Ghost stories have fallen out of fashion somehow. The spooks and shades of the past have been sidelined by our brash, modern world. But, by all accounts, they are still around. Sadly I don’t appear to be the type to which they manifest themselves, but others are in little doubt. There are stories – many of them no doubt fanciful – enough to fill many books. Let me tell you of just a couple that will leave you thinking.
105 Bath Street, St Helier, Jersey
One of the best-known figures of the German Occupation of Jersey was Doctor John Lewis. He is still remembered by many. He was a no-nonsense GP and wrote his memoirs in 1982.
Early in the Occupation, his wife having been evacuated to Wales, he practiced from 105 Bath Street. On his very first night he read in bed until very late, then switched out the light. Immediately there came a great noise of thumping and crashing from the adjacent room, which he knew to be unoccupied. He switched on the light again – all became quiet and, upon opening the connecting door, nothing was amiss.
Closing the door again the racket re-started – and once again stopped when he re-opened the door. Eventually he went back to bed, covered his ears as best he could and fell into a fitful sleep. The same thing happened on the following two nights. He was almost becoming accustomed to it, but on the fourth night and thereafter there was silence.
Doctor Lewis was aware that a suicide had taken place in the room in question, and he put the manifestation down to that.
Don’t bother going to look for no.105 as I did – it has been demolished.
Kilmainhan Gaol, Dublin
This place, now decommissioned and a popular tourist destination, has played a major part in Ireland’s tragic history. It is best known for its rôle during the War of Independence and the Irish Civil War. The executions of the Irish rebels of 1916 took place in the Stonecutters’ Yard here.
I’ve taken the tour at least a half dozen times at this stage, alone or with friends. On one occasion our guide was Micheal (Mi-hall), who is also the Curator. He’s the guy who opens up in the morning and locks up at night. All the guides are good but you are lucky if you get Micheal. At the end of this particular tour one American lady piped up ‘Are there any ghosts around here?‘ Without hesitation Micheal replied
‘Oh yes, there are many. They are like old friends at this stage. They are quite benign. I say goodnight to them every evening when I lock up.’
Whether or not you think Micheal is pulling the legs of gullible tourists Kilmainham should be your no.1 destination when in Dublin.
Ghosts of the modern day
Of course there are the oft-repeated and well-known legends – Jersey has many. But just speaking to people, most have a modern story or two to tell. And some people do seem more susceptible to these manifestations than others. It is well known that ghosts and spirits pay no attention to modern structures and therefore move through walls etc quite unhindered. But the sightings are more likely to be in old buildings with a history.
Any other spooky tales to tell – from Jersey or elsewhere?