From its inception the story of Irish canals and the
waterways was laden with tragedy.
Men laboured for a few pence a day to dig
them at the height of the famine, barges sailed fully armed against a backdrop
of simmering hostility and with working conditions improving little over the
years and numerous accidents, it is not surprising that there are quite a few
ghost stories to be found throughout the waterways!
On the Royal Canal
the 13th Lock, Deey Bridge, between Leixlip and Maynooth, had the reputation
among the old Royal Canal boatmen of being haunted and they would never moor
there for the night. This tale became the subject of a poem by Arthur Griffith,
The Spooks of the Thirteenth Lock.
At Lanesborough, Co. Longford, nocturnal crying was heard,
and at Banagher, Co. Offaly, spectral eyes appeared out of the gloom where a
man named Larkin was drowned.
Along with the ghost stories are the tales of the banshee, the female
spirit who heralded death for a family member usually by shrieking or keening. You
definitely don't want to hear that sound!
Click the recordings below to listen...
Michael O'Connor recalls some of the stories which Michael 'Sam' Mallin told him in the past about working on the canal boats on the Royal Canal and refers to his stories about the banshee. He speaks about his grandmother Annie Murtagh who believed strongly in the banshee.
Paddy Tummon recalls a story his father told him about meeting a stranger who disappeared in front of him.
Historian Brian Cassells recalls his childhood living close to Lough Neagh and about the occasion when his father came in and told him he had just heard the Banshee.