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Irish and Celtic myths and legends, Irish folklore and Irish fairy tales and Irish Ghost Stories
Who knows what hides in the darkness - The Ghost Below
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 home into a warm and welcoming place, and looked forward to raising their family beneath its solid old rafters.
Then one day the father of the house sprained his leg when he was at work, and had to use a cane to get around for a while, making a solid thumping noise on the wooden floor as he walked. After they retired for the night he left the cane at the foot of the bed, but their sleep wasn't to last long, for they were awoken in the dark of the small hours by that very same thump-thump noise!
His wife made to light a match, by whose light she spotted that the cane had gone missing, so they went out to find it at the top of the stairs. The servants of the house denied all knowledge of the incident, peering startled and pale-faced from their rooms.
Disturbed but tired nonetheless, everyone went to bed, and the next morning when they sat down to breakfast what should happen but a great booming voice echoed from the cellar off the kitchen, as though from an empty barrel!
“A fine morning to you!” it spoke, “Close the door above for it is cold where I am.”
Well terror and bedlam ensued, and after some discussion one of the servants went to investigate the cellar, but found nothing unusual. Nonetheless, after that the ghost, who made himself known as Corney but often denied that to be his name, made a fair nuisance of himself.
Crockery was hidden and cutlery went missing, the household complained of being pinched as they went about their daily business. The family's relatives from the countryside who had small farms used to bring presents of vegetables, and these were often hung up by Corney like Christmas decorations round the kitchen. There was one particular cupboard in the kitchen he would not allow anything into, and anything put in was promptly thrown out again, such as a pot with pickled meat weighted down for fear of his interference.
Corney it seemed had a deep dislike for being locked up anywhere, and would bend locks and keys around the house. He would interrupt any conversation he pleased as long as it took place in the kitchen, save only that of people who didn't fear him – one uncle of the family, who he mocked as “four eyes” in his absence, took a poker and hammered at the cellar door, demanding Corney come out and talk, but only silence followed. The next day though, the poker was found snapped in two on the kitchen floor.
He'd also remain silent in the presence of priests; as the notoriety of the house spread a clergyman dropped by for a visit, but no sight nor sound of Corney was to be had. After he left, the servants, very daring, shouted down into the cellar:
"Corney, why did you not speak?" and he replied, "I could not speak while that good man was in the house." The servants sometimes used to ask him where he was. He would reply, "The Great God would not permit me to tell you. I was a bad man, and I died the death." He even named the room in the house in which he died.
As the presence in the house grew stronger and bolder, it became more difficult for the lady of the house to keep servants at all, between the constant muttering and interruptions and the malicious practical jokes that were played on them. They would sleep in the kitchen on fold-out beds, but to escape from Corney they asked that it be moved to the attic.
The very first night they went to sleep up there, the door to the clothes press was flung wide and Corney's voice shouted out, “Hahaha, you blaggards, this is my house and no place in it is denied to me!”
Later one of the servants was preparing fish for dinner, but having turned away from the table for a moment, she looked back to find the fish gone missing! She began to weep for fear she'd be accused of thievery, whereupon the fish flew straight out of the cellar and onto the floor, accompanied by Corney's voice saying “There you whiner, there's your fish for you!”
Things began to take a more sinister tone after that, Corney claimed he'd be having visitors on All Hallows eve and that very night five or six distinct voices were heard. Next morning the water in the house was as black as ink, and not alone that, but the bread and butter in the pantry were streaked with the marks of sooty fingers.
Guests complained that the sheets had been pulled from them, and the young man of the house ran screaming to his parents, claiming he'd seen a naked old man “with a curl on his forehead, and skin like a clothes-horse!”
At their wits end the family decided to move, but they found it very hard to sell the lease to anyone, for Corney would speak up as soon as any prospective buyers made it as far as the kitchen. They asked him if they changed house would he trouble them, and he replied, "No! but if they throw down this house, I will trouble the stones."
Eventually the lady of the house prevailed upon the entity to settle down, and as it appeared to have a soft spot for her it agreed, so they sold up and moved on. As he said to her, “I see a lady in black coming up the street to this house, and she will buy it." Within half an hour a widow called and purchased the house.
Whether or not Corney still resides at the old place is not known, for even its exact address has been lost, save only that it was somewhere near St Stephens Green. So should you come across a fine property at a suspiciously low price in that vicinity, be sure to check the coal cellar before you sign anything!
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