Sunday, 10 June 2018

Shooting Ghosts

Another historically accurate reconstruction
In January or February 1890, a woman’s body [1] was pulled from the River Bann at Edenderry, near Portadown. Incidents like this were all too common at the time, but there was something about this gruesome find that unnerved the good people of Edenderry.
SHOOTING AT A GHOST
AN EXTRAORDINARY STORY
Our Portadown correspondent writes – A ludicrous incident took place in Edenderry the other night. It appears that since the dead body of a woman was discovered in the River Bann a few weeks ago the boathouse has been haunted, and the inhabitants of Francis Street and Foundry Street terrified to such an extent by the nightly visits of the “boathouse ghosts” that they were actually afraid to come out of doors after dark. Indeed it is said that they contemplated removing from that quarter of the town altogether, and leaving it in possession of what they believed to be the spirit of the departed woman. 
But the tricks of the “boathouse ghost,” like the Drogheda ghost [2], and nearly all other ghosts, seem to have been harmless, consisting chiefly in tinkling the windows, kicking the doors of the house in Francis Street, and otherwise annoying the occupiers. It seems to have taken such delight in playing these pranks on the Foundry Street people that it went on parade every night a few minutes after eleven o’clock. About the hour mentioned it is stated to have been seen crossing the river from Francis Street, and entering the boathouse. 
But it was somewhat later on Saturday night, the 15thof the present month, that the incident I am about to relate occurred. The ghost was seen on that occasion standing on the water, right opposite the boathouse, by a man, who, after “eyeing” it from head to foot, and satisfying himself  that it was really a ghost, proceeded to the house of a neighbour, and, having knocked him up, informed him that “she” – meaning the ghost – was “about the boathouse.” 
The neighbour hastily dressed himself. The first man just as hastily primed and loaded a Martini-Henry, vowing that he would “give her as much as would keep her from visiting that locality for a fortnight.” In a few seconds the two returned to the spot where a minute or two previously the ghost had been seen. It was still standing in the same place, and seemed to defy all Edenderry. 
“Keep quiet now,” said the first man, raising the rifle to his shoulder. “Be sure and take good aim,” whispered his neighbour, stooping as he spoke to see that the ghost would not move. The rifleman evidently took his advice, for he “covered” his object with a closeness and precision that would have done credit to any of the “crack” shots that took part in the Inkerman battle [3]. No sooner had he fired than the neighbour exclaimed, “Begorra, it’s down!” The two then proceeded to pick up the remains of the ghost. “Don’t see any trace of it here,” remarked one. “It must be about here someplace,” said the other, “for I took too good aim to miss it.” “Oh, you hit it right enough,” rejoined the first, “I saw it falling.”
On a closer examination of the spot it was discovered that the “ghost” was nothing more or less that the reflection of the light from the bridge lamp on the side of the boathouse. During the past week several persons have tried to calm the fears of the Foundry Street people by endeavouring to persuade then that there is “no such thing as ghosts,” but all to no purpose. They maintain that it was not the bridge lamp which knocked at their windows and disturbed them from their slumbers every night during the past four weeks. Common sense argument, undoubtedly. The ghost must still be at large. Saturday night’s occurrence has made the residents in the vicinity of the boathouse determined to have their revenge, and the rifleman has promised “that if he gets his hands on the ghost he will never quit it while there is a spark of life in it.”
Notes:
  1. I’ve been unable to find anything about the finding of the body. So I have no information about who she was, the circumstances surrounding her death, when she was found, or why the finding of her body should have caused such a reaction in Edenderry.
  2. In Drogheda, a Mr and Mrs Kinney rented a house, agreeing to pay the landlady five pounds and fifteen shillings per quarter. On their second night in the house, the Kinney’s discovered it was haunted by a ghost that liked to “throw heavy things” at Mrs Kinney. They left. The landlady, a Miss Weir, then took them to court for unpaid rent. 
  3. Fought on 5 November 1854, this was a battle of the Crimean War.

