An Irish Ghost Story
Having sat on my grandfathers knee listening to stories, many years ago, the ones that I remember the most with both fright and affection are the ghost stories he used to love to relate to us. Hailing from Northern Ireland, born in 1880, my grandfather could put the fear of the almighty into you with his graphic tales of creepy goings on. Now living in England in the 1960′s he loved to captivate his audience with his ghoulish tales. The one that I remember most vividly is “The Ghost of The Mill”.
I suppose a lot of people who lived back in those dark and dreary times believed in the supernatural as my grandfather did. They were God fearing folk who were both poor and downtrodden with very little in the way of amusement so exchanging tales of the ghostly kind was rife.
George my grandfather worked as night watchman at the old mills. During the day workers would go about their business as usual in the mill but as darkness fell and the working day ended so spooky goings on began. My grandfather was out of work like so many and the offer of the position of night watchman was quite a coup for him. He couldn’t understand how he had been so lucky when there were hundreds out of work plus half starved to death.
He was soon to discover the secret of the mill on his first all night shift. He could hear shovelling coming from the stoking room but there were no workers on the premises. He would go down to the boiler room to check but there was never anyone there. Strange though, as the wheel barrow was stacked high with coal plus there was always a faint pall of coal dust swirling around the top of the mound.
This happened night after night, the wheel barrow would start off empty but then it would be filled. My grandfather said the shovelling sound always began around midnight, continuing on for ten minutes or so. He would then hear moaning that sounded like it was coming from a male person. Its strange, he really believed in ghosts but was not at all frightened. He used to say "watch the living" something I find to be true in my experience.
Stoking The Furnace
As no other worker would stay at the mill after dark my grandfather kept the job until after the 1914-1918 war when he upped sticks family and all to move to France. He did discover however that a young man who used to be responsible for the filling of the wheelbarrow with coal had had a tragic accident in the boiler room and was killed outright. Equipment had fallen from a ledge on top of him crushing him in the process. Everyone of course thought that the ghost was obviously this unfortunate individual.
This is a small example of how ghost stories are passed down from generation to generation. Who knows what truth lies out there. All I know is it was a fact that no-one would work in the mill at night and that my grandfather was certainly an honest man.
To read more Irish Ghost Tales go to Culture Northern Ireland