Is Cork Ireland’s spookiest county? Supernatural sleuths want to hear your tales of ghosts, ghouls and things that go bump in the night
A SURVEY undertaken some years ago by AA Ireland found that 15.5% of Cork people surveyed claimed to have seen a ghost – far higher than any other county in the country.
rom tales of a coach being pulled through the grounds of Mallow Castle by a team of headless horses to the infamous White Lady of Charles fort in Kinsale to spooky goings on at the 19th century Cork City Gaol the Rebel county has no shortage of tales about ghosts, ghouls and things that go bump in the night.
Doneraile in North Cork is even reputed to be the most haunted town in Ireland.
At Halloween, it was traditionally believed that the veil between the physical and spiritual realms becomes thinner, allowing spirits to cross over to interact with the living.
This is why ghosts and spooky stories are so strongly associated with this time of year.
So, with Halloween just around the corner, this Samhain the National Museum of Ireland is inviting people from across Cork to share their spooky stories and terrifying tales as they try to find out once and for all which is Ireland’s most haunted county.
With this in mind the Irish Community Archive Network (iCAN), a museum initiative that supports communities to collect and share their local history and heritage online, has launched a new project called ‘Ghost Stories of Ireland – Seeking Tales of the Unexplained’.
Development officer for iCAN, Lorna Elms, explained that ghost stories and encounters with otherworldly beings are a common theme in Irish folklore.
“We want to preserve these ghost stories that have been passed down over the generations through the oral tradition,” said Lorna.
“This Halloween we are inviting the public to help us document these stories that continue to be told and help us find out which county in Ireland is the spookiest,” said Lorna.
Lorna said that stories and tales passed down orally offer modern society a greater understanding of how our ancestors perceived and explained the world around them.
“This was why the Irish Folklore Commission was set up in 1935 to collect and study the folklore and traditions of Ireland. Much of this work continues to be carried out by local volunteer history and heritage groups, such as those supported by the iCAN initiative,” said Lorna.
She said the project also wants to revisit the ghost stories gathered by schoolchildren for the Irish Folklore Commission in the 1930’s. The Commission had prepared a guidance booklet that listed 55 subject headings – topics that the children could explore with older people in the community.
Despite ‘Ghost Stories’ not being on the headings list, the collection contains over 1,000 spooky tales, which Lorna said suggested that a belief in the unexplained strongly persisted in the public consciousness at that time.
“As part of our ‘Ghost Stories of Ireland’ project, we would also like to revisit and highlight those tales gathered by the children 75-years-ago and bring them back to life,” said Lorna.
“Going by the amount of ghost storied collected by the county at the time, Tipperary appears to have been the most ‘haunted’, with 95 accounts of frightful folklore. There are 78 ghost stories listed from County Cork, so here is an opportunity to capture more stories from the Rebel county,” said Lorna.
To find out more about the ‘Ghost Stories of Ireland – Seeking Tales of the Unexplained’ project, submit a ripping yarn of your own or choose a favourite story from the National Folklore Collection and tell the museum it sends shivers down your spine, visit www.ouririshheritage.org.
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