Ghosts in the News: Oct 2017 [1]

‘Tis the season… for news about ghosts and haunted places.

It’s an interesting way to look at haunted places.

Oh, I doubt many (perhaps most) assumptions about New Orleans’ LaLaurie Mansion. I’m not sure it’s especially haunted. (Several residents said it’s not.) Also, some of the legends don’t fit the owners’ real history.

But, the original LaLaurie Mansion was certainly the site of traumatic events and a horrible (and fatal) fire. So, some ghosts may linger.

In the Seattle Times article, like the following quote from Colin Dickey, author of Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places. (I’m reading that book, right now. It’s not what I’d expected. Lots of history. Lots of folklore. All of it connected to famous — and infamous — haunts.

Here’s the quote I like:

“Ghost stories in many ways are a way for us to approach our own history,” Dickey said, “and our own history is complicated.”

I’m going to think about that. At first glance, I’ll admit that most serious ghost investigators are not simple, take-life-as-it-comes people. Most are unusually bright, well-read, and interested in a wide range of topics.

The related podcast is thought-provoking. Though I disagree with Dickey on some points, he has some fresh views worth considering: https://apnews.com/afs:Content:1446410075/Episode-23:-What-haunted-houses-tell-us-about-ourselves

What interested me are the 28% who said they have lived in a haunted home. (I’m in that group. I’ve lived in two that might be haunted, plus a third that was absolutely bizarre.)

I may try a survey like that, myself, to see how many people pursue ghost hunting because they’re already familiar with life in a haunted house.

  • Next, this may not be the world’s only haunted canal boat ride — and I’m not sure if it’s genuinely spooky — but if I were around Richmond, Virginia, I’d happily spend $2 for the experience: Haunted canal boat rides in Richmond.
  • After that, reading the latest ghost-related articles, I realized I’ve never questioned the word “boo!” Maybe I should have.

Fortunately, Mental Floss may have an answer. In their article, Why Do Ghosts Say ‘Boo’?, they report:

“…the word had a slightly different shade of meaning a few hundred years ago: Boo (or, in the olden days, bo or bu) was not used to frighten others but to assert your presence.”

And later, in that same article, explain a more recent use of the word:

“And by 1738, Gilbert Crokatt was writing in Presbyterian Eloquence Display’d that, ‘Boo is a Word that’s used in the North of Scotland to frighten crying children.’ “

  • And then there’s the video filmed earlier this month (Oct 2017) inside a Cork City (Ireland) school. It’s been viewed over 7 million times.

I laughed out loud at one point. No, this isn’t what a real haunting looks like, though it’s entertaining.

But, a Today.com article offers an explanation for the school’s haunted reputation:

“‘The school is built on a site known as Green Gallows,’ Wolfe said. ‘In the 19th century, criminals were hanged here. We only found that out on Monday. The pub nearby is actually called the Gallows.'”

A leading Irish education site calls it Gallows Green, but — no matter what the name — it’s adequate reason for ghosts at the school.

They’re just unlikely to manifest in such preposterous ways.

Those are the ghost-related articles that interested me today. I’m sure there will be more as Halloween approaches.

If you find any fascinating news articles, I hope you’ll leave the URLs in comments.

[IRL] ‘Destination Truth’ Banshees – Blond? Shrouded?

Castle tower ruinsBanshees… what do they really look like?

That’s the subject of a video at SyFy’s Destination: Truth website, related to their 2011 St. Patrick’s Day show from Ireland.

In that live show broadcast from the castle, they investigated the castle at Duckett’s Grove in County Carlow, Ireland.

Travel tips: Duckett’s Grove is off the R418 near Rainestown.  The site is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and admission is free.

If you’re going there, also explore Castledermot cemetery and monastery ruins, off the N9.  They’re about 6km from Duckett’s Grove Castle, and well worth a visit.

If you’re especially courageous (or foolhardy), continue to Castledermot and investigate the ring fort at Mullaghrelan wood near Kilkea, not far from Athy.

The mini-vlog from the Destination: Truth episode about Banshees was brief and while it wasn’t entirely inaccurate, it could be misleading unless you conduct further paranormal research.