Source:
  • The Belfast News-Letter, 24 February 1890

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Hear Meg Roar

Ireland, like many parts of the world, experiences the odd mystery explosion. You know, those massive, one-off, rattling your doors and windows, driving your sleepy and confused neighbours out into the street in the middle of the night and leaving no trace kind of explosions?
"It's the best I could do at short notice," said the ghost.
Anyway, each explosion usually brings with it all manner of “explanations” - sonic booms; a backfiring heater in a warehouse at Dublin Airport; a World War II mine in Dublin Bay; terrorist activity; sound rockets; and a man blasting a large stone for his rockery, to name just a few – that are never proven.
But sometimes, just sometimes, the mystery is solved:
A MYSTERY EXPLAINED
The minds of a great many people were somewhat strained on Monday night in the effort to discover the cause of an exceedingly loud detonation which was heard about eight o’clock that evening. The sound was distinctly heard over the town [Belfast], and more especially in Ballymacarrett, where in many houses it caused panes of glass to shake in their frames and delf to rattle on the shelf. Some thought that one of the gasometers had had burst, while others were positive that a boiler had blown up in the neighbourhood. The report, which was intensely heavy, excited the anxious curiosity, if not the wonder, of everyone who heard it. It seemed so indescribable and uncommon that every possible idea of its origin was eagerly canvassed. The peculiarity of the noise, as well as its unusual deep and powerful reverberation was what excited such general attention. It seemed in no way like an ordinary gun powder explosion, while it was fiercer even than dynamite, and yet bore no resemblance to thunder. We are by no means making a mountain out of a molehill when we state that the affair created no little commotion in a vast number of households, and for once inquisitiveness and speculation found no response in a multitude of suggested explanations. The facts, however, when known, are neither mysterious nor remarkable, and indicate how readily a very simple matter may assume an utterly incomprehensible form. A person in the neighbourhood of Ballymacarrett had in his possession a large cannon, which he had appropriately, as the result shows, christened “Roaring Meg.” Fired by a sudden inspiration of the moment, he was moved to break the dull monotony of the winter evening by making “Meg” roar. This he did most effectively, and in most stentorian tones. Charging the might instrument of war to the very muzzle, and ramming it home with a steady perseverance worthy of a better purpose, he succeeded in in his design to the extent of shaking half the houses in his suburban district to their very foundations, and agitating to no small degree the minds of its whole population. The matter, as may be surmised, has given some occupation since to the police.
Source:
  • The Belfast Weekly News, 19 February 1876

Saturday, 26 May 2018

... with bog nuts moving in from the east.

According to the Annals of the Four Masters, Ireland was once a place where you could expect to see showers of honey, silver - and even blood. We don’t get as much silver and blood as we used to – possibly due to climate change, but we still get the odd shower of honey – amongst other things.
In Shinrone, County Offaly, in 1849, a very localised shower left honey dripping off the leaves of the trees in the grounds of the chapel. Some of the local children collected the honey – and some were brave enough to taste it. They said it tasted exactly like natural honey.
In May 1867, it rained berries over parts of Dublin. The berries had a charred appearance and emitted quite an aromatic smell when they were broken open. Seemingly, botanists and chemists were stumped. But a Leinster Road resident proclaimed to have the answer.
“A friend gave me some of those berries, which are, in fact, the immature fruit of the orange, and used to be imported into this country some twenty or thirty years ago for the purposes of flavouring malt liquors; but being considered deleterious, were subsequently prohibited by Act of Parliament. I had the curiosity, on my way to Marsh’s Library this morning, to call at an eminent druggist’s establishment in that neighbourhood [the streets around St Patrick’s Cathedral], to inquire if the young men on the premises knew anything about the matter, and it appears that they had a large stock of these berries, which they threw out into the lane near the Library, and all the mischievous urchins of the neighbourhood immediately gathered them up, and used them for missiles indiscriminately.”
Another “expert” insisted that they were only hazelnuts – albeit hazelnuts that “had been preserved in a bog for centuries.” He did not mention if urchins were responsible for harvesting these bog nuts.
On 29 May 1928, it rained tiny, red fish at a farm near Comber in County Down. Immediately before the fish arrived, the area had experienced a violent storm, and many of the trees surrounding the farm were scorched, as if they had been hit by lightning. This prompted a professor from Queens University Belfast to opine that the two were connected. He theorised that a whirlwind created by the storm had sucked up the fish out of the sea and deposited them on the farm.
And on 22 August 1903, it rained “maggots” at the farm of Thomas Morrison, in Killygullib, County Derry. The “maggots” were about an inch-long and had the basic shape of a maggot, but were a greyish-brown colour and had two horns, two eyes, feet and tails that could disappear into their bodies. Morrison kept a few samples, but they died soon after he collected them.
The Killygullib story is a reminder that, when in Ireland, you should have an umbrella with you at all times.
Sources:
  • The Constitution, 22 August 1903
  • The Cork Constitution, 16 May 1867
  • The Dublin Evening Mail, 14 May 1867
  • The Dublin Evening Post, 24 July 1849
  • The Northern Whig and Belfast Post, 30 May 1928

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Hat's Amazing!


