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Ghost Stories

This work owes its appearance to the absence of any che...

Of all Irish ghosts, fairies, or bogles, the Banshee...

The Old Family Coach
A distinguished and accomplished country gentleman and ...

The Ghost That Got The Button
BY WILL ADAMS One autumn evening, when the days we...

The Visions Of Emanuel Swedenborg
In mid April of the memorable year 1745, two men, has...

Kitty's Bower
When Eric Chesters of Chesters Castle married Miss Br...

Farm Barn Interior Arrangement
A main floor, A, 12 feet wide, runs the whole length th...

Mr Beecher Appeased
"When what seemed to be Mr. Beecher's embodied spirit a...

Green Branches
FIONA MACLEOD In the year that followed the death ...

The Man At The Lift
In the same way, in August, 1890, a lady in a Boston ho...

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."

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