Remembering St. Patrick, a former slave who help to banish ritualistic killings, is a pretty amazing affair. Green, gold, leprechauns, parades and Shamrock shakes if you are lucky enough to live in a place where they serve them. It’s green rivers here in the United States and beer. Lots of it. Whiskey if you are even luckier. Not to mention the holiday that allowed Peter Cottontail to finally tell the truth and strip Irontail of the Chief Easter-bunny title. I do want chocolate octopuses though.
Moving my furniture around last night unearthed a St. Patrick picture behind the dresser. This is was a happy reminder of the saint after getting ready for today by watching ghost stories about the Emerald isle into the wee hours. The holy and mystical Bishop must approve. So a happy day of feasting all around even in the realm of the unseen.
The Banshee is a spirit that you most associate with Ireland. One is supposedly connected to each Irish clan. Rarely seen the Banshee is mostly heard and the cry is an omen of misfortune and death. When seen she can appear as an old wizened woman wailing and brushing her long white hair or as a dark-haired mournful ethereal beauty. In the worst cases the banshee will manifest as downright demonic. One Banshee, connected with a golden ring, was said to be so dreadful in appearance that at least two people died of fright after seeing her.
I guess that means no second date for her.
Then there is the elemental spirit which is the most horrible in lore. And one of the best places to find an elemental is Leap Castle in County Offaly. There “lives” the infamous ‘It’ which was immortalized in 1909 by Mildred Darby for the Journal Occult Review:
“I was standing in the Gallery looking down at the main floor, when I felt somebody put a hand on my shoulder. The thing was about the size of a sheep. Thin guanting shadowy…, it’s face was human, to be more accurate inhuman. Its lust in its eyes which seemed half decomposed in black cavities stared into mine. The horrible smell one hundred times intensified came up into my face, giving me a deadly nausea. It was the smell of a decomposing corpse.”
Mrs. Darby had been dabbling in the occult as it was the fashion of the day and that seems to have stirred the creature from its shadowy world. In 1922 the Darbys were targeted in Ireland’s war for independence. Being an English family, the castle was attacked, gutted and it would stand empty for seventy years. Though reports of lighted upper windows in the dead of night persisted.
Where ‘It’ came from is a mystery. Some think the Bloody Chapel is the key. In 1532 the castle was a stronghold of the powerful Irish princes and Chieftains of the O’ Carroll family. The death of the Chieftain ignited a bitter feud and struggle for power between two brothers. One brother was a priest. While he was celebrating Mass with family members the rival brother interrupted the holy rite. Wielding a sword he in a slew the priest. The slain brother died on the altar and the Bloody Chapel earned its name.
Others think the small ubliet found just off the Chapel was to blame for the elemental spirit. A small dungeon with a false floor that the prisoner would fall through. If lucky they would be impaled on a spike below. Otherwise he would be left to starve to death but well within sights, sounds, and scents of life and happiness. A small slit of a window is in the door-less room with a view of the main entrance and the kitchen was near enough to be able to know what was on the nightly menu.
This torture chamber kept her victims until somewhere around 1900. The workmen employed for the clean-up hauled away three carts filled with bones. A pocket watch made in 1820 was also discovered in the ubliet leaving question of when the dungeon really stopped accepting new victims open and never to answered.
In 1970 a white witch from Mexico was brought to Leap Castle by the new owner to rid the castle of the spirits that seemed to claim the dwelling from the living. After her communing with the ghosts for a few hours the witch stated there were no longer any evil entities. The witch went on to say that benign souls that lingered in the ruinous castle wanted to remain.
In 1990 Leap Castle was again sold. This time the family who purchased it wanted to restore the castle and live there. The husband met with two accidents, one shattering and losing a kneecap, the other accident resulted in a broken ankle. Both accidents seemed to be signs to the owners that they were not welcome but they were determined to make peace with the spirits and stayed.
So much is their love for the castle that they used the Bloody Chapel to christen their daughter. It seems to have altered the atmosphere. Somehow, four hundred years after the countless murders began, the castle took on a different mood. The spirits seemed to be light afterward and maybe at long last found peace.