In that short discussion, the Banshee was described as usually being female, usually having blond hair, and usually wearing a shroud.

One out of those three is generally (but not always) correct:  Most Banshees seem to be female.

The truth

Banshees have been reported (and studied) for many years. The best academic study was published by Patricia Lysaght as the 1986 book, The Banshee: The Irish Death Messenger

Here are a few key points from my encounter with a Banshee, first-person accounts, and Lysaght’s study:

  1. A Banshee (bean sidhe) is seen more often than she’s heard.
  2. Banshees are usually reported wearing gowns — white, black, or green — but some appear to wear a shroud.
  3. If the Banshee is actually wearing a shroud (distinguished from a gown because a shroud will partially covers the head of the Banshee), the hair color won’t be visible.
  4. The hair color of the Banshee is usually related to the hair color of the person (or ghost) she seems to represent.   Most Banshees seem to represent a specific ancestor related to the family (or household) she protects.
  5. Almost every family with Irish ancestry has a family (or household) Banshee.

For more information about real Banshees and when they appear, see my 1999 article, Banshee – Ghost, faerie or something else?

To learn far more about Duckett’s Grove Castle and its ghosts, see Duckett’s Grove Castle, Ireland – Ghost Hunting Tips.

According to the popular lore, Duckett’s Grove Castle is “cursed” with a Banshee… a woman who was one of the owner’s mistresses.  Discover the other, older curse on the Duckett family in The Duckett Family Curse.

Photo credit: damin, USA

This is the kind of information covered in my book, Ghosts – What They Are and What They Aren’t.  

[IRL] Duckett’s Grove Castle, Ireland – Ghost Hunting Tips

Castle ruins in IrelandDuckett’s Grove Castle was featured in a March 2011 episode of the SyFy TV show, Destination: Truth.

The purpose of that show was to find evidence of Banshees. I never recommend looking for Banshees, but Duckett’s Grove Castle (via Wayback Machine) and several local sites are well worth investigating… for ghosts.

How to get there

Duckett’s Grove Castle is in County Carlow, Ireland, about 40 miles from Dublin.

Driving directions: From Naas Road (Dublin), take the M7 to the M9 toward Waterford, and exit at the R418. Follow the R418 to the signed junction for Duckett’s Grove.

Parking is free, and parts (but not all) of the site is wheelchair accessible.

The castle grounds are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and admission is free.  After hours, you’ll need permission to visit the site.

Duckett’s family history

Duckett’s Grove is related to the Duckett family. Though the Duckett name is often associated with Ulster (Northern Ireland), the Duckett name has appeared throughout the Republic as well.

No matter where they lived in Ireland, most Ducketts trace their roots to England.  In 1572, Lionel Duckett was London’s Lord Mayor.

Some records indicate that the first Duckett in the Carlow area was Sir George Duckett of England; he arrived during the 17th century when Cromwell was a controversial figure in English politics, and shortly before George’s  Duckett cousins in England were cursed.

However, there were at least two George Ducketts: One was an attorney and an MP for Calne.  He was born in 1632 and, if records are correct, lived 100 years.  The other was Sir George Jackson Duckett, 1st Baronet (1725 – 1822), of Hartham.

Two mottos have been associated with the Duckett family:

  • Je veux le droit, literally “I want what’s right,” but usually translated to mean “I desire justice.”
  • Spectemur agendo, “Let us be judged by our acts,” the motto of The Royal Dragoons (1st Dragoons) regiment of the British Army. This also appears on the Irish family crests of the McAleer, Donnelly, Shannon and Mott families.

Duckett’s Grove Castle history

Thomas Duckett is most often associated with the original house at Duckett’s Grove.

According to some historians, the house began as a modest cottage and was later enlarged at least twice.  The biggest transformation was made for owner J. D. Duckett by Carlow architect Thomas A. Cobden, around 1830.  That’s when it became a castle.

Since most of the work on the castle took place in the early 1800s, the building is usually described as “mock Gothic.”  In other words, the ruins aren’t necessarily as old as you might expect.

A tragic fire that destroyed much of the building in 1933.  The site is currently being restored and it is well worth visiting as an historic location with lovely landscaping and ruins.

