"Our new home, the pink farmhouse in Co. Tipperary, didn’t have a resident ghost, but it was in a scary neighborhood. A little cottage, abandoned for donkey's years but not in disrepair, sat looming on a curve in the road that led up to our new farm. Sheila, who lived in the same townland, told me later that she saw Little People there sometimes when she came home late around midnight.
Maybe a case of too much of the brown stuff?
I had a sneaking suspicion that the Irish perpetuated this myth partly for the sake of tourists, to tell them what they like to hear. It’s a cliché that the Irish all have the gift of the gab anyway.
Ghost stories stand and fall with the trustworthiness of the person who vouches she knows it on good authority. And that, in Ireland, is usually the friend of a cousin once removed.
If you dig a bit deeper, research on haunted houses shows that they have something in common. Usually, a tragic death befell somebody in or around the house. And Ireland, with its almost 800-year long history of occupation and subjugation, is full of tragic stories. I came across a travelling psychic later whose mission it was to set the ghosts at ease, to send them home or lay them to rest. Marvelous. The interest in ghost lore, like in UFOs, never ceases.
Being skeptics, we just laughed Sheila off, until we heard about a real ghost story in our new home town.
Leaving Killaloe, where we purchased our abode, on the road to Scarriff, there was a two-story stone house on the left hand side. In spite of the faded lace curtains, its dark windows gave the property an abandoned, foreboding look, while the huge front lawn was always meticulously mown and the landscaping simple but well kept. In front of the downstairs windows, several beautiful, truly blue hydrangeas had caught my eye while we were still hunting for a farm. I wondered whether the farm was for sale, because it was obviously empty. There was no estate agent’s sign, and I didn’t dare to walk up to the gloomy door and find out as it looked so uninviting, almost scary.
The farm buildings belonging to this house were across the road. A huge sycamore tree towered over everything at the roadside gate, and the tree trunk was protected by heavy steel bars. I wondered what the obviously expensive enclosure was about.
Pauline, my one-time housekeeper and later friend, who likes a good yarn but is generally reliable, told me about the drama behind this house. She is the grand-niece of the Irish freedom fighter and hero, Michael Collins, who was tragically shot and killed in 1922 in the Civil War following the War of Independence from Britain, just months before the creation of the Irish Free State. Pauline referred to him proudly by his nickname: The Big Fellow. A photo of him in his military fineries still hangs over her fireplace in the parlor ─ something she would never part with, neither for fear of death nor money!
In 1923, when Ireland was torn by a civil war, a family of five IRA supporters lived in this large farmhouse on the road to Scarriff. One dark night when all were in bed, there was terrible knocking of rifles on the door. It was the Black and Tans, the most feared and vicious British brigade, that all but terrorized local communities. Their primary task was to make Ireland hell for the rebels to live in. They meant business. Suspecting traitors in this house, they broke down the door and killed the whole family except for a nine-year-old boy who managed to scramble out during the bedlam. He stole away and hid across the road in a tall tree, which saved his life. As the only survivor, to this day, he takes care of house and lawn and protects the tree in memory of the tragedy that befell his family.
Is the house haunted? Yes, everybody knows that and well, what do you expect after so many killings? Could I talk to the owner? No, he is a bit funny in the head and has never been the same since. I drove by it regularly, and each time couldn’t help but remember the horror that raged in such a peaceful rural area."
Siggy Buckley from her new book I once had a Farm in Ireland: Living the Organic Lifestyle.