Today I have, in preparation for Halloween, the first part of a very special post inspired by the wonderfully creepy Loftus Hall in Wexford. Loftus Hall is famed as the most haunted building in Ireland, find their website here. This year Loftus Hall celebrates it’s 666 year anniversary. Paranormal Lockdown tours have been running all year, the next three tours are already sold out! People enter the house at 8.30 and with a group of paranormal investigators and partake in an investigation until 3.30 in the morning. I’m dying to do one of these tours!
After visiting Loftus Hall a couple of years for a Halloween tour, I whole heartly agree that it’s one of the creepiest places I’ve ever been. The building is eerie (even in daylight_, even from outside, coated in darkness and set against the stark, exposed Wexford coastline. I have to add that the staff there are passionate, helpful and I would highly recommend it a tourist destination.
Various special Hall’oween Tours are running through October. For adults there is the Loftus Hall Hall’oween Adult Night Tour which I highly recommend. General tours can also be taken of the house and it’s magnificent walled gardens. Special Loftus Family tours also run for Halloween –one suitable Over 5’s and one for Over 12’s. To book a tour click here.
Pull up a chair, grab a cuppa and relax for a while with the first installment of “The Visitor.”
As I write this, I find myself reminiscing on the terrible events over the past months; the pain, sorrow and bewilderment it has brought myself and my family. Yet it feels like some dream in my mind, one of which I cannot leave, which consumes my every waking minute and confuses all reality, draining me like some fiend, thirsty for my being. The things I find myself thinking of are something not of this world. Those I have spoken to of it either proclaim me as a mad man or pity me as someone distraught by the events which have passed. I question if they are right? Perhaps I have gone mad? I have pondered the idea of entering a sanatorium to be treated for this apparent delirium but deep down in my soul I know these things are true and I curse he who is responsible for it.
I have always been close to the Loftus family, through ties from marriage and business. Charles or The Baron Loftus as he is formally known has been a companion of mine since my youth. We frequented much of the country on together during our younger days and share in our adoration of hunting and angling, through this we had bonded and were in contact regularly throughout the past years. When Charles had requested over dinner one evening that I care for Loftus Hall while he and his family left for Europe I instantly agreed; it would be a break away from our own home and beneficial for my wife Jane and daughter Anne. The girls were ecstatic upon hearing the plans when I returned home and on August the 1st we arrived at Loftus Hall.
Loftus hall is an immense building; the three stories are filled with beautifully furnished rooms. The library on the first floor is true beauty to behold; containing unending amounts of books, some of which are ancient, the volumes being some of the only found in these aisles. The room which the girls seemed to frequent most often was the Card room in the western wing of the house with its high ceiling and comfortable chairs. Many nights were spent within it playing bridge and its walls echoed with our laughter as the fire in the far edge of the room burnt bright. This was until the night of the storm and the arrival of our guest.
On the night of August 25th I had been near the coast in Fethard at a town hall meeting, not far from Loftus hall. As a representative of the area I chaired the meeting and gave the locals news decisions and changes which would affect them. The town’s rural inhabitants were mild mannered descendants of protestant settlers who came here during the plantations from Britain. The hours after the meeting were spent in the local pub “The Boatman” with the mayor and wealthy land lords from the surrounding area. The pub was a large thatched building usually housing forty or fifty at a time with a large stove in the centre which burned bright for many a night. We discussed business and pleasure and although a storm had begun to brew outside, we enjoyed the night wholeheartedly.
It was midnight when I prepared to return to Loftus Hall and the storm was at its worst. A forceful gale shook the rafters of the establishment. O’Toole my carriage driver nodded to the publican for a final shot of whiskey and I stood up from our table and grabbed my coat from. The door of the pub swung open violently and a gush of wind and rain poured in, blowing out the lanterns near the door and filling the pub with the cries of the storm outside. In strode a tall figure hooded in a finely woven ebony coat. He stood first motionless in the doorway as water began pooling around his feet. The pub went deathly silent in anticipation as the man withdrew his hood and smiled roguishly, his features somewhat hidden in the shadows of the extinguished lanterns.
