Shooting at Ghosts in Portadown


DAVID SAUNDERSON tells how two Victorian Irish ghosthunters took the law into their own hands to sort out a annoying apparition

Screams from the Dungeon
What kind of equipment do you use when going out on a paranormal investigation?
Well, whatever it is, throw it away!
Just grab your trusty Martini-Henry rifle and blast those God-forsaken ghosts back to hell – County Armagh-style 1890!
My family is from Portadown – though a few streets away from the area discussed in this hilarious paranormal article from The Belfast Telegraph, dated 24th February 1890, titled “Shooting at a Ghost. An Extraordinary Tale”.
Words fail to express the pride, horror, amazement, embarrassment, laughter, and every other emotion I felt when I read this article.
Here is the full transcript of the article:

“Our Portadown correspondent writes: A ludicrous incident took place in Edenderry the other night.

It appears that since the dead body of a woman was discovered in the River Bann a few weeks ago the boathouse has been haunted, and the inhabitants of Francis Street and Foundry Street terrified to such an extent by the nightly visits of the “boathouse ghosts” that they were actually afraid to come out of doors after dark.

Indeed it is said that they contemplated removing from that quarter of the town altogether, and leaving it in possession of what they believed to be the spirit of the departed woman.

But the tricks of the “boathouse ghost”, like the Drogheda ghost, and nearly all other ghosts, seem to have been harmless, consisting chiefly in tinkling the windows. kicking the doors of the houses in Francis Street. and otherwise annoying the occupiers.

A Martini-Henry Rifle
A Martini-Henry Rifle, probably similar to the paranormal investigation equipment used by the Edenderry ghostbusters in Portadown in 1890

It seems to have taken such delight in playing these pranks on the Foundry Street people that it went on parade every night a few minutes after eleven o’clock.

About the hour mentioned it is I stated to have been seen crossing the river from Francis Street. and entering the boathouse.

But it was somewhat later on Saturday night, the 15th of the present month, that the incident I am about to relate occurred.

The ghost was seen on that occasion standing on the water, right opposite the boathouse, by a man, who, after “eyeing ” it from head to foot and satisfying himself that it was really a ghost, proceeded to the house of a neighbour and having knocked him up, informed him that “she” – meaning the ghost – was “about the boathouse”.

The neighbour hastily dressed himself.

The first man just as hastily primed and laded a Martini-Henry, “vowing that he would give her as much as would keep her from visiting that locality for fortnight.”

In a few seconds, the two returned to the spot where a minute or two previously the ghost had been seen.

It was still standing in the same place, and seemed to defy all Edenderry.

“Keep quiet now,” said the first man, raising the rifle to his shoulder.

“Be sure and take good aim.” whispered his neighbour. stooping as bespoke to see that the ghost would not move.

The rifleman evidently took this advice, for he “covered” his object with a closeness and precision that would have done credit to any of the “crack” shots that took part in the Inkerman battle.

No sooner had he fired than the neighbour exclaimed, “Begorra, it’s down !”

The two then proceeded to pick up the remains of the ghost.

“Don’t see any trace of it here,” remarked one. “It must be about here some place,” said the other. “for I took too good aim to miss it.”

“Oh. you hit it right enough,” rejoined the first, ” I saw it falling.”

On a closer examination of the spot it was discovered that the “ghost” was nothing more or less than the reflection of the light from the bridge lamp on the side of the boathouse.

During the past week several persons have tried to calm the fears of the Foundry Street people by endeavouring to persuade them that there is “no such thing as ghosts,” but all to no purpose.

They maintain that it was not the bridge lamp which knocked at their windows and disturbed them from their slumbers every night during the past four weeks.

Common sense argument, undoubtedly. The ghost must still be at large.

Saturday night’s occurrence has made the residents in the vicinity of the boathouse determined to have their revenge, and the rifleman has promised “that if he gets his hands on the ghost he will never quit it while there is a spark of life in it.”

I love how the gun-toting ghostbusters are still unrepentant even at the end and still prepared to kill something that even warped commonsense tells you is already dead.
Part of me says this article is just “ain’t those Irish thick” stereotype mockery. Unfortunately, most of me says it’s probably accurate.



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