How does the song go?: ‘If you leave me now, you’ll take away the biggest part of me.‘ This is the story about a ghost who didn’t want a family it haunted to move house.
When we were aged around ten, our family moved to an old farmhouse in County Wicklow, Ireland. It was a lovely place at the edge of the village, extended over the years by our father. Surrounded by tall, whispering trees it was certainly spooky – even the Halloween trick ‘r treaters avoided the place.
People who’d lived in the area for years would turn up at the door saying the house had always been haunted, their chilling memories stretching back to youth.
The ghost appeared (or was heard) mainly in an upstairs corridor of the house, and, once in a while, by the front gate.
Once, our brother, in the bleariness of sleep, saw an old man sitting on the end of his bed. Odd happenings – a heavy pan falling from a table in the night, glowing balls of light drifting across a bedroom – were attributed to the ghost.
Despite the ghostly happenings, we were reassured by a treasured childhood book, ‘The Supernatural Explained‘. It said there was always a natural explanation for most things: drying beams creaking as they shrunk, a ticking clock on a bedside table sending vibrations along a pipe in the floor to a distant part of the house.
When it came to selling the house thirty years later, the ghost made a new ‘appearance’. Every time a potential buyer was shown around, a foul smell filled the upstairs corridor. So revolting, and no matter how many windows were thrown open, the visitors left. The ghost just didn’t want the family to go.
No priest had ever visited to exorcise the spirit, nor any ouija board used to try and make contact. The old man, it seemed, was part of the house’s DNA, like the woodworm and drafts.
But there was no ghost.
When it came to house viewings – with a slow stream of potential buyers creeping around the place – the normally freezing house was heated a few degrees – using the rudimentary central heating – to make it more appealing. This also warmed the rotting flesh of a dead rodent, trapped under a floorboard.
The house did eventually sell and our parents became aquainted with the new owner over recent years. Interested in the property’s history, they once asked: ‘Who is that elderly man we occasionaly see leaving by the front gate?’
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