Irish Ghost Stories by Padraic O’Farrell

When I was young I used to devour ghost stories. I’d stay with my auntie and uncle a couple of times a month and hunt through their book shelves for my cousin’s abandoned books about hauntings. I’d get so scared that I couldn’t sleep for days; sometimes even now I have to take a running leap into bed to be sure I avoid the monsters underneath. I think this has a lot to do with my recurring insomnia.

We’re a superstitious family, and ghost sightings are not unheard of. My grannie saw one once, and most of the houses I’ve lived in have been considered haunted by someone (a crazy neighbour and my stepdad). I became so convinced that the spirit of a dead rapist lived under the stairs in my old flat that I think Ben agreed to move just to stop having to listen to me worrying about the rapist grabbing my feet.

Nowadays, I tend to avoid the scarier stuff. An ex took me to see Saw II at the cinema and within five minutes I was nearly crying and wanted to leave. I don’t even remember what happened. I think it was just that little robot on the tricycle that did it. I’m getting a bit tense thinking about it now. What if the rapist has a tricycle? Jesus Christ!

I’d been putting off this book for a while, worried that it would be too scary for me. I was surprised to find that it was actually not that kind of ghost story book. I’m just as skittish as ever, so it must be that the book isn’t scary. I can see no other explanation. It’s more like reading an account of a haunting in a magazine than reading a ghost story. It’s a journalistic account of supernatural activity. It’s also very Irish, which I like. The author has also compiled books about Irish legends, Irish toasts, Irish superstitions and other Irish customs, so I suppose it makes sense that he’s gone about this in a dry non-fiction way. Although interesting and very well researched, I came away a little disappointed that it didn’t actually scare me at all.

Now I’m off to worry about whether the rapist under the stairs followed us to the new flat, where he could possibly be hiding, and whether he’s planning to induce me into saying Bloody Mary three times while looking in a mirror.

What do you think?

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