The Supernormal: Experiences


When Mrs. Seymour was a little girl she resided in Dublin; amongst the

members of the family was her paternal grandmother. This old lady was

not as kind as she might have been to her granddaughter, and

consequently the latter was somewhat afraid of her. In process of time

the grandmother died. Mrs. Seymour, who was then about eight years of

age, had to pass the door of
the room where the death occurred in order

to reach her own bedroom, which was a flight higher up. Past this door

the child used to fly in terror with all possible speed. On one

occasion, however, as she was preparing to make the usual rush past, she

distinctly felt a hand placed on her shoulder, and became conscious of a

voice saying, "Don't be afraid, Mary!" From that day on the child never

had the least feeling of fear, and always walked quietly past the door.

The Rev. D. B. Knox sends a curious personal experience, which was

shared by him with three other people. He writes as follows: "Not very

long ago my wife and I were preparing to retire for the night. A niece,

who was in the house, was in her bedroom and the door was open. The maid

had just gone to her room. All four of us distinctly heard the heavy

step of a man walking along the corridor, apparently in the direction of

the bathroom. We searched the whole house immediately, but no one was

discovered. Nothing untoward happened except the death of the maid's

mother about a fortnight later. It was a detached house, so that the

noise could not have been made by the neighbors."

In the following tale the "double" or "wraith" of a living man was seen

by three different people, one of whom, our correspondent, saw it

through a telescope. She writes: "In May, 1883, the parish of A-- was

vacant, so Mr. D--, the Diocesan Curate, used to come out to take

service on Sundays. One day there were two funerals to be taken, the one

at a graveyard some distance off, the other at A-- churchyard. My

brother was at both, the far-off one being taken the first. The house we

then lived in looked down towards A--churchyard, which was about a

quarter of a mile away. From an upper window my sister and I saw two

surpliced figures going out to meet the coffin, and said, 'Why, there

are two clergy!' having supposed that there would be only Mr. D--. I,

being short-sighted, used a telescope, and saw the two surplices showing

between the people. But when my brother returned he said: 'A strange

thing has happened. Mr. D-- and Mr. W-- (curate of a neighboring parish)

took the far-off funeral. I saw them both again at A--, but when I went

into the vestry I only saw Mr. W--. I asked where Mr. D-- was, and he

replied that he had left immediately after the first funeral, as he had

to go to Kilkenny, and that he (Mr. W--) had come on alone to take the

funeral at A--.'"

Here is a curious tale from the city of Limerick of a lady's "double"

being seen, with no consequent results. It is sent by Mr. Richard Hogan

as the personal experience of his sister, Mrs. Mary Murnane. On

Saturday, October 25, 1913, at half-past four o'clock in the afternoon,

Mr. Hogan left the house in order to purchase some cigarettes. A quarter

of an hour afterwards Mrs. Murnane went down the town to do some

business. As she was walking down George Street she saw a group of four

persons standing on the pavement engaged in conversation. They were her

brother, a Mr. O'S--, and two ladies, a Miss P. O'D--, and her sister,

Miss M. O'D--. She recognized the latter, as her face was partly turned

towards her, and noted that she was dressed in a knitted coat, and light

blue hat, while in her left hand she held a bag or purse; the other

lady's back was turned towards her. As Mrs. Murnane was in a hurry to

get her business done she determined to pass them by without being

noticed, but a number of people coming in the opposite direction blocked

the way, and compelled her to walk quite close to the group of four, but

they were so intent on listening to what one lady was saying that they

took no notice of her. The speaker appeared to be Miss M. O'D--, and

though Mrs. Murnane did not actually hear her speak as she passed her,

yet from their attitudes the other three seemed to be listening to what

she was saying, and she heard her laugh when right behind her--not the

laugh of her sister P--and the laugh was repeated after she had left the

group a little behind.