Looking back now, I am bewildered at the fact I had not noticed how the mood in the pub suddenly changed and the glassy look in the eyes of all those around me including myself like rabbits transfixed by the moon. I watched as the man walked across the pub, still deathly silent and removed his coat. I should have left then but something held me there as if trapped in some miasma with no control over myself.
The noise began again in the pub as people began to speak again, the sound was different to before the man had entered. People spoke louder and laughter could be heard bellowing across from tables; a stark contrast to the hushed and somber mood from moments before. Someone played the fiddle in the corner of the bar – a quick mad tune being struck along its cords. I glanced across to O’Toole and saw he had ordered a large bottle of whiskey from the publican when only minutes before he was preparing to leave. I found myself sitting on a stool next to a small table, the idea of leaving fading away and an urge to stay now filling my mind and watched as the stranger walked between the other tables the drunken men sat on their stools laughing and shouting in their new found joy. He moved as if gliding, never touching or bumping against anyone and sat across from me placing a large glass of brandy before me. How in God’s name did he know what I was drinking? These and many other questions I should have asked but somehow had never entered my mind as if not present and being distracted somehow by the man.
He smiled at me as he outstretched his hands something about it comforting yet chilling at the same time, his dark eyes stared purposely into my own holding my stare, he was young and no older than thirty with a slightly dark complexion as if Mediterranean in descent. He wore his long jet black hair in a ponytail like some of the Argentinian nobles I had met in business and introduced himself as a Mr. Fulicer Natas. I shook his hand and returned the smile and felt myself relax as if I were sitting across from an old friend.
I forgot the time and began to relish in the man’s company, laughing and joking more than I had in many years and felt transfixed by what he had to say. He told me of how his ship had to dock in the harbour nearby due to the storm as it was nearly run aground near the cliffs of the peninsula, how his crew had decided to watch the boat while he sought shelter for himself. He asked me if I knew of any such establishment nearby. I found myself eagerly offering him a room at Loftus Hall and insisting he stay with us.
He smiled somewhat slyly as the mood in the pub suddenly became somber once more the noise dying down, the fiddle now silent and perhaps it was my imagination but the light in the pub became dim.
We decided to leave and both stood up from our tables and along with O’Toole left “The Boatman” and accompanied the man to the carriage the storm still raging around us and began to make our way back to Loftus Hall.
I struggle to remember the journey back as it seemed I had fallen into a drunken stupor which was unusual for the amount of brandy I had drank on the night. I recall arriving at the entrance, the house illuminated in the flashes of lightning about us and the mad dash to reach the door as to get out of the dreadful storm rampaging around us. I hammered down the large oak door while Mr Natas stood motionless in the rain. I heard the noise of the locks being withdrawn from the door as it opened. Our butler Fintan hurried us in and showed our guest to his sleeping quarters for the night. I staggered my way through the dimly lit halls and towards my bedroom, stumbling a number of times and ending up against the walls or peering into the faces of the paintings covering them. I did my best not to wake Jane on entering our room stepping lightly along the wooden floor. I slipped cautiously into bed and into a deep sleep.
I awoke to Fintan’s voice, commenting on how late I had slept as my eyes fluttered open struggling to focus. I watched as he placed a platter with breakfast on my lap – toast and bacon along with a small bowl of oats. He then turned and left the room as quick as he entered. My head throbbed with pain and I found it hard to come back to reality after the strange events during the night, still confused by how it had all come to pass, but slowly my alertness returned. After finishing breakfast, I could hear the sound of joyful laughter from outside and upon dressing made my way into the house and towards wherever it seemed to
As I arrived in the dining room I found Anne and Margret in conversation with our guest Mr. Natas smiling and joking playfully. Upon seeing me he stood from his chair smiling and opening his arms and welcomed me in. Immediately like the night before I felt myself relax and the pain in my head was replaced with delight at the site of the man as if we had known one another for years. His English was exemplary and now without the noise of the bar around me I could hear the slight accent he spoke with. He told us of how his business involved dealing with persons who had made wrong decisions in their lives and those who worked for him in some way or another that he performed some type of judgement upon them. I am surprised to this day as to why I did not question him more but it seemed as if he swayed and controlled the conversation like an angler reeling his catch towards him one way and then another, not allowing it time to question what is happening.
