Sharon Clarke is a paranormal investigator from Belfast and guest writer for Spooky Isles. Here she tells us why you may see more than just the view on the scenic ‘Back Road to Lisburn’.
From the many documented haunted roads in Europe the back road from Belfast to Lisburn sits firmly at the top of the list. As I headed to a paranormal investigation in Belfast I took a look at the haunted road that lead me there.
Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park, Old Malone Road, County Antrim, BT17 9LA
Coming from the Upper Malone road we reach Lady Dixon Park, a well-known area for walkers and families. It is at the entrance that many people have reported seeing a gypsy woman holding her baby. She suddenly jumps in front of cars but when drivers stop and get out there is no one to be seen. No one knows the story behind these sightings.
Some say she and her baby were ran over by a carriage, but many attribute her to the legend of “the hollow of the lake”, a lake on the opposite side of the road nestled in Malone golf course. Legend has it she had a secret baby and drowned herself and the child in the lake. Many claim to have seen her in this area.
St. Patrick’s Church, Upper Malone Road, Drumbeg, Belfast, BT17 9LE
Travelling on we come to Drumbeg Church, a beautiful picturesque church standing by a river. One of the most famous ghost tales comes from these grounds, the tale of James Haddock who died 18 December 1657. He is a well-documented ghost from the moment of his death, visiting those who failed to carry out his will.
James Haddock died leaving behind a wife and a son. Before he died he had arranged for the lease of his lands to go to his heir. Unfortunately James died before the lease was completed and his widow married Davis of Malone. Together they had a son who got inserted into the lease, ousting the son of James Haddock.
Five years after Haddock death a James Taverner was travelling home when his horse started to shake. Taverner dismounted and two silent horsemen passed him. A third stopped clad in white. Taverner asked him in the name of the Holy Trinity to identify himself. The white clad horseman declared himself to be James Haddock and he had once met Taverner.
The ghost asked Taverner to redeem his son to the lease. Taverner refused and the wailing and screeching of the spirit left in a wind. Haddock kept visiting Taverner and haunting his house, so Taverner decided to go to the new mistress of Malone and reveal the events.
The bishop of down Jeremy Taylor was informed of the haunting and decided to investigate. He himself experienced sightings and heard spine tingling howling in the graveyard so he organised a court case for the young son of James Haddock.
The story goes that James Haddock told Taverner to request his presence at court as a witness so the court crier called James Haddock. The courthouse trembled and thunder was heard. A cloudy hand was seen and it approached the witness table. A disembodied voice was heard demanding justice and the young John Haddock was restored to his heritage.
Lambeg Church, Church Hill, Lisburn, County Antrim
Travelling up the road we the come to Lambeg Church. Over the centuries there have been reports of sightings of a grey lady. She walks the road and turns into the church grounds. Some say it is the spirit of a young girl who lost her love at sea and still waits for his return.
Lambeg Parish Church Hall, Church Hill, Lisburn, County Antrim
A more current anecdote I received when researching came from a devout church of Ireland parishioner. She was in charge of locking up the church hall and one night as she carried out her duties, she heard voices and noise from one of the rooms. She assumed that a meeting was ongoing so she gently knocked the door and entered. The room was empty. She stepped in and looked around and the door slammed behind her. Needless to say she left in a hurry!
Pipers Hill, Belfast, County Antrim
We then reach Lisburn, a plantation town very wealthy in its day. It has a street called Pipers Hill and not many people realise this was the walk condemned men took to go to the gallows at the top. Alongside it on the current site of the Health Centre there used to be the weavers cottages. When the cottages were there, three ghosts were reported. One family claimed to hear footsteps every night going up and down the stairs. Next to that a house frequently saw an old lady and more interestingly one housed a poltergeist in which people reported it threw mirrors and even levitated humans.
I had the fortune to undertake an investigation of a building in the area, an art gallery. I found the building to contain something intelligent as it would respond to the questions we asked and there was a definite interaction with our K2 meters. We had no prior knowledge of the site and were shocked that the words that came through were ‘bomb troubles’ followed by screams. With further investigation we found that there had indeed been a bomb at the location during the Northern Ireland troubles that claimed lives.
So just remember when you are taking the back road to Lisburn, there is so much more than scenery and you may see more than you bargained for!