Emerald Isle

The Haunting of Cooneen

The old house in Coonen is much spoken of even today, its dark legend stretching back into the mists of time. Some say it is a ghost living there, others say a devil, but rumours go back further into the darkness of elder years, to the old gods of Ireland and the dark rites that were celebrated in their name.

The house in Cooneen first entered the modern storybook of haunted houses back in the 1910s, when a family going by the name Murphy lived there. Mrs Murphy's husband died in a freak accident, and it was after that the trouble began. It started out with knocking at the front door, but when it was answered nobody stood there. Then they heard heavy footsteps pacing the hay loft that had only one way in, but nobody could be found above.

Now it's easy in these circumstances to suspect your own wits had deserted you, so Mrs Murphy got the neighbours in to have a listen, and sure enough they also heard the windows being rattled and the doors being banged, as though something was demanding entrance.Then things took a turn for the worse - plates started to fly off the table and beds would lift and fall by themselves - whatever wanted to get in was in!

In desperation Mrs Murphy turned to the Church for help, and Father Coyle from Maguiresbridge came to visit their house. He stood there with his mouth hanging open alongside Member of Parliament Cahir Healy, watching as pots and pans banged themselves together and uncanny shapes flickered across the walls. It was also covered in the newspapers of the time.

After this the priest was granted permission to do not one but two exorcisms, one of the very few ever held in Ireland, to no avail, even though the sheets lifted off the bed and loud groans and moans echoed around the place.

Rumours started to spread then that perhaps the Murphy family were authors of their own misfortunes, that they had trafficked in the black arts and that their son had found a fell book in the dark and mouldy woods and used it to summon demons for his own benefit!

Well that as you can imagine was the end of the road for the Murphys, and they packed their bags and set off for America, just as many Irish did at the time. It might have been the end of the road as far as Cooneen went, but it wasn't the end of their troubles, for the phantasm followed them across the ocean!

Documents of the voyage make clear note of the fact that there were often loud banging and moaning noises coming from the Murphys' cabin, and it got so bad that the captain himself had to have a word with them, although it didn't help much. The rapping and banging kept other passengers awake, and some say one young lad was so sleepy after the voyage that he was run down in the streets of New York.

After they reached dry land the supernatural activities continued for some time, gradually abating until at last they were left in peace, although their daughter was so traumatised that she spent the rest of her life in a mental aslyum.

Cooneen house has since attracted many visitors and curious sightseers, but my advice is to stay well clear of it. Eerie flickering witchlights are said to move inside and out of the house, the forest about grows in an unnatural way, back in the 1960s a troop of fine strapping young men in a passing showband were sent running from the premises as fast as their legs could carry them - and they won't speak of what happened either, there's talk of difficulty breathing and inexplicable accidents happening, as well as sightings of old men and women who vanish when you turn your back.

Walk the length and breadth of Ireland, but stay not a night in Cooneen House!

If you've the nerve you may visit Cooneen as on the map below. If you'd like to visit you can find a good list of hotels, B&Bs and other accommodation here. While you're enjoying this site you might also enjoy a little Celtic and Irish music to set the mood, or just the one or two songs if you're not interested in the whole albums. Don't forget you can get some very nice Irish jewelry for yourself or someone else as well, or for the craftier maybe make your own!

This fine book about haunted Ireland here is worth every cent.


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