I’m so pleased to be stopping by today for the Haunted Halloween Event. Seen as it’s the season for all things spooky, I thought I would share some tales of the creepy and macabre from my home town of Dublin in Ireland.
The earliest reference to a settlement around the area now known as Dublin was 140AD, so there is a lot of history here. Although it’s quite a cosmopolitan city, there is a definite gothic feel to many areas. You can hardly turn a corner in the city center without seeing clusters of stone columns, elaborate arch work and flying buttresses on many of the buildings, not to mention the stunning vaulted ceilings and leaded glass in the cathedrals and colleges.
The Irish Constitution was drafted in room 112 and the hotel has provided a rest stop to many famous guests including Grace kelly. An even more famous resident goes by the name of Mary Masters. She resides in one of the rooms on the fifth floor and had a tendency to wake the guests with sudden cold breezes and the sound of crying. In 1965 Sybil Lee, a well-known medium stayed in the room. Shortly after 2am Sybil heard the sound of a child crying. The child then told Ms Lee she was frightened and proceeded to get into bed for a cuddle. The next night the ghost returned and told Ms Lee she was Mary Masters. On the third night, a séance was held in the room. Mary claimed to be searching for her sister, Sophie and was noted as sounding ill. It was later established a child of seven, with a sister Sophie died in 1846 in one of the houses that later became part of the hotel.
Moving on to St Patrick’s Cathedral, founded in 1191. Among the many things that makes St Patrick’s noteworthy is it’s forty-three meter spire and that Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver’s Travels, was once Dean. He is buried underneath and is said to still put in an appearance around the city from time to time. However, our next story involves the cemetery of St Patrick’s.
Have you heard the saying ‘saved by the bell’? Do you know where it comes from? Well, there was a time when people were terrified of being buried alive and rightly so. A bell was tied around the finger of the dearly departed and attached to a bell above ground. The cemetery worker spent the night listening for the sound of the bell ringing in case the dearly weren’t so departed. That’s also where we get ‘graveyard shift’.
As you can imagine St Patrick’s cemetery was an exclusive part of town for a final resting place. Sadly it became the resting place of one young bride who wasn’t so departed. One wealthy resident of Dublin only wanted the best for his beloved bride when she suddenly died on their wedding night. She was buried in the cemetery wearing her wedding dress and the specially made wedding ring. Spying the ring the graveyard worker decided the bride had no use for it and dug her up. Imagine his surprise when the hysterical woman leapt from her grave. Confused and terrified, she made her way home where her devastated husband refused to believe she was the same woman he buried, he believed her some sort of specter or dark creature taking on the likeness of the woman he loved and turned her away. He never did accept her back and years later when she died for real, she was buried in the same plot, in the same dress, wearing the same ring.
Finally we go on to a gruesome period of Dublin history. The Royal College of Physicians is where Dr Samuel Clossey delighted in shocking his students by dissecting and preforming sickening experiments on corpses, even the public were invited to view but it couldn’t have been pleasant for someone to spend their hard to come by money to attend a human dissection only to discover their loved one on the slab. As a result it became commonplace to strip the face from the deceased beforehand.
Unfortunately, when the Anatomy Act(meaning only convicts could be used) was passed in 1832 it restricted the availability of bodies and saw a boom in business for Resurrectionists, also known as Grave Robbers or Body Snatchers. No one was safe from them or the hooks they used to pierce under the chin and pull the corpse from the grave. They became so industrious that they exported bodies in casks marked cheese. The situation became so bad that families began placing heavy stone slabs over graves or cages, erecting watchtowers with armed guards. Some of these cages can still be seen around Dublin and the watchtowers at Glasnevin cemetery stand as a reminder of a less than savory past. Is it any surprise the dead walk in Dublin?
Incidentally, Dr. Clossey never left the School of Anatomy, not really. He can still be found wandering the halls at night.
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Carol, thanks so much for the guest post allowing us to walk
through some of the amazing haunted history of Dublin!
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