A ghost in uniform

A Haunting In Ireland

Fiona Dodwell shares her creepy experience of a week spent in a haunted Irish home.

I am a freelance writer by trade, and in the past I have even published some fictional stories, however, the events of my childhood in an enchanting town in Ireland are all true, and have impacted my view of the world and life-after-death.

This happened way back in the 90’s, and the memory of everything that occurred has haunted me ever since. I was about the age of 12 when my parents and I went to Northern Ireland to stay at my Aunt’s place. She had recently purchased a large house there, along a quiet, suburban area.

It was the fact that my Aunt was due to go on holiday herself that she invited my parents to come and use her property for a week so that we could have a holiday and house-sit – a mutually beneficial arrangement. We lived near London at the time, and the thought of a break away in Ireland was very appealing. My parents readily agreed and so off we flew for a little holiday.

When we arrived, we took a long look around the house. My Aunt had not been living there for long, but the place already seemed comfortable and “lived-in.” It was a one storey property, with a kitchen, very large lounge/dining area, and three bedrooms. One thing we all noticed early on was how very cold the place was (even with heating on) but we put that down to the house being so old. We had been told that the place was over 100 years old. Many properties there were. There was a large sprawling garden out the back and the house was spacious. It had a charm of its own.

My memories of this holiday are obviously from a very long time ago (I’m 41 years old now) but I will try to write down the events as clearly as I can recall them.

I was a bit of a nervous child, so I decided to share the largest bedroom with my parents. The largest bedroom had one double bed and a single bed on the far side. There was also an en-suite. I recall the first night or two being uneventful, other than the fact that we all felt the property was exceedingly cold.

I believe it was around the third night that the first unsettling occurrence happened. My parents and gone to bed and I was nearby in the single bed trying to sleep when suddenly, in the dark, I heard what sounded like the voice of a woman humming a song. This was creepy in any setting, let alone in a strange house where you know no one else is around.

I whispered over to my Mum and said, “Did you hear that?” “Yes,” she replied. “Was it you?” I asked her, nervously. “No, I thought it was you!” she answered. A horrible feeling landed in the pit of my stomach.

I am sure my Mum probably felt as uneasy as I did. There was definitely an audible sound of a female voice and we could not understand how this could be – it seemed to be very close to us, not from a distance. Nevertheless, the sound ceased and I recall the rest of that night being uneventful.

We were enjoying our holiday, having trips around Ireland and visiting some other relatives that my Mum had in the area. Mum and Dad saw to it that the doors were locked and the lights were out everywhere, of course, before we headed to bed each night. One morning, we found the lights had been turned on in the en-suite, as well as in the lounge and kitchen when we awoke.

We all felt uneasy because we were confident that all house lights were shut off the night before – and surely we would have known if the light in the adjoining bathroom was shining near us all night. This might be easy to dismiss if it was one light in one room, but I distinctly remember us finding lights switched on around the house several mornings in a row, with my parents adamant it was neither of them.

The first time it happened may be reasoned with or excused, but we would have been so careful to ensure that the lights were definitely off the following evenings before going to bed (to ensure that this didn’t happen again) so to find them on in the mornings that followed seemed inexplicable.

A haunting in Ireland

I believe it wasn’t long into the holiday before we began to express how creepy we found the house and how the events that had been occurring made us uncomfortable. I distinctly remember one evening – my Dad was out, and my Mum was in the bath. I was in the lounge on my own with the television on when I had this incredible sense that I was not alone.

I kept looking around the room from where I sat on the sofa, and kept calling to my Mum just so I could hear the reassuring sound of her voice. I remember the room appearing to drop in temperature suddenly and felt so certain that something or someone was looking at me or standing near me that I remember burying my head behind my hands and not wanting to look. There was definitely something “off” about the house and I knew my parents felt it too.

Things took more of an unsettling turn. One evening, we invited some relatives of my Mum’s to join us for some food and music. The holiday was close to being over and we wanted to spend some time with them. It was a nice evening. After everyone went home, we locked up, got changed for bed and settled down for the night.

The following morning was a turning point for us all. My Mum got out of bed, went into the lounge and then called out for us. She sounded scared. I climbed out of bed, my Dad followed, and we joined her and saw what she was looking at: the coffee table, which had been situated in the middle of the lounge, was turned upside down and everything that had been on it – drink coasters and some kind of ornament, was situated on the carpet around the table on the floor.

We stared, utterly gobsmacked. How had this happened? Yes, we’d had relatives over and there had been a few of them drinking, but they had left, and after they had departed, we had tidied and gone to bed. We would have to walk through the lounge to get to the bedroom – we would have seen this the night before if it had occurred when we were up.

The front and back door were locked. How had a table been tipped upside down in such a seemingly deliberate way? That was truly a turning point. I could tell my parents felt the same as me: scared, uneasy, and increasingly certain that “something” was in the property.

At some point during that time, I recall my Dad saying that he would never come back and stay there again. Me and my Mum readily agreed. I think we were all ready for this holiday-turned-ghostly-nightmare to be over.

On the last night we stayed there, things seemed pretty uneventful. At least, nothing stands out in my memory of significance. I think we were all just glad that our stay in the home was at its end. As we were sorting out our clothes and folding them into the suitcase, my Mum said, “I need to pack my nightdress, I can’t find it anywhere.” I joined her looking, and so did Dad.

I have a vivid memory of us looking on the bed, under the bed, in the drawers, in the wardrobe, in the suitcase, and we could not find her nightdress anywhere. Then in one single, strange instant, almost as if it was meant to be, we turned around at the same time and saw the nightdress folded up neatly on top of the bed – where we had looked and searched seconds before. It was almost as if somebody had moved it, hidden it, then placed it back. I looked at Mum, she looked at me. “That wasn’t there a moment ago,” she said. I nodded. “I know.”

We didn’t need to say anything further. It was evident to us that something was in that house and it had been moving things – much like the coffee table a few nights before.

That day was our last in the property and I was so relieved to leave. I have a vague memory of my Mum saying that other things had happened but they didn’t want to tell me at the time, in case it scared me more than I was already. When I ask her now, she says she doesn’t recall anything more than what I have here. That could be true – she is nearly 80 now – or perhaps she does not want to rake up memories that unsettled her. My Dad is unwell nowadays, and he has dementia. I don’t really get much from him about this when I try to bring it up, but the memories I have of that trip have stayed with me all of my life.

Years later, the events of that holiday still stuck with me. I tried to do some digging about the history of the home and the area. As mentioned previously, I was told the house was over 100 years old and used to be the home of  a dentist, although I haven’t found anything to verify any details.

In all honesty, I can’t remember who even told me that detail. I know the town that the house is situated was founded in the 1600s. The house is not far from Killyleagh Castle (itself founded in 1180). After reading up on the history of the castle, there were many deaths throughout its time and apparently there have been ghost sightings; the house is not far from the castle.

I once asked my cousin (the son of  my Aunt) if he’d ever experienced anything there. He said yes, that he had. He told me he’d been sitting in the lounge one day, and had seen the figure of a man in some kind of uniform flash past him. He said it was only momentary but that he definitely saw a male spirit.

In recent years, my Aunt passed away. The house has been sold into new hands. I often think of that time. I feel certain that there was something about that house – an energy, a spirit, some kind of imprint. Me and my parents were not alone, when we stayed. I feel confident of that much.

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