Irish and Celtic myths and legends, Irish folklore and Irish fairy tales and Irish Ghost Stories
Petticoat Loose, a shade that haunted the south
In the south of the country, from Cork to Waterford, parents often scold wilful children with the warning – behave or Petticoat Loose will get you! And a wise child will do as they are told, for there are few more chilling tales than those of Petticoat Loose.
Patrick Flynn's wife was in her labour pains near Ballingeary on a cold night when it seemed that the wind had its own fingers for rattling the latch of the door, so he had no choice but to set out on the black road to look for a nurse.
Rounding a bend he was shocked to a halt, even in his haste, by the ghastly sight of a woman with hair floating as though it was underwater, dark hollows beneath her eyes and a deadly gleam in her empty eyes. Although no light shone on her, a wan glimmer seemed to come from her clothes, which were of an older style.
“Whisht!” hissed the apparition, and made to reach for his throat.
“Wait!” he cried, “I beg of you don't kill me for you'll have three murders on you then – only give me till tomorrow and I'll return by myself.”
The figure advanced no further and so he ran from that place in some haste. The next day Paddy took his cap from his head and went to meet the parish priest, who was much concerned for the man's wife, but his manner changed quickly when he heard what had happened.
“Patrick you fool, I should take a whip to your hide for agreeing to such a bargain,” he shouted, and as he seemed to be casting about himself for a whip or some other implement of punishment, Paddy exited the building.
An old man came upon him in his misery and asked what was the matter. After hearing the whole tale top to bottom, the old man nodded and told him to talk to the curate, who listened to his story and said to him then:
“Don't worry about a thing, I'll make it right as rain.”
With that said he gave Paddy a jar full of holy water and said he'd accompany him to meet this spirit later on. Night fell, as foul and dark as the night before, and the two proceeded up the road. The priest gave Paddy his instructions.
“Make a ring of holy water,” he said, “and if she comes through that, make another. Should the second ring fail, try a third, and I'll be nearby.”
And so Paddy did just that, but the evil shade walked straight through the first ring. Making another, she walked through that as well. As she came through the third, out from the bushes leapt the priest and slapped his stole over the top of her!
Petticoat Loose shrieked like a hundred cats and told the priest to take it off, for it was a terrible weight on her. The priest said he would, if she told him how she'd been damned.
The spirit agreed and said she was damned for abusing her father.
“Lies,” said the priest, “now you speak to me the truth or you'll endure that weight forever.”
“I was damned for killing my three children,” she hissed, and the priest nodded, knowing her nature now.
“You devil,” he said, “that's what damned you. I'll send you to the ocean's deeps for seven years for your penance.”
“I'll burn the ships,” she retorted, not a bit repentant, “I'll drown everyone that passes over!”
“You'll do no such thing,” said the priest, “for I'll weigh you down to the bottom!”
And so it was – the priest sent her to the deepest part of the ocean for seven years, weighted where she could do no harm, but when her time was up she came back, and was at it again, terrifying travellers and sometimes even killing them! So the priest sent her off for good, and to this day that's where she remains, doing her penance at the bottom of the ocean. Some also say she was sent to her final doom in Bay Lough in the Knockmealdown Mountains, where she still stirs as the witch of Bay Lough.
The site of her banishment is shown here on the map.
