Sunday, 12 August 2018

Spook Wanted


In 1914, opponents of the Government of Ireland Act 1914 (better known as the Home Rule Act) shipped 25,000 rifles and 5 million rounds of ammunition into Larne and Bangor, in what became known as the Larne Gun Running episode.
It was a key event in the creation of Northern Ireland.
It was also a key event in the history of Larne. But in 1908, just a few years earlier, Larne seemed to be a place devoid of political worries.
The following item – written by “Nemo” - appeared in the “Round the Town” column of The Larne Times and Weekly Telegraph of 20 June 1908.
Larne (Photographer: R Welch)
By Public Record Office of Northern Ireland
SPOOK WANTED
We haven’t got a ghost. And it’s a poor town that hasn’t got a ghost. I have lived a fair number of years in Larne now, and whilst other towns can point to their haunted houses, and boast of their headless horsemen, white ladies, and banshees, I have never yet heard of even the ghost of a dead pussy-cat stalking abroad in Larne or its environs. It’s a poor town that has no ghost. And, alas! we have no grisly phantom that we can boast of. No one in Larne has ever seen a pale young woman of ethereal texture gliding silently up the stairs in the moonlight, or the white-robed spectre of a forgotten chief revisiting the glimpses of the moon. We have no bony skeleton that click-clicks o’er the rotting floor of some lonely and empty house, whilst from its osseous wrists dangle rusty chains that clank and echo through the dark and empty rooms. For, of course, no self-respecting skeleton would think of stalking forth without a good supply of rusty chains. Did you ever read of a skeleton yet which went on its nightly rounds without such a necessary part of its stock-in-trade as rusty chains? Of course not! But we haven’t got a public phantom or a haunted house of any sort to mention in guide-books, or to show our summer visitors. Truly, it is a poor town that has no ghost. Many of us, of course, have got a skeleton in the cupboard – a grisly spectre that steps forth at some untimely hour, sinking its bony fingers into some poor devil’s throat, sending him to despair and ruin. But the cupboard bag-of-bones – although, alas! too often horrible enough – is really only a figurative spook – a skeleton in the abstract. What we want is the genuine article – absolutely no deception – a spook like the spectre of Tapington, or a good old mediaeval ghost, with rusty armour and a blood-stained mace – one with a good stock of clanking chains preferred. Yes, we really must have a municipal ghost. For it’s a poor town that has no ghost. I would suggest that the Town Council advertise for a suitable house-haunter, chains, groans, blood-stains, moonlight, etc, all complete. Let the council get the ghost and provide the empty house, and I’ll undertake to write a blood curdling legend around the whole thing – a legend which will make your blood run cold as you proudly relate it to an envious circle of family friends who have been blowing you up about the phantom pig that haunts the bridge across the river of the town they come from. You can make their hair stand on end as you relate how “ye younge knyghte slew with hys shyneing hauberk ye mother of ye beauteous mayden who was even hys wyfe.” That’s an extract from a contemporary of Chaucer, and I’ve never been able to make out whether “ye younge knyghte” slew his wife or his mother-in-law. But the fact remains that we have neither a ghost nor a haunted house. I wait, therefore, to hear what steps the Council intend to take in the matter. For it’s a poor town that has no ghost.
Source:
The Larne Times and Weekly Telegraph, 20 June 1908

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