Friday, October 31, 2014

Noreen the Ghost Doll.

This is a story that I’ve adapted from the many stories written concerning possessed dolls. Simply called:


A few years ago a woman that I’ll call Mary, bought an old doll that she saw in a charity shop window, it was worn and a little sorry looking but it seemed to have a certain attraction that she couldn’t the time.

When Mary returned home she put the doll on a chair in her bedroom and went into the kitchen and made herself a cup of tea.  All went well for a couple of weeks but one night Mary had difficulty sleeping, she kept waking up from a nightmare, this was to happen night after night.  Mary said that in her dream she was starving and her clothes hung loose and ragged from her thin body.

“I remember looking out through a small window into the yard and seeing other people, they had the appearance of skeletons covered with yellow looking skin. They didn’t walk it was more of a shuffle. It was then that I would wake up with a terrible thirst”.

Mary started to leave a sandwich and a drink on her bedside table so that she could eat if she woke up in the middle of the night but even though she ate a big meal before bedtime and even consumed the sandwich and drink when she woke through the night it didn’t seem to work. She still woke up in the morning starving hungry.

A visit to her doctor didn’t help either; she was given sleeping pills and told that she was suffering from anxiety brought about by some as yet unknown cause. The doctor told her to try to think of any changes that she may have made in her life recently, any new people she may have met or new foods that she may have eaten but Mary couldn’t think of any reason that would account for her strange dreams.  She began to look very drawn, dark shadows appeared under her red bloodshot and tired looking eyes. She became nervous and was afraid to sleep and soon people who knew her began to comment on her appearance, some even began to suspect that she was suffering from some illness. 

Her best friend eventually decided to question Mary to see if she could offer her any help. They sat at the kitchen table and one of the questions she asked her was about anything new or different that Mary may have brought into the home recently. The only thing Mary could think of was her purchase from the charity shop, the old doll. Her friend asked Mary if she could see the doll, of course Mary thought that her friend had lost her mind but nevertheless she went to her bedroom and brought the doll into the kitchen.

As soon as she saw the doll her friends face changed, she began to cry and she looked incredibly sad. She told Mary that the doll was extremely sad and didn’t know where she was. She desperately wanted love and missed her mammy.  Over the next couple of weeks things got worse, cold air, unexplained noises, and the sound of a young child crying. Mary called her friend.

Her friend suggested that they call on the services of a local woman who had a reputation for being sensitive to those who have gone before; some suggested that she had psychic abilities.  Mary didn’t really believe in that sort of thing but to be honest at this stage she was willing to try anything so she agreed. 

When she arrived she instantly knew there was a spirit in the house. She decided to conduct a séance and found that the spirit was willing and eager to communicate.  The spirit was within the body of the doll, it said that her name was Noreen and that she was only six years old when she died. Her father had left her and her mammy to find work on the roads scheme but didn’t come home so after a week or two her mammy had gone to look for him. She was left with what little food they had and her mammy promised to be back shortly and told her to be a good girl. But even though she had been very good her mammy and daddy didn’t come home.  Eventually Noreen decided to go and look for her parents as she had no food left, no water, and was very hungry. She walked for days but the only people she saw were also starving, there was a very bad smell in the air and it made her feel sick.

Eventually she reached a small town and there she saw a big stone building. She thought it was bigger than the Landlords house and was not surprised when she saw some nuns outside. They were handing out bowls of something hot as Noreen could see smoke rising from the bowls so she joined the long line. She said she was afraid that it would all be gone by the time she got to the front but eventually she was given a bowl of thin soup. The nun asked her where her parents were, Noreen didn’t know so she said the nun took her into the building and there she remained. She couldn’t get out, she said that shortly afterwards she began to feel very cold and everything was dark.

Mary couldn’t understand this until the medium explained that Noreen was describing her death. After some research Mary and her friends discovered the place that Noreen described, the stone building turned out to be a workhouse long gone now. The people who died there were buried in a mass grave, men, women, and children all thrown in together with no proper burial service. No record was kept of the children who died and were buried there so nothing could be done for Noreen’s spirit.

 She still sits on her little chair in Mary’s bedroom but now she appears to be a little happier. Mary talks to her every night and Noreen feels loved at last. Sometimes Mary can hear singing at night, it is the sound of a child’s voice and Noreen no longer feels lonely and afraid.
Happy Halloween.

Island of the Dolls.

The Island of the Dolls.