In 1853, hat-moving was quickly replacing table-turning as the new craze in those places where they had time for crazes. They were doing it in London. They were doing it in Paris. And – evidently – they were doing it in Sunday’s Well, County Cork.
Mr Editor – On last evening I was present at a hat-moving, which was conducted as follows: - A small table was placed in the centre of the room; an ordinary silk hat was placed thereon, with the leaf downwards. Two gentlemen and two ladies placed their hands lightly on the crown, their fingers touching each other to establish the electric chain. In about two minutes the hat began to move gently in a circle, which it increased gradually, and in about five minutes it increased its velocity in a most extraordinary manner, whirling around to the utmost extent that the circumference of the table would admit. A lady and a gentleman having withdrawn their hands the speed diminished.
That the experiment was fairly tried, I can confidently assert – the persons engaged were all anxious to test the matter fairly, and the result removed all doubt, and astonished all who were in the room. Any of your readers who try the experiment will be satisfied with the result. Three can perform it as well as four. Their hands should be placed lightly on the crown of the hat and touching each other. All laughing or talking should be avoided, as the concentration of the mind on the object will greatly contribute to the success of the trail.
RICHARD R. BRASH
Sunday’s-well, May 27, 1853
But what was behind this phenomenon? Nowadays, to answer a question like this, you’d either get together a bunch of lads with EMF meters, EVP recorders and night vision goggles, or a bunch of lads who have none of this stuff but went to good universities and/or used to be private detectives before becoming magicians.
But there’s no need for any of this: you just need some bottles, a book, a really heavy toolbox – and some farmers.
Sir – I am induced to send you the result of some experiments on animal magnetism, tried by me, hoping they will obtain a place in your paper, and thus excite the attention of some of your readers who have more opportunity of prosecuting this very wonderful discovery. I particularly desire you will remember that I write not with any ostentatious inclination to figure in print, but purely with the above intention. I also wish it to be understood that I was as much an unbeliever as anyone till I convinced myself.
Whether this strange motion is really the result of animal magnetism, or, as Mr. Brett surmises [1], an induced low order of vitality, it undoubtedly is a real power, before which, in my opinion, the surprising electric telegraph, or the marvellous photograph, are eclipsed. I cannot help thinking that the time may come when, instead of horses, &c., draughting in the ordinary manner, by taking advantage of some modification of this new discovery, motive power will be induced by the magnetism of their bodies. This is the age of wonders, the word impossible is all but obsolete, philosophers say we are on the eve of discoveries more curious than any that have yet appeared. Surely this is one –
EXPERIMENT 1. – I placed a hat on the table and laid my fingers on it, I directed an attendant to act similarly, we now linked the little fingers, and, although we waited nearly fifteen minutes, we were unable to move it – had we continued longer at it we would have succeeded.
EXP. 2. – I now allowed the crown of the hat to rest on three tumblers, and, by placing a book across two bottles, formed an insulated stand, a similar one I found for my attendant; we now stood on those and joined the small fingers, as in the first experiment, in about three minutes the hat began to move slowly round, in a direction contrary to that in which the hands of a clock go, we kicked the bottles away and walked round with it several times; the moment we took we took our hand away the motion ceased.
Exp. 3. – Fearing that partly the motion might be caused by pushing, I placed four bottles in the hat, and on it laid two very heavy books, the hat resting on the tumbler, we now formed the magnetic chain and it began to move; our fingers were laid as lightly as possible on the leaf of the hat, and even had we pressed them ever so heavily on it we could not have advanced the hat without taking hold of it.
Exp. 4. – I now took the hat off the tumbler, and all things being similar to the first experiment, the hat rotated in less than a minute, two additional persons now joined and the effect was to induce the hat to move faster.
EXP. 5. – Wishing to know if it was the operators or the hat which was changed, I experimented on a book, this quickly went round. I now ordered a tool chest full of tools to be brought and laid on a tripod of bottles (I selected this chest as it was the heaviest I could procure), I operated upon it with a single attendant, and in a short time it went round with a considerable velocity, and continued to do so as long as we pleased to walk round with it. I ordered a person to sit on the chest, he did not in the least impede the motion. I placed a wire – laying the fingers on this seemed to produce no particular effect. Subsequently I moved a large piece of iron, a glass basin, a tea tray and all its appendages, a loaf of bread, &c.
EXP. 6. – I now formed a chain of seven persons, and attempted to move a large table, we and the table were uninsulated; in about a quarter of an hour the table gave several sensible vibrations in a direction north and south, and soon after moved nearly a quarter round. We continued at the table half-an-hour, and the only additional phenomena observed was a few more oscillations in the same direction as the preceding. I have no doubt had the table been smaller, the number of operators larger, or even were they insulated, or had they continued longer, they would have moved the table as easily as the hat, &c.
Arguing from these experiments, I conceived the notion of suspending the operators, and causing the fluid-magnetic to turn them. I have not yet completed the apparatus, but when I have I will be happy to make know the results.
Many persons entertain the notion that before performing these wonders they require to be mesmerised, magnetised, electrified, or at least be of a peculiarly sensitive disposition, such an idea is perfectly incorrect, the persons employed by me were farm servants. 
There are some minutes connected with the above experiments, which I would detail, did I not think I have trespassed too much on the columns of this paper.  I will only say that I have succeeded in inducing motion by touching the hat, &c., with tin-foil held between the joined hands. 
I know there are persons who imagine the motion is caused by the action of the will on the hand, or, in other words, by pushing. Such an idea is completely and perfectly false; the motion is caused by some unseen and extraordinary agency. If I could afford any other information to an inquirer into this art I would feel happy.
Yours, &c., E. B. F., Tamplebreden, May 
Notes:
  1. Despite at least 5 minutes of frantic Googling, I was unable to identity Mr Brett.
Sources:
  • The Cork Examiner, 27 May 1853
  • The Irish Farmers’ Gazette, 11 June 1853

