, aged about twenty, died. Before
her death she had directed her parents to bury her in a certain
graveyard. But for some reason they did not do so, and from that hour she
gave them no peace. She appeared to them at all hours, especially when
they went to the well for water. So distracted were they, that at length
they got permission to exhume the remains and have them reinterred in the
desired graveyard. This they did by torchlight--a weird scene truly! I
can vouch for the truth of this latter portion, at all events, as some of
my own relatives were present."

Mr. T. J. Westropp contributes a tale of a ghost of an unusual type,
_i.e._ one which actually did communicate matters of importance to his
family. "A lady who related many ghost stories to me, also told me how,
after her father's death, the family could not find some papers or
receipts of value. One night she awoke, and heard a sound which she at
once recognised as the footsteps of her father, who was lame. The door
creaked, and she prayed that she might be able to see him. Her prayer was
granted: she saw him distinctly holding a yellow parchment book tied with
tape. 'F----, child,' said he, 'this is the book your mother is looking
for. It is in the third drawer of the cabinet near the cross-door; tell
your mother to be more careful in future about business papers.'
Incontinent he vanished, and she at once awoke her mother, in whose room
she was sleeping, who was very angry and ridiculed the story, but the
girl's earnestness at length impressed her. She got up, went to the old
cabinet, and at once found the missing book in the third drawer."

Here is another tale of an equally useful and obliging ghost. "A
gentleman, a relative of my own," writes a lady, "often received warnings
from his dead father of things that were about to happen. Besides the
farm on which he lived, he had another some miles away which adjoined a
large demesne. Once in a great storm a fir-tree was blown down in the
demesne, and fell into his field. The woodranger came to him and told him
he might as well cut up the tree, and take it away. Accordingly one day
he set out for this purpose, taking with him two men and a cart. He got
into the fields by a stile, while his men went on to a gate. As he
approached a gap between two fields he saw, standing in it, his father as
plainly as he ever saw him in life, and beckoning him back warningly.
Unable to understand this, he still advanced, whereupon his father looked
very angry, and his gestures became imperious. This induced him to turn
away, so he sent his men home, and left the tree uncut. He subsequently
discovered that a plot had been laid by the woodranger, who coveted his
farm, and who hoped to have him dispossessed by accusing him of stealing
the tree."

A clergyman in the diocese of Clogher gave a personal experience of
table-turning to the present Dean of St. Patrick's, who kindly sent
the same to the writer. He said: "When I was a young man, I met
some friends one evening, and we decided to amuse ourselves with
table-turning. The local dispensary was vacant at the time, so we said
that if the table would work we should ask who would be appointed as
medical officer. As we sat round it touching it with our hands it began
to knock. We said:

"'Who are you?'

"The table spelt out the name of a Bishop of the Church of Ireland. We
asked, thinking that the answer was absurd, as we knew him to be alive
and well:

"'Are you dead?'

"The table answered 'Yes.'

"We laughed at this and asked:

"'Who will be appointed to the dispensary?'

"The table spelt out the name of a stranger, who was not one of the
candidates, whereupon we left off, thinking that the whole thing was
nonsense.

"The next morning I saw in the papers that the Bishop in question had
died that afternoon about two hours before our meeting, and a few days
afterwards I saw the name of the stranger as the new dispensary doctor. I
got such a shock that I determined never to have anything to do with
table-turning again."

The following extraordinary personal experience is sent by a lady, well
known to the present writer, but who requests that all names be omitted.
Whatever explanation we may give of it, the good faith of the tale is
beyond doubt.

"Two or three months after my father-in-law's death my husband, myself,
and three small sons lived in the west of Ireland. As my husband was a
young barrister, he had to be absent from home a good deal. My three boys
slept in my bedroom, the eldest being about four, the youngest some
months. A fire was kept up every night, and with a young child to look
after, I was naturally awake more than once during the night. For many
nights I believed I distinctly saw my father-in-law sitting by the
fireside. This happened, not once or twice, but many times. He was
passionately fond of his eldest grandson, who lay sleeping calmly in his
cot. Being so much alone probably made me restless and uneasy, though I
never felt _afraid_. I mentioned this strange thing to a friend who had
known and liked my father-in-law, and she advised me to 'have his soul
laid,' as she termed it. Though I was a Protestant and she was a Roman
Catholic (as had also been my father-in-law), yet I fell in with her
suggestion. She told me to give a coin to the next beggar that came to
the house, telling him (or her) to pray for the rest of Mr. So-and-so's
soul. A few days later a beggar-woman and her children came to the door,
to whom I gave a coin and stated my desire. To my great surprise I
learned from her manner that such requests were not unusual. Well, she
went down on her knees on the steps, and prayed with apparent earnestness
and devotion that his soul might find repose. Once again he appeared, and
seemed to say to me, 'Why did you do that, E----? To come and sit here
was the only comfort I had.' Never again did he appear, and strange to
say, after a lapse of more than thirty years I have felt regret at my
selfishness in interfering.

"After his death, as he lay in the house awaiting burial, and I was in a
house some ten miles away, I thought that he came and told me that I
would have a hard life, which turned out only too truly. I was then
young, and full of life, with every hope of a prosperous future."

Of all the strange beliefs to be found in Ireland that in the Black Dog
is the most widespread. There is hardly a parish in the country but could
contribute some tale relative to this spectre, though the majority of
these are short, and devoid of interest. There is said to be such a dog
just outside the avenue gate of Donohill Rectory, but neither of the
compilers have had the good luck to see it. It may be, as some hold,
that this animal was originally a cloud or nature-myth; at all events, it
has now descended to the level of an ordinary haunting. The most
circumstantial story that we have met with relative to the Black Dog is
that related as follows by a clergyman of the Church of Ireland, who
requests us to refrain from publishing his name.

"In my childhood I lived in the country. My father, in addition to his
professional duties, sometimes did a little farming in an amateurish sort
of way. He did not keep a regular staff of labourers, and consequently
when anything extra had to be done, such as hay-cutting or harvesting, he
used to employ day-labourers to help with the work. At such times I used
to enjoy being in the fields with the men, listening to their
conversation. On one occasion I heard a labourer remark that he had once
seen the devil! Of course I was interested and asked him to give me his
experience. He said he was walking along a certain road, and when he came
to a point where there was an entrance to a private place (the spot was
well known to me), he saw a black dog sitting on the roadside. At the
time he paid no attention to it, thinking it was an ordinary retriever,
but after he had passed on about two or three hundred yards he found the
dog was beside him, and then he noticed that its eyes were blood-red. He
stooped down, and picked up some stones in order to frighten it away, but
though he threw the stones at it they did not injure it, nor indeed did
they seem to have any effect. Suddenly, after a few moments, the dog
vanished from his sight.

