The actions of a priest would have made the gang of Mystery Incorporated proud in this Scooby Doo-like spooky caper from Victorian Ireland.
An 1862 article in the Belfast Morning News, titled “A Practical Method of Appeal from a Ghost”, tells the cautionary tale of a recently-widowed woman who lived near Emly in County Limerick.
One night she heard a knock at the door and a pale creature, clad in a shroud, cried out to her in a hollow voice:
“I am your husband, whom you buried, and I am very miserable till my debts are paid. Sell the two pigs you have and sure have the money for me on such a night when I call.”
The woman was terrified but apparently happy to fulfill her husband’s request.
She readied herself to have the money ready for her dearly departed’s return.
But in the meantime, she told her priest about the incident and he sensibly told her to have a couple of constables on hand to supervise the handover.
Sure enough, when the ghostie returned to collect his piggie profits, the policemen nabbed him and revealed him to be a close neighbour, who was actually the godfather of one of the woman’s children.
One can just imagine the villain, who was shipped off to Limerick Gaol, muttering: “And I would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for you meddling priest!”