Sunday, 19 November 2017

A Profane Spook

In 1906, a “spook” was entertaining the people of Clonmel, County Tipperary. Even though it caused quite a stir and nobody seemed to know who was responsible for the “extraordinary and mystery manifestations,” no one was pushing the supernatural angle too hard.
The first report comes from the Irish Independent of Tuesday, 29 May 1906.
Particulars of a series of extraordinary and mystery manifestations which have set the inhabitants of Clonmel all agog for some time are sent to us by our correspondent in that Tipperary town, who states that the singular occurrences which he relates are at present the subject of investigation by the local police, who have so far failed to find a solution to the uncanny affair.
The mystery, says our correspondent, concerns the residents in two business houses adjoining in one of the chief thoroughfares in Clonmel, and it manifests itself in rapping at the walls and the use of “terrible language” – of which separate complaints have been made to the police by both parties – together with pilfering, upsetting of goods and household fittings, locking and unlocking of doors, and other inexplicable happenings.
Prior to these manifestations anonymous letters of an extraordinary nature were received daily by the residents alluded to, the missives being dropped through the letter-box into the hall. A watch was kept on one occasion for over three hours by one of the house holders, and nothing occurred; but no sooner had the watcher left the hall than a note was slipped through the letter-box stating: “There is no use in your watching; you won’t catch me.”
On another occasion parties of police were stationed, unknown to one another, in the two houses at the same time, and some extraordinary things came under their notice. They both heard the rapping and unspeakably foul language uttered in a disguised female voice.
Immediately after they left a mysterious letter was dropped in through the letter-box giving a detailed account of the conversation that had passed between the owner of the house and the police, while the same female voice bade the R.I.C. men welcome when they came and good-bye when they left, and inquired in a mocking tone why he did not ask them to have tea, having kept them so long.
Complaints are continually being made of goods in shops being pitched about, furniture overturned, beds tossed, and water thrown on them. Meat is also taken out of the safe and only the bones left. It is altogether an extraordinary and most unpleasant affair, and it is hoped that the mystery will be soon and satisfactorily cleared up.
Two days later, the Irish Independent brought its readers up-to-date with the latest goings-on.
The Clonmel “spook” mystery, the story of which was told in Tuesday’s “Independent,” still continues to excite extraordinary interest in that town. On Tuesday night hundreds of people blocked the street where the “haunted” houses are situated, and a large force of police, in charge of District Inspector Tweedy and Head Constable Brady, were on duty up to a late hour moving them on. As already stated, the trouble takes the form of a loud rapping on the diving wall between two houses, and the use of exceedingly bad language, in a disguised female voice.
In addition to the pilfering of the meat beforementioned, it is said that soap was found in the kettle, and salt in the teapot; beds that had been made up were immediately afterwards found tossed and water poured over them; the owner’s day shirt was thrust into a ewer of water while he was in bed; statues of saints and pious pictures were removed from brackets and walls and defiled – all this on the authority of the people themselves. The anonymous letters, which, as previously stated, have been received, have been handed over to the police, who are worked off their feet in connection with the matter, and have failed, so far, to find a clue to the origin of the strange occurrences.
In early June 1906, the police claimed that they had solved the mystery. However, they said nothing about who was behind the shenanigans - or how or why they did it. 
And about two weeks after the police “solved” the mystery, the “ghost” delivered its final letter to one of the house owners.
“I am sorry for all the trouble I caused you, I beg your pardon, and I promise I’ll never do it again.
“Yours truly, The Ghost.”
The Independent, on printing the letter, commented: “We fear there are some clever practical jokers in Clonmel.”
  • Irish Independent, 29 & 31 May and 5 & 15 June 1906

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