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Group Ii

Scary Books: True Irish Ghost Stories
: St John D Seymour

We now come to some stories of apparitions seen some time after the hour

of death. Canon Ross-Lewin, of Limerick, furnishes the following incident

in his own family. "My uncle, John Dillon Ross-Lewin, lieutenant in the

30th Regiment, was mortally wounded at Inkerman on November 5, 1854, and

died on the morning of the 6th. He appeared that night to his mother, who

was then on a visit in Co. Limerick, intimating his death, and indica

where the wound was. The strangest part of the occurrence is, that when

news came later on of the casualties at Inkerman, the first account as to

the wound did _not_ correspond with what the apparition indicated to his

mother, but the final account did. Mrs. Ross-Lewin was devoted to her

son, and he was equally attached to her; she, as the widow of a field

officer who fought at Waterloo, would be able to comprehend the battle

scene, and her mind at the time was centred on the events of the Crimean


A clergyman, who desires that all names be suppressed, sends the

following: "In my wife's father's house a number of female servants were

kept, of whom my wife, before she was married, was in charge. On one

occasion the cook took ill with appendicitis, and was operated on in the

Infirmary, where I attended her as hospital chaplain. She died, however,

and was buried by her friends. Some days after the funeral my wife was

standing at a table in the kitchen which was so placed that any person

standing at it could see into the passage outside the kitchen, if the

door happened to be open. [The narrator enclosed a rough plan which made

the whole story perfectly clear.] She was standing one day by herself at

the table, and the door was open. This was in broad daylight, about

eleven o'clock in the morning in the end of February or beginning of

March. She was icing a cake, and therefore was hardly thinking of ghosts.

Suddenly she looked up from her work, and glanced through the open

kitchen door into the passage leading past the servants' parlour into the

dairy. She saw quite distinctly the figure of the deceased cook pass

towards the dairy; she was dressed in the ordinary costume she used to

wear in the mornings, and seemed in every respect quite normal. My wife

was not, at the moment, in the least shocked or surprised, but on the

contrary she followed, and searched in the dairy, into which she was just

in time to see her skirts disappearing. Needless to say, nothing was


Canon Courtenay Moore, M.A., Rector of Mitchelstown, contributes a

personal experience. "It was about eighteen years ago--I cannot fix the

exact date--that Samuel Penrose returned to this parish from the

Argentine. He was getting on so well abroad that he would have remained

there, but his wife fell ill, and for her sake he returned to Ireland. He

was a carpenter by trade, and his former employer was glad to take him

into his service again. Sam was a very respectable man of sincere

religious feelings. Soon after his return he met with one or two rather

severe accidents, and had a strong impression that a fatal one would

happen him before long; and so it came to pass. A scaffolding gave way

one day, and precipitated him on to a flagged stone floor. He did not die

immediately, but his injuries proved fatal. He died in a Cork hospital

soon after his admission: I went to Cork to officiate at his funeral.

About noon the next day I was standing at my hall door, and the form of

poor Sam, the upper half of it, seemed to pass before me. He looked

peaceful and happy--it was a momentary vision, but perfectly distinct.

The truncated appearance puzzled me very much, until some time after I

read a large book by F.W.H. Myers, in which he made a scientific analysis

and induction of such phenomena, and said that they were almost

universally seen in this half-length form. I do not profess to explain

what I saw: its message, if it had a message, seemed to be that poor Sam

was at last at rest and in peace."

A story somewhat similar to the above was related to us, in which the

apparition seems certainly to have been sent with a definite purpose. Two

maiden ladies, whom we shall call Miss A. X. and Miss B. Y., lived

together for a good many years. As one would naturally expect, they were

close friends, and had the most intimate relations with each other, both

being extremely religious women. In process of time Miss B. Y. died, and

after death Miss A. X. formed the impression, for some unknown reason,

that all was not well with her friend--that, in fact, her soul was not at

rest. This thought caused her great uneasiness and trouble of mind. One

day she was sitting in her armchair thinking over this, and crying

bitterly. Suddenly she saw in front of her a brilliant light, in the

midst of which was her friend's face, easily recognisable, but

transfigured, and wearing a most beatific expression. She rushed towards

it with her arms outstretched, crying, "Oh! B., why have you come?" At

this the apparition faded away, but ever after Miss A. N. was perfectly

tranquil in mind with respect to her friend's salvation.

This group may be brought to a conclusion by a story sent by Mr. T.

MacFadden. It is not a personal experience, but happened to his father,

and in an accompanying letter he states that he often heard the latter

describe the incidents related therein, and that he certainly saw the


"The island of Inishinny, which is the scene of this story, is one of the

most picturesque islands on the Donegal coast. With the islands of Gola

and Inismaan it forms a perfectly natural harbour and safe anchorage for

ships during storms. About Christmas some forty or fifty years ago a

small sailing-ship put into Gola Roads (as this anchorage is called)

during a prolonged storm, and the captain and two men had to obtain

provisions from Bunbeg, as, owing to their being detained so long, their

supply was almost exhausted. They had previously visited the island on

several occasions, and made themselves at home with the people from the

mainland who were temporarily resident upon it.

"The old bar at its best was never very safe for navigation, and this

evening it was in its element, as with every storm it presented one

boiling, seething mass of foam. The inhabitants of the island saw the

frail small boat from the ship securely inside the bar, and prophesied

some dire calamity should the captain and the two sailors venture to

return to the ship that night. But the captain and his companions, having

secured sufficient provisions, decided (as far as I can remember the

story), even in spite of the entreaties of those on shore, to return to

the ship. The storm was increasing, and what with their scanty knowledge

of the intricacies of the channel, and the darkness of the night, certain

it was the next morning their craft was found washed ashore on the

island, and the body of the captain was discovered by the first man who

made the round of the shore looking for logs of timber, or other useful

articles washed ashore from wrecks. The bodies of the two sailors were

never recovered, and word was sent immediately to the captain's wife in

Derry, who came in a few days and gave directions for the disposal of her

husband's corpse.

"The island was only temporarily inhabited by a few people who had cattle

and horses grazing there for some weeks in the year, and after this

catastrophe they felt peculiarly lonely, and sought refuge from their

thoughts by all spending the evening together in one house. This

particular evening they were all seated round the fire having a chat,

when they heard steps approaching the door. Though the approach was

fine, soft sand, yet the steps were audible as if coming on hard ground.

They knew there was no one on the island save the few who were sitting

quietly round the fire, and so in eager expectation they faced round to

the door. What was their _amazement_ when the door opened, and a tall,

broad-shouldered man appeared and filled the whole doorway--and that man

the captain who had been buried several days previously. He wore the

identical suit in which he had often visited the island and even the

"cheese-cutter" cap, so common a feature of sea-faring men's apparel, was

not wanting. All were struck dumb with terror, and a woman who sat in a

corner opposite the door, exclaimed in Irish in a low voice to my father:

"'O God! Patrick, there's the captain.'

"My father, recovering from the first shock, when he saw feminine courage

finding expression in words, said in Irish to the apparition:

"'Come in!'

"They were so certain of the appearance that they addressed him in his

own language, as they invariably talked Irish in the district in those

days. But no sooner had he uttered the invitation than the figure,

without the least word or sign, moved back, and disappeared from their

view. They rushed out, but could discover no sign of any living

person within the confines of the island. Such is the true account of an

accident, by which three men lost their lives, and the ghostly sequel, in

which one of them appeared to the eyes of four people, two of whom are

yet alive, and can vouch for the accuracy of this narrative."