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PostSeeing Ghosts: My Childhood Visits to County Waterford, Ireland (John Heelan, UK, 07/11/18 3:45 am)
My thanks to Anthony J. Candil (July 10th) for the link to Helena Scott's book Loftus, the Hall of Dreams--a book that resurrected (if I might be permitted the use of that term) many memories of my childhood visits to my grandparents and their extended family in a small town in County Waterford. As children we were regaled in the evenings with tales, some of which must have been folk tales or apocryphal such as the Fairy Hill behind their house.
As an example, the local Church of Ireland church had a light burning in the chancel every night (I saw it myself) but it was claimed locally that the light could not be seen within the church, a rationalist would claim it be a reflection of a street light--except there were none!
This was linked to the tale that when Cromwell's men wrecked the church and threw the heavy metal gates into the nearby River Shannon, they were back in place the following morning. As a child, I remember running through the graveyard to the river bank, pursued, as I thought, by the wailing of the lost souls of banshees (when I grew up, I realised they were just Screech Owls) and watching out for the bloody muzzle of a giant dog that was supposed to guard the bridge and river bank. (I suspect it was an adult ploy to keep us away from the river for safety.)
Perhaps I was/am susceptible to such things. When asked, "Have you ever seen a ghost?" I have to say "maybe." The circumstance of the apparent sighting was as follows: A very elderly maiden aunt lived with my English grandparents for many years and I inherited the bedroom that she had occupied. Age caught up with her and she went into hospital. A few days later, I awoke with a start and thought I saw a female figure bending over my bed. By chance, I had been given my first watch as a birthday present and checked the time--2:30 am I recall. We were later were told that she had died at exactly that time--2:30 am. One wonders what happens at the point of death and whether the soul released from the body visits its loved ones for the last time.
Speaking of ghosts: we lived for twenty years or so a few miles from a major ancient Roman camp--Silchester. There were frequent reports in the local press of people seeing squads of Roman soldiers tramping long-gone routes of the Roman roads that crisscross the area. Discussing this phenomena with a military aeronautical engineer cousin, he argued that time was not linear but organised in a coil. At time he claimed, individual loops of that coil would overlap, resulting in a time slip between ages centuries apart. Interesting! Didn't Einstein's General Theory say something similar about time bending?
I also note that Helena Scott's book starts off with pictures of Tarot cards, bringing back memories of Madame Sosotris (famous clairvoyant) "with a wicker pack of cards," with the Drowned Phoenician Sailor, Belladonna Lady of the Rocks, the Man with three staves, the Wheel, the One-eyed merchant, the Hanged Man and so on. Some of these became recognisable characters in T. S, Eliot's Waste Land. As Hamlet says to Horatio in Hamlet about ghosts, "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."
JE comments: WAIS prides itself on its rational positivism, so we've never before asked this question: do you believe in ghosts?
Like John Heelan, I would answer "maybe." My Adrian house is very old, and our cat sitter is convinced it's haunted. I've never seen any ghosts (the occasional bat, yes), but Goska the Kitty frequently stares at moving things the human eye cannot see.
(WAIS HQ/Adrian is on the market, by the way...anyone need a historic, meticulously maintained, dirt-cheap, and possibly spirit-filled house? Of course you do! Click here for the gallery: https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/441-Dennis-St-Adrian-MI-49221/68234080_zpid/ )