A Druids Ghost.
There is a passage tomb somewhere in the west of Ireland where druids buried their dead in stone containers, is it possible that one of their number protects their sleep?
There is a story told of a figure that looks human that has been seen at night. It has been described by those who have seen it as “having a face that no human ever had”. It has terrified locals for generations; those who have attempted to speak to it only see it disappear. Records tell us that it was first seen around the 15th century when a hunting party came upon a strange creature outside the entrance to the passage tomb, as they fired at it with their bows it just vanished into thin air. Within one month of seeing the creature each member of the hunting party met with a fatal accident.
The first records of people actually being attacked by the spirit concern the occupants of a cottage that had been built a short walk from the tomb. It was around the beginning of the 19th century. The cottage was rented by Padraic MacLoughlainn and his family that worked for a local landlord. They were an ordinary hard working family and well liked by their neighbours. It was shortly after they had moved in that they heard scratching and chewing noises from outside their cottage door, it sounded like some large animal trying to get in. Padraic picked up his slash hook, opened the door slowly and looked outside; there was nothing there and not a mark on the door. This happened each night and yet nothing was ever seen, after two weeks the noises ended without warning.
It remained quiet for a while and the MacLoughlainn’s thought that it may have been some of the young men of the area just trying to scare them a little, maybe playing a silly prank on the ‘blow ins’, the newcomers and having tired of their nightly game had now decided to go back to their normal business. It wasn’t going to be that easy. One night when the children were all fast asleep and Padraic and his wife were sat by the fire they heard whispering, checking to see if it was one of the children they found them fast sleep. Over the next couple of nights the whispering became more intense and was followed by groans. One night the blankets were pulled from the children’s bed and one of them screamed in terror, she had been slapped by an invisible hand and this was followed by strange laughing noises. Padraic went to the local priest and even though he feared retribution from the landlord he told the priest about the nightly visits and how one of the children had been attacked. The priest agreed to go to the cottage and say a mass. It was to go quiet once more.
However, as before it was not to last. Padraic became ill, he had difficulty swallowing, he couldn’t talk or eat and he became very pale. The local fairy doctor (herbalist) gave him a few herbs and he slowly recovered. A week later he was to develop other symptoms, this time he had severe stomach pains, he couldn’t sleep and he had difficulty working, this was a great worry for without work they would be evicted from their home. It seemed as if the family was under some kind of curse. Padraic called for the priest once again but it seemed to make matters worse. The attacks increased and even the priest began to avoid the family.
In desperation Padraic went to the landlord and begged him for help. Surprisingly the landlord agreed to send his agent to the cottage with instructions to spend the night there. Padraic did not know that the landlord was fully aware of what had been happening and unlike Padraic who was unaware of the druids spirit the landlord knew the history only too well. The agent arrived that evening and was given the use of the MacLoughlainn’s bed and whatever they could provide in hospitality. He sat in the best seat by the fire and began to make light of the MacLoughlainn’s nightly visitor. This made things worse, for the first time the druid was heard to speak; it mimicked the voice of the agent and threw him from his seat. The agent screamed out and fled from the cottage as if the devil himself was chasing him.
The whole parish began to talk about the druid’s spirit and the terrified family; people began to point at the MacLoughlainn’s and whisper. No one wanted to visit the cottage anymore and if anyone had to pass by they were seen to make the sign of the cross and the sign of the evil eye. The MacLoughlainn’s felt all alone, even the children were shunned. It wasn’t to end there, the MacLoughlainn’s were accused of committing minor crimes in the area and although they were found to be innocent of all charges they felt more and more isolated and alone.
The parish had abandoned their neighbours hoping that by distancing themselves from the MacLoughlainn’s they would be protected from what had now become known as the druids curse. It was not to be. The whispering of the druid began in the streets of the parish, in the blacksmiths forge, in the local shop, even in the church. What made it worse for the people of the parish was that their private thoughts concerning their neighbours were somehow revealed to each other even the landlord became aware of what people truly thought of him and his agent.
The curse was to eventually take a life, that of Padraic MacLoughlainn. The sickness that he suffered from kept returning. The priest and the local fairy doctor could do nothing and he began to sink lower and lower. The priest was kneeling by his bedside one night when he heard a whisper, it was the voice he had heard before and he recognised it as belonging to the spirit. It was to tell him that all the prayers to his new god would do him no good that MacLoughlainn would die as he had committed crimes against the sacred site of the druids. It transpired that Padraic had visited the passage tomb and found items that the druids had upon their person when they were interred within, thinking them to be of value he had removed them and sold them for a few penny’s to help with the rent. One week later Padraic MacLoughlainn sat up in his bed and with a look of terror he was said to have pointed his finger at some invisible presence, fell back onto his pillow and died. A look of absolute despair upon his face. The people present heard a strange sound like a low wind followed by whispering.
The family held a wake but very few people would spend the night with the corpse, they simply offered their sympathies and excused themselves. He was buried within two days which was unusual at the time as a body would be waked for a week. As the body was lowered into the ground there was heard a sound of laughter but no one knew from where. The family were unable to pay the rent as the head of the house was gone so as was the practice of the day the remaining family, mother and children were evicted. The landlord could find none willing to live in the cottage and so he ordered it to be razed to the ground and all sign that it had ever been there to be removed.
That should have been an end to it; the druid had been avenged so all should have returned to normal. However, the spirit was seen many times down through the years by people who ventured too near to the passage tomb. It was said that a group of English soldiers that had camped nearby and had entered the tomb in order to spend the night out of the rain suffered injuries by an unseen assailant, one of their number was to die of his injuries and those that survived were never the same again refusing to talk of what they had seen that night.
Some say that the ghost of Padraic MacLoughlainn is seen searching the area as if he is looking for something. He has a look of sadness upon his face. Some have even reported seeing various men dressed in the clothes of soldiers, some in chain mail, some in early twentieth century uniform, they all look lost as if they are searching for something also.
The location of the passage tomb has remained a secret now for close on two hundred years. It is by having a family connection that you hear some of the tales but if you are an outsider then you will never be included in the telling of those tales. You can try to find the passage tomb on old maps but you won’t be successful and maybe that’s a good thing because those who have found it before have lived to regret it. Or maybe not? The passage tomb was closed by the present landlords ancestors in the 1920s, the entrance concealed under tons of earth. The druids of old have returned to their sleep and as for their protector, well if at night you pass by a certain place in the west of Ireland and hear a whisper keep walking, if you hear the wind and the sound of low laughter walk a little faster.©