The stories told on these pages are from  a collection of folklore compiled by schoolchildren in Ireland in the 1930s. 
The children recorded (over&nbsp740,000 handwritten pages) of this material from their parents, grandparents and neighbours.

These are their stories in their own words.

Paura Lyon’s Ghost

SCHOOL: Kilduff | ADDRESS: Kilduff Upper, Co. Cavan

Ireland's Heritage and Ghostly Going ons
Ghost haunting ill-gotten house

During the Famine years ‘46 and ‘47, when people were dying from hunger, porridge was being made in the huge boiler at Tobar Muire, and given to poor people who had little or nothing to support them.

Over in Ardlougher, lived a man who was in need of the free food. By way of getting it, he gave his land into the care of a neighbour, Charles Lyons, until the times improved.After some time, Murphy prepared to till his land but Lyons prevented him. Murphy begged Lyons to give up his land but was refused many times.

At the time there was a regiment of the Mollie McGuire’s at Ballinamore. One came on Murphy’s invitation. He came across the bogs opposite Kilduff National School. A number of men who were cutting turf cheered and mocked him. He walked up to them and demanded to know which man in the crowd would then cheer. No man answered, and the soldier went on his way.

When he came to Ardlougher Charles Lyon was nowhere to be found and the soldier went home without seeing him. Lyons, knowing of the intended visitor, hid in a Sallow Tree in the river.

The Mollie McGuire’s never returned, because a friend of Lyon’s who lived near Ballinamore had some influence with their captain. Murphy asked for his land a last time and was refused finally. “Well”, said Murphy, “dead or alive I’ll have revenge”. Murphy ended his life as a hero to a large land-owner near Drumshanbo.

After Murphy’s death Charles Lyon’s son Paddy, or Paura as he was called, went with his wife and family, to live in the ill-gotten house. An hour’s happiness they never enjoyed inside its walls. Each night, after he and his wife had retired to bed, a great weight came upon him and rolled from his head to his feet and back down again, and so on until after 2 A.M. Then it stayed on his feet till daylight. This terrible thing went through the same drill each night. His wife could see or feel nothing. At last he could tolerate it no longer, and he used to bring a hook to bed, and sit in the bed until morning defending himself with it.

After some time it was decided to move the house, to a place about forty yards away from its old foundation. A man named Owen O’Hara took the contract of tossing the house. O’Hara was known to tell afterwards of how the loy he was using, was pulled from his hands and thrown down the field.

When the new house was finished, Lyons went to live in it, but found it very little better than the old house had been. Once, in hope to banish the ghost the priest came on the scene. he began to pray in the room where the ghost was. The priest continued until he had brought the ghost as far as the room door. He fastened himself in the door jamb and remained there until, somebody removed the priests’ hat which was hanging on the wall near the door. Before he proceeded any further the priest told any man present who wished to see the ghost, to leave his hand on him, but none were brave enough. The ghost was forced outside and the priest said, “He won’t come back in a hurry”. But he came back and is there to this day.

In the course of time Lyons and his family had to retreat to Scotland. He returned after many years with a married daughter and an immense fortune. The ghost came every night as he did before although not so bad. His wealth vanished in a few years; his fine house fell into ruins and at the time of his death the stars were peeping through the roof.

When Lyons died the corpse was kept in for two days and two nights. It was late on the evening of the third day when the coffin arrived. The corpse was placed in the coffin and a funeral proceeded up the hill to the road. Before they had gone 20 yards, terrible rain poured down. The funeral returned to the house, and as the rain continued, it was agreed upon to leave the corpse in the house for the night. The people who were present went home around 10 – o’clock because they did not want to spend a stormy night in such a cabin. No person remained in the house only Paura Lyons’ son-in-law and his two daughters. The two women fell asleep, and while they were sleeping terrible hammering and knocking on the coffin were heard by the man. He did his best to awaken the sleeping women but failed. Lyons was interred next day.

This land brought great ill luck to anyone who had any interference with it. Some of Lyons children died suddenly out in the fields. One of his daughters Mrs. McHugh came to live in the house and died soon after. The night after her burial, her son Jack and a cousin of his named Michael Darcy, went to sleep in the house. Darcy had to flee but McHugh said he would not leave that night. In a few minutes he too had to retreat.

The last owner of the land was a man named James Dolan. He had every misfortune imaginable and died while attending to his cattle.


The Schools’ Collection, Volume 0962, Page 029” by Dúchas © National Folklore Collection, UCD is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.

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