I’m reading a book called The Demonologist, which is about the career of Ed and Lorraine Warren. They’re the couple who inspired the film The Conjuring, and they’re also the couple who were called in to help the family who inspired The Amityville Horror.
All of this reading and talking about the paranormal with friends has me remembering some of the crazy experiences I’ve had. I know I told you all about one of my weird moments down in the Edinburgh Vaults, but now I’m going to tell you about something that happened in Ireland.
When my mom came to visit me in Scotland, we took a trip together to Ireland. I know I’ve mentioned this before. When we were in Killarney, we went on a ghost tour that was probably one of the best I’ve ever been on. It was fun and campy, but it was also rooted in a lot of fact. Yes, we did horror movie trivia on the bus, but we also learned a lot about the city and its (sometimes very dark) history.
The last stop on our tour was Muckross Abbey. Here’s a short Wikipedia blurb:
Muckross Abbey is one of the major ecclesiastical sites found in the Killarney National Park, County Kerry, Ireland. It was founded in 1448 as a Franciscan friary for the Observantine Franciscans by Donal McCarthy Mor.
It has had a violent history and has been damaged and reconstructed many times. The friars were often subjected to raids by marauding groups and were persecuted by Cromwellian forces under Lord Ludlow.Today the abbey is largely roofless although, apart from this, is generally quite well preserved. Its most striking feature is a central courtyard, which contains a large yew tree and is surrounded by a vaulted cloister.
In order to get to the abbey, we had to park on a street and walk through quite a bit of forest. As we made the trek over, the sun was starting to set. By the time we got into the abbey, it was pitch black – the only light we had was one flashlight, held by one of our guides.
At first, I was a bit annoyed. The only other people on this tour with us were a group of teenage girls and their mom or aunt or whoever. So they were squealing at everything and being generally SUPER annoying. They were so loud and obnoxious that our guides had to ask them multiple times to calm down.
It was totally ruining the mood. While the building was really beautiful and certainly eerie in the darkness, we were mostly just trying to stay away from the teens to save our ear drums. I tried to focus on ignoring them and snapping photos – the flash from my camera was one of the only ways to see the actual building.
And it was a super cool building.
SIDENOTE: If you’re a believer in light orbs, my god, I caught so many on camera, it’s not even funny.
So, while I was having a fascinating time in Muckross Abbey, I wouldn’t say I was having a creepy ghost tour time. Until we got into this one room.
“All right, everyone. This the the room in which we conduct an experiment.” our guide was getting down to business.
I assessed the surroundings. We were in a long, narrow room, somewhat like a hallway. One wall was solid stone, the other was an outside wall, with numerous slit-windows cut into the stone. It was so dark inside that the darkness of the yard outside seemed brighter, so the windows were very visible.
“In a moment, I’m going to turn off the torch [translation: flashlight]. I want you all to line up against that wall. Spread out so you can’t grab each other or scare each other, because this isn’t that kind of ghost tour. Once you’re ready, we’re going to turn out the lights and just take a moment to feel the room. All right?”
After much squealing from the teenagers, we got lined up. I looked at my mom and rolled my eyes. I wished they would just shut up.
And then our guide turned out the lights.
I stood there, staring out the slitted windows, wondering if this actually was one of those ghost tours and a guy in a gorilla mask was about to run in screaming at us (I went on a tour like that in Edinburgh – what a load of shit).
But then I saw something. And it wasn’t outside.
The light coming in from the slitted windows started to be blocked out, as if someone was walking by them. Then it happened again. And again. A row of shadows walked by me.
And then the row of shadows stopped.
Here’s the part where if you don’t already, you may think I’m totally nuts.
Although I didn’t see any faces turn and look at me – what I saw was shadows – I felt one of the men standing in front of me turn and look at me. And what I felt was a sense of judgement – a sort of shame on you – so strong that without even being to process it, I burst into tears. It was as though my heart was being squished by an iron weight. I couldn’t help myself. The sadness and shame and fear took over my entire body and my body panicked in response.
“Turn the lights on.” I started to say, “I need someone to turn the lights one. Turn the lights on!”
How did I get to be the one freaking out?
The guide complied and I promptly grabbed hold of my mom and told her what I saw and felt. She agreed about the shadows blocking out the windows. She had seen them, too.
After that, I couldn’t wait to get out of Muckross Abbey. It was unfortunate that we had to walk back through forest in total darkness (and in the rain) in order to get back to the bus with only one small flashlight for our whole group, because I spent that entire walk fearing that I was going to be attacked by whatever had been so angry at me in that room.
Oh, and if you were wondering, that room we were in was the room in which the Franciscan monks were imprisoned and led to their death. Often chained together.
That was one day (of a few I’ve had in my life) during which I learned that the history of a place is often 100% palpable, no matter how much time has passed.
It also solidified my belief in ghosts, or the paranormal, or whatever you want to call it.
P.S. Tell me your ghost stories.