Tips for ghost hunters

To investigate the site after dark, contact the Carlow Tourism Office, Website : www.carlowtourism.com.  Tel : +353 (0) 59 9130411.

The landscaped and garden areas are flat and have smooth paths.  You’ll need a flashlight after dark, but you’re unlikely to trip or fall there.

The ruins are less accessible, especially after dark.  Trousers, long-sleeved shirts, and running or hiking footwear are recommended.

Paragenealogy tip – You may trigger even more hauntings if your family tree includes these surnames: Campion, Crosthwaite, Cumming, de la Poer, Duckett* (also Duchette), O’Grady, Philpotts, Seton, Thompson (any related spelling), or de Windesore (Windsor, Winsor, or variations).

Also, carrying anything related to the Roman Catholic Church is likely to evoke extra paranormal activity at Duckett’s Grove Castle.  At least one of the Duckett’s Grove’s former residents was scathingly antagonistic towards Catholics.

In the same general part of Ireland, I’d recommend researching Castledermot (exit 4 off the M9), where the area’s history — related to Robert Bruce and Henry VIII — could present spirits from Viking raids as well as more recent spectres.

While you’re exploring Castledermot, if Kilkea Castle is open, it’s one of Ireland’s oldest castle hotels.

If your paranormal research includes paragenealogy connections, you may have the best Kilkea ghost encounters if your family tree includes these surnames: Delacy, Delancy, Moore (or O’Moore), and Dempsey (or O’Dempsey).

For those with nerves of steel, the ring fort area at Mullaghrelan wood (near Athy and not far from Castledermot) is an important site. However, I do not recommend the risks if you’re visiting Mullaghrelan wood — or any fae-related location — at dawn, dusk, or midnight.

Athy has its own quirky history, and some may be intrigued by the literal roots of the town’s name: the ford of AE.

For additional research

Duckett’s Grove brochure (PDF)

Duckett’s Grove website (from the Wayback Machine)

*In the United States, most people with the Duckett surname live in Arkansas, Georgia, the Carolinas, Pennsylvania, or Texas.  According to one (of several) family stories, three Duckett brothers left England in the late 17th century.  One died at sea and the other two settled in Maryland or around the Carolinas.

In the 19th century, most Duckett descendants in America were farmers.

In the U.K., members of the Duckett family usually trace their immediate roots to Yorkshire or Lancashire.

Scottish Ducketts are usually from the Dumfries area, Lanarkshire, or Stirlingshire.

[IRL] The Duckett Family Curse

Duckett’s Grove Castle — featured in a March 2011 episode of Destination: Truth –  isn’t the only haunted location associated with the Duckett family.  A little paragenealogy reveals an interesting history.

The Duckett family’s ancestral homes was Grayrigg Hall, a medieval manor estate in Cumbria, England.

In the 17th century, Grayrigg Hall was owned by Justice Anthony Duckett (1636 – ca. 1692).  Duckett was known for being a persecutor of the Quakers a very new and controversial religion in that era.

One legal case involved Francis Howgill, a Quaker who’d refused to take an oath of allegiance (to King Charles II) and was sent to prison.

Anthony Duckett was one of the magistrates when Howgill was sentenced to jail.

During Howgill’s imprisonment, he was released for a couple of days to attend to some business at home.  While there, he visited Justice Duckett at Grayrigg Hall.

After the magistrate expressed surprise on seeing the prisoner, Mr. Howgill delivered this curse:

“…I am come with a message from the Lord. Thou hast persecuted the Lord’s people, but His hand is now against thee, and He will send a blast upon all that thou hast, and thy name shall rot out of the earth, and this thy dwelling shall become desolate, and a habitation for owls and jackdaws.”

Shortly after that, the Duckett family began to have problems.  All of Anthony Duckett’s male children died without heirs.  The estate failed and it was sold, around 1685, to a neighbor and family friend, Sir John Lowther.

That was around the time Anthony Duckett’s cousins began acquiring land at Duckett’s Grove in Ireland.

It seems that both the Duckett family and Grayrigg Hall itself were equally cursed.  In the 1777 book, The history and antiquities of the counties of Westmorland and Cumberland, here’s how Grayrigg Hall was described:

Grayrigg Hall being the ancient manor house, was a strong old building, in a quadrangular form, adapted for defence more than for convenience. It is now totally in ruins, most of the lead and timber thereof having been removed to Lowther.

