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Monday 18 February 2019

Spooky Wicklow

Haunted houses and ghosts in the county See pages 26 & 27

The Ormonde Castle where the drummer boy perished.
The Ormonde Castle where the drummer boy perished.

DEBORAH COLEMAN

A TOWN STEEPED IN HISTORY, Arklow is well known for its colourful role as the site of many a legend. Best known perhaps is the tale of 'The Bough' or the Banshee as it is more commonly known all over Ireland.

In Co. Wicklow, this wispy female form sends shivers down the spine of all who speak of her.

The story goes that she serenely sits on a rock combing her long grey hair which compels one to look in her direction.

A high pitched cry or banshee wail is often documented and as she turns around the watcher is doomed to death, as she shows them all the horrors that the world holds.

A more tragic tale which is often told in Arklow is that of the little drummer boy whose ghost reportedly appears to this day to carry out the work he failed to do when he lived.

According to local historian and author Jim Rees somewhere in the distant past when local tribes were attacking the English garrison at the old Ormonde Castle which today stands only as a ruin on Upper Main Street, the little drummer boy was charged with sounding the alarm and warning of danger.

The boy, however, fell asleep at his post and this error of judgement cost him his young life.

As punishment, the youngster was walled up in a castle niche for a number of days without food or water.

The punishers forgot about what they had done and days later when they returned to release the boy they found he had died of starvation and suffocation and was missing his head.

To this day, the legend states that whenever Arklow town is in danger of attack the little drummer boy's ghost will emerge and carry fulfil his responsibility and warn of impending danger by sounding the alarm. The legend of the Wishing Stone in Avoca is much less spooky and can even be of benefit to those who use it wisely and correctly.

The ancient stone which is still situated in the vicinity of Avoca after centuries is rumoured to grant the wish of any person who can walk around it three times and if they do so without thinking of a goat, their wish will be granted. They have to find it first however!

Miles away in Bray, a Romeo and Juliet type fable refers to Lover's Leap Rock in Dargle Valley. Every year on Midsummer's Evening or June 21 the ghost of a heartbroken woman appears. Having been unfaithful to her beloved which led to his death due to immense grief, she is said to have sat at his graveside for several days before taking her life on the rock by leaping into the raging river waters below.

Much evidence of paranormal activity pertains to photographic evidence and the ghost of Kathleen at Glendalough Monastery Ruins is a classic example.

The last documentation of her appearance in photos is in the 1970s. Kathleen is described as a woman in a red dress who is said to have been killed by St. Kevin who whipped her with nettles and pushed her into a lake. Her form is said to have appeared on several photographs taken in the area.

In 1963 unusual reports of a circular creature in the waters of Lower Lough Bray were made.

According to Paranormal Database the story claims that two friends watching the Lough spotted a large, dark grey circular body rise from the lake, almost four metres in circumference. The head was slightly away from the body, and stood 90 centimetres out of the water.

Plenty of ghost stories mention images of animals, most notably dogs or hounds and in 1952 such a sighting was reported in a country lane near Redcross.

When a woman walking home tried to pat a black dog which appeared and padded along at her side her hand passed straight through the creature, and it vanished a few moments later leading to the realisation that it was in fact a ghostly presence.

A more recent and intriguing legend is that of the headless woman at Wicklow Head Lighthouse reported in the 2000s.

Local legend says that, during the mid nineteenth century, this woman was decapitated with a scythe after a jealous former boyfriend became overly upset when he discovered her engagement to another.

The entity is said to haunt the staircase, and according to one story, was once seen by a party of six people staying at the building. In addition to ghost sightings in Co. Wicklow, a local resident claimed to have seen a UFO in the sky over the town and reported the incident to a US website which documents similar sightings.

The incident was reported in February, 2009, and the poster was keen to assure sceptics that there was no trick photography involved.

Their message read as follows: 'This is not a camera trick i seen this ufo outside my house the other day. I couldnt go outside because the battery on my camera was low i had to leave it plugged in and i didnt wanna miss it. Please comment and let me know what you think. Thanks!'

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