"Such was the labourer's tale. After some years, during which time I had
forgotten altogether about the man's story, some friends of my own bought
the place at the entrance to which the apparition had been seen. When my
friends went to reside there I was a constant visitor at their house.
Soon after their arrival they began to be troubled by the appearance of a
black dog. Though I never saw it myself, it appeared to many members of
the family. The avenue leading to the house was a long one, and it was
customary for the dog to appear and accompany people for the greater
portion of the way. Such an effect had this on my friends that they soon
gave up the house, and went to live elsewhere. This was a curious
corroboration of the labourer's tale."

As we have already stated in Chapter VII, a distinction must be drawn
between the so-called _Headless_ Coach, which portends death, and the
_Phantom_ Coach, which appears to be a harmless sort of vehicle. With
regard to the latter we give two tales below, the first of which was sent
by a lady whose father was a clergyman, and a gold medallist of Trinity
College, Dublin.

"Some years ago my family lived in Co. Down. Our house was some way out
of a fair-sized manufacturing town, and had a short avenue which ended in
a gravel sweep in front of the hall door. One winter's evening, when my
father was returning from a sick call, a carriage going at a sharp pace
passed him on the avenue. He hurried on, thinking it was some particular
friends, but when he reached the door no carriage was to be seen, so he
concluded it must have gone round to the stables. The servant who
answered his ring said that no visitors had been there, and he, feeling
certain that the girl had made some mistake, or that some one else had
answered the door, came into the drawing-room to make further inquiries.
No visitors had come, however, though those sitting in the drawing-room
had also heard the carriage drive up.

"My father was most positive as to what he had seen, viz. a closed
carriage with lamps lit; and let me say at once that he was a clergyman
who was known throughout the whole of the north of Ireland as a most
level-headed man, and yet to the day of his death he would insist that he
met that carriage on our avenue.

"One day in July one of our servants was given leave to go home for the
day, but was told she must return by a certain train. For some reason she
did not come by it, but by a much later one, and rushed into the kitchen
in a most penitent frame of mind. 'I am so sorry to be late,' she told
the cook, 'especially as there were visitors. I suppose they stayed to
supper, as they were so late going away, for I met the carriage on the
avenue.' The cook thereupon told her that no one had been at the house,
and hinted that she must have seen the ghost-carriage, a statement that
alarmed her very much, as the story was well known in the town, and
car-drivers used to whip up their horses as they passed our gate, while
pedestrians refused to go at all except in numbers. We have often _heard_
the carriage, but these are the only two occasions on which I can
positively assert that it was _seen_."

The following personal experience of the phantom coach was given to the
present writer by Mr. Matthias Fitzgerald, coachman to Miss Cooke, of
Cappagh House, Co. Limerick. He stated that one moonlight night he was
driving along the road from Askeaton to Limerick when he heard coming up
behind him the roll of wheels, the clatter of horses' hoofs, and the
jingling of the bits. He drew over to his own side to let this carriage
pass, but nothing passed. He then looked back, but could see nothing, the
road was perfectly bare and empty, though the sounds were perfectly
audible. This continued for about a quarter of an hour or so, until he
came to a cross-road, down one arm of which he had to turn. As he turned
off he heard the phantom carriage dash by rapidly along the straight
road. He stated that other persons had had similar experiences on the
same road.




CHAPTER IX

LEGENDARY AND ANCESTRAL GHOSTS


Whatever explanations may be given of the various stories told in our
previous chapters, the facts as stated therein are in almost every case
vouched for on reliable authority. We now turn to stories of a different
kind, most of which have no evidence of any value in support of the
_facts_, but which have been handed down from generation to generation,
and deserve our respect, if only for their antiquity. We make no apology
for giving them here, for, in addition to the interesting reading they
provide, they also serve a useful purpose as a contrast to authenticated
ghost stories. The student of folklore will find parallels to some of
them in the tales of other nations.

Lord Walter Fitzgerald sends us the following: "Garrett oge" (or Gerald
the younger) "Fitzgerald, 11th Earl of Kildare, died in London on the
16th November 1585; his body was brought back to Ireland and interred in
St. Brigid's Cathedral, in Kildare. He was known as 'the Wizard Earl' on
account of his practising the black art, whereby he was enabled to
transform himself into other shapes, either bird or beast according to
his choice; so notorious was his supernatural power that he became the
terror of the countryside.

"His wife, the Countess, had long wished to see some proof of his skill,
and had frequently begged him to transform himself before her, but he had
steadily refused to do so, as he said if he did and she became afraid, he
would be taken from her, and she would never see him again. Still she
persisted, and at last he said he would do as she wished on condition
that she should first of all undergo three trials to test her courage; to
this she willingly agreed. In the first trial the river Greese, which
flows past the castle walls, at a sign from the Earl overflowed its banks
and flooded the banqueting hall in which the Earl and Countess were
sitting. She showed no sign of fear, and at the Earl's command the river
receded to its normal course. At the second trial a huge eel-like monster
appeared, which entered by one of the windows, crawled about among the
furniture of the banqueting hall, and finally coiled itself round the
body of the Countess. Still she showed no fear, and at a nod from the
Earl the animal uncoiled itself and disappeared. In the third test an
intimate friend of the Countess, long since dead, entered the room, and
passing slowly by her went out at the other end. She showed not the
slightest sign of fear, and the Earl felt satisfied that he could place
his fate in her keeping, but he again warned her of his danger if she
lost her presence of mind while he was in another shape. He then turned
himself into a black bird, flew about the room, and perching on the
Countess's shoulder commenced to sing. Suddenly a black cat appeared from
under a chest, and made a spring at the bird; in an agony of fear for its
safety the Countess threw up her arms to protect it and swooned away.
When she came to she was alone, the bird and the cat had disappeared, and
she never saw the Earl again."

It is said that he and his knights lie in an enchanted sleep, with their
horses beside them, in a cave under the Rath on the hill of Mullaghmast,
which stands, as the crow flies, five miles to the north of Kilkea
Castle. Once in seven years they are allowed to issue forth; they gallop
round the Curragh, thence across country to Kilkea Castle, where they
re-enter the haunted wing, and then return to the Rath of Mullaghmast.
The Earl is easily recognised as he is mounted on a white charger shod
with silver shoes; when these shoes are worn out the enchantment will be
broken, and he will issue forth, drive the foes of Ireland from the land,
and reign for a seven times seven number of years over the vast estates
of his ancestors.

