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Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8

HauntedIllinois.com - Haunted Illinois goes on a supernatural tour of Ireland

Day 7:

Day 7 would be quite different, compared to the rest of the tour. First of all, there was no planned itinerary. That meant that we would be able to spend the day exploring Dublin on our own, until the party at the hotel that evening. Also, the tour company didnít reserve the bus, so we didnít have group transportation. Since the hotel was pretty far from the downtown area, we would have to take taxis to get there and back. They had us covered, though. All we had to do was keep our receipts and they would reimburse us for all transportation costs.

Even though there werenít any official scheduled stops at haunted locales, before we left Richard Felix suggested a couple of spooky attractions to visit. Taking all of that into consideration, Jen and I decided to make our first stop St. Michanís Church.

So we, along with the rest of the ghost gang, piled into cabs in groups of 3 or 4 people at a time and headed into town. Our cab driver was very courteous and helpful. Along the way, he pointed out some interesting local sites and gave us tips on which places were the most worthwhile to visit. He also told us where we could get the best deals on souvenirs and where NOT to shop. After a fairly short ride, he stopped and let us all out, but we soon realized that we were at the wrong church. Luckily we were able to catch him, before he left. Since it was his mistake, he took us to the right destination, for no additional charge.

St. Michanís is Dublinís oldest North side church. It was originally founded in 1095 and later rebuilt in 1685. A little later in history, extensive renovations were started in 1828. Even though the church is best known for being a tourist attraction, it still has an active congregation. Church services are held there every other Sunday.

Beneath the church are five long burial vaults, which can be accessed through iron doors along the side of the building. Only two of these vaults are open to the public. It is unclear when they were actually built, but they contain the mummified remains of many of Dublinís most influential families, dating from the 17th through the 19th centuries. The vaults are world famous, having been featured on National Geographicís television series ďThe Mummy Road ShowĒ, in 2003.

Shortly after we arrived, we were given a guided tour through the two vaults that were open to the public. Each vault was a long, narrow underground path with limestone walls and barrel-vaulted ceilings. On either side of the path were shallow alcoves filled with disheveled stacks of coffins and human remains. The highlight of the tour had to be when they let us walk into one of the vault chambers and get within inches of the mummified bodies! There was a path between the coffins, just wide enough for a normal-sized person to walk through. Iím not sure if it was because of the confined space or if it was because they were real dead bodies, but some of the people in our group seemed a little apprehensive about getting too close. I guess if you are claustrophic, this part of the tour would not be for you. I usually donít have issues being in confined spaces, but Iíll have to admit it was pretty creepy in there.

For their age, the bodies are remarkably well preserved, and from what we were told, by natural means. Over the years, the constant temperature and dry air in the vaults has slowed the decomposition process significantly. It is also believed that the high content of tannic acid in the soil has acted as a natural preservative.

St. Michanís was definitely worth seeing. It was a great start to what would turn out to be an amazing day.

St. Michan's Church

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After leaving the church, we didnít really have much of a game plan, besides walking around and exploring Dublin... and eventually finding Grafton Street. On the way to the church, the taxi driver had told us that Grafton Street was the best place to go, if we wanted to do some shopping. He suggested that we avoid Carrollís stores, though. Apparently, it was a huge chain store and while it had the best selection of Irish souvenirs, it was also by far the most expensive.

Anyway, with a map in hand, we strolled up and down many of the streets of the city. After checking out some of the local shops, we started looking for somewhere to eat lunch. There were almost too many choices, as there seemed to be a pub on every corner. I was interested in finding some authentic Irish food. Checking several pub menus, we found one that advertised ďTraditional Irish FoodĒ, so we walked into the Oliver St. John Gogarty Bar, on Fleet St.

Live music was playing and the place was packed. At first, it was so busy that I thought we would have to go somewhere else, but one of the waitresses said that they had a back room available and it was nearly empty.

I really lucked out. There were only a couple of other people back there. It was the perfect setting for what I had in mind. The whole time we had been in Ireland, I had been waiting for just the right opportunity to propose to Jennifer. All week, I kept the ring hidden in a special place in the corner of the suitcase, hoping that it wouldnít get lost or stolen. Today I had it with me, though, in my jacketís inside pocket. Anyway, we ordered our food, and I waited. At the perfect moment, I asked her to marry me and she said yes! It took her by surprise and it couldnít have worked out any better!

We stayed at the pub for a little while longer, but soon agreed that we should get going. By the time we left, there were only a couple of hours left before we had to go back to the hotel. Next stopÖ Grafton Street. There were many souvenirs to buy and little time to do it in. Along the way, there were several performers out on the street, working for tips. We saw everything from musicians & acrobats to costumed characters & living statues.

When we got to Grafton Street, it wasnít at all what I expected. I was hoping to find a lot of small local shops with authentic Irish-made goods that I could take home to friends and family. There were a few of those types of shops, but unfortunately they were well hidden amongst a plethora of merchants that you might find in an American strip mall. Off the top of my head, I remember seeing Hallmark, Tommy Hilfiger and the Disney Store, as well as Subway and McDonalds. Iíll have to admit it was a bit disappointing. It turned out to be quite a challenge to find everything we were looking for.

Around Town in Dublin

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Engaged! - Engaged at the Oliver St. John Gogarty Bar, on Fleet St.
Engaged!




















