Friday, 29 October 2010

...Halloween is coming

It was during the last days of Second World War. She had been evacuated from home in Belfast to a little seaside town in South County Down. A picturesque little spot overlooking Carlingford Lough and the Cooley mountains. At 6 and a half years of age, Mary was sent with many, many other Belfast children to the homes of people far away from the bombing and the blitz in Belfast.

Most folks were very kind to the children and old Mrs Bradley was no exception, she found a room for Mary in the far end of her little long cottage. Tucked away in the room behind the huge hearth, Mary was very comfortable. The room was empty save for an old iron bed, a three legged stool, a blackened wooden chest and a white jug and basin which sat in the enormously wide window ledge.

The cottage was old, very solid, with not a suggestion of damp and Mary's little window faced the sea. Old Mrs Bradley was a keen cook and Mary loved to help. The two became friends. Mr Bradley had 'gone to sea' a long time ago and was not asked about, Mary was not a nosey child and Mrs Bradley usually spoke enough so that Mary didn't have to ask questions. It was Mrs Bradley's manner to talk to Mary about everyone and everything as though Mary had always been with her and knew everything already.

The War drew to an end and many of the children returned home. On the morning of the day that Mary was due to leave, she and the old woman sat for a while before the fire and the old woman treated Mary to a cup of tea in her best china tea cups, retrieved from the wooden chest.

"These were a gift from the mother-in-law, when Marion was christened." said Old Mrs Bradley holding the good cream china tea cup up to Mary in a toast. "These are the last two cups I have Mary, I want you to take that one home with you and bring it again when you come to visit me, we'll drink a health to each other."

Mary looked, as she had done many times, at the image of Marion on the mantle-piece, a pretty lady with shining ringlets. Marion looked happy and Mary decided to ask "Is she sad because she broke the cups then Mrs Bradley?".

"Is who sad child? what do you mean Mary?" asked Mrs Bradley

"Well, when Marion comes into my room at night to mind me, she sits on the wee stool and looks sad. Did she break the other cups Mrs Bradley? I think it must have been an accident, I don't think she meant to..."

Old Mrs Bradley didn't miss a beat, "of course not child," she said and up she jumped from the chair and busied herself about the parcel of scones she was sending home with Mary. With a sidelong glance at the picture on the mantle, she wrapped Mary's cup in waxed loaf paper and tied up the two parcels with a length of wool. A little loop for carrying.

Out the front door of the cottage they went, arm in arm, the best of friends. Down the lane to the road, past the churchyard where they had lain flowers together and stood in silent prayer together every day that the child had been with her.

Old Mrs Bradley waved Mary off into the little throng of children, marshalled by schoolteachers, being gathered together for the journey home to Belfast. Her bond with Mary was a good one and she knew she would see her again, so she was not at all sad as she walked up the hill home, picking hedge flowers on the way.

Pushing the graveyard gate open she stepped in and knelt by the memorial stone just inside the gate.

"Now Marion, Mary is a fine child of course, a lot like you, yes, but she will never take your place my You'd no need to be so sad." sighed Old Mrs Bradley to the stone as she fussed the flowers into place beneath the name and the lower date, carved in large fine lettering: Marion Bradley, - 1923. "And isn't it a blessing the child can't read...".

A little Halloween story! 90% fiction, 10% true! lol. Hope it tickles!

Pics were taken at Rowallane gardens Saintfield, Ghosts trail and pumpkin day last weekend. Photoshop filters used.


  1. I heard the tradition of Halloween originated in Ireland. Spooky fun stuff!

  2. Great spooky story!
    Was a nice surprise.
    Claire did you receive my "Dutch "card and email?

  3. Amazing story, Claire! Thanks for sharing it!

  4. Perfect Halloween story. Thanks for sharing it.

  5. LOVE the story, Claire! I can even hear the lilting brogue of our storyteller....

  6. This started out reminding me of Light a Penny Candle, then it turned creepy - so it was kind of like the darker side of Maeve :)

    I loved this story - you are such a wonderful writer!!

  7. Sitting around a glowing fire - we sit and huddle while Claire tells us all a ghost story!! Brilliant.

  8. love your stories and the pics are fab

  9. A great story and wonderful pics Claire!

  10. Which 10% is true? Yes, it tickled. Makes me want to be in Ireland next Halloween.


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