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."
[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."