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Lights Out at the Boxer's House

Not the boxer's house - just a lovely old thatched cottage.
Ian Edwards [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Back in January 2017, I posted the story “Baffling Lights at the Boxer’s House.” In short, in March 1936, in the townland of Aughamullan, County Tyrone, mysterious lights were appearing nightly in the former home of the recently deceased Michael Quinn. The Northern Whig newspaper sent a representative to the area, and “Baffling Lights at the Boxer’s House” was a facsimile of his report.
Recently, I came across another story about the events in Aughamullan.

Coalisland Ghost Story
BOYISH “PRANK” SCARES TOWNLAND
To scare boys who were taking part in a late night shooting competition for a clock in the townland of Aughamullan, Coalisland, last week, three or four young men set their plan, which had more than the desired effect. People talked about what they had seen at an empty house, and of the mysterious lights which had twinkled at night, so much so that the story, which lost nothing in the telling, enticed a representative of the English Press to visit the scene for a bit of “copy,” and on Monday morning the English and Irish newspapers gave prominence to the following story, which was told in all sincerity to their representatives.
Aughamullan, which is on the shores of Lough Neagh, and the most populous townland in Dungannon Union, has become a centre of attraction by reason of the fact that in a house, now vacant, mysterious lights appear nightly.
When a Press representative visited the farmstead neighbours spoke with awe of the strange happenings.
James Herron, the nearest resident, said the former owner, Michael Quinn, who resided alone, visited his house about a fortnight ago and got a bag of turf which he carried home. Mr Herron’s son, Patrick, accompanied the old man, who was suffering from a severe cold, to the end of the laneway leading to the house. Next morning, when passing, he heard moans from inside the door of the farmhouse. He found Quinn lying, still clutching the bag of turf, and the old man died a few hours later. After the funeral lights appeared nightly at the two front windows, and seemed to move from the kitchen to the room and back again. He had seen the lights in the middle of the night.
At this point the story was taken up by Bernard McStravock, the local blacksmith, who is also a neighbour. Bernard said upwards of 400 people now assembled nightly to watch the lights. On Friday night several young men volunteered to search the house. As they approached the lights went out and a thorough search inside was made without discovering the cause. When they went back to the road the lights again appeared, and were brighter than ever.
A passing motorist put forward the theory that the lights were the reflex from the lighted windows of neighbouring houses, and all windows were blinded with meal bags, but it made no difference.
McStravock added that he was not personally uneasy about the lights, but the womenfolk were becoming alarmed. Quinn, he said, was a sturdily built man, had always loved a “scrap,” and had been in the ring in several parts of England and Scotland in his earlier days.
McStravock and others accompanied the Press representative to the house, which is mud-walled with thatched roof. The furniture is still there, and the kitchen dresser contains the usual quantity of delph and ornaments.
On Saturday night over 500 people again congregated at the little farm, which contains four-and-a-half acres. At 10pm, a bright light suddenly appeared in the kitchen window and resembled a spotlight. It was seen to move to the other front window, suggesting someone going about the rooms. Neighbours again thoroughly searched the building without result.
“Courier and News” Interview
A representative of the “Courier and News” (Dungannon) interviewed a well-known young man in that district, who stated that the whole thing was done for a joke.
“And, mind you,” he said, “it put the wind up some of the boys.”
The whole thing happened like this. Somebody bought a clock from a man going round. It was decided to have a shooting match for the clock. The competition began in a house near where Michael Quinn lived, and often there is a certain amount of talk about a house in which a lone man dies. Knowing that the boys were coming home late at night from the shooting match, several boys set out to scare them. They got into Quinn’s house, put a lighted candle inside a jam-pot to prevent it doing any harm, and placed it near the window, and when the “shooters” were leaving they saw the light and very soon established the belief that it could only be a ghost. Next day it was the talk of the country, and on the following night the mysterious light was placed in the empty house at a different window, and the townland at large began to talk about “the lights.” It soon became known that a relative of Quinn’s was making inquiries into the whole affair, and offered a good “hiding” to the first man caught acting the “johnnie,” and so the ghost story ends.
Source:
  • The Mid-Ulster Mail, 4 April 1936