So, the original (and possibly cursed) Grayrigg Hall is now gone.  If you’re looking for its location, here are the coordinates:  Latitude 54.3711, Longitude -2.6496

Another Grayrigg Hall was built near the church.  Don’t confuse it with the old, reputedly haunted Grayrigg.

If you’re looking for the remnants of the haunted Grayrigg Hall, visit Lowther Castle.  As described in the 1777 book, timber and lead from Grayrigg were used to expand Lowther Castle.

Did the curse continue there?  It seems as if it did.

According to Simon Marsden’s website, Lowther Castle was inherited in 1784 by Sir James Lowther, the 1st Earl of Lonsdale, also known as “Wicked Jimmy.”

By the time of his death in 1802, Lowther’s young wife had died, he had no children, and depression had driven him to madness.  His ghost has been reported at Lowther Castle.

To learn far more about Duckett’s Grove Castle (Ireland) and its ghosts, see Duckett’s Grove Castle, Ireland – Ghost Hunting Tips.

Full text of the Grayrigg Hall story and curse, from The Haunted Homes and Family Traditions of Great Britain, by John Henry Ingram, published in 1884.

GRAYRIGG HALL.

In Ducketiana it is stated by Sir G. B. Duckett, that not a vestige remains of those extensive foundations which, a hundred years ago, attested the solidity and importance of the Westmoreland Ducketts’ residence, the Manor House known formerly as Grayrigg Hall.

A strange story is told of the last member of this opulent family, who inhabited this fine old English mansion ere it was dismantled.

The narrative has been detailed with great similarity in various works, such as Ferguson’s Early Cumberland and Westmoreland Friends, and Backhouse’s Life of Howgill, and is popularly known as “The Quaker’s Curse and its Fulfilment.”

Francis Howgill, a noted member of the Society of Friends, resided at Todthorne, near Grayrigg, in Westmoreland, about the middle of the seventeenth century.

At one time he travelled about the south of England preaching, and when he visited Bristol, in company with his compatriot, John Camm, his preaching was made the occasion of great rioting.

In 1663 he returned to his own neighbourhood, whither his reputation had apparently preceded him, for, upon arriving at the market-place of Kendal, he was summoned to appear before the Justices, who were holding a court in a tavern.

They tendered Howgill the oath of allegiance when he came before them, and as he refused to take it they committed him to confinement in Appleby jail.

It may be pointed out, as a matter of history, that in the earliest days of the brotherhood, members of the Society of Friends were often subjected to severe penalties and much persecution for their refusal to conform to the taking of judicial oaths.

At Appleby the judges of Assizes also tendered Howgill the same oath and, on his refusal to swear it, ordered him to be indicted at the next Assizes. Meanwhile they offered to release him from custody if he would give a bond for his good behaviour in the interim, but this he refused to do, and therefore was re-committed to prison.

During his imprisonment a curious incident happened. Howgill was allowed by the magistrates to go home toGrayrigg for a few days on private affairs, and in the course of the time he was at liberty the Quaker felt himself compelled to visit a justice of the name of Duckett, residing at Grayrigg Hall, who was a great persecutor of the Quakers, and was, also, one of the magistrates concerned in committing him to prison.

Francis Howgill, on this occasion, was accompanied by a friend who, over the initials “J. D.” would appear to have left a written report of the interview.

Justice Duckett expressed much surprise at seeing Howgill, and said to him, ” What is your wish now, Francis? I thought you had been in Appleby jail.”

Howgill replied to this effect, “No, I am not, but I am come with a message from the Lord. Thou hast persecuted the Lord’s people, but His hand is now against thee, and He will send a blast upon all that thou hast, and thy name shall rot out of the earth, and this thy dwelling shall become desolate, and a habitation for owls and jackdaws.”

When Howgill had delivered this message, the Justice trembled, and said, ” Francis, are you in earnest?” To which Howgill responded, “Yes, I am in earnest, it is the word of the Lord to thee, and there are many now living who will see it.”

Photo credit: Bartek Szewczyk, Poland