So far there is nothing out of the common. When Mrs. Murnane returned to

her house about an hour later she found her brother Richard there

before her. She casually mentioned to him how she had passed him and his

three companions on the pavement. To which he replied that she was quite

correct except in one point, namely that there were only three in the

group, as M. O'D-- was not present, as she had not come to Limerick at

all that day. She then described to him the exact position each one of

the four occupied, and the clothes worn by them, to all of which facts

he assented, except as to the presence of Miss M. O'D--. Mrs. Murnane

adds, "That is all I can say in the matter, but most certainly the

fourth person was in the group, as I both saw and heard her. She wore

the same clothes I had seen on her previously, with the exception of the

hat; but the following Saturday she had on the same colored hat I had

seen on her the previous Saturday. When I told her about it she was as

much mystified as I was and am. My brother stated that there was no

laugh from any of the three present."

Mrs. G. Kelly sends an experience of a "wraith" which seems in some

mysterious way to have been conjured up in her mind by the description

she had heard, and then externalized. She writes: "About four years ago

a musical friend of ours was staying in the house. He and my husband

were playing and singing Dvorak's 'Spectre's Bride,' a work which he had

studied with the composer himself. This music appealed very much to

both, and they were excited and enthusiastic over it. Our friend was

giving many personal reminiscences of Dvorak, and his method of

explaining the way he wanted his work done. I was sitting by, an

interested listener, for some time. On getting up at last, and going

into the drawing-room, I was startled and somewhat frightened to find a

man standing there in a shadowy part of the room. I saw him distinctly,

and could describe his appearance accurately. I called out, and the two

men ran in, but as the apparition only lasted for a second, they were

too late. I described the man whom I had seen, whereupon our friend

exclaimed, 'Why, that was Dvorak himself!' At that time I had never seen

a picture of Dvorak, but when our friend returned to London he sent me

one which I recognized as the likeness of the man whom I had seen in our


A curious vision, a case of second sight, in which a quite unimportant

event, previously unknown, was revealed, is sent by the percipient, who

is a lady well known to both the compilers, and a life-long friend of

one of them. She says: "Last summer I sent a cow to the fair of

Limerick, a distance of about thirteen miles, and the men who took her

there the day before the fair left her in a paddock for the night close

to Limerick city. I awoke up very early next morning, and was fully

awake when I saw (not with my ordinary eyesight, but apparently inside

my head) a light, an intensely brilliant light, and in it I saw the back

gate being opened by a red-haired woman and the cow I had supposed in

the fair walking through the gate. I then knew that the cow must be

home, and going to the yard later on I was met by the wife of the man

who was in charge in a great state of excitement. 'Oh law! Miss,' she

exclaimed, 'you'll be mad! Didn't Julia [a red-haired woman] find the

cow outside the lodge gate as she was going out at 4 o'clock to the

milking!' That's my tale--perfectly true, and I would give a good deal

to be able to control that light, and see more if I could."

Another curious vision was seen by a lady who is also a friend of both

the compilers. One night she was kneeling at her bedside saying her

prayers (hers was the only bed in the room), when suddenly she felt a

distinct touch on her shoulder. She turned round in the direction of the

touch and saw at the end of the room a bed, with a pale,

indistinguishable figure laid therein, and what appeared to be a

clergyman standing over it. About a week later she fell into a long and

dangerous illness.

An account of a dream which implied an extraordinary coincidence, if

coincidence it be and nothing more, was sent as follows by a

correspondent, who requested that no names be published. "That which I

am about to relate has a peculiar interest for me, inasmuch as the

central figure in it was my own grand-aunt, and moreover the principal

witness (if I may use such a term) was my father. At the period during

which this strange incident occurred my father was living with his aunt

and some other relatives.

"One morning at the breakfast-table, my grand-aunt announced that she

had had a most peculiar dream during the previous night. My father, who

was always very interested in that kind of thing, took down in his

notebook all the particulars concerning it. They were as follows:

"My grand-aunt dreamt that she was in a cemetery, which she recognized

as Glasnevin, and as she gazed at the memorials of the dead which lay so

thick around, one stood out most conspicuously, and caught her eye,

for she saw clearly cut on the cold white stone an inscription bearing

her own name:


Died 14th of March, 1873

Dearly loved and ever mourned


while, to add to the peculiarity of it, the date on the stone as given

above was, from the day of her dream, exactly a year in advance.

