Friday, October 22, 2010

All in the head, or a visit from the dead?

When I was little I was obsessed with ghost stories; reading them, hearing them, making them up. My younger sister only recently informed that I did, in fact, scar her at an early age with my tales, both true and imaginary. I had no idea she ever took them seriously, but there you go. Anyway, one of my favourite books back then was True Irish Ghost Stories by St. John D. Seymour and Harry L. Neligan, (1914). I don’t have a copy of it anymore and I’d actually forgotten all about it until I came across it online the other day.  It’s now free from copyright, apparently, and in the public domain.  It really is great reading for the spooky inclined, I’d highly recommended it on a dark October evening.

Once I stumbled upon it myself I abandoned what I was doing and ended up engrossed in it once again. I don’t really like reading at length from a screen, though, so I’ve been coming back to it all week. This afternoon I got to this chapter, ‘Apparitions at or After Death’, which got me thinking about a couple of eerie little tales of my own I’d like to share with you.  Considering this is the time of year when the dead like to come back for a wee visit, I thought they were kinda appropriate.  They're 100% true, too. I’m sure a lot of you out there have had or heard of similar experiences, it seems this type of phenomenon’s really quite common. I'd love to hear about them!

Visitor I

My mother grew up in Lanarkshire in Scotland, but she always had family here in Ireland including a  great-aunt whom she was named after. One night when she was about ten she woke up and her aunt was sitting on the edge of the bed smiling at her. My mum just presumed she’d arrived over for a visit and wanted to come in and say hello. Apparently they proceeded to have a wonderful conversation, after which my mother went back to sleep and dreamt the most vivid dream of her life. It was about a man running down a hill pushing a wheel. Anyway, the next morning she got up and went to the kitchen expecting her aunt to be sitting there.  Instead, she found her family all upset. And when she asked after her aunt’s whereabouts she was told that they’d just got word from Ireland that she had passed away during the night. Confused, she told them about her visit. Her sisters laughed and said it was a dream and that she’d been talking in her sleep all night. It was only when she told her mother about the dream she actually did have that she was taken seriously. You see, at the very same time as her aunt was dying my mother also had a cousin being born in a house just down the hill from her aunt’s in Ireland. The child was coming into the world just as her aunt was leaving it, and for some reason my mother knew all about it over in Scotland.

Visitor II

My fiance has a similar but spookier story. His grandfather, Jack, was the gravedigger for their local parish, and as you’d imagine he had no shortage of tales to tell. This one didn’t happen in the churchyard, though it’s almost creepy as the one that involved coffins moving in the earth. (Don’t ask, it’ll freak you out!) Anyway, one afternoon Jack was sitting at home when there was a knock on his door.  It was a man, not an old one but not young either, and he was there to make arrangements for a burial. The man was quiet but friendly and quite specific about the grave he wanted dug. That was all grand and everything was sorted out so Jack sat himself down to enjoy the rest of his day off. Then, about an hour later, he got a phone call from the local hospital. The person on the other end wanted to organise the burial of a relative. In such a small community it was rare for Jack to have two bookings, as it were, in the one day. He quickly realised, though, that the person on the phone was arranging the same funeral as the man at the door had been and so informed them that everything had already been taken care of. The caller insisted that he must be mistaken, but when Jack described the man at the door he was met by stunned silence from the other end of the line. “That’s impossible,” said the stunned caller, “You’ve just described the deceased man, and he only died 15 minutes ago.” 


Mickie Mueller Art said...

Ooooh, cool stories! Thanks so much for sharing these. Have a great weekend!

JJ Beazley said...

I posted some of mine to my blog a few months ago. I would love to sit and exchange stories over a turf fire and a mug of steaming cocoa. And, of course, we would have to talk loudly to be heard over the moaning in the chimney.

Loved the typo, by the way!

Róisín said...

Thanks Mickie!

And JJ, don't read too much into the typo. My grandad was called John, and I've a different story about him I was going to tell. I'm easily confused at the best of times and John/Jack, it's all the same!

JJ Beazley said...

