Dear Mr Seymour,
Scary Books: True Irish Ghost Stories
: St John D Seymour
I enclose some account of our experiences in K---- Castle. It would be
better not to mention names, as the people occupying it have told me they
are afraid of their servants hearing anything, and consequently giving
notice. They themselves hear voices often, but, like me, they do not
mind. When first we went there we heard people talking, but on looking
everywhere we could find no one. Then on some nights we heard fighting in
the glen beside the house. We could hear voices raised in anger, and the
clash of steel: no person would venture there after dusk.
One night I was sitting talking with my governess, I got up, said
good-night, and opened the door, which was on the top of the back
staircase. As I did so, I _heard_ some one (a woman) come slowly
upstairs, walk past us to a window at the end of the landing, and then
with a shriek fall heavily. As she passed it was bitterly cold, and I
drew back into the room, but did not say anything, as it might frighten
the governess. She asked me what was the matter, as I looked so white.
Without answering, I pushed her into her room, and then searched the
house, but with no results.
Another night I was sleeping with my little girl. I awoke, and saw a girl
with long, fair hair standing at the fireplace, one hand at her side, the
other on the chimney-piece. Thinking at first it was my little girl, I
felt on the pillow to see if she were gone, but she was fast asleep.
There was no fire or light of any kind in the room.
Some time afterwards a friend was sleeping there, and she told me that
she was pushed out of bed the whole night. Two gentlemen to whom I had
mentioned this came over, thinking they would find out the cause. In the
morning when they came down they asked for the carriage to take them to
the next train, but would not tell what they had heard or seen.
Another person who came to visit her sister, who was looking after the
house before we went in, slept in this room, and in the morning said she
must go back that day. She also would give no information.
On walking down the corridor, I have heard a door open, a footstep cross
before me, and go into another room, _both_ doors being closed at the
time. An old cook I had told me that when she went into the hall in the
morning, a gentleman would come down the front stairs, take a plumed hat
off the stand, and vanish _through_ the hall door. This she saw nearly
every morning. She also said that a girl often came into her bedroom, and
put her hand on her (the cook's) face; and when she would push her away
she would hear a girl's voice say, "Oh don't!" three times. I have often
heard voices in the drawing-room, which decidedly sounded as if an old
gentleman and a girl were talking. Noises like furniture being moved were
frequently heard at night, and strangers staying with us have often asked
why the servants turned out the rooms underneath them at such an unusual
hour. The front-door bell sometimes rang, and I have gone down, but found
Yours very sincerely,
"Kilman" Castle, in the heart of Ireland--the name is obviously a
pseudonym--has been described as perhaps the worst haunted mansion in the
British Isles. That it deserves this doubtful recommendation, we cannot
say; but at all events the ordinary reader will be prepared to admit that
it contains sufficient "ghosts" to satisfy the most greedy ghost-hunter.
A couple of months ago the present writer paid a visit to this castle,
and was shown all over it one morning by the mistress of the house, who,
under the _nom de plume_ of "Andrew Merry" has published novels dealing
with Irish life, and has also contributed articles on the ghostly
phenomena of her house to the _Occult Review_ (Dec. 1908 and Jan. 1909).
The place itself is a grim, grey, bare building. The central portion, in
which is the entrance-hall, is a square castle of the usual type; it is
built on a rock, and a slight batter from base to summit gives an added
appearance of strength and solidity. On either side of the castle are
more modern wings, one of which terminates in what is known as the
Now to the ghosts. The top storey of the central tower is a large,
well-lighted apartment, called the "Chapel," having evidently served that
purpose in times past. At one end is what is said to be an _oubliette_,
now almost filled up. Occasionally in the evenings, people walking along
the roads or in the fields see the windows of this chapel lighted up for
a few seconds as if many lamps were suddenly brought into it. This is
certainly _not_ due to servants; from our experience we can testify that
it is the last place on earth that a domestic would enter after dark. It
is also said that a treasure is buried somewhere in or around the castle.
The legend runs that an ancestor was about to be taken to Dublin on a
charge of rebellion, and, fearing he would never return, made the best of
the time left to him by burying somewhere a crock full of gold and
jewels. Contrary to expectation, he _did_ return; but his long
confinement had turned his brain, and he could never remember the spot
where he had deposited his treasure years before. Some time ago a lady, a
Miss B., who was decidedly psychic, was invited to Kilman Castle in the
hope that she would be able to locate the whereabouts of this treasure.
In this respect she failed, unfortunately, but gave, nevertheless, a
curious example of her power. As she walked through the hall with her
hostess, she suddenly laid her hand upon the bare stone wall, and
remarked, "There is something uncanny here, but I don't know what it is."
In that very spot, some time previously, two skeletons had been
discovered walled up.
The sequel to this is curious. Some time after, Miss B. was either trying
automatic writing, or else was at a séance (we forget which), when a
message came to her from the Unseen, stating that the treasure at Kilman
Castle was concealed in the chapel under the tessellated pavement near
the altar. But this spirit was either a "lying spirit," or else a most
impish one, for there is no trace of an altar, and it is impossible to
say, from the style of the room, where it stood; while the tessellated
pavement (if it exists) is so covered with the debris of the former
roof that it would be almost impossible to have it thoroughly cleared.
There is as well a miscellaneous assortment of ghosts. A monk with
tonsure and cowl walks in at one window of the Priest's House, and out at
another. There is also a little old man, dressed in the antique garb
of a green cut-away coat, knee breeches, and buckled shoes: he is
sometimes accompanied by an old lady in similar old-fashioned costume.
Another ghost has a penchant for lying on the bed beside its lawful and
earthly occupant; nothing is seen, but a great weight is felt, and a
consequent deep impression made on the bedclothes.
The lady of the house states that she has a number of letters from
friends, in which they relate the supernatural experiences they had while
staying at the Castle. In one of these the writer, a gentleman, was
awakened one night by an extraordinary feeling of intense cold at his
heart. He then saw in front of him a tall female figure, clothed from
head to foot in red, and with its right hand raised menacingly in the
air: the light which illuminated the figure was from within. He lit a
match, and sprang out of bed, but the room was empty. He went back to
bed, and saw nothing more that night, except that several times the same
cold feeling gripped his heart, though to the touch the flesh was quite
But of all the ghosts in that well-haunted house the most unpleasant is
that inexplicable thing that is usually called "It." The lady of the
house described to the present writer her personal experience of this
phantom. High up round one side of the hall runs a gallery which connects
with some of the bedrooms. One evening she was in this gallery leaning on
the balustrade, and looking down into the hall. Suddenly she felt two
hands laid on her shoulders; she turned round sharply, and saw "It"
standing close beside her. She described it as being human in shape, and
about four feet high; the eyes were like two black holes in the face, and
the whole figure seemed as if it were made of grey cotton-wool, while it
was accompanied by a most appalling stench, such as would come from a
decaying human body. The lady got a shock from which she did not recover
for a long time.