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Ghosts In Connecticut
(N.Y. _Sun_, Sept. 1, 1885) "There is as much supers...

The Bloody Footstep
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The Muniment Room
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The Dying Mother {101}
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Iii
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The Empty House
Certain houses, like certain persons, manage somehow ...

The Specter Bridegroom
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Peter's Ghost
A naval officer visited a friend in the country. Sever...

'the Foul Fords' Or The Longformacus Farrier
"About 1820 there lived a Farrier of the name of Keane ...





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.





Next: Haunted Houses In Mogh's Half

Previous: Haunted Houses In Or Near Dublin



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