Thursday, October 28, 2010

Visitors of the Night: Are all Georgian houses haunted? | Marie Guillot, October 2010

Visitors of the Night
Are all Georgian houses haunted?
by Marie Guillot, © October 2010

A scream. Then we hear Lina trying to force open the door of the old library where we are sitting. In a state of frenzy, she finally succeeds and enters the room. She is white as a ghost.
“I knew your house was haunted. They all are when they are so old, especially in Ireland.”
Having lived for 12 years in that tri-centenarian Georgian house, I thought I knew it inside out.
Lina and Garry, our American friends, are visiting us for the first time this evening.
“What happened?” I asked.
“I saw a ghost. I know you won't believe me, but I saw it moving.”
I offered:
“Let's retrace your steps, Lina. You'll show me where you saw the ghost.”
Reluctantly, holding my arm, she leads me back through the dimly lit lobby, towards the kitchen.
Then she turns around.
“Look over there. That's where I saw it.”
We are now facing the front door of the house; actually an inside glass door, preceding the final porch which has another door, the one visitors would come at.
Both of us are staring, holding our breath.
In a flash, I see a shadow moving behind the glass.
“Did you see it Marie?” she shouts. “Now you believe me.”

We were warned: there are stories about the house. Among them, a ghost soccer team playing on the main lawn; a stain of blood that does not come off a wall; a carriage coming to the front door, heard but not seen.
Since then, we have added our own stories to the repertoire. Namely a ghost dog on a Halloween night; the moaning of a child, audible only in one precise spot upstairs; and, of course, various unexplained rumblings during the winter nights. Not to mention that a piece of gutter fell down shortly after we moved in, as well as a large portion of one ceiling.
As French people, brought up from birth with la raison pure (rationalism), my family was rather excited about those stories. The game was to find a proper explanation for each incident.
Until, one day, or rather, one night...
Back from a late outing in Cork, exhausted and eager to crawl directly into bed, I made my last stop in the upstairs bathroom. There, in the quietness of the place, I heard distinctly a double tap at the window. I froze, looking blandly at the closed curtain. Tap Tap again. I have to admit that I left the room without further exploration.

Against Lina's will, I open the glass door. There, we see two bewildered crouching creatures.
Martine, Pierre!” I exclaim, “que faites-vous la?” (what are you doing there?)
The young French couple are our guests for the week. Having no English, they had decided to stay out tonight, so as not to interfere with our visitors.
They were only trying to enter quietly without bothering anyone. Now, they are deeply embarrassed by the turmoil they have created. Lina relaxes a little bit, but says that she can still feel something strange about the house. So do I. It's a matter of interpretation... and of pulling the curtain.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Beach Bums by Aidan O'Shea


by Aidan O'Shea

© 10/09/2010

Dateline: Calpe in the Spanish Province of Alicante, July 2010.

It's a challenge being a grandad on holiday. The Ford S-Max diesel growls its way down Avenida de Los Exercitos Espanoles, turns into Calle Gran Bretana, and parks on sandy waste ground. Operation Beach is under my daughter’s command. "You take the towels and togs (swimsuits), you the parasol, buckets and spades, and, Dad, get rid of the recycling. Monika (the au pair), catch the girls’ hands while I take Róisín in the buggy." This highly-trained commando unit is about to establish its beach-head on Playa Arenal.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Childhood Home by Máirtin Ó Connallan

The Childhood Home

© Máirtin Ó Connallan

It must have seemed stupendous

This great big rambling mass

Of dark red limestone

Hewn from lowland Scotland border country

Beautiful rectangular cut stone chunks

Meticulously chiselled

Then mortared into place

To the wee Glaswegian school pal

Whose wondrous comment after the obligatory

Tea and buns treat

Having just completed his first courtesy visit


Crikey Mrs Conlon

I used to think Martin was an orphan

But his house is as big as an orphanage

Everything seemed so tall there