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True Irish Ghost Stories: Haunted Houses, Banshees, Poltergeists, and Other Supernatural Phenomena (John D. Seymour) online
CHAPTER II HAUNTED HOUSES IN CONN'S HALF
"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.