"My grand-aunt was not very nervous, and soon the dream faded from her

mind. Months rolled by, and one morning at breakfast it was noticed that

my grand-aunt had not appeared, but as she was a very religious woman it

was thought that she had gone out to church. However, as she did not

appear my father sent someone to her room to see if she were there, and

as no answer was given to repeated knocking the door was opened, and my

grand-aunt was found kneeling at her bedside, dead. The day of her death

was March 14, 1873, corresponding exactly with the date seen in her

dream a twelvemonth before. My grand-aunt was buried in Glasnevin, and

on her tombstone (a white marble slab) was placed the inscription which

she had read in her dream." Our correspondent sent us a photograph of

the stone and its inscription.

The present Archdeacon of Limerick, Ven. J. A. Haydn, LL.D., sends the

following experience: "In the year 1870 I was rector of the little rural

parish of Chapel Russell. One autumn day the rain fell with a quiet,

steady, and hopeless persistence from morning to night. Wearied at

length from the gloom, and tired of reading and writing, I determined

to walk to the church about half a mile away, and pass a half-hour

playing the harmonium, returning for the lamp-light and tea.

"I wrapped up, put the key of the church in my pocket, and started.

Arriving at the church, I walked up the straight avenue, bordered with

graves and tombs on either side, while the soft, steady rain quietly

pattered on the trees. When I reached the church door, before putting

the key in the lock, moved by some indefinable impulse I stood on the

doorstep, turned round, and looked back upon the path I had just

trodden. My amazement may be imagined when I saw, seated on a low,

tabular tombstone close to the avenue, a lady with her back towards me.

She was wearing a black velvet jacket or short cape, with a narrow

border of vivid white; her head and luxuriant jet-black hair were

surmounted by a hat of the shape and make that I think used to be called

at that time a 'turban'; it was also of black velvet, with a snow-white

wing or feather at the right-hand side of it. It may be seen how

deliberately and minutely I observed the appearance, when I can thus

recall it after more than forty years.

"Actuated by a desire to attract the attention of the lady, and induce

her to look towards me, I noisily inserted the key in the door, and

suddenly opened it with a rusty crack. Turning around to see the effect

of my policy--the lady was gone!--vanished. Not yet daunted, I hurried

to the place, which was not ten paces away, and closely searched the

stone and the space all around it, but utterly in vain; there were

absolutely no traces of the late presence of a human being! I may add

that nothing particular or remarkable followed the singular apparition,

and that I never heard anything calculated to throw any light on the


Here is a story of a ghost who knew what it wanted--and got it! "In the

part of County Wicklow from which my people come," writes a Miss D--,

"there was a family who were not exactly related, but of course of the

clan. Many years ago a young daughter, aged about twenty, died. Before

her death she had directed her parents to bury her in a certain

graveyard. But for some reason they did not do so, and from that hour

she gave them no peace. She appeared to them at all hours, especially

when they went to the well for water. So distracted were they, that at

length they got permission to exhume the remains and have them

reinterred in the desired graveyard. This they did by torchlight--a

weird scene truly! I can vouch for the truth of this latter portion, at

all events, as some of my own relatives were present."

Mr. T. J. Westropp contributes a tale of a ghost of an unusual type,

i.e. one which actually did communicate matters of importance to his

family. "A lady who related many ghost stories to me, also told me how,

after her father's death, the family could not find some papers or

receipts of value. One night she awoke, and heard a sound which she at

once recognized as the footsteps of her father, who was lame. The door

creaked, and she prayed that she might be able to see him. Her prayer

was granted: she saw him distinctly holding a yellow parchment book tied

with tape. 'F--, child,' said he, 'this is the book your mother is

looking for. It is in the third drawer of the cabinet near the

cross-door; tell your mother to be more careful in future about

business papers.' Incontinently he vanished, and she at once awoke her

mother, in whose room she was sleeping, who was very angry and ridiculed

the story, but the girl's earnestness at length impressed her. She got

up, went to the old cabinet, and at once found the missing book in the

third drawer."

Here is another tale of an equally useful and obliging ghost. "A

gentleman, a relative of my own," writes a lady, "often received

warnings from his dead father of things that were about to happen.

Besides the farm on which he lived, he had another some miles away which

adjoined a large demesne. Once in a great storm a fir-tree was blown

down in the demesne, and fell into his field. The woodranger came to him

and told him he might as well cut up the tree, and take it away.

