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 (], 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
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.
  • The Mid-Ulster Mail, 4 April 1936

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