Want to read some real life ghost stories that will haunt you as you go to sleep tonight? Well, here you go.
Growing up in the back end of nowhere exposed me to a collection of ghost stories and experiences that would make a great Netflix series. I'd call it 'The Haunting of North Kerry' if Netflix were to ever give me a chance. It would be full of banshees that were actually foxes, and ghosts in fields that were more than likely sheep.
However, there are stories that I've heard that have stuck with me and terrified me on the darkest of nights in the heart of the Kerry countryside. The stories have come from friends and family members who have first-hand experiences of a world unknown, and of ghoulish creatures and manifestations that would have you running with your tail between your hind legs.
And there is not a better time for me to share them with you then on Halloween.
Growing up, the majority of us would have heard some terrifying incarnation of the Banshee; the female spirit who was the omen of death. At the age of nine, my class and I were forced to read 'Jimmy and the Banshee' and none of us ever really recovered. There came endless sleepless nights and a lifelong phobia of bridges because that was where the Banshee liked to take shelter.
The Banshee only cries for the O's and the Mc's/Mac's, and as I am an O'Connell this makes me want to wail like the Banshee myself.
More terrifyingly, the piercing cry has supposedly hit a cousin of mine.
On a warm summers evening, my cousin was walking the roads of his homeplace. He was well accustomed to the sway of sounds in the country and there is not one noise that would phase him. However, on this particular night, he heard the most penetrating cry of a woman. She sounded distressed, so he searched and searched, but any trace could not be found. He quickly realised that the screams were moving while he moved and that it was following him. Alarmed and frightened, he ran home.
The next day his mother was dead.
The woman in the storm
Narrow roads lined with crouching trees define the landscape of most of North Kerry. Even on the brightest of days, these areas will fill with a cloudy darkness and a feeling of the unknown which lurks between the haunting willows will surface.
On a particularly stormy night, a neighbour of mine had a terrifying encounter. The rain was pouring, and the wind screeching and it was not a night to be deciding to go on your evening walk. As he was driving home, he came across a woman walking along the road. She was in her forties and looked perfectly normal but he wondered why she had decided to make a trip out in the dangerous weather. He thought maybe she was lost because he knew most of the folk who lived in the area and he had never seen her before. In good neighbourly fashion, after driving 300 metres up the road, he turned around to ask the woman if she needed some help.
But she had disappeared.
He got out of the car and called for her. He took out a flashlight and searched between the billowing trees but no trace could be found. A few days later, he asked those living in the area about the woman. In detail, he described exactly what she looked like and where he had seen her.
Not one person knew who she was.
A friend of mine told me this story of her cousin whose uncle had died. The uncle's home was left to the young man and he quickly decided to move in along with his partner. When he was younger, there was much talk of the house being haunted and his uncle told him strange stories of his belongings being moved and doors being violently shut in the night. He thought it was just old wives tales with the majority of them designed to give him a fright.
The property was an old farmhouse which was hidden from the main road. His partner thought it was eerie but it had charm and their plan was to demolish most of the original structure. They were both fascinated by a second door at the front of the house which could not be opened. They were told by family members that the key had been lost years ago and that many attempts to force it open over the years had failed.
Upon moving in, it wasn't long before things (quite literally) went bump in the night. They would wake-up to doors banging, and footsteps running throughout the house. In the morning, they would wake up to find their shoes and clothes scattered across their rooms and feel the pressure of a person laying on top of them.
One night, the movement in the house got particularly out of control. They heard the voice of a woman laughing and suddenly the sound of smashing started to come from their kitchen. The kitchen had been torn asunder. Plates, glasses and cups had been flung out of their cupboards and onto the kitchen floor. Then, they heard an almighty thud coming from the outside of the house. The second door had been opened. In over fifty years, this was the first time it had been unlocked, but there was no explanation.
After that night, the couple left the house and never returned.
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