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Group Iii

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

We now come to the third group of this chapter, in which we shall relate

two first-hand experiences of tragedies being actually witnessed some

time before they happened, as well as a reliable second-hand story of an

apparition being seen two days before the death occurred. The first of

these is sent by a lady, the percipient, who desires that her name be

suppressed; with it was enclosed a letter from a gentleman who stated
/> that he could testify to the truth of the following facts:

"The morning of May 18, 1902, was one of the worst that ever dawned in

Killarney. All through the day a fierce nor'-wester raged, and huge

white-crested waves, known locally as 'The O'Donoghue's white horses,'

beat on the shores of Lough Leane. Then followed hail-showers such as I

have never seen before or since. Hailstones quite as large as small

marbles fell with such rapidity, and seemed so hard that the glass in the

windows of the room in which I stood appeared to be about to break into

fragments every moment. I remained at the window, gazing out on the

turbulent waters of the lake. Sometimes a regular fog appeared, caused by

the terrible downpour of rain and the fury of the gale.

"During an occasional lull I could see the islands plainly looming in the

distance. In one of these clear intervals, the time being about 12.30

P.M., five friends of mine were reading in the room in which I stood.

'Quick! quick!' I cried. 'Is that a boat turned over?' My friends all ran

to the windows, but could see nothing. I persisted, however, and said,

'It is on its side, with the keel turned towards us, and it is empty.'

Still none of my friends could see anything. I then ran out, and got one

of the men-servants to go down to a gate, about one hundred yards nearer

the lake than where I stood. He had a powerful telescope, and remained

with great difficulty in the teeth of the storm with his glass for

several minutes, but could see nothing. When he returned another man took

his place, but he also failed to see anything.

"I seemed so distressed that those around me kept going backwards and

forwards to the windows, and then asked me what was the size of the boat

I had seen. I gave them the exact size, measuring by landmarks. They then

assured me that I must be absolutely wrong, as it was on rare occasions

that a 'party' boat, such as the one I described, could venture on the

lakes on such a day. Therefore there were seven persons who thought I was

wrong in what I had seen. I still contended that I saw the boat, the

length of which I described, as plainly as possible.

"The day wore on, and evening came. The incident was apparently more or

less forgotten by all but me, until at 8 A.M. on the following morning,

when the maid brought up tea, her first words were, 'Ah, miss, is it not

terrible about the accident!' Naturally I said, 'What accident, Mary?'

She replied, 'There were thirteen people drowned yesterday evening out of

a four-oared boat.' That proved that the boat I had seen at 12.30 P.M.

was a vision foreshadowing the wreck of the boat off Darby's Garden at

5.30 P.M. The position, shape, and size of the boat seen by me were

identical with the one that was lost on the evening of May 18, 1902."

The second story relates how a lady witnessed a vision (shall we call it)

of a suicide a week before the terrible deed was committed. This incident

surely makes it clear that such cannot be looked upon as special

interventions of Providence, for if the lady had recognised the man, she

might have prevented his rash act. Mrs. MacAlpine says: "In June 1889, I

drove to Castleblaney, in Co. Monaghan, to meet my sister: I expected her

at three o'clock, but as she did not come by that train, I put up the

horse and went for a walk in the demesne. At length becoming tired, I sat

down on a rock by the edge of a lake. My attention was quite taken up

with the beauty of the scene before me, as it was a glorious summer's

day. Presently I felt a cold chill creep through me, and a curious

stiffness came over my limbs, as if I could not move, though wishing to

do so. I felt frightened, yet chained to the spot, and as if impelled to

stare at the water straight before me. Gradually a black cloud seemed

to rise, and in the midst of it I saw a tall man, in a tweed suit, jump

into the water, and sink. In a moment the darkness was gone, and I again

became sensible of the heat and sunshine, but I was awed, and felt eerie.

This happened about June 25, and on July 3 a Mr.----, a bank clerk,

committed suicide by drowning himself in the lake.[8]"

[Footnote 8: _Proceedings S.P.R._, x. 332.]

The following incident occurred in the United States, but, as it is

closely connected with this country, it will not seem out of place to

insert it here. It is sent by Mr. Richard Hogan as the personal

experience of his sister, Mrs. Mary Murnane, and is given in her own


"On the 4th of August 1886, at 10.30 o'clock in the morning, I left my

own house, 21 Montrose St., Philadelphia, to do some shopping. I had not

proceeded more than fifty yards when on turning the corner of the street

I observed my aunt approaching me within five or six yards. I was greatly

astonished, for the last letter I had from home (Limerick) stated that

she was dying of consumption, but the thought occurred to me that she

might have recovered somewhat, and come out to Philadelphia. This opinion

was quickly changed as we approached each other, for our eyes met, and

she had the colour of one who had risen from the grave. I seemed to feel

my hair stand on end, for just as we were about to pass each other she

turned her face towards me, and I gasped, 'My God, she is dead, and is

going to speak to me!' but no word was spoken, and she passed on. After

proceeding a short distance I looked back, and she continued on to

Washington Avenue, where she disappeared from me. There was no other

person near at the time, and being so close, I was well able to note what

she wore. She held a sunshade over her head, and the clothes, hat, etc.,

were those I knew so well before I left Ireland. I wrote home telling

what I had seen, and asking if she was dead. I received a reply saying

she was not dead at the date I saw her, but had been asking if a letter

had come from me for some days before her death. It was just two days

before she actually died that I had seen her."