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True Irish Ghost Stories: Haunted Houses, Banshees, Poltergeists, and Other Supernatural Phenomena (John D. Seymour) online
CHAPTER VIII MISCELLANEOUS SUPERNORMAL EXPERIENCES
"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.