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A Galway ghost – 1891

Queenslander 14th February, 1891 (abridged)

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Photo: EO’D

It would seem that Galway is not going to be behindhand in the matter of belief in the supernatural, judging from the state of excitement created a few nights ago by the rumour that a ghost had made its appearance at one of the windows of a house in Abbeygate Street, directly opposite the sacristy of the Pro-cathedral of St. Nicholas. This house, it must be mentioned, was lately occupied by a woman who died after a very short illness. Since her death it became tenanted by another person, but from some cause or other the last mentioned left, and the place remained unoccupied till last week. On the night it was occupied some children were passing to attend devotions at the chapel, when they say they observed a sort of unusual light in the house, and a woman standing near the open window who, in a sepulchral voice said, “offer one prayer for me.”

Some of the children fainted on the spot, and this caused others going to their devotions to inquire into the cause. The tale of the spectre at the window spread like wildfire, and in a quarter of an hour no less than 2000 persons had congregated outside the haunted house. The streets on each side became blocked. The crushing and jostling to get a glimpse at the “visitor from the other world” was such as has never been equalled in Galway. Several persons were thrown down and trampled upon, and it was with the greatest difficulty a strong force of police, after about three hours’ incessant labour, succeeded in clearing the streets sufficiently to allow pedestrians and cars to pass. The tramcars were even compelled to stand still in the streets.

The following night the same state of things have prevailed, but up to the present, the real cause of the rumour has not been satisfactorily explained. Several versions of what the object really was that created such a sensation are given, but the adult portion of the community say that fifty years ago there was also “something seen” in the house, it having been the scene of a most brutal murder – namely, the assassination of a woman named Maxwell by her husband. From the description now given of the late apparition by the children, who say they saw it, the older people say it is one and the same ghost, which has to put up alternate half-centuries in this world and the other. The police are stationed near the place, where four streets meet, and it is as much as they can do to keep the curious from congregating.