If you celebrate Halloween, I wish you a happy and safe evening, if not, I have a little story for you anyhow. It's been an eventful week here with a close relative ending up in hospital so there's not much by way of craft to share with you, but I took this picture one summer in Ireland and I was reminded of the story to go with it as I was looking through some pictures earlier...
If you believe in such things, there is a house in Ireland where strange things happen, I'm not saying that this is the house. It might be, but then again, it might not.
It might be the case that the house lay empty for over 80 years, and that nothing in it changed. It may well be due to the remoteness of the place that nothing is missing, nearly a century after it was abandoned. Tea cups still sit on the dresser, paper still lines the walls and curtains still hang. The glass in the windows is unbroken, the chimneys still stand.
The northern Donegal coast takes a beating from high wind and a few of the roof slates did eventually give way, but when Michael presses his nose up against the glass, he can still see the dining room table is set for dinner. He imagines the mice have a quare time of it here, but then, there is no evidence of mice, no gnawing of boards, no scratching of floors. No birds nest in the gutter. No cats prowl. Nothing alights on the roof even though the nearby trees are alive with rooks.
A quarter of a mile away is a school, a village, a community, liveliness and noise, but here there is silence, always silence.
Michael visits regularly, intrigued by the oddity. He imagines buying the place. Such potential, it would be a fabulous home. Beautiful fretwork on the bargeboards, high ceilings, generously proportioned rooms. Yet, he is unable to discover who owns the house. He contacts all the local auctioneers, but nobody knows, he speaks to the folks in the cottages nearby, but again nobody knows who owns it now.
Turns out that it once belonged to a Minister, reputedly from Scotland, but no-one can remember what happened to him. He is remembered to have been a colourful fellow, often in the company of women of substance.
Undeterred, Michael talks to his solicitor in Dublin who agrees to look into it for him and a a year or so passes before he hears any news.
Inbetween times Michael visits the house at least once a month, driving up alone from Dublin and staying at a local B&B, doing a little fly-fishing and taking some photographs, the surrounding area is quite beautiful and Michael feels at home. He feels he has found his place in the scheme of things and is getting impatient, indeed anxious to buy the property and have it restored. He has an eye for details and often takes photos around the house. He has the time to indulge his dreams as Michael is not married and is in the happy position of being a man of independent income, his mother Isobel having been the last of the Kilkenny Butlers, her entire wealth passing to him, her only son, some years before upon her demise.
He has not dared enter the house, simply because it is locked, no windows are open and no doors are ajar. Breaking the glass to gain entry would be beneath him and so he explores the house only with his eyes from outside. The main entrance to the house has been fully concreted and Michael mourns the loss of what must have been a magnificent doorway, but never mind, he will see that it is fully restored once it is his.
His favourite room is the dining room, the heavy oak furniture is still intact, and must, he hopes, come with the house. The very plates are still on the dresser and must be worth a few hundred pounds on their own. Not that he will sell them, they belong here, just as he feels he does.
One Friday evening after a particularly nice drive up in warm sunshine Michael is rather uncomfortable to notice a newspaper lying on the dining room table when he looks through the window. He had not noticed it before, and feels sure that he would have. He can see no evidence of any of the doors or windows being opened and so he decides that he must have simply not noticed it before. Its presence bothers him and he goes back up to the house after dinner to take another look. The newspaper is folded over but he can just make out a photograph on the front. It shows an older woman in what looks like old fashioned mourning dress. The lady's features are hard to make out, the writing impossible, so Michael, upon whom no grass grows, as his mother was fond of saying, decides to take a few photographs.
Just after lunchtime on Monday in his Dublin home, Michael pops his head into the office of his personal secretary and asks James if he has been able to glean any details from the photos that were taken over the weekend. James, who is sitting in front of a 24 inch computer monitor turns to Michael, open mouthed, revealing a digitally enhanced image of an August 2011 newspaper on the computer screen, The image is of a Mrs Isobel Butler and the caption records that Mrs Butler mourns the passing of her only son Michael in a tragic accident during renovations at a Donegal Manse.
Michael never visits Donegal again.