The Cooneen Ghost
|“|| The story goes that a widow called Mrs. Murphy, her son and five daughters, all lived together in a house near Cooneen, County Fermanagh in the early part of the 20th Century.
The family became plagued by a poltergeist shortly after Mrs Murphy's husband died in a freak accident. Paranormal events started to occur in the house, it began with the occasional knocking of the front door and when any member of the family would go to answer the door there would be nobody there. The noises then became more frequent with knocking on all the doors and windows. Above the house was a room used as storage for hay. This room was only accessible by a stone staircase adjoined to the farmhouse and in the room heavy footsteps were often heard yet every time someone went to investigate there was nobody in the room.
The family decided to get friends and neighbours to come to the house and listen to these strange noises for themselves. Mrs. Murphy, her children and some friends would sit in the kitchen listening to the banging on the windows and doors and the footsteps coming from upstairs. Unfortunately things took a turn for the worst when more intense paranormal activities started to happen. Mrs. Murphy would watch as plates would lift off the table and fly across the room smashing against the walls. The family would also watch in the bedroom as a bed would lift several inches of the ground by itself and fall back down again. Things got so bad that Mrs. Murphy turned to the Church for help. Father Coyle from Maguiresbridge visited the house and watched for himself as mysterious shapes appeared and disappeared on the walls as he stood inside the house. He also watched pots and pans that would suddenly fly across the room on their own. Another witness to the events was the MP Cahir Healy, who could simply not believe what he was seeing.
Father Coyle was given permission for two exorcisms to be performed in the house. It is said that during the exorcisms, bed sheets would rise of the beds, cups and plates would fly around the room, and deafening groans could be heard coming from upstairs. Both exorcisms were among the very few exorcisms to ever be carried out in Ireland. Unfortunately they didn't work and the Murphy family continued to live in this house with the poltergeist.
The Murphy's were understandably terrified they had hoped that the exorcisms might work, however the poltergeist activity in the house seemed to be getting worse. It is also said that friends and neighbours started to blame the Murphy's for practising witchcraft, therefore bringing this entity upon themselves. There were claims that Mrs Murphy's son found a book in a forest near Cooneen called "The legions of doom" and was supposed to give instructions on how to practice satanic rites, how to contact demons etc. The son started to develop an unhealthy interest in the spirit world, and was supposed to have tried to raise a demonic spirit in the house. It was this story among others that became the last straw for the Murphy's and they decided to leave their home and set sail for America in 1913.
Much to the horror of the Murphy's, it seemed like the poltergeist had followed them on the boat to America. It is well documented that passengers on the ship complained about the rapping's and banging's that were coming from the Murphy's Cabin. The noises became so bad that the Captain went personally to Mrs. Murphy to tell her to stop making so much noise in her Cabin. It is stated that the Captain did not believe that there was a poltergeist on the ship, but did however threaten the Murphy's that he would put them off the ship if the noise continued. It is known that the poltergeist activity did follow them to their new home in America, but over time the manifestations and rapping's subsided and eventually stopped completely allowing the family to get on with their lives the best they could. One of the girls of the family was so traumatised by these events that she is said to have spent the rest of her life in a mental institution in America. As for the Cooneen house it is claimed that a ghostly presence still remains there to this very day.
The Cooneen ghost is considered to be the most famous Irish ghost story in history Some Hollywood movies are actually based on this story. It has been told in many a house céilí, usually around Halloween to scare the younger generations and even some of the older folk, who remember the fear of the local community. It is worth noting that this was no ordinary ghost! It was much much serious than that, it was deemed to be a poltergeist. Whereas a 'normal' ghost is said to be a spirit of a dead person who lingers around places he or she would have been familiar with while alive. A poltergeist is usually considered to be an entity that causes distress by moving objects around. The word 'Poltergeist' is actually German and means "noise making ghost", they have a reputation of being a dangerous or evil type of ghost.
In 2010, Marion Goodfellow one of the UKs top spiritual mediums visited the house as part of the BBC series "Northern Ireland's Greatest Haunts". The Cooneen Ghost was investigated in Season 2 - Episode 2 of the programme. Marion commented that it was probably the scariest and most aweful place she had ever visited. Walking up the path toward the house Marion became visibly short of breath. She could feel the presence of a man, about 5'8" tall, as she walked closer to the house and she said that the man was very angry and did not want her there, or anyone for that matter. The man she made contact was wearing a dark coat and holding a flat stone. She comments on him being very nasty to her, and believed his name was John. She describes the energy of the place as evil and comments the man is saying "Get behind me Satan"
The Poltergeist at Cooneen was widely reported in the local newspapers at the time. Both the Fermanagh Herald and Impartial Reporter both run articles about the happenings at the house, with eye witness statements ranging from local priests to councillors.
- Ghost Book, Shane Leslie, 1955
The Murphy family did exist. They are recorded in the 1901 Census of Ireland, living in the townland of Cornarooslan. The head of the family was Michael Murphy who like the story says died sometime between the 1901 and 1911 Census.
The oldest son Michael, aged 12 in 1901 does not appear on the 1911 Census. Maybe he moved out by this time?
By 1911, Michael's widow, Bridget can be seen living in this house with her son and six daughers. James (21), Anne (18), Mary (16), Teressa (13), Bridget (12), Catherine (7) and Jane-Anne (3)