The storm was relentless for many nights and we found ourselves delighted in the company of our guest. We partook in drinking, dancing and singing, he had even showed us his skills on a fiddle which were remarkable to say the least. We danced jigs and reels to the music, perspiring profusely. Hours were spent conversing in all manner of things and we found ourselves retiring to bed in the early hours of the morning exhausted from our escapades. An air of excitement and tension lay about the house as we all struggled to rest caught up in the madness of it all.
It felt as if I had entered some trance in which I could not leave and rather than fight, allowed myself to be carried along by it like a boat on the river Slaney.
Anne in particular took to Mr. Natas and the two became inseparable over the passing days. They would walk about the house talking and joking among one another or playing games within the card room. The way she stared at him as he spoke I remember being struck at how infatuated she seemed to be; perhaps I was the same in some way or another. I had begun to believe they were having liaisons in the night as I would awake to the creaking of floorboards in the halls outside my room, as if someone was skulking along them or would hear hushed whispers in the night. My dreams became disturbed, I dreamed of the house in flames and dark figures swooping around me whispering in some ungodly language before I would awake in a sweat and grab for my wife Jane to ensure she was beside me.
One evening as the wind bellowed outside and rain crashed against the windows of the house I made my way towards the library in search of Mr. Natas to request he join us for a game of bridge in the Card Room. I found him sitting near the fire his dark apparel contrasting against the white silk of the upholstery he sat upon. He sat reading a large tome which turned out to be Dante’s Inferno, he commended me on having one of the first volumes and talked of how the book had always amazed him, how he wondered how a man can write and draw such things in such reality as if he had somehow seen them for himself. I had assured him I did not know but that it was indeed amazing and frightening in some senses. He laughed and inquired what I had come for, I told him of the game of bridge we were about to play and he accepted smiling slyly as we made our way out of the library and towards the card room. He had told me how gambling was something he had always enjoyed partaking in it as regularly as he could in his own homeland.
As we entered the card room we were welcomed by Fintan firstly and then the girls. Mr. Natas held Anne’s hand kissing it softly and staring into her eyes before sitting down around the table. Her eyes never seemed to leave him once during the whole game. Fintan poured drinks for each of us and presented me with the deck of cards we normally play with, before I could remove them from their packet our guest requested if he deal the cards for the game. I accepted and handed him the deck. Never in all my life have I seen a man handle cards the way he did. The way his hands moved as he shuffled them in ways I had never seen at any table the cards bouncing from one hand to the other as if with a life of their own. We all sat infatuated by the sight as he dealt us our hands and we began to play. The mood changed once more and we all rejoiced in the fun we were partaking in laughing uncontrollably at the very slightest of things seemingly unable to stop. It seemed to have no effect on our guest who appeared more collected than us all focused on the game at hand and never truly losing composure.
Upon winning the second game in a row Mr. Natas dealt yet another round of cards. They fluttered along from his hands towards the table in front of us, landing perfectly as if carried by some unseen force.
I received my three cards and peered around the table only to see Anne had but two in front of her the apparent third sliding off the table and onto the floor beneath her. Natas stared at her smiling toothily almost menacingly as she bent down to pick it up. Fintan made his way towards her to help when suddenly Anne began screaming from beneath the table and fell backwards pulling the table cloth with her and crashing against the ground in apparent fright. Fintan rushed towards her and my wife and I jumped from our seats in shock and bent down to question her actions. As we did she began to shout “his feet…”, “his feet…” “Look at his feet”.
You can read Part II right now by clicking here!