Shortly before '98 he was seen on the Curragh by a blacksmith who was
crossing it in an ass-cart from Athgarvan to Kildare. A fairy blast
overtook him, and he had just time to say, "God speed ye Gentlemen"
to the invisible "Good People," when he heard horses galloping up behind
him; pulling to one side of the road he looked back and was terrified at
seeing a troop of knights, fully armed, led by one on a white horse. The
leader halted his men, and riding up to the blacksmith asked him to
examine his shoes. Almost helpless from fear he stumbled out of the
ass-cart and looked at each shoe, which was of silver, and then informed
the knight that all the nails were sound. The knight thanked him,
rejoined his troop, and galloped off. The blacksmith in a half-dazed
state hastened on to Kildare, where he entered a public-house, ordered a
noggin of whisky, and drank it neat. When he had thoroughly come to
himself he told the men that were present what had happened to him on the
Curragh; one old man who had listened to him said: "By the mortial! man,
ye are after seeing 'Gerod Earla.'" This fully explained the mystery.
Gerod Earla, or Earl Gerald, is the name by which the Wizard Earl is
known by the peasantry.

One other legend is told in connection with the Wizard Earl of a
considerably later date. It is said that a farmer was returning from a
fair in Athy late one evening in the direction of Ballintore, and when
passing within view of the Rath of Mullaghmast he was astonished to see a
bright light apparently issuing from it. Dismounting from his car he went
to investigate. On approaching the Rath he noticed that the light was
proceeding from a cave in which were sleeping several men in armour, with
their horses beside them. He cautiously crept up to the entrance, and
seeing that neither man nor beast stirred he grew bolder and entered the
chamber; he then examined the saddlery on the horses, and the armour of
the men, and plucking up courage began slowly to draw a sword from its
sheath; as he did so the owner's head began to rise, and he heard a voice
in Irish say, "Is the time yet come?" In terror the farmer, as he shoved
the sword back, replied, "It is not, your Honour," and then fled from the
place.

It is said that if the farmer had only completely unsheathed the sword
the enchantment would have been broken, and the Earl would have come to
his own again.

In 1642 Wallstown Castle, the seat of the Wall family, in County Cork,
was burnt down by the Cromwellian troops, and Colonel Wall, the head of
the family, was captured and imprisoned in Cork jail, where he died.
One of the defenders during the siege was a man named Henry Bennett, who
was killed while fighting. His ghost was often seen about the place for
years after his death. His dress was of a light colour, and he wore
a white hat, while in his hand he carried a pole, which he used to place
across the road near the Castle to stop travellers; on a polite request
to remove the pole he would withdraw it, and laugh heartily. A caretaker
in the place named Philip Coughlan used frequently to be visited by this
apparition. He came generally about supper time, and while Coughlan and
his wife were seated at table he would shove the pole through the window;
Coughlan would beg him to go away and not interfere with a poor
hard-worked man; the pole would then be withdrawn, with a hearty laugh
from the ghost.

In the Parish Church of Ardtrea, near Cookstown, is a marble monument and
inscription in memory of Thomas Meredith, D.D., who had been a Fellow of
Trinity College, Dublin, and for six years rector of the parish. He died,
according to the words of the inscription, on 2nd May 1819, as a result
of "a sudden and awful visitation." A local legend explains this
"visitation," by stating that a ghost haunted the rectory, the visits of
which had caused his family and servants to leave the house. The rector
had tried to shoot it but failed; then he was told to use a silver
bullet; he did so, and next morning was found dead at his hall-door while
a hideous object like a devil made horrid noises out of any window
the servant man approached. This man was advised by some Roman Catholic
neighbours to get the priest, who would "lay" the thing. The priest
arrived, and with the help of a jar of whisky the ghost became quite
civil, till the last glass in the jar, which the priest was about to
empty out for himself, whereupon the ghost or devil made himself as thin
and long as a Lough Neagh eel, and slipped himself into the jar to get
the last drops. But the priest put the cork into its place and hammered
it in, and, making the sign of the Cross on it, he had the evil thing
secured. It was buried in the cellar of the rectory, where on some nights
it can still be heard calling to be let out.

A story of a phantom rat, which comes from Limerick, is only one of many
which show the popular Irish belief in hauntings by various animals. Many
years ago, the legend runs, a young man was making frantic and
unacceptable love to a girl. At last, one day when he was following her
in the street, she turned on him and, pointing to a rat which some boys
had just killed, said, "I'd as soon marry that rat as you." He took her
cruel words so much to heart that he pined away and died. After his death
the girl was haunted at night by a rat, and in spite of the constant
watch of her mother and sisters she was more than once bitten. The priest
was called in and could do nothing, so she determined to emigrate. A
coasting vessel was about to start for Queenstown, and her friends,
collecting what money they could, managed to get her on board. The ship
had just cast off from the quay, when shouts and screams were heard up
the street. The crowd scattered, and a huge rat with fiery eyes galloped
down to the quay. It sat upon the edge screaming hate, sprang off, and
did not reappear. After that, we are told, the girl was never again
haunted.

A legend of the Tirawley family relates how a former Lord Tirawley, who
was a very wild and reckless man, was taken from this world. One evening,
it is said, just as the nobleman was preparing for a night's carouse, a
carriage drove up to his door, a stranger asked to see him and, after a
long private conversation, drove away as mysteriously as he had come.
Whatever words had passed they had a wonderful effect on the gay lord,
for his ways were immediately changed, and he lived the life of a
reformed man. As time went on the effect of whatever awful warning the
mysterious visitor had given him wore off, and he began to live a life
even more wild and reckless than before. On the anniversary of the visit
he was anxious and gloomy, but he tried to make light of it. The day
passed, and at night there was high revelry in the banqueting hall.
Outside it was wet and stormy, when just before midnight the sound of
wheels was heard in the courtyard. All the riot stopped; the servants
opened the door in fear and trembling: outside stood a huge dark coach
with four black horses. The "fearful guest" entered and beckoned to Lord
Tirawley, who followed him to a room off the hall. The friends, sobered
by fear, saw through the door the stranger drawing a ship on the wall;
the piece of wall then detached itself and the ship grew solid, the
stranger climbed into it, and Lord Tirawley followed without a struggle.
The vessel then sailed away into the night, and neither it nor its
occupants were ever seen again.

