Sunday, 5 January 2014

An Irish Ghost Story from the Dublin Penny Journal 1835 by L E

The " Extraordinary Adventure" in your Journal of the 19th of October, reminds me of a similar story which I have heard told in former days.

Some years ago, a gentleman travelling in one of the central counties of Ireland, being benighted in a very lonely country, pushed on his horse to the residence of an acquaintance, which he understood was in the neighbour hood. He soon arrived at the gate, where, to his enquiries, the keeper answered through the bars, that the family were in Dublin, and had been there for three years, with. out having visited their country seat ; the cause of this, he mysteriously hinted, was that the house was said to be haunted ; indeed, he had himself heard the " spirits."— The traveller asked many questions, and learned that the " ghost" was heard every night walking through all the rooms of the house, making a noise like the clanking of chains ; and this took place at midnight exactly ; no one  would, for any consideration, approach the house after  nightfall. The traveller, however, must have some shelter; and, as he could obtain a lodging nowhere else, insisted on being admitted to the house ; besides, he cared not for ghosts, he had seen many of them abroad, and he thought he could easily manage an Irish one. The steward, bewailing the stranger's obstinacy, at length opened the gate, and, giving the traveller's horse to his son, led the way to the house.

The night was pitch dark, and the traveller saw nothing, till they arrived at the hall door, which indeed presented no very inviting aspect; it was hung on one hinge, and dashed to and fro with the wind ; the light, shining through the doorway, dimly showed the hall, the appearance of which was equally repulsive; it was half filled with old lumber, which was covered with dust; and withal seemed so drear and gloomy that the traveller almost repented of his determination. He had not, how ever, much time for reflection, for the steward put the light in his hand, telling him he dare not go farther, and left him, pronouncing some prayers for his safety, mingled with which his guest thought he heard some indistinct mutterings. The traveller, now alone, traversed the hall, and by the second door on the right, entered a room, which, the keeper had informed him, was one of the least injured by neglect; its furniture had not been removed, and, contrasted with the hall, the apartment had an air of comfort which surprised him. He sat down, placing his light and pistols on the table before him. His mind for a while gave way to that indefinable species of mingled fear and curiosity, which can be conceived only by those who have been in similar circumstances. He soon, however, recovered his natural resolution ; he felt some misgivings of the steward, which he had indeed from the beginning of this adventure, and which partly had encouraged him to proceed so far.

 It was now twelve o'clock, and, as he listened intently, he thought he heard a faint and: distant sound, like the clanking of a chain. Holding the candlestick in one hand, and a pistol in the other, he stepped into the hall. The noise seemed to approach, and now to die away; at one time it was above, and again it seemed to come from below. Again it drew near, and was evidently overhead; he went up stairs, examined the drawing-room floor, while the noise seemed to retire before him ; he also searched the apartments above, without success ; he descended again; the sound was louder ; he followed it through several rooms, communicating with each other, and which led him again to the landing place ; here he thought he heard plainly the sound of chains rattling down the stairs, and now and then he could distinguish a hasty and heavy tread, unlike, he thought, a "spirit's" airy gait. He pursued the noise till he reached the last of a suite of rooms on the parlour floor. Lying against the wall of this apartment were several planks of wood, behind these he imagined the sound had died away. Placing the light upon the floor, he proceeded to remove these planks, and having displaced a few of them, disclosed to view — the" ghost" — the steward himself, who, terrified by so adventurous a pursuit, and, at being thus discovered, acknowledged that he was the sole author of the " Ghost Story ;'• that he had taken these means to frighten his master away, lest he should be detected in his fraudulent management of the estate.

I need scarcely add, that, on the representation of the traveller, the faithless steward was shortly afterwards dismissed the service, and another appointed. I have no doubt that many of the " ghosts," who infest the numerous " haunted houses" in Ireland, would, if examined into as resolutely as was the case I have related, prove to be of a similar species. Sounds, which the imagination construes into the sighs and lamentations of the " spirits" of the dead, are frequently produced by natural and very trivial causes, of which you have given an instance in your 18th number. I may mention another instance. A certain house in Dublin remained empty for some years, in consequence of the fame of its being haunted by a screaming ghost; which was afterwards discovered to be devised by a malicious neighbour, who produced the frightful sound by shouting through a tube he had placed, for the purpose, in the wall dividing the two houses.

 L. E. 

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