Accordingly one day he set out for this purpose, taking with him two men

and a cart. He got into the fields by a stile, while his men went on to

a gate. As he approached a gap between two fields he saw his father

standing in it, as plainly as he ever saw him in life, and beckoning him

back warningly. Unable to understand this, he still advanced, whereupon

his father looked very angry, and his gestures became imperious. This

induced him to turn away, so he sent his men home, and left the tree

uncut. He subsequently discovered that a plot had been laid by the

woodranger, who coveted his farm, and who hoped to have him dispossessed

by accusing him of stealing the tree."

A clergyman in the diocese of Clogher gave a personal experience of

table-turning to the present Dean of St. Patrick's, who kindly sent the

same to the writer. He said: "When I was a young man, I met some

friends one evening, and we decided to amuse ourselves with

table-turning. The local dispensary was vacant at the time, so we said

that if the table would work we should ask who would be appointed as

medical officer. As we sat round it touching it with our hands it began

to knock. We said:

"'Who are you?'

"The table spelt out the name of a bishop of the Church of Ireland. We

asked, thinking that the answer was absurd, as we knew him to be alive

and well:

"'Are you dead?'

"The table answered 'Yes.'

"We laughed at this and asked:

"'Who will be appointed to the dispensary!'

"The table spelt out the name of a stranger, who was not one of the

candidates, whereupon we left off, thinking that the whole thing was


"The next morning I saw in the papers that the bishop in question had

died that afternoon about two hours before our meeting, and a few days

afterwards I saw the name of the stranger as the new dispensary doctor.

I got such a shock that I determined never to have anything to do with

table-turning again."

The following extraordinary personal experience is sent by a lady,

well-known to the present writer, but who requests that all names be

omitted. Whatever explanation we may give of it, the good faith of the

tale is beyond doubt.

"Two or three months after my father-in-law's death, my husband, myself,

and three small sons lived in the west of Ireland. As my husband was a

young barrister, he had to be absent from home a good deal. My three

boys slept in my bedroom, the eldest being about four, the youngest some

months. A fire was kept up every night, and with a young child to look

after, I was naturally awake more than once during the night. For many

nights I believed I distinctly saw my father-in-law sitting by the

fireside. This happened, not once or twice, but many times. He was

passionately fond of his eldest grandson, who lay sleeping calmly in his

cot. Being so much alone probably made me restless and uneasy, though I

never felt afraid. I mentioned this strange thing to a friend who had

known and liked my father-in-law, and she advised me to 'have his soul

laid,' as she termed it. Though I was a Protestant and she was a Roman

Catholic (as had also been my father-in-law), yet I fell in with her

suggestion. She told me to give a coin to the next beggar that came to

the house, telling him (or her) to pray for the rest of Mr. So-and-so's

soul. A few days later a beggar-woman and her children came to the door,

to whom I gave a coin and stated my desire. To my great surprise I

learned from her manner that such requests were not unusual. Well, she

went down on her knees on the steps, and prayed with apparent

earnestness and devotion that his soul might find repose. Once again he

appeared, and seemed to say to me, 'Why did you do that, E----? To come

and sit here was the only comfort I had.' Never again did he appear, and

strange to say, after a lapse of more than thirty years I have felt

regret at my selfishness in interfering.

"After his death, as he lay in the house awaiting burial, and I was in a

house some ten miles away, I thought that he came and told me that I

would have a hard life, which turned out only too truly. I was then

young, and full of life, with every hope of a prosperous future."

Of all the strange beliefs to be found in Ireland that in the Black Dog

is the most widespread. There is hardly a parish in the country but

could contribute some tale relative to this specter, though the majority

of these are short, and devoid of interest. There is said to be such a

dog just outside the avenue gate of Donohill Rectory, but neither of the

compilers have had the good luck to see it. It may be, as some hold,

that this animal was originally a cloud or nature-myth; at all events,

it has now descended to the level of an ordinary haunting. The most

circumstantial story that we have met with relative to the Black Dog is

that related as follows by a clergyman of the Church of Ireland, who

requests us to refrain from publishing his name.