Do excuse me, Roisin. I'm not the sort to pick up typos. I make too many myself. But that wasn't the one I was thinking about. It was what you did to your sister. I was just amused, that's all.

Heathen said...

Spooky stuff...I love it!

Gypsea Tree {Steam Spectre} said...

Oh good stories! I especially liked that last one...
I have a few creepy ghostly encounters, but here is a pretty strange one that happened to me and my boyfriend several years ago when we were hiking.
We took a day hike deep into one of the national forests nearby. The trail wanders past the site of an old plane crash and ends near an abandoned mine. We got a late start and only saw one person the entire afternoon. It was an older man and he was dressed from head to toe in some strange green felt attire and carrying a hunting rifle. He said it was practice/ preparation for hunting season. (There is NO hunting in National parks) It was a pretty odd encounter.
The whole time we were hiking we had a strange eerie feeling and kept watching our backs. The mine was at the top of a steep shale hill and we scrambled up planning to explore it after having spent so much time getting there. We didn't talk about it at the time, but for some reason once we reached the top neither of us made any attempt to enter the place. My guy decided to take a bunch of pictures from the outside, but I felt uneasy and pretty much posted myself as look-out while he snapped away. We hiked back to our car feeling strange the whole time and took the long drive home in silence.
The really creepy things happened that night. We went to bed and sometime in the night I started having a nightmare that I was back in the forest. I was frantically searching for something and I was absolutely panicked. Someone kept calling my name. Finally I broke through the trees into a small clearing strewn with boulders and there was my boyfriend flat on his back invisibly tied to the ground and calling for me.
Suddenly I woke up in a cold sweat and realized he was twitching on the bed next to me and tying to call out. I woke him up and as he told me his dream I went cold.
He described that he was bound and tied in exactly the same place I had also dreamed of from the hike we had taken that day. He could hardly breathe and was struggling to call out for me when I woke him up.
It still gives me chills just thinking of that place and I will NEVER go back there. Something wished us great harm that day for some reason and was willing to follow us back into our dreams to try and accomplish it.
Oh dear, now I will never sleep tonight!

Kathy said...

Remind me NEVER to read your blog before going to bed. EEPS! This was great fun, though. I wanted to tell you that in the LIGHT of the day. ;o)


Janet Bernasconi said...

Loved the spooky stories! And I love your blog too. Thanks for stopping over to visit me. Hope you can back again soon.
Have a great Sunday,
Janets Creative Pillows

Melissa said...

Hi Roisin,
I stopped by to let you know that we drew your name in our Halloween Blog Party Giveaway! Please email me at ( so I can get your Halloween eggs out to you!

Happy Halloween!

Della said...

Nice stories, Roisin, I love a good ghost story even now when it's ridiculously early in the morning. I'll indeed have to check out True Irish Ghost Stories. I have an anthology of Victorian Ghost Tales which I've re-read several times, so I know what you mean. Enjoy the day!

Róisín said...

Hi folks, glad you all liked the stories! And thanks, as always, for your visits. I appreciate every single one :)

JJ- I thought you might've been on about that, but I actually did mean to write 'scar' not 'scare' so it's not really a typo. Apparently I gave her nightmares for years, poor soft wee thing :)

Laura- Wow! Now that is truly freaky. It gave me chills just reading about it. You should really do a post on that story yourself, maybe someone reading it might even be able to tell you more about the area in question. Definitely never go back there, it sounds like something from a horror film. And the fact you both had the sameish dream, well that's the scariest part of the whole story. Mad!

Kathy- So sorry for giving you the spooks again!

Heathen and Janet- Glad you liked them and thanks for stopping by. So happy to have met you both through the blog party :)

Melissa- I've sent you a wee message, but I want to tell you one more time how grateful I am. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

Della- Oh, Victorian ghost stories are always the scariest! I used to have an old anthology of them myself years ago, I wonder if it was the same one? Anyway, I must hunt it down again for some seasonal reading. Hope you enjoy the Irish ones too, though it's hard to beat the Victorians for a good aul scare!

Well, hope you're all having a lovely day!

Roisin x

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