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71 GHOSTS [Back to Contents] Ghosts, or the earth-bound spirits of the departed, remain a part of the Irish supernatural that awaits detailed exploration.51 The literature relating to English ghost belief is far more extensive.52 In early modern England (1550-1750), ghosts did not haunt buildings, were not considered evil, were more likely to be heard than seen, and were not violent towards people or their possessions. They also usually had a message to relay or a moral purpose to fulfil, such as exposing a murderer. Ghost beliefs however were regarded as superstitious and un- orthodox by the Protestant Churches, and up until 1660 ghosts were regarded by many of the educated elite as merely demons in human form. Poltergeists, or noisy, mischievous ghosts, did not become part of British culture until the late 1800s.53 The below selection of documents could be used to make the case that in nineteenth-century Ulster there was a strong tradition of ghost belief; with haunted houses and poltergeists becoming discernible by the end of the century. Spirit encounters [Back to Contents] Belfast Newsletter, 20 June 1845, A Ghost in Lisburn. A degree of excitement, which for the present bids fair to outrival that produced by famous ghost of Cock-lane, has prevailed for the last eight or ten days among the lovers of the marvellous in Lisburn, in consequence of the pranks of some mysterious visitant which, in the waywardness that usually characterises the proceedings of such gentry, has taken a great fancy to disturbing the good folks resident of the neighbourhood of the fair-famed Piper Hill; but its most particular attentions are lavished on the house of a poor old woman, the doors and windows of which have suffered very much from its operations. Numbers of people nightly assemble to witness the proceedings and stones are seen dashed about with great violence – strange and unearthly noises are heard and various other indications of 51 Exceptions are: Andrew Tierney, ‘Return of the Repressed?: "Haunted Castles" in Seventeenth-Century Munster’ in, Eire-Ireland, vol. 45, nos 3-4 (2010): 7-26; Raymond Gillespie, ‘Popular and Unpopular Religion: a View from Early Modern Ireland’ in, Kerby A. Miller and J.S. Donnelly (eds), Irish Popular Culture, 1650- 1850 (Dublin, 1998): 32. 52 John Newton (ed.), Early Modern Ghosts (Durham, 2003); Owen Davies, Ghosts: a Social History, 5 vols (Pickering & Chatto, 2010); Todd Butler, ‘The Haunting of Isobell Binnington: Ghosts of Murder, Texts and Law in Restoration England’ in, Journal of British Studies, vol. 50, no. 2 (2011): 248-76. 53 See Owen Davies, The Haunted: a Social History of Ghosts (Palgrave, 2007); Jo Bath and John Newton, ‘“Sensible Proof of Spirits” Ghost Belief during the Later Seventeenth Century”’ in, Folklore, vol. 117 (2006): 1-14.

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