The above tale is a good example of how a legend will rise superior to
the ordinary humdrum facts of life, for it strikes us at once that the
gloomy spectre went to unnecessary trouble in constructing a ship, even
though the task proved so simple to his gifted hands. But the coach was
at the door, and surely it would have been less troublesome to have used
it.

A strange legend is told of a house in the Boyne valley. It is said that
the occupant of the guest chamber was always wakened on the first night
of his visit, then he would see a pale light and the shadow of a skeleton
"climbing the wall like a huge spider." It used to crawl out on to the
ceiling, and when it reached the middle would materialise into apparent
bones, holding on by its hands and feet; it would break in pieces, and
first the skull and then the other bones would fall on the floor. One
person had the courage to get up and try to seize a bone, but his hand
passed through to the carpet though the heap was visible for a few
seconds.

The following story can hardly be called _legendary_, though it may
certainly be termed ancestral. The writer's name is not given, but he is
described as a rector and Rural Dean in the late Established Church of
Ireland, and a Justice of the Peace for two counties. It has this added
interest that it was told to Queen Victoria by the Marchioness of Ely.

"Loftus Hall, in County Wexford, was built on the site of a stronghold
erected by Raymond, one of Strongbow's followers. His descendants
forfeited it in 1641, and the property subsequently fell into the hands
of the Loftus family, one of whom built the house and other buildings.
About the middle of the eighteenth century, there lived at Loftus Hall
Charles Tottenham, a member of the Irish Parliament, known to fame as
'Tottenham and his Boots,' owing to his historic ride to the Irish
capital in order to give the casting vote in a motion which saved £80,000
to the Irish Treasury.

"The second son, Charles Tottenham, had two daughters, Elizabeth and
Anne, to the latter of whom our story relates. He came to live at Loftus
Hall, the old baronial residence of the family, with his second wife and
the two above-mentioned daughters of his first wife. Loftus Hall was an
old rambling mansion, with no pretence to beauty: passages that led
nowhere, large dreary rooms, small closets, various unnecessary nooks and
corners, panelled or wainscotted walls, and a _tapestry chamber_. Here
resided at the time my story commences Charles Tottenham, his second wife
and his daughter Anne: Elizabeth, his second daughter, having been
married. The father was a cold austere man; the stepmother such as that
unamiable relation is generally represented to be. What and how great
the state of lonely solitude and depression of mind of poor Anne must
have been in such a place, without neighbours or any home sympathy, may
easily be imagined.

"One wet and stormy night, as they sat in the large drawing-room, they
were startled by a loud knocking at the outer gate, a most surprising
and unusual occurrence. Presently the servant announced that a young
gentleman on horseback was there requesting lodging and shelter. He had
lost his way, his horse was knocked up, and he had been guided by the
only light which he had seen. The stranger was admitted and refreshed,
and proved himself to be an agreeable companion and a finished
gentleman--far too agreeable for the lone scion of the House of
Tottenham, for a sad and mournful tale follows, and one whose strange
results continued almost to the present day.

"Much mystery has involved the story at the present point, and in truth
the matter was left in such silence and obscurity, that, but for the acts
of her who was the chief sufferer in it through several generations,
nothing would now be known. The fact, I believe, was--which was not
unnatural under the circumstances--that this lonely girl formed a strong
attachment to this gallant youth chance had brought to her door, which
was warmly returned. The father, as was his stern nature, was obdurate,
and the wife no solace to her as she was a step-mother. It is only an
instance of the refrain of the old ballad, 'He loved, and he rode away';
he had youth and friends, and stirring scenes, and soon forgot his
passing attachment. Poor Anne's reason gave way.

"The fact is but too true, she became a confirmed maniac, and had to be
confined for the rest of her life in the tapestried chamber before
mentioned, and in which she died. A strange legend was at once invented
to account for this calamity: it tells how the horseman proved such an
agreeable acquisition that he was invited to remain some days, and made
himself quite at home, and as they were now four in number whist was
proposed in the evenings. The stranger, however, with Anne as his
partner, invariably won every point; the old couple never had the
smallest success. One night, when poor Anne was in great delight at
winning so constantly, she dropped a ring on the floor, and, suddenly
diving under the table to recover it, was terrified to see that her
agreeable partner had an unmistakably cloven foot. Her screams made him
aware of her discovery, and he at once vanished in a thunder-clap leaving
a brimstone smell behind him. The poor girl never recovered from the
shock, lapsed from one fit into another, and was carried to the tapestry
room from which she never came forth alive.

"This story of his Satanic majesty got abroad, and many tales are told of
how he continued to visit and disturb the house. The noises, the
apparitions, and disturbances were innumerable, and greatly distressed
old Charles Tottenham, his wife, and servants. It is said that they
finally determined to call in the services of their parish priest, a
Father Broders, who, armed with all the exorcisms of the Church,
succeeded in confining the operations of the evil spirit to one room--the
tapestry room.

"Here, then, we have traced from the date of the unhappy girl's
misfortune that the house was disturbed by something supernatural,
and that the family sought the aid of the parish priest to abate it, and
further that the tapestry room was the scene of this visitation.

"But the matter was kept dark, all reference to poor Anne was avoided,
and the belief was allowed to go abroad that it was Satan himself who
disturbed the peace of the family. Her parents were ready to turn aside
the keen edge of observation from her fate, preferring rather that it
should be believed that they were haunted by the Devil, so that the story
of her wrongs should sink into oblivion, and be classed as an old wives'
tale of horns and hoofs. The harsh father and stepmother have long gone
to the place appointed for all living. The Loftus branch of the family
are in possession of the Hall. Yet poor Anne has kept her tapestried
chamber by nearly the same means which compelled her parents to call in
the aid of the parish priest so long ago.

"But to my tale: About the end of the last century my father was invited
by Mrs. Tottenham to meet a large party at the Hall. He rode, as was then
the custom in Ireland, with his pistols in his holsters. On arriving he
found the house full, and Mrs. Tottenham apologised to him for being
obliged to assign to him the tapestry chamber for the night, which,
however, he gladly accepted, never having heard any of the stories
connected with it.

"However, he had scarcely covered himself in the bed when suddenly
something heavy leaped upon it, growling like a dog. The curtains were
torn back, and the clothes stripped from the bed. Supposing that some of
his companions were playing tricks, he called out that he would shoot
them, and seizing a pistol he fired up the chimney, lest he should wound
one of them. He then struck a light and searched the room diligently, but
found no sign or mark of anyone, and the door locked as he had left it on
retiring to rest. Next day he informed his hosts how he had been annoyed,
but they could only say that they would not have put him in that room if
they had had any other to offer him.

