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John Moynes knows FACTs about Ireland. Little-known facts that you probably don’t know. Don’t feel bad. There’s no shame in knowing fewer FACTs than John Moynes who, as we have already established, knows lots of them. For instance, did you know that Ghosts Were Once An Endangered Species In Ireland?
Ask any schoolchild and they’ll tell you that Exit 7 on the M50 (Southbound) is the most haunted motorway exit ramp in the jurisdiction. But did you, or the schoolchild, know that as recently as 1986 ghosts were almost extinct on this island? Probably not.
For centuries Ireland’s history of famine, war, poverty, emigration, old age and scurvy meant that the death rate often approached, if not exceeded, one hundred percent. This meant that Ireland had a plentiful supply of ghosts, including headless horsemen, poltergeists and horseless heads. Curiously enough Ireland has never been home to any werewolves, and the persistent wereotter situation in Leitrim is considered more of an embarrassment than a threat.
Ireland is also home to a supernatural creature not found anywhere else in the world. The Banshee, or Bean Sídhe, is a sort of a cross between a ghost and a woman. Said to herald an imminent death, the Banshee emits a terrifying wailing noise and earns less than a poltergeist.
By the end of the nineteenth century Ireland was so haunted that many great writers such as WB Yeats and Oscar Wilde were forced to emigrate in order to get a good night’s sleep. So what changed? Why was the government forced to reintroduce ghosts into the wild in the 1990s?
Many ghosts were killed during the struggle for Irish Independence. The Black and Tans were particularly keen on eliminating the undead, in case they walked through walls to smuggle secrets to Michael Collins. However it has recently emerged that many ghosts were also destroyed by the rebels, who felt that people who had died before the invention of modern republicanism might be tempted to side with the Crown Forces. This was covered up by the nascent Free State, but the time has come to face the past with open eyes.
These atrocities are to be expected in wartime, but in the decades following Independence parapsychologists warned time and time again that the ghastly population was continuing to fall. Time and time again they were ignored. In the early eighties some Indian scientists discovered that many churches in Ireland had leaky holy water fonts, and that the escaping fluids had been slowly exorcising the land. This lead to public outrage, but it wasn’t until 1993 that Albert Reynolds secured EEC funding for rubber sealant to plug the leaks. By then it was almost too late.
With less than a dozen ghosts in Ireland, and only two of them in any way scary, urgent action was required. Experts decided to introduce breeding pairs of ghosts from the Orkney Islands. The Orkneys were selected because it was felt that their ghosts, with a long history of rain, alcoholism and Vikings, would adapt well to our environment.
The project was a complete success, and soon Ireland was once more home to so many ghosts that the experts were found shaking with fear and vowed never to speak of it again.
So the next time you’re driving on a motorway exit ramp and you feel a cold damp hand grab your neck, even though you’re alone in the car, spare a thought for ghosts.