We now have an amazing Patreon page as well, where you can listen to the many myths and legends on the Emerald Isle! Exclusive to our Patreon, you can now hear stories of ancient Ireland, folklore and fairy tales and more, all professionally narrated. It's at times like these that it's most important to support artists and creative people whose income might be reduced, so if you'd like to support the work that goes into Emerald Isle, the Patreon can be found here: https://www.patreon.com/emeraldisle
More Irish Ghost Stories
There once was a woman called Máire Rua, or Red Mary, since she was one of the McMahons and had hair like a fiery sunset with a temper to match! Many legends have grown up around this seventeenth century force of nature, some true, some maybe less so, and some she spread herself! She made her seat in Leamanagh Castle, in the Burren in Cou ... [more]
If Dublin is the capital city of Ireland, County Clare is its dark reflection on the other side of the country, a place where many of the shadowy tales and unsolved mysteries of bygone years eventually seem to flow. Layer upon layer of centuries burden its rocky hills, left behind by the passage of numberless and nameless peoples, each hiding their ... [more]
Little remains now of once-proud Dunluce castle, whose halls had echoed with the sounds of laughter and music, and whose vaulted arches had defied the most ferocious storms. Only echoes and shadows are left behind, and some say, the tormented ghost of a young lady waiting for her love to return! The castle had originally been built by Richard &O ... [more]
The tale of Kilmagoura in County Cork is, for the most part, a peaceful and quiet one, as it lay under the power of the Fitzgeralds for many years, and they were, for the most part, just and fair rulers. So good were they that nobody had anything bad to say about them, and tales were told of their heroism and generosity. But as they say, it is t ... [more]
The long shadow of Leap Castle in County Offaly stretches across many centuries, and from its dark depths echo tales of terror, murder and the dread hand of the supernatural reaching from beyond the grave! The land upon which the O'Bannon clan built Leap Castle in the thirteenth century was not unoccupied – in fact, it had been used by ... [more]
Once 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 ... [more]
Every year around Halloween, people carve pumpkins or turnips into faces and put candles inside them, but not many know that this custom came from Ireland originally, or the story behind it! They say there was a blacksmith many years gone who was fond of his drink, and a mean drunk he was too, and tight with it. Not many friends did stingy Jack ... [more]
There was a famous beauty who lived in Belvelly castle overlooking Cork Harbour in the seventeenth century, and word of her ethereal comeliness spread far and wide. It reached the ears of a local lord by the name of Clon Rockenby, and he declared he must have her for his wife. Her name was Lady Margaret Hodnett, and although she was quite fond o ... [more]
The Redmonds were a comfortably well off family living in Court street in Enniscorthy back in 1910, and they supplemented their income by renting out rooms in their house to lodgers. However, their quiet life was soon to be interrupted by a sinister guest they hadn't invited in! In July of that year they had rented out the room above the kit ... [more]
It was the year 1280 in Kyteler's House in Kilkenny that Dame Alice Kyteler was born to a family of good prospects, a family of Flemish merchants who had settled in Kilkenny. When she grew up, Alice married William Outlawe, a wealthy merchant and moneylender, by whom she had a son. Then she married to her second husband, Adam le Blund of Callan ... [more]
One of the oldest legends in Ireland is that of the Fetch, the ghost of the living, which some say comes down from the ancient Irish word for seer or prophet, fáith. It is a double-spirit, one which takes on the identical appearance of someone as an omen of their impending death, if seen in the evening, or as a promise of good fortune if see ... [more]
They do say Irish people are fond of a good chat, the gift of the gab as it's called, but it seems even Irish ghosts are likewise inclined, as the strange tale of Corney the phantom reveals! Many years ago in Dublin city, a young family moved into a fine residence in the heart of Dublin city. Well-to-do and respectable, they made their new h ... [more]
In the south of the country, from Cork to Waterford, parents often scold wilful children with the warning – behave or Petticoat Loose will get you! And a wise child will do as they are told, for there are few more chilling tales than those of Petticoat Loose. Patrick Flynn's wife was in her labour pains near Ballingeary on a cold night ... [more]
High on a windswept slope in the Wicklow mountains near the summit of Mount Pelier, with a commanding view overlooking Dublin city, lies the burnt and blackened shell of a sinister old hunting lodge, now called the Hellfire Club, and well named it was too! For it was home to the Irish branch of that selfsame society, notorious for drunken debaucher ... [more]
William Phibbs was a well-to-do landlord of the English nobility who decided to develop his considerable estates in Ireland, building a house for himself overlooking the beautiful Ballisodare Bay in Sligo back in 1798. It would be a fine place to enjoy the sunset over Atlantic waters, he decided, and his son used it so. His grandson, also named Wil ... [more]
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 t ... [more]
The headless horseman is a very ancient tale of Ireland, stretching back to the days before Christ came with St Patrick, when a dark king used to sacrifice people to old black one-eye, Crom Cruach, by decapitation. That very same Crom Dubh, the worm god, who consumed the Druid Prince Cesard in green bubbling acid at the battle of Moy Tura after his ... [more]