"Years passed on, when the Marquis of Ely went to the Hall to spend some
time there. His valet was put to sleep in the tapestry chamber. In the
middle of the night the whole family was aroused by his dreadful roars
and screams, and he was found lying in another room in mortal terror.
After some time he told them that, soon after he had lain himself down in
bed, he was startled by the rattling of the curtains as they were torn
back, and looking up he saw a tall lady by the bedside dressed in stiff
brocaded silk; whereupon he rushed out of the room screaming with terror.

"Years afterwards I was brought by my father with the rest of the family
to the Hall for the summer bathing. Attracted by the quaint look of the
tapestry room, I at once chose it for my bedroom, being utterly ignorant
of the stories connected with it. For some little time nothing out of the
way happened. One night, however, I sat up much later than usual to
finish an article in a magazine I was reading. The full moon was shining
clearly in through two large windows, making all as clear as day. I was
just about to get into bed, and, happening to glance towards the door, to
my great surprise I saw it open quickly and noiselessly, and as quickly
and noiselessly shut again, while the tall figure of a lady in a stiff
dress passed slowly through the room to one of the curious closets
already mentioned, which was in the opposite corner. I rubbed my eyes.
Every possible explanation but the true one occurred to my mind, for the
idea of a ghost did not for a moment enter my head. I quickly reasoned
myself into a sound sleep and forgot the matter.

"The next night I again sat up late in my bedroom, preparing a gun and
ammunition to go and shoot sea-birds early next morning, when the door
again opened and shut in the same noiseless manner, and the same tall
lady proceeded to cross the room quietly and deliberately as before
towards the closet. I instantly rushed at her, and threw my right arm
around her, exclaiming 'Ha! I have you now!' To my utter astonishment my
arm passed through her and came with a thud against the bedpost, at which
spot she then was. The figure quickened its pace, and as it passed the
skirt of its dress lapped against the curtain and I marked distinctly the
pattern of her gown--a stiff brocaded silk.

"The ghostly solution of the problem did not yet enter my mind. However,
I told the story at breakfast next morning. My father, who had himself
suffered from the lady's visit so long before, never said a word, and it
passed as some folly of mine. So slight was the impression it made on me
at the time that, though I slept many a night after in the room, I never
thought of watching or looking out for anything.

"Years later I was again a guest at the Hall. The Marquis of Ely and his
family, with a large retinue of servants, filled the house to
overflowing. As I passed the housekeeper's room I heard the valet say:
'What! I to sleep in the tapestry chamber? Never! I will leave my lord's
service before I sleep there!' At once my former experience in that room
flashed upon my mind. I had never thought of it during the interval, and
was still utterly ignorant of Anne Tottenham: so when the housekeeper was
gone I spoke to the valet and said, 'Tell me why you will not sleep in
the tapestry room, as I have a particular reason for asking.' He said,
'Is it possible that you do not know that Miss Tottenham passes through
that room every night, and, dressed in a stiff flowered silk dress,
enters the closet in the corner?' I replied that I had never heard a word
of her till now, but that I had, a few years before, twice seen a figure
exactly like what he had described, and passed my arm through her body.
'Yes,' said he, 'that was Miss Tottenham, and, as is well known, she was
confined--mad--in that room, and died there, and, they say, was buried in
that closet.'

"Time wore on and another generation arose, another owner possessed the
property--the grandson of my friend. In the year 185--, he being then a
child came with his mother, the Marchioness of Ely, and his tutor, the
Rev. Charles Dale, to the Hall for the bathing season. Mr. Dale was no
imaginative person--a solid, steady, highly educated English clergyman,
who had never even heard the name of Miss Tottenham. The tapestry room
was his bed-chamber. One day in the late autumn of that year I received a
letter from the uncle of the Marquis, saying, 'Do tell me what it was you
saw long ago in the tapestry chamber, for something strange must have
happened to the Rev. Charles Dale, as he came to breakfast quite
mystified. Something very strange must have occurred, but he will not
tell us, seems quite nervous, and, in short, is determined to give up his
tutorship and return to England. Every year something mysterious has
happened to any person who slept in that room, but they always kept it
close. Mr. D----, a Wexford gentleman, slept there a short while ago.
He had a splendid dressing-case, fitted with gold and silver articles,
which he left carefully locked on his table at night; in the morning he
found the whole of its contents scattered about the room.'

"Upon hearing this I determined to write to the Rev. Charles Dale, then
Incumbent of a parish near Dover, telling him what had occurred to myself
in the room, and that the evidence of supernatural appearances there were
so strong and continued for several generations, that I was anxious to
put them together, and I would consider it a great favour if he would
tell me if anything had happened to him in the room, and of what nature.
He then for the first time mentioned the matter, and from his letter now
before me I make the following extracts:

"'For three weeks I experienced no inconvenience from the lady, but one
night, just before we were about to leave, I had sat up very late. It was
just one o'clock when I retired to my bedroom, a very beautiful moonlight
night. I locked my door, and saw that the shutters were properly
fastened, as I did every night. I had not lain myself down more than
about five minutes before something jumped on the bed making a growling
noise; the bed-clothes were pulled off though I strongly resisted the
pull. I immediately sprang out of bed, lighted my candle, looked into the
closet and under the bed, but saw nothing.'

"Mr. Dale goes on to say that he endeavoured to account for it in some
such way as I had formerly done, having never up to that time heard one
word of the lady and her doings in that room. He adds, 'I did not see the
lady or hear any noise but the growling.'

"Here then is the written testimony of a beneficed English clergyman,
occupying the responsible position of tutor to the young Marquis of Ely,
a most sober-minded and unimpressionable man. He repeats in 1867 almost
the very words of my father when detailing his experience in that room in
1790--a man of whose existence he had never been cognisant, and therefore
utterly ignorant of Miss Tottenham's doings in that room nearly eighty
years before.

"In the autumn of 1868 I was again in the locality, at Dunmore, on the
opposite side of the Waterford Estuary. I went across to see the old
place and what alterations Miss Tottenham had forced the proprietors to
make in the tapestry chamber. I found that the closet into which the poor
lady had always vanished was taken away, the room enlarged, and two
additional windows put in: the old tapestry had gone and a billiard-table
occupied the site of poor Anne's bed. I took the old housekeeper aside,
and asked her to tell me how Miss Tottenham bore these changes in her
apartment. She looked quite frightened and most anxious to avoid the
question, but at length hurriedly replied, 'Oh, Master George! don't talk
about her: last night she made a horrid noise knocking the billiard-balls
about!'

