I got the story idea after a visit to Galway, Ireland. After visitng a friend who had suffered a stroke.
I'm talking about the Ghost of Connemaroo, the pagan spirit that takes hope away with his "touch" and then the people "touched" die or commit suicide. The new moon lets lose the ghost. Dark lanes and near cemeteries are where the Ghost of Connemaroo lurