Sarah’s House – An Irish Ghost Story
The day Sarah was buried her house fell down. Her brother sold the land to a neighbour for less than it was worth, on one condition, the house must never be rebuilt.
As further insurance he planted a tree in the old hearth. In those days, before machinery, it would be impossible to get rid of. He was never seen or heard of again after that.
For generations every child was reared on the stories. They seeped into the collective mind like a fever. The mysterious Sarah, her lover, the feud with her brother, her house, and her ghost.
No on knew exactly what had happened between Sarah and the two men, but it was said that she’d been pregnant at the time. That even the brother didn’t know until the day he’d come home and seen the blood that seeped under her door. A door that she’d locked. The child didn’t survive. For the rest of her short life she poured herself into the house. It was hers she’d decided. That might not have been the law, in those days only men owned property, or the brits, but the law had no power like Sarah.
It was Sarah’s house. It would always be Sarah’s house. After her death and the house falling down, her story, her legend grew. No one went near the place.
But the day and the news came, someone had bought the land, and they were going to rebuild the house.
They turned out, a hushed crowd in the still of the morning, to see the old tree, a gnarled giant now, pulled out by modern machines, and they stared.
The house re-built, a family moved in. Within months they were gone. Too remote they said, too eerie. What was their name again?
Seasons turned, another family, they lasted longer, almost a year, or was that the next crowd? ‘It was the mountain,’ they’d say, ‘and the forest, the dark nights, the crying wind.’ The people nodded.
Every time new folk came the locals shook their heads and said, ‘Living in Sarah’s house,’ and ‘Someone in Sarah’s house again.’
Such was her power there hadn’t been a child named Sarah in the parish for over a hundred years. And still, lured by a dream they kept coming.
The last had been a young man alone. One day he’d walked to the pub and got talking with some of the locals.
‘How you settling in?’ they’d asked, peering closely at him.
‘Grand. At first I thought it might be lonely but I met a woman in the woods, she’s been coming to see me for a while now, keeps me company.’
The locals looked from one to the other then back to the stranger.
‘Coming to the house?’
‘Would that be Annie Taylor? From the bog road.’
‘Or Mary O’Hara?’
‘I don’t think so, no, she’s younger, Sarah. Her name is Sarah.’ You could have heard a pin drop, when he said that name.
‘You have to be wrong about that, there’s no one named Sarah here.’
The new guy shrugged, laughed a bit awkwardly, ‘Well, surely it’s possible?’
There’s been no one named Sarah here in over a hundred years.’
‘Definitely Sarah,’ he frowned, uneasy.
‘Listen man, the only Sarah in these parts is a ghost. She’s not visiting you, you’re living in her house.’
The young man turned white, finished his pint, and left. That was the last they saw of him.
‘Living in Sarah’s house,’ they said, shaking their heads. ‘Imagine.’
It was Sarah’s house. It would always be Sarah’s house.
‘Sarah’s House’ By Jane Gilheaney Barry
Happy Halloween friends, as you can see my favoured themes, women, houses, the sibling relationship, and wild nature, are front and centre in this spooky tale I wrote a few years ago. I hope you enjoyed reading it, Much Love, Jane
And if you did enjoy this story you might enjoy my novel ‘Cailleach~Witch’ a modern gothic mystery now available on Amazon and only 99p for kindle until November 1st. The painting below is by Ivan Ivanovich Shishkin (1881) Kiev National Museum of Russian Art. ..