Emerald Isle

A Ghostly Pact

Irish and Celtic myths and legends, Irish folklore and Irish fairy tales and Irish Ghost Stories

Some bargains are perhaps best not made in matters of life and death

Lady Beresford pactOnce upon a time in Tyrone there were two little children, the son and daughter of parents who had died when they were little. They missed their parents very much, but they were raised by a guardian who was a fanatical atheist, and was determined to convert the children to his beliefs.

But they would have none of it, and so they made a childhood pact – the first of them to die would return, to prove to the other that life existed after death!

Well the two grew up to become the Lord of Tyrone and Lady Beresford, well known and respected nobility. But one day Lady Beresford awoke to find her sibling standing beside her bed. He told her he had just died, and he reminded her of the promises they had made to one another as children.

Then the spirit spoke of the future, and told her that her husband would die, and she would find love again and have four children, all well and good, but then it continued and told her she herself would die at the age of forty seven!

Of course she was very frightened, and suspected she might still be dreaming, so she asked her brother to prove the truth of his words. He reached out one spectral hand and touched her wrist, which turned black and withered, and so it was the next morning! Forever after she wore a black ribbon to cover the mark.

And all that had been predicted came to pass – her husband died, she did marry again, and four children she had. But when her forty seventh birthday came around, she didn't die, and heaved a sigh of relief that this piece of wisdom from beyond the grave, at least, had proved false.

For her forty eighth birthday she threw a small party, as befitted a lady of the time, and had some friends around, among them a priest who had known the family for many years. Upon seeing the hangings and hearing people speak of her age, he called her aside with a smile.

“Do you know, my dear, your age?” he asked.

“Why of course,” she replied, “I am forty eight!”

“Ah,” he said, tapping the side of his nose “but you are not – I checked the registry only this morning and your records were mixed up, you are forty seven!” thinking this loss of an extra year would please her.

She nearly fainted away, and told him he had signed her death warrant! And with that she went to her rooms, made out her will, and died that very night.

These documents were found and written in Curraghmore in county Waterford, marked on the map below, put to paper by the grand daughter of Lady Beresford, Lady Betty Cobbe.

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