"In my childhood I lived in the country. My father, in addition to his

professional duties, sometimes did a little farming in an amateurish

sort of way. He did not keep a regular staff of laborers, and

consequently when anything extra had to be done, such as hay-cutting or

harvesting, he used to employ day-laborers to help with the work. At

such times I used to enjoy being in the fields with the men, listening

to their conversation. On one occasion I heard a laborer remark that he

had once seen the devil! Of course I was interested and asked him to

give me his experience. He said he was walking along a certain road, and

when he came to a point where there was an entrance to a private place

(the spot was well known to me), he saw a black dog sitting on the

roadside. At the time he paid no attention to it, thinking it was an

ordinary retriever, but after he had passed on about two or three

hundred yards he found the dog was beside him, and then he noticed that

its eyes were blood-red. He stooped down, and picked up some stones in

order to frighten it away, but though he threw the stones at it they did

not injure it, nor indeed did they seem to have any effect. Suddenly,

after a few moments, the dog vanished from his sight.

"Such was the laborer's tale. After some years, during which time I had

forgotten altogether about the man's story, some friends of my own

bought the place at the entrance to which the apparition had been seen.

When my friends went to reside there I was a constant visitor at their

house. Soon after their arrival they began to be troubled by the

appearance of a black dog. Though I never saw it myself, it appeared to

many members of the family. The avenue leading to the house was a long

one, and it was customary for the dog to appear and accompany people for

the greater portion of the way. Such an effect had this on my friends

that they soon gave up the house, and went to live elsewhere. This was a

curious corroboration of the laborer's tale."

A distinction must be drawn between the so-called Headless Coach,

which portends death, and the Phantom Coach, which appears to be a

harmless sort of vehicle. With regard to the latter we give two tales

below, the first of which was sent by a lady whose father was a

clergyman, and a gold medalist of Trinity College, Dublin.

"Some years ago my family lived in County Down. Our house was some way

out of a fair-sized manufacturing town, and had a short avenue which

ended in a gravel sweep in front of the hall door. One winter's evening,

when my father was returning from a sick call, a carriage going at a

sharp pace passed him on the avenue. He hurried on, thinking it was some

particular friends, but when he reached the door no carriage was to be

seen, so he concluded it must have gone round to the stables. The

servant who answered his ring said that no visitors had been there, and

he, feeling certain that the girl had made some mistake, or that some

one else had answered the door, came into the drawing-room to make

further inquiries. No visitors had come, however, though those sitting

in the drawing-room had also heard the carriage drive up.

"My father was most positive as to what he had seen, viz. a closed

carriage with lamps lit; and let me say at once that he was a clergyman

who was known throughout the whole of the north of Ireland as a most

level-headed man, and yet to the day of his death he would insist that

he met that carriage on our avenue.

"One day in July one of our servants was given leave to go home for the

day, but was told she must return by a certain train. For some reason

she did not come by it, but by a much later one, and rushed into the

kitchen in a most penitent frame of mind. 'I am so sorry to be late,'

she told the cook, 'especially as there were visitors. I suppose they

stayed to supper, as they were so late going away, for I met the

carriage on the avenue.' The cook thereupon told her that no one had

been at the house, and hinted that she must have seen the

ghost-carriage, a statement that alarmed her very much, as the story was

well known in the town, and car-drivers used to whip up their horses as

they passed our gate, while pedestrians refused to go at all except in

numbers. We have often heard the carriage, but these are the only two

occasions on which I can positively assert that it was seen."

The following personal experience of the phantom coach was given to the

present writer by Mr. Matthias Fitzgerald, coachman to Miss Cooke, of

Cappagh House, County Limerick. He stated that one moonlight night he

was driving along the road from Askeaton to Limerick when he heard

coming up behind him the roll of wheels, the clatter of horses' hoofs,

and the jingling of the bits. He drew over to his own side to let this

carriage pass, but nothing passed. He then looked back, but could see

nothing, the road was perfectly bare and empty, though the sounds were

perfectly audible. This continued for about a quarter of an hour or so,

until he came to a cross-road, down one arm of which he had to turn. As

he turned off he heard the phantom carriage dash by rapidly along the

straight road. He stated that other persons had had similar experiences

on the same road.