I've been telling fibs again...the other day I wrote that I'd never seen a ghost...totally forgetting the three small children I saw when we lived at the other cottage...
The cottage already had a reputation for being haunted long before we ever moved there, but depending on who you spoke to, the ghost varied from an unhappy Nun to a woman who lost her sons in a War...nobody knew which War or the woman's name though, so there was no way I could check up on that story...
The cottage we bought and restored...more or less...was built in the 1940's so it was newish...not that you'd ever think so...battered wooden flooring and an ancient range...a bathroom that wasn't plumbed in and sash windows lacking the cords to open and close them...it was a tip to be honest. The hot press was full of old bed linen that had sort of melded together from a constant drip issuing from the water tank and there were several mummified rats between the layers of holey sheets and sodden pillowcases.
Next door...literally a couple of yards away...was the original cottage which was in a state of disrepair... I suppose it must have been about two hundred years old...just two rooms side by side with the usual beaten earth floors. It was in this cottage that the unhappy Nun and the woman who lost her sons had once lived.
Our goats lived in there without a bother on them...
The cottages were at the very end of a narrow winding boreen and on top of a small incline...we didn't have any neighbours and couldn't see another house from where we were either...there were foxes of course, who had the brass neck to visit in broad daylight and run off with a chicken when they thought I wasn't watching...shouting at them did no good...they gripped the chicken harder and ran faster...and I once saw some baby Badgers plodding along in single file.
I'd paid little heed to tales of ghosts from the distant neighbours...they'd have embellished the stories if they thought they would have been believed, with rattling chains and the occasional headless horseman thrown into the mix for good measure.
Then one warm summers afternoon I was sitting on the front doorstep with a cat in my lap...not thinking about anything in particular...just sitting enjoying the sunshine when I noticed three children heading off down the lane...I was puzzled because I hadn't noticed them before and they hadn't called for eggs or a bunch of flowers...and they were barefooted, which was decidedly odd. Two small girls in rather tattered skirts and with thin shawls around their shoulders...the boy was wearing long shorts and a jumper with holes in the elbows. His shorts, rather than one of his sisters caste off frocks, meant he'd have been about twelve or so...but the little girls seemed to be about five or six.
While I was wondering whether to call out to them or not they turned and waved...and then simply disappeared.
I saw them just once more...again on the laneway and dressed in the same clothes as before...but this time they were shuffling their bare feet in the dust...then, just as the first time, they turned and waved before they vanished from sight. I rushed to see their footprints...but there was nothing there at all.
It was a short time afterwards that we decided to sell...the farmer who owned the land around us was making life very difficult indeed...to the point where we had both become unhappy living there.
Within six weeks of putting the cottage on the market, it was sold...in the sixteen years since we sold it to the village school teacher, that cottage has changed hands ten times...the farmer sold all his land around it soon after we left, so it wasn't the problems he was causing which made people leave...
The children were neither frightening nor were they ghostly in their appearance...they certainly didn't appear to be sad or grieving...quite the opposite. They looked...when I thought about it...as though they were away to school or on an errand for their mother.
I never did see the sad nun clutching her rosary beads drifting about the yard...and I never did catch a glimpse of the poor woman who lost her sons in War.
Unlike this cottage, which is virtually surrounded by ancient forts and souterrainns and toghers...that cottage had no old remains in the vicinity...not even a cillin or babies burial place...nor were there the remnants of the Famine feeding stations hidden away in a hedge on the roadside...
The cottage we lived in wasn't on a Faerie path and come to think neither was the much older cottage...that only had one door so the Faerie wouldn't have much bothered the occupants.
For just a little while, I made tentative enquiries about any sightings of little children on the boreen...but never heard anything but for that unhappy Nun who I was becoming quite irritated with...the number of people who mentioned her and said they'd seen her. I thought she should have pulled herself together and got a grip instead of haunting a farmyard...
So I rather kept the three children to myself...it became obvious after a while that no-one else had ever heard of, or seen them.
Sometimes I think of them now...and I wonder who they once were and why they appeared one warm summers afternoon...