Castletown House at Celbridge, County Kildare, was built by William Connolly, Speaker of the Irish Parliament, in 1722. The house was in— herited by his nephew, who married Lady Anne Wentworth, daughter of the Earl of Stafford. It was she who one day saw the figure of a tall man standing in the upper gallery, who proceeded to walk down a non— existent staircase, past a big window, taking little steps as though each stair was quite shallow. It paused and laughed a high, cold, arrogant laugh, as though it were the rightful owner of the place mocking at the people who lived there.
Ten years later, a staircase was built in exactly the location in which Lady Anne had seen the figure. More than twenty years after that, Lady Anne’s son, Thomas Connolly, now the owner of the house, was walking in the garden with his wife and recalling the strange story of what his mother had seen in the hail. A few days after that, he was out riding with the Kildare Hounds and a wild and stormy November day it was. Many of the hunt gave up and went home, for the fox was proving to be tricky and elusive. Only Connolly and a handful of others were left, when Connolly noticed that a newcomer seemed to have joined them. Mounted on a fine black horse that looked as fresh as if it had just come out of the stable door, he was a long, tall fellow, dressed in grey, with great thigh—boots.
‘Good day to ye,’ called out Connolly. ‘A poor day for sport, though.’ The man merely grinned, showing large, discoloured teeth, then set his horse to the slope of the hill and went galloping up. At that same moment, the hounds began to bay, as if they were closing in on their prey. Connolly followed the other horseman up the hill, but when he got to the brink, he reined in, astonished. The hounds were not to be seen, but the stranger stood there, dismounted from his horse, and with the bloody carcass of the fox held in both hands high above his head. He grinned again at Connolly, then lowered the fox’s body to the level of his mouth, and in one swift bite with his great teeth, cut away the brush. Dropping the carcass he held it out to Connolly, still grinning. The young squire of Castletown turned away in disgust but the man then spoke. ‘Connolly, if you will not take the brush, will you offer me a cup of something hot in your great house?’
The Connoilys had always maintained a tradition of hospitality, and Thomas did not refuse, though there was something about the man, his leering smile and his high voice, that turned his blood.
‘There is hot rum punch at my house for all who want it,’ he said. The stranger entered the house at Connolly’s side, and Connolly saw him pause and survey the great entrance hail, and the staircase that came sweeping down from the gallery, past the window, and he heard a sound of hissing laughter from the man’s lips. The stranger took a chair by the fire, and stretched out his legs as the other hunts- men were doing, but when a servant came up, to help take his riding boots off, he waved the man away ‘Leave me be,’ he said. ‘I am sleepy and don’t choose to be dis turbed.’ He closed his eyes and appeared to settle down for a comfortable nap. Coming more closely to get a good look at him, Connolly was amazed to see that the stranger was as hairy as an animal. Coils of hair matted on the backs of his hands and more emerged at his cuffs. Tufts of coarse hair sprang from his ears. Beginning to have suspi cions, Connolly told two of the servants to take off one of the sleeping stranger’s boots. As they cautiously worked it off, a thickly haired leg appeared, terminating in a great black hairy hoof.
Hastily as all the company retreated from the fire, Connolly sent a man to ride for the parish priest. As the priest arrived, the stranger awoke, glanced at his feet and saw one boot had been removed. With a snarl he rose up and placing himself against the mantelpiece, right in front of the roaring fire, he laughed the same high-pitched, spine- chilling laugh that Lady Anne had heard all those years ago in the Same room. The priest, as terrified as anyone, mumbled an incanta tion, but it had no effect except to provoke further demoniac laughter.
At last, the priest in desperation threw his missal at the figure. It missed its target and struck the mirror above the fireplace, which shattered. But, at the threat of being touched by the holy book, the figure leapt high in the air and vanished, leaving only a greasy boot in the room and a great crack in the stone fireplace. Durham | Loch Ness | Abbotsford | Berkshire | Bruntsfield House | Canterbury | Devon | Devonshire | Edinburgh | Ely | Flat Rock | Ghost lady | Haunted | Haunted Flat in Manchester | Lady in Black | London | London | Northern England | Nottingham | Orkney | Perthshire | Pontefract | Rathfarnham | Redcar | Rotherham | Scotland | South Africa | Steeped in sorrow | Suffolk | Surrey | The Room of Terror | Torquay, Devon | Tyrone | West Germany |
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