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True Irish Ghost Stories: Haunted Houses, Banshees, Poltergeists, and Other Supernatural Phenomena (John D. Seymour) online
CHAPTER V HAUNTED PLACES
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.