What Readers Believe – Jan 2019

What do Hollow Hill visitors believe in? That’s what I asked in a late January 2019 poll.

Here are the results:

Ghost hunting survey January 2019

The votes represent about 3% of the people who visited that webpage. So, I’m not sure these numbers are reliable.

Why so few votes? I’m pretty sure one reason is concerns over privacy, and what data might be collected during the voting process. I understand my readers’ and fans’ concerns, though – in this case – nothing more than vote numbers were recorded.

In order, here’s what they believe in:

Ghosts – Since this is a ghost hunting website, I’m not surprised that most people believe in ghosts.

Angels – My readers tend to include many deeply spiritual people. So, the high range of ghosts isn’t a surprise.

Also, there’s the matter of the words we use. The creepy entity lurking in the shadows at the haunted abandoned hospital may be a “ghost.” But, if a deceased relative visits you, to be sure you’re okay, she or he is often described as an “angel” or a “spirit.”

UFOs and Aliens – That number surprised me. Oh, I’ve seen flying objects that were either UFOs or really, really good experimental vehicles. And the latter had to be very well-kept secrets, as well. (In Northern California, two of us saw a huge object – big enough to nearly blot out the sky – about 100 feet overhead. And it was totally silent. But, an air base was nearby, so – for me – whether it was a test vehicle or a UFO… that’s a coin-flip.)

With the number of my readers who conduct research late at night, often in isolated places with little light pollution, I probably shouldn’t be surprised that they’ve seen weird things in the sky, too.

Demons – Again, this isn’t a surprise. I didn’t believe in demons until I met John Zaffis and – in his presentations – he showed compelling evidence for evil, malicious, demonic entities.

Though I’m not sure where to draw the line between “angry ghosts” and “demons,” John’s experiences were enough to scare me. That’s why I don’t talk about demons very much; if an entity at a haunted site might be dangerous, I leave.

Mandela Effect – Another expected answer, due to the wide range of reports, and an overlap if parallel realities could explain some (not all) ghost encounters, and some (not all) Mandela Effect memories.

Shadow People – For me, this was predictable. I’m not sure what shadow people are, and if they’re a category of ghosts, or something else. But, having photographed one – and seen him, in real life – I’m sure they exist. And, they tend to appear at haunted places.

Cryptozoological Creatures (Bigfoot, etc.) –  Many use the term “cryptids,” and – though I’ve only had a couple of encounter with what might be a cryptid – I’ve heard enough first-person stories to take this topic seriously. It’s just not my field of study.

Faeries (fairies) and Banshees – This did surprise me, as I thought the Venn diagram of “ghost believers” and “faerie believers” didn’t have much overlap. I’m rather pleased to see more open minds than I’d expected. I believe paranormal researchers may need to expand how we explain – and think about – lifeforms and entities we encounter.

Thank you to everyone who participated. If you’d like to add your thoughts, I welcome comments about this poll and these topics, as they related to ghost hunting.

Duckett’s Grove Banshees – Ireland

Banshees… what do they really look like?

Banshees near Duckett's Grove Ireland - ghost huntingThat was 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 magnificent castle, they investigated 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.

This YouTube video of Duckett's Castle is at https://youtu.be/Nbl9jNW6HdY

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.

Only 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. (Compare her with ‘Green Lady’ ghosts.)
  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. In this case, the woman 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

[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.