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

And on that farm he had a ghost

It’s not easy being a farmer – or so I’m told. Between the early starts and late finishes, the mounting costs of feed and energy, the volatility of livestock prices, and having to “keep ‘er country” even though you don’t really want to, it really is a hard knock life.
With a "woo woo" here and a "woo woo" there ...
And then there are the ghosts.
Yes, that’s right: when it comes to hauntings, no one has suffered more than our farmers.
The first story comes from Cormeen, in County Monaghan, where, in 1908, a farmer – identified only as Hawthorne - and his family were being haunted by a ghostly “lady dressed in white.” She appeared on a nightly basis and would peer in through the windows before running through the house opening and closing doors. According to the Belfast News-Letter, she behaved “as if the place belonged to her, and she was paying a visit of inspection.” She never stayed long, though, “passing out of sight as suddenly as she came.” And she never “interfered” with any of the Hawthorne’s.
But the family were terrified and would only stay in the house at night if there were lights in every room. And the lights seemed to keep the “lady” away. But the family wanted a more permanent solution - so they moved to South Africa.
A few years later, in 1919, “great excitement” was caused by “ghostly manifestations” at a farmer’s house in the Clady district of County Donegal. The farmer – whose name isn’t given in the report – had recently bought the house from another farmer, a man who had always kept one room in the house locked. When the new owner unlocked this room, according to the Dublin Evening Telegraph, “this act is said to have disturbed a ghost, and caused it to show itself to people in the neighbourhood.”
As well as showing itself to people, the ghost was also fond of pulling the covers off beds. However, the only description of the ghost comes from the following – dubious in so many ways – story:
“A story is also told of a man who was going home with a load of coal. When his horse and load were passing the place where they mysterious figure was seen, the animal became frightened, and refused to go any further. The driver became alarmed at the state of affairs, but on collecting his wits, and looking through the space between the horse’s ears, he saw in front of him the figure of a large black man. The horse afterwards becoming frightened, bolted off, and smashed the shafts of the cart.”
Finally, in 1906, in Mullaghmena, County Tyrone, a farming family became the victims of some classic poltergeist phenomena. Or, as The Derry Journal put it, a farmer’s house “in that locality was under the spell of some evil or uncanny spirit.”
In December of that year, at about midnight each night, the family would be woken by a “queer noise.” And immediately following the “queer noise,” stones would rain down on the exterior of the house. Some of the stones would make their way into the house “in some mysterious way, the windows and doors being closed.”
After a few nights of this, the police began patrolling the area. And even though they were present on at least one occasion when it was raining stones, the police were at a loss to explain it.
“All the people in the district are terrified,” reported The Derry Journal, “and will not pass the house after night, but prefer to take a much longer route to their homes. Although the police have been very vigorous in their investigations they have not been able to obtain the slightest clue which might unravel the mystery.”
Sources:
  • Belfast News-Letter, 5 November 1908
  • The Derry Journal, 17 December 1906
  • Dublin Evening Telegraph, 28 February 1919 

Monday, 26 March 2018

On the Bridey Trail

Between November 1952 and October 1953, Virginia Tighe (aka Ruth Simmons), a Chicago woman who had never left the US, intrigued the world with her tales of her past life as Bridey Murphy, a nineteenth century Irish woman who had never left Ireland.
Photo by Morey Bernstein
With the aid of amateur hypnotist Morey Bernstein, Tighe recalled specific names, places and events from her “life” in Ireland - things that could be checked. And following the release of Bernstein’s book on the affair, Denver Post reporter W J Barker came to Ireland to look for clues.
The following appeared in the Belfast News-Letter of 13 February 1956.

