Emerald Isle

The Fetch

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

The Fetch, ghost of the living

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 seen in the morning, although the latter may be optimism at work!

The Fetch might have the marks of the impending death, so if someone was about to die in a fire, the Fetch may be burned and horrible in appearance, or if they are to have a heart attack, it may be clutching its chest. Sometimes it can be seen only by the one it imitates, and sometimes it can be seen by everyone except the person it imitates! Often it is grey and shadowy when seen from the corner of the eye, and is described as being airy in substance or not all there.

The Fetch can also appear after a person has just died, walking among their loved ones, although seeming to be distant or distracted. If followed for a while, it will vanish into dark corners or behind trees.

So if you see yourself walking along beside yourself and haven't had a drop to drink, be extra careful, for the Fetch has come calling!

Michael Dunne of Grange who was 80 years old in 1935 was out walking in the fields one day when he was a young man, and who did he see but his own brother Simon beside him in the bright noon day! So plain was he seen that Michael even addressed him, but got no answer. Simon at that time was in America seeking his fortune, and had been for some years.

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