"I have thus traced with strict accuracy this most real and true
tale, from the days of 'Tottenham and his Boots' to those of his
great-great-grandson. Loftus Hall has since been wholly rebuilt, but
I have not heard whether poor Anne Tottenham has condescended to visit
it, or is wholly banished at last."




CHAPTER X

MISTAKEN IDENTITY--CONCLUSION


We have given various instances of ghostly phenomena wherein the
witnesses have failed at first to realise that what they saw partook
in any way of the abnormal. There are also many cases where a so-called
ghost has turned out to be something very ordinary. Though more often
than not such incidents are of a very trivial or self-explanatory
nature (_e.g._ where a sheep in a churchyard almost paralysed a midnight
wayfarer till he summoned up courage to investigate), there are many
which have an interest of their own and which often throw into prominence
the extraordinary superstitions and beliefs which exist in a country.

Our first story, which is sent us by Mr. De Lacy of Dublin, deals with an
incident that occurred in the early part of last century. An epidemic
which was then rife in the city was each day taking its toll of the
unhappy citizens. The wife of a man living in Merrion Square was stricken
down and hastily buried in a churchyard in Donnybrook which is now
closed. On the night after the funeral one of the city police, or
"Charlies" as they were then called, passed through the churchyard on his
rounds. When nearing the centre he was alarmed to hear a sound coming
from a grave close at hand, and turning, saw a white apparition sit up
and address him. This was all he waited for; with a shriek he dropped his
lantern and staff and made off as fast as his legs would carry him. The
apparition thereupon took up the lamp and staff, and walked to Merrion
Square to the house of mourning, was admitted by the servants, and to the
joy of the whole household was found to be the object of their grief
returned, Alcestis-like, from the grave. It seems that the epidemic was
so bad that the bodies of the victims were interred hastily and without
much care: the unfortunate lady had really been in a state of coma or
trance, and as the grave was lightly covered, when she came to she was
able to force her way up, and seeing the "Charlie" passing, she called
for assistance.

An occurrence which at first had all the appearance of partaking of the
supernormal, and which was afterwards found to have a curious
explanation, is related by Dean Ovenden of St. Patrick's Cathedral,
Dublin. "At Dunluce Rectory, Co. Antrim," he writes, "I had a strange
experience. There was a force-pump attached to the back wall of the
house, and many people drew water from it, as it was better than any
obtained at that time in Bushmills. We used to notice, when going to bed,
the sound of someone working the pump. All the servants denied that they
ever used the pump between 11 P.M. and 12 midnight. I often looked out
of the back window when I heard the pump going, but could not see anyone.
I tied threads to the handle, but although they were found unbroken in
the morning the pumping continued, sometimes only for three or four moves
of the handle. On many nights no pumping was heard. The man-servant sat
up with a gun and the dog, but he neither saw nor heard anything. We gave
it up as a bad job, and still the pumping went on. After about two years
of this experience, I was one night alone in the house. It was a calm and
frosty night and I went to bed about 11.30 P.M. and lay awake; suddenly
the pump began to work with great clearness, and mechanically I counted
the strokes: they were exactly twelve. I exclaimed, 'The dining-room
clock!' I sprang from bed and went down, and found that the clock was
fast, as it showed two minutes past twelve o'clock. I set back the hands
to 11.55 and lay in bed again, and soon the pumper began as usual. The
explanation was that the vibration of the rising and falling hammer was
carried up to the bedroom by the wall, but the sound of the bell was
never heard. I found afterwards that the nights when there was no pumping
were always windy."

A man was walking along a country lane at night and as he was coming
round a bend he saw a coffin on the road in front of him. At first he
thought it was a warning to him that he was soon to leave this world; but
after some hesitation, he finally summoned up courage to give the thing a
poke with his stick, when he found that the coffin was merely an outline
of sea-weed which some passer-by had made. Whereupon he went on his way
much relieved.

The unbeliever will state that rats or mice are more often than not the
cause of so-called ghostly noises in a house. That, at any rate,
instances have happened where one or other of these rodents has given
rise to fear and trepidation in the inmates of a house or bedroom is
proved by the following story from a Dublin lady. She tells how she was
awakened by a most mysterious noise for which she could give no
explanation. Overcome by fear, she was quite unable to get out of bed,
and lay awake the rest of the night. When light came she got up: there
was a big bath in the room, and in it she found a mouse which had been
drowned in its efforts to get out. So her haunting was caused by what we
may perhaps call a ghost in the making.

The devil is very real to the average countryman in Ireland. He has given
his name to many spots which for some reason or other have gained some
ill-repute--the Devil's Elbow, a very nasty bit of road down in Kerry, is
an instance in point. The following story shows how prevalent the idea is
that the devil is an active agent in the affairs of this world.

A family living at Ardee, Co. Louth, were one night sitting reading in
the parlour. The two maids were amusing themselves at some card game in
the kitchen. Suddenly there was a great commotion and the two girls--both
from the country--burst into the sitting-room, pale with fright, and
almost speechless. When they had recovered a certain amount, they were
asked what was the matter; the cook immediately exclaimed, "Oh, sir! the
devil, the devil, he knocked three times at the window and frightened us
dreadfully, and we had just time to throw the cards into the fire and run
in here before he got us." One of the family, on hearing this,
immediately went out to see what had caused all this trepidation, and
found a swallow with a broken neck lying on the kitchen window-sill. The
poor bird had evidently seen the light in the room, and in its efforts to
get near it had broken its neck against the glass of the window.

An amusing account of a pseudo-haunting comes from County Tipperary, and
shows how extraordinarily strong is the countryman's belief in
supernatural phenomena. The incidents related occurred only a very short
time ago. A farmer in the vicinity of Thurles died leaving behind him a
young widow. The latter lived alone after her husband's death, and about
three months after the funeral she was startled one night by loud
knocking at the door. On opening the door she was shocked at seeing the
outline of a man dressed in a shroud. In a solemn voice he asked her did
she know who he was: on receiving a reply in the negative, he said that
he was her late husband and that he wanted £10 to get into heaven. The
terrified woman said she had not got the money, but promised to have it
ready if he would call again the next night. The "apparition" agreed,
then withdrew, and the distracted woman went to bed wondering how she was
to raise the money. When morning came she did not take long in telling
her friends of her experience, in the hope that they would be able to
help her. Their advice, however, was that she should tell the police,
and she did so. That night the "apparition" returned at the promised
hour, and asked for his money. The amount was handed to him, and in a low
sepulchral voice he said, "Now I leave this earth and go to heaven."
Unfortunately, as he was leaving, a sergeant and a constable of the
R.I. Constabulary stopped him, questioned him, and hauled him off to the
barracks to spend the remainder of the night in the cell, where no doubt
he decided that the haunting game has its trials.[14]

[Footnote 14: _Evening Telegraph_ for Dec. 10, 1913.]