  

When we got back to the hotel, it was almost time for the party, so we had to hurry to get into our costumes and makeup. Jen and I were dressed as a zombie bride and groom. She did an amazing job on our makeup. The rest of our ghost gang was dressed in a wide variety of costumes.

To kick off the festivities for our final night in Ireland, Jeffry, one of the members of our group, recited a supernatural themed poem that he had written especially for the occasion. It really set the tone for the rest of the evening.


A THING ABOUT GHOSTS*

By Jeffrey A. Barach, March 4, 2013


A thing about ghosts that I need to explain
Is once you have seen them, their plight will remain
And over and over youíll see them again
Until they forever are etched in your brain
And you become like them and suffer their pain.

For me, where it happened, is not hard to find.
But Iíll not go back there, not even near to it.
You may think that Iím weak or losing my mind.
But Iíd like to explain just why I canít do it.

Itís been a long while maybe ten years or so,
To Ireland I came, my ancestral home,
To stay for a month, in my county Mayo,
In castle hotel, with towers of stone,
And vine-covered walls put up eons ago.

Because I came late, they did open for me,
A seldom-used room up a stone spiral stair,
Atop a stone tower embraced by the sea.
The walls were cold stone, the furniture spare.
The window blew open, in spite of its frame,
And filled the small room with the cold salt sea air
The surf and the thunder were nearly the same.
And lights seem to flicker like meek candle flame.

My second night there, so to brace me for bed,
I drank lots of Bushmills to mellow my head.
As I went to bed, gripping bannister there.
I saw a vague figure: young maid on the stair,
All dressed in white lace with a long satin train.
She went up the tower in spite of the rain.
Then gone in a whisp, before I could think.
By now I was sure Iíd had too much to drink.
My room was all wet from the window blown free
I rushed up to close it, and then did I see,
What looked like that maiden fall through the air
Into the grey spume of the hard breaking sea.

I sat on the bed, with my head in a swirl,
Had I really seen that ghostly white girl?
My mind wasnít clear and the whisky was strong.
Maybe I had fancied it all, all along.

Next morning I asked every person I found
And wandered the castle, all over the ground,
But no one had seen her, or heard of a ghost.
I figured Ďtwas some sort of dream at the most.

For several days, I did see her no more,
Untill late one night, after drinking galore.
And then it all happened, again as before.
I saw her white shade as it flew up the stair

And from my small window in moonís ghostly glare,
I saw the same sprite as it fell through the air.

I now was quite nervous and very upset.
I wrote the details so as not to forget.
ĎTwas clear that Iíd seen her when it was quite late,
And frankly Iíd not been in sober estate.
I had to conclude that the ghost was all bunk,
From castle mystique and the whisky Iíd drunk.

Next day as I wandered in drizzle and gloom,
I past rows of roses, most all in full bloom
I picked one and took it right back to my room.
While climbing the stair to my room in the tower,
I saw a small holder for candle or flower.
It was further up, where Iíd seen the white vision
With heart beating hard, without rhyme or good reason,
I climbed up the stair and I put the rose in it.
Then drank a large scotch the very next minute.
I woke late that morn, with an ache in my head,
And saw....the same rose....on the stand by my bed.

I gasped for my breath, like an asthma attack.
Not bathing or shaving I hurried to pack.
I fled that small room, and the castle hotel.
But moreís to the story, Iím sorry to tell.
The rose, itís the rose, what on earth did I do?
It came from beyond, that I finally knew.
Inspite of my fear, I took it, in case,
I tried, ever tried to forget what took place.

It took a long while, but I did some research,
In hope of some inkling of truth to extract.
Then finally, deep in a book in a church,
I found an account of some lovers, in fact.
Whose story had happened all during the war.
When news of his death came to castleís front door,
A maiden all dressed in her bridal trouseau
Had thrown herself into the storm-driven sea.
Believe, when I tell you, her husband to be,
Was part of a family, related to me.

So you can go there on your Irish ghost tour,
But Iíll not be there, I am not that secure.
Thereís too much to risk and too little to gain,
Encountering ghosts, as Iíve tried to explain.
If once you do see them, their plight will remain
And over and over youíll see them again
Until they forever are etched in your brain
And you become like them and suffer their pain.

*Copyright © Jeffrey A. Barach, Westwego, La 70094

The reading of the poem was followed by unanimous applause.

It was then that Richard Felix addressed the group. Holding his wine glass high, he led the group in a toast and followed up by saying how much fun he had over the past week and how much the trip meant to him. I donít think anyone could disagree; I think we all felt the same way.

After that, the party continued. Danny, in a full leprechaun ensemble, acted as DJ and emcee, manning his microphone & laptop filled with music, to keep the party moving. Everyone cut loose and had fun. It was definitely a great party. A little later in the evening, a strange thing happened. For a few minutes, the hotelís fire alarm went off sporadically in the area we were in. It was getting pretty late and the music was pretty loud, so was the hotel trying to send us a message that it was time to wrap things up? We didnít know for sure, but it really didnít matter, because none of us left. We all just stood around chatting, until the wee hours of the morning. It was a great ending to an amazing trip.


Costume Ball

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Tour Route - The criss-cross path that we took through the Emerald Isle.
Tour Route



Picture Courtesy of Sarah Alexander
Picture Courtesy of Sarah Alexander
Picture Courtesy of Sarah Alexander
Picture Courtesy of Sarah Alexander
Picture Courtesy of Sarah Alexander
Picture Courtesy of Sarah Alexander
    

Costume Ball Group Picture
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