On 21 July 2009, the Dromore Leader reported that the infamous “ghost tree” in the County Down village of Finnis had been destroyed by a lightning strike.
According to the legend, at an unspecified date in the early twentieth century, a local priest had captured a “malevolent spirit” in a bottle during an exorcism, and placed it in the sycamore tree that stood at the bridge in the centre of the village.
From that time, the tree was treated with reverence – and fear. Locals avoided touching the tree; and they dissuaded others from doing so. One local told the Leader:
“Some years back, when either power lines or telephone lines were being run through the village, the tree stood in the way of progress and the priest had to be called to stop the workers from cutting it down; as a result they had to run the cables through the tree’s upper branches.”
Another local gave her reaction to the destruction of the tree.
“I was driving over the bridge on my way home from work, and I couldn’t believe my eyes; the tree was gone, just a wee stump of it left; I was told it had come down in the weekend storms.
“I’ve only lived here a couple of years and I was shocked so I can’t imagine what some of the older residents make of it. I’m moving at the end of the month and now I’m glad I’m going to tell the truth.”
Dromore Leader, 21 July 2009