An occurrence of very much the same description took place in County
Clare about three years ago. Again the departed husband returns to his
sorrowing wife, sits by the fire with her, chatting no doubt of old
times, and before he leaves for the other world is regaled with pig's
head and plenty of whisky. The visit is repeated the next night, and a
request made for money to play cards with down below: the wife willingly
gives him the money. Again he comes, and again he borrows on the plea
that he had lost the night before, but hoped to get better luck next
time. On the woman telling a neighbour a watch was kept for the dead
man's return, but he never came near the place again.

An account of a police-court trial which appeared in the _Irish Times_ of
31st December 1913 emphasizes in a very marked degree the extraordinary
grip that superstition has over some of the country people. A young woman
was on her trial for stealing £300 from the brother of her employer,
Patrick McFaul of Armagh. District Inspector Lowndes, in opening the case
for the Crown, told the bench that the money had been taken out of the
bank by McFaul to buy a holding, for the purchase of which negotiations
were going on. The money was carelessly thrown into a drawer in a
bedroom, and left there till it would be wanted. A short time afterwards
a fire broke out in the room, and a heap of ashes was all that was found
in the drawer, though little else in the room besides a few clothes was
injured. "The McFauls appeared to accept their loss with a complacency,
which could only be accounted for by the idea they entertained that the
money was destroyed through spiritual intervention--that there were
ghosts in the question, and that the destruction of the money was to be
taken as a warning directed against a matrimonial arrangement, into which
Michael McFaul was about to enter." The accused girl was servant to
the McFauls, who discharged her a few days after the fire: but before
this she had been into Derry and spent a night there; during her stay she
tried to change three £20 notes with the help of a friend. But change was
refused, and she had to abandon the attempt. "If some of the money was
burned, some of it was certainly in existence three days later, to the
amount of £60. One thing was manifest, and that was that an incredible
amount of superstition appeared to prevail amongst families in that
neighbourhood when the loss of such a sum as this could be attributed to
anything but larceny, and it could for a moment be suggested that it was
due to spiritual intervention to indicate that a certain course should
be abandoned."




CONCLUSION


The foregoing tales have been inserted, not in order that they may throw
ridicule on the rest of the book, but that they may act as a wholesome
corrective. If _all_ ghost stories could be subjected to such rigid
examination it is probable that the mystery in many of them would be
capable of equally simple solution--yet a remnant would be left.

And here, though it may seem somewhat belated, we must offer an apology
for the use of the terms "ghost" and "ghost story." The book includes
such different items as hauntings, death-warnings, visions, and
hallucinations, some of which obviously can no more be attributed to
discarnate spirits than can the present writer's power of guiding his pen
along the lines of a page; whether others of these must be laid to the
credit of such unseen influences is just the question. But in truth there
was no other expression than "ghost stories" which we could have used, or
which could have conveyed to our readers, within reasonable verbal
limits, as they glanced at its cover, or at an advertisement of it, a
general idea of the contents of this book. The day will certainly come
when, before the steady advance of scientific investigation, and the
consequent influencing of public opinion, the word "ghost" will be
relegated to limbo, and its place taken by a number of expressions
corresponding to the results obtained from the analysis of phenomena
hitherto grouped under this collective title. That day is approaching.
And so, though we have used the term throughout the pages of this book,
it must not therefore be assumed that we necessarily believe in "ghosts,"
or that we are bound to the theory that all, or any, of the unusual
happenings therein recorded are due to the action of visitants from the
Otherworld.

We may now anticipate one or two possible points of criticism. It might
be alleged that the publication of such a book as this would tend to show
that the Irish nation was enslaved in superstition. Without stopping to
review the question as to what should, or should not, be classed as
"superstition," we would rejoin by gleefully pointing to a leading
article in the _Irish Times_ of Jan. 27, 1914, which gives a short
account of a lecture by Mr. Lovett on the folklore of London. Folklore in
London! in the metropolis of the stolid Englishman! The fact is that the
Irish people are not one whit more superstitious than their cross-channel
neighbours, while they are surely on a far higher level in this respect
than many of the Continental nations. They _seem_ to be more
superstitious because (we speak without wishing to give any offence) the
_popular_ religion of the majority has incorporated certain elements
which may be traced back to pre-Christian times; but that they _are_
actually more superstitious we beg leave to doubt.

Another and more important series of objections is stated by one of our
correspondents as follows. "I must confess that I can never reconcile
with my conception of an All-Wise Creator the type of 'ghost' you are at
present interested in; it seems to me incredible that the spirits of the
departed should be permitted to return and indulge in the ghostly
repertoire of jangling chains, gurgling, etc., apparently for the sole
purpose of scaring housemaids and other timid or hysterical people." The
first and most obvious remark on this is, that our correspondent has
never read or heard a ghost story, save of the Christmas magazine type,
else he would be aware that the above theatrical display is _not_ an
integral part of the "ghostly repertoire"; and also that persons, who are
_not_ housemaids, and who can _not_ be classed as timid or hysterical,
but who, on the other hand, are exceedingly sober-minded, courageous, and
level-headed, have had experiences (and been frightened by them too!)
which cannot be explained on ordinary grounds. But on the main point our
correspondent is begging the question, or at least assuming as fully
proved a conclusion which is very far from being so. Is he quite sure
that the only explanation of these strange sights and weird noises
is that they are brought about by the action of departed spirits (we
naturally exclude cases of deliberate fraud, which in reality are very
unusual)? And if so, what meaning would he put upon the word "spirits"?
And even if it be granted that the phenomena are caused by the
inhabitants of another world, why should it be impossible to accept such
a theory, because of its _apparent_ incompatibility with any conception
of an All-Wise Creator, of whose workings we are so profoundly ignorant?
Are there not many things in the material world which _to the limited
human mind_ of our correspondent must seem puzzling, meaningless,
useless, and even harmful? He does not therefore condemn these offhand;
he is content to suspend judgment, is he not? Why cannot he adopt the
same attitude with respect to psychic phenomena? Our correspondent might
here make the obvious retort that it is _we_ who are begging the
question, not he, because such happenings as are described in this book
have no existence apart from the imaginative or inventive faculties of
certain persons. This would be equivalent to saying bluntly that a
considerable number of people in Ireland are either liars or fools, or
both. This point we shall deal with later on. Our correspondent belongs
to a type which knows nothing at all about psychical research, and is not
aware that some of the cleverest scientists and deepest thinkers of the
day have interested themselves in such problems. They have not found the
answer to many of them--goodness knows if they ever will this side of the
grave--but at least they have helped to broaden and deepen our knowledge
of ourselves, our surroundings, and our God. They have revealed to us
profundities in human personality hitherto unsuspected, they have
suggested means of communication between mind and mind almost incredible,
and (in the writer's opinion at least) these points have a very important
bearing on our conceptions of the final state of mankind in the world to
come, and so they are preparing the way for that finer and more ethical
conception of God and His Creation which will be the heritage of
generations yet unborn. The materialist's day is far spent, and its sun
nears the horizon.

