Irish Ghosts: A Ghost Hunters’ Guide
By Peter Underwood
From the publisher’s website: The ghosts of Ireland are as numerous and interesting as they are varied. Indeed, there have been accounts of a man carrying a basin containing his severed head, a frightened girl whose hands are dripping with blood, and a body floating in blood-red water. It is also possible to hear the wail of a banshee, the sounds of mocking laughter, the din of battle, and the sound of someone choking, and many other sounds and experiences that bring a shiver to your spine.
In this fascinating book, renowned ghost hunter, writer and parapsychologist Peter Underwood provides a practical handbook of over a hundred of Ireland’s most interesting and haunted places with details of the history, the people involved, expedient anecdotes, reported ghostly encounters, the frequency of paranormal activity and the available evidence together with the names of witnesses.
Irish Ghosts. Amberley Publishing, March 2012. ISBN 9781445606521
Reviewed for the SPR by: Tom Ruffles
Prolific veteran researcher Peter Underwood has once more drawn on his files to compile a volume devoted Ireland’s ghostly lore north and south of the border. The bulk of the entries are, broken down into standard categories, which makes it easy to take in the salient details at a glance. Thus we have: the site’s location; its history in a couple of sentences; people associated with it; the manifestations; the possible identity of the ghost(s); frequency of sightings; and witnesses, plus any evidence for the sightings.
Entries are in alphabetical order, without a separate index or geographical breakdown. Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic have not been distinguished. This system requires flipping through to see of a place is there or not, and with somewhere like Dublin, which is well represented, the visitor is going to have to do a lot of thumbing to see whether a particular site is represented.
As is typical of Underwood’s books, the emphasis is on castles, stately homes, and stories of antiquity, and his named witnesses are frequently drawn from the upper echelons of society. This is definitely ghost hunting as part of the heritage industry. Conversely he tends to avoid recent goings-on in council houses. It cannot be said that he provides a rounded picture of the paranormal, but it is an attractive one.
A large proportion of the accounts have come from correspondents and earlier compilations rather than personal visits (Underwood’s lack of direct involvement is indicated by the photographs, nearly all of which are drawn from libraries and the two national tourist boards rather than from his personal collection). There is a selection of further reading but no sources are listed for the individual entries, so they cannot be followed up.
Underwood has drawn together a wide-ranging sample of Ireland’s ghostly presences in a well-produced and well-written volume. Even if you don’t see anything paranormal on your travels in Ireland, you will certainly encounter some superb landscapes and architecture, and as ever, Peter Underwood is an enjoyable companion with a fund of anecdotes to enhance the experience.