“DEAD” WOMAN SAYS HUSBAND WROTE FOR “NEWS-LETTER”

100-year-old files may provide clue in “reincarnation” mystery
Files of the “Belfast News-Letter” of more than a century ago may provide a link in the life story of a mysterious woman, Bridie Murphy, who has suddenly achieved world fame 90 years after her death in Belfast.
Her story has been fascinating Americans for the past 16 months, and at the moment is rivalling even Davy Crockett in popularity.
People all over the United States today are asking “Did Bridie Murphy ever really exist?” It is to try to find a concrete answer to that question that the American newspaper man who first introduced her to the public, Mr. W. J. Barker, of the “Denver Post,” has now come to Belfast. He spent most of yesterday visiting city cemeteries and examining old burial records in an effort to trace Bridie Murphy’s grave.
Hypnotist’s Subject
Her intriguing story began about two years ago when an amateur hypnotist, Mr. Moray Bernstein, began using a young housewife, Mrs. Ruth Simmons, from Pueblo (near Denver, Colorado) as a subject. Mrs. Simmons, while in a trance, began to describe a previous existence in which, she said, she was Bridie Murphy, born in Cork in 1798. In a changed voice, with a marked Irish accent, she then went on to tell how she had married Sean Brian Joseph McCarthy in 1818 and had gone to live in Belfast.
Her husband, she said, lectured in law at Queen’s College, and wrote articles in the “Belfast News-Letter.”
Tape recordings were made of a series of Mrs. Simmons’s hypnotic trances and transcripts of the conversations are included in a book “In Search of Bridie Murphy,” written by Mr. Bernstein and recently published in America. It is to be published in England next year.
Early trance
The first reference to the “Belfast News-Letter” came in an early trance when Mr. Bernstein asked his subject if there would be any records to prove that she had lived in Ireland at the time she said.
“There would be articles in the ‘Belfast Newsletter’ - about Brian,” was the reply.
Referring to her husband again at a later  interview, she said: “He wrote for the ‘News-Letter’ … Brian had several articles in the ‘Belfast News-Letter’ … about law cases.”
“Did he ever sign his name to them?” she was asked.
“Oh, I’m sure he would.”
“Did you read any of them?”
“Oh, they were above me.”
“Did you read the ‘Belfast News-Letter?”
“Oh, a bit.”
Reacted to one
Mr. Bernstein, the hypnotist, later went to the Congressional Library in Washington and was there shown a copy of the “Belfast News-Letter” dated 1847. From it he made out a list of names of people and business firms in Belfast. At a later trance he asked the subject if she recognised any of these, but she reacted to only one - a reference to John Law’s Timber Yard, 13, James Street.
She then volunteered the information that there was in Belfast “a big tobacco company and a big rope company.”
Other information given during the trances included the fact that Bridie Murphy died in 1864 and that her tombstone bears the words “Bridget Kathleen M. McCarthy, 1798 - 1864.” Two of her friends, Mary Catherine and Kevin Moore, are also mentioned; a visit to the Glens of Antrim, including an amazingly accurate description of the journey along the Antrim Coast road, is referred to, and two shops in Belfast where she bought foodstuffs - one owned by a Mr. Farr and the other by a John Carrigan - are mentioned.
Records in the Belfast Public Library show that there was in fact a grocer named Carrigan in business at 90, Northumberland Street at that time, and that there was also a grocer named Farr in business at 59 - 61, Mustard Street, between Donegall Street and North Street.
It is because of the tremendous public interest which has been aroused in America by the publication of Mr. Bernstein’s book and by the tape recordings - which are being sold on a large scale in the U.S. - that Mr. Barker has come to Ireland to check these and other pieces of information. He has already been to Cork, where he has found that there was a Barrister named McCarthy in practice (as Bridie Murphy’s father-in-law was said to be) about the 1820s, and to Dublin. There he has been consulting the Irish Folklore Commission on the meaning of some dialect words used during the interviews, and which mean nothing to Americans.

Source:
Belfast News-Letter, 13 February 1956