Another objection to the study of the subjects dealt with in this book
is that we are designedly left in ignorance of the unseen world by a
Wise Creator, and therefore that it is grossly presumptuous, not to say
impious, on the part of man to make any attempt to probe into questions
which he has not been intended to study. Which is equivalent to saying
that it is impious to ride a bicycle, because man was obviously created
a pedestrian. This might be true if we were confined within a
self-contained world which had, and could have, no connection with
anything external to itself. But the very essence of our existence here
is that the material and spiritual worlds interpenetrate, or rather that
our little planet forms part of a boundless universe teeming with life
and intelligence, yet lying in the hollow of God's hand. He alone is
"Supernatural," and therefore Transcendent and Unknowable; all things in
the universe are "natural," though very often they are beyond our normal
experience, and as such are legitimate objects for man's research. Surely
the potential energy in the human intellect will not allow it to remain
at its present stage, but will continually urge it onwards and upwards.
What limits God in His Providence has seen fit to put upon us we cannot
tell, for every moment the horizon is receding, and our outlook becoming
larger, though some still find it difficult to bring their eyesight to
the focus consequently required. The marvellous of to-day is the
commonplace of to-morrow: "our notion of what is natural grows with our
greater knowledge."

Throughout the pages of this book we have, in general, avoided offering
explanations of, or theories to account for, the different stories. Here
something may be said on this point. As we have already pointed out, the
expression "ghost stories" covers a multitude of different phenomena.
Many of these may be explained as "hallucinations," which does not imply
that they are simply the effect of imagination and nothing more. "The
mind receives the hallucination as if it came through the channels of
sense, and accordingly externalises the impression, seeking its source in
the world outside itself, whereas in all hallucinations the source is
within the mind, and is not derived from an impression received through
the recognised organ of sense.[15]"

[Footnote 15: Prof. Sir W. Barren, _Psychical Research_, p. 111.]

Many of these hallucinations are termed "_veridical_", or truth-telling,
because they coincide with real events occurring to another person.
Illustrations of this will be found in Chapter VI, from which it would
appear that a dying person (though the power is not necessarily confined
to such) occasionally has the faculty of telepathically communicating
with another; the latter receives the impression, and externalises it,
and so "sees a ghost," to use the popular expression. Some hallucinations
are _auditory i.e._ sounds are heard which apparently do not correspond
to any objective reality. Incomprehensible though it may appear, it may
be possible for sounds, and very loud ones too, to be heard by one or
more persons, the said sounds being purely hallucinatory, and not causing
any disturbance in the atmosphere.

Some of the incidents may be explained as due to telepathy, that
mysterious power by which mind can communicate with mind, though what
telepathy is, or through what medium it is propagated, no one can tell as
yet. Belief in this force is increasing, because, as Professor Sir W.
Barrett remarks: "Hostility to a new idea arises largely from its being
unrelated to existing knowledge," and, as telepathy seems to the ordinary
person to be analogous to wireless telegraphy, it is therefore accepted,
or at least not laughed at, though how far the analogy really holds good
is not at all certain.

Again there is the question of haunted houses and places, to accounts of
which the first five chapters of this book are devoted. The actual
evidence for many of these may not come up to the rigorous standard set
by the S.P.R., but it is beyond all doubt that persons who are neither
fools, liars, nor drunkards firmly believe that they have seen and heard
the things related in these chapters (not to speak of Chapters VI-VIII),
or that they have been told such by those in whose statements they place
implicit confidence; while so certain are they that they are telling the
truth that they have not only written down the stories for the compilers,
but have given their names and addresses as well, though not always for
publication. Can we contemptuously fling aside such a weight of evidence
as unworthy of even a cursory examination? This would hardly be a
rational attitude to adopt. Various theories to account for these strange
hauntings have been formulated, which may be found on pp. 199-200 of Sir
William Barrett's _Psychical Research_, and so need not be given here.

Yet, when all is said and done, the very formulating of theories, so far
from solving problems, only raises further and more complex ones, perhaps
the greatest of which is, Have the spirits of the departed anything to
do with the matter? As we have shown, we hope with success, in the
preceding paragraphs, many "ghosts" have no necessary connection with the
denizens of the unseen world, but may be explained as being due to laws
of nature which at present are very obscure. Does this hold good of all
"ghosts," or are some of them to be placed to the credit of those who
have passed beyond the veil, or perhaps to spirits, good or evil, which
have never been incarnate? That is the problem for the future, for in
the present state of our knowledge it would be premature to give a direct
answer, either positive or negative.

This book was written with a twofold purpose: first, that of entertaining
our readers, in which we trust we have been successful; secondly, to
stimulate thought. For, strange though it may seem, authenticated "ghost
stories" have a certain educative value. Taking them at their lowest they
suggest inquiry into the strange workings of the human mind: at their
highest how many strange lines of inquiry do they not suggest? For it is
obvious that we have now arrived at one of those interesting periods in
the history of human thought which might be described as the return of
the pendulum. We are in the process of emerging from a very materialistic
age, when men either refused to believe anything that was contrary to
their normal experience, or else leavened their spiritual doctrines and
beliefs with the leaven of materialism. The pendulum has swung to its
highest point in this respect, and is now commencing to return, so
perhaps the intellectual danger of the future will be that men, instead
of believing too little, will believe too much. Now is the time for
laying a careful foundation. Psychical research, spiritualism, and the
like, are not ends in themselves, they are only means to an end. At the
present state of thought, the transition from the old to the new, from
the lower to the higher, it is inevitable that there must be confusion
and doubt, and the earnest thinker must be prepared to suspend judgment
on many points; but at a later stage, when all absurdity, error, and
fraud, now so closely connected with psychical research in its various
branches, will have been swept away, Truth will emerge and lift the human
race to a purer and loftier conception of God and His universe.





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