Halloween wouldn’t be Halloween without a good ghost story.   In the 1950s a man by the name of Don Julian Santana Barrera left his wife and family and went to live on a small Island on a lake just outside of Mexico City. The Island is known as The Island of the Dolls.  The Island has a legend connected to it that began in the 1920s, three young girls were playing on the island when one of them fell into the deep dark waters and drowned.  The locals believed that the young girl’s spirit was trapped on the island and it soon gained a reputation of being haunted, the local people even refused to go near the island at night.  Why Santana began to believe that he was connected to this legend in some way is unknown. Perhaps he was suffering from some delusion or is it possible that the spirit of the dead child reached out to him in his dreams.  We will never know.

One story suggests that Santana found the girl’s body but was unable to save her.  Shortly after this event it is said that he found a doll floating just off the island, it most likely belonged to the little girl.  Santana picked the doll from the water and hung it upon the branch of a nearby tree as a way of showing his respect for her spirit. It is said that he began to dream of the girl and that she began to haunt his sleep and that he then began hanging more dolls in an attempt to please her spirit.  However, he soon realised that the dolls themselves were possessed by the spirits of other dead children and he started to place dolls on trees all around the island.

Another story tells us that Santana claimed that shortly after he made his home on the island the spirit of the little girl began to talk to him.  She told him of her tragic death and asked him to get some dolls for her to play with.  She told him that the dolls would ward off evil spirits that roamed the wetlands of the island.  Santana agreed and he began to acquire dolls for her which he hung from the branches of the trees.  He fished some old dolls out of the waters that ran past the island, he returned to the populated areas on the mainland where he visited rubbish dumps for discarded dolls and he even began to swap fruit and vegetables which he grew on the island with local people for old dolls they no longer wanted. 

Santana never cleaned or fixed the dolls, he left them as he found them, covered in dirt or missing limbs or eyes.  Even when the dolls were in good condition they soon succumbed to the effects of the weather and began to crack and distort as if suffering the stages of decomposition.  He kept his cabin filled with dolls which he dressed in clothes and sunglasses and although visitors to the island found it a little frightening he would offer to show them round and take their photographs. A service for which he charged a small fee.

As the years passed Santana lived a hermit like existence. However, in 1990 the Mexican government invested over a million dollars to clean up the area around the island. This brought more traffic onto the water way and as people travelled past the island they couldn’t help noticing thousands of mutilated dolls hanging from the trees upon the island.  Some people thought Santana had gone mad living as he did all alone on the island but most people just thought he was a harmless odd old man.  It was at this time that the island gained the name ‘The Island of Dolls’

If anyone asked about the dolls, Santana would explain about the young girl’s spirit and how no amount of dolls seemed to satisfy her need.  In April 2001, Santana told his nephew that it was becoming harder to resist the voices that called to him.  He told his nephew that the voices told him that he must join them in their watery grave.  That same day as his nephew was returning from doing some shopping for Santana he found him floating face down in the water.  His body was in the same spot near the pier where the little girl had drowned seventy years previously.  Santana’s family believe that he never got over finding the little girl’s body and his inability to save her life.  It was if he was driven by some unseen force that completely changed him.

Some people who visit the island today hear the dolls whisper to them; others will tell you that the soulless eyes of the dolls glare at you as though they resent your presence. Local people will tell you not to go near the island after the sun goes down.
Happy Halloween.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Mayo Folk Tales.

Those magic words “Once upon a time” have been spoken around the flickering flame of the turf fire by storytellers for thousands of years.  Within these pages you will find gathered together tales of County Mayo to ignite your imagination. Tales of Highway men and ghostly figures that roam the woods. Monsters that inhabit the deep waters of Lough Mask and creatures of the night that suck the life from those they visit. Stories that are part of the rich tapestry that makes up the folklore, myth and legend of Count Mayo.

You will be taken on a journey through the rugged landscape of the west coast of Ireland, to its holy mountain Croagh Patrick known locally as The Reek and across the waters of Clew Bay. Here you will read of Gráinne Uialle the Pirate Queen, the spectre known as the Fír Gorta who roamed the famine villages of west Mayo, and the Matchstalk man of Straide.

Within theses covers you will find the story of The Love Flower and two young lovers, the land of eternal youth known as Tír na Nog and the Night of the Big Wind and many more. So why not pull up a chair and sit awhile, you know you’re never too old for a story.
Mayo Folk Tales. To be released on the 3rd November 2014. Perfect Xmas present for those of you who enjoy folklore.  Signed copies can be purchased from me by sending an email to  Also available in all good bookshops .
Keep smiling,