Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Strokestown Ghost Story

Sorry about the month long hiatus, teaching got in the way, but it's midterm so here is a spooky post for Hallowe'en. Strokestown, in County Roscommon is home to the Strokestown Park House and Famine Museum. Coincidentally it is also home to a ghost story which is related to the Famine.
The story goes that the figure of a man who died in the Famine, identified in the story as Seán Burke, is known to walk the local roads and fall over near a certain hill (Byrne n.d.:61). Many of the stories in that book had previously been published in the Evening Herald, but I have yet to find the original publication.
During the Famine the local Landlord, Denis Mahon in whose former stately house the museum is located, followed a policy of assisted emigration which Stephen Campbell, who wrote the museum's souvenier book, claims was a relatively humane form of clearance (1994:42).
It is quite possible that the ghost story acts as a form of memento mori for those who were cleared from the estate.

Image: Strokestown House
Byrne, Patrick. nd. Irish Ghost Stories Dublin:Mercier Press.
Campbell, Stephen J. 1994. The Great Irish Famine: Words and Images from the Famine Museum,
Strokestown Park, County Roscommon. Strokestown:Famine Museum.

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