Witches, ghouls and a headless coachman: Five ghost stories from Co Cork

This Halloween night, gather the children by the fire and give them goosebumps with these scary old stories from Duchas.ie
Witches, ghouls and a headless coachman: Five ghost stories from Co Cork

Do you know the story of how a blacksmith became Jack O' the Lantern?

How Jack O' the Lantern Got His Name 

Written by Tony Mahony of Coachford 

“Once upon a time there was a blacksmith whose name was Jack. One day as he was working in his forge the devil came to him and told him that he would give him plenty of money for seven years if he would sell him his soul at the end of that time. The devil went away and Jack had seven years of drinking and feasting.

“Then the devil came to him for his soul but Jack said: ‘Wait a few minutes and help me with this job.’ So Jack gave the devil a sledge and he started sledging and he could not stop. Then Jack said that he would free him from the sledge if he gave him seven more years in this world. So Jack freed the devil and he spent seven more years drinking.

“Then the devil came again and Jack told him to sit in a sugan chair but the devil could not free himself and Jack made him promise seven more years to him. Jack spent the seven years drinking as before.

“Then the devil came again and Jack had to go at last. As he was passing a public house he said to the devil that he would play a trick on the owner. He told the devil to take the shape of a halfcrown, and to go into his purse. Then Jack would not let him out and he made him promise seven more years and when the seven years were up Jack died.

“When he arrived at the gates of heaven Saint Peter would not let him in. Then he went to hell but the devil would not let him in but he put a burning coal on Jack's nose and sent Jack back to this world again.

“Jack is seen in dark nights with the light on his nose trying to put people astray and that is the reason he is called ‘Jacky the Lantern’.” 

You can read the original text on Duchas.ie here.

The Headless Coach 

Written by Mary O' Connell of Higher O’Connell Street, who was told the story by Mrs Stapleton 

“Long ago a woman named Mrs Mahoney lived alone in the country. There was a graveyard near her house called Tissassin Graveyard. She heard rumours that the headless coach passed the house every night, and she resolved to wait up and see for herself what would happen.

“At two minutes to twelve that night a voice seemed to say to her "Go to bed", "Go to bed". She was very frightened but still she stayed up. Just as the hand pointed to midnight a black coach appeared before her window. The horses and the driver of the coach were headless.

“When she was going to bed she heard a knock at the back door. She went out and she saw the headless driver there. He had a bowl of blood in his hand. He threw it over her head and she fell dead.” 

You can read the original text on Duchas.ie here 

The Lake of Blood 

Written by Tomás Ó hÚrdail of Bantry who was told the story by Daniel Harrington 

“Loch Na Fola is the name of a lake on the hills, in the parish of Durrus, and this is how it got its name.

“Long ago a man had to go to Durrus for a priest, for a sick person. He had to pass a place on the hill where a ghost used to be seen; near this place, there was a lake. He got his horse and he went on his back, taking with him a scythe.

“He went along alright until he came to where the ghost used to be seen. When he came up to the place, the horse stopped, and a tall man came out and stood before the horse on the road. The man on horseback said: ‘Come off the road and let the horse pass,’ but the ghost never stirred. He repeated this several times, but the ghost never moved, from where he was.

“The man, now being angry, came off the horse and said, ‘Are you going to come off the road and let the horse pass?’ but the ghost never stirred. The man then struck him on the head with the scythe, which he had in his hand. He then jumped on his horse, and galloped away.

“The ghost then fell on the ground, and covered the whole place with blood. This blood gradually filled into the lake, and in the morning the lake was overflowing with blood. Ever since that lake has been called Loc Na Fola.” 

You can read the original text on Duchas.ie here.

A Murderous Ghost 

Written by John McCarthy of Bantry, who was told the story by Mrs O Donovan 

“Some time ago Americans wishing to live in this country were motoring through west Cork looking for a suitable place to buy. One day they saw an old mansion and thought it just suitable.

“They bought the mansion very cheaply and got it done up beautifully. One night one of the ladies was standing in the hall and was horrified to hear an awful laugh. She looked at the stairs, where the laugh came from, and saw a most awful man, just like a huge gorilla. She was frozen with fear and was amazed to see him vanish without ever moving.

“She told her husband of her experience and he said: 'I met that ghost one night and it disappeared through the wall'. He also told her that the neighbours told him that the ghost often killed people.

“About a week later the daughter was in the dining room and the ghost appeared, he gave one of his awful laughs and gripped her by the throat. Then she screamed and fainted. The family left the next day and sold the mansion again.” 

You can read the original text on Duchas.ie here.

The Island Wood Witch 

Written by Joseph O' Twomey of Kilnahulla Beg, who was told the story by Denis O' Keeffe 

“Long ago a wicked witch lived near a stream in the Island Wood near Newmarket. Her neighbours were all afraid of her. People said that the devil visited her.

“One day as she was sitting near the fire in her hut, she saw his horns in the door. She snatched up her broom, jumped on it, and flew up the chimney, for witches have power to ride brooms as if they were horses.

“She was very old when she died, and no one was sorry after her. No one went to her funeral for they said that the devil was waiting for her at the church-yard gate.

“When people were building hay-barns in those days they went to the island Wood for timber for the poles. Several men went there and remained out all night, and were found choked in the morning. No one knew who choked them.

“At last a man who lived nearby made up his mind to discover the murderer. He went to the wood for timber. It was very late when he was coming home and he had to pass the haunted cabin. As he was passing the ghost sat into the car near the man. She asked him to sing a song. The man was a good singer and he began to sing.

“The ghost was listening to the song, and he hit the horse with his whip. The horse dashed across the stream, and left the ghost dangling in mid-air. So witches have no power to cross streams.

“It is said that a priest blessed the place and it was never haunted again.” 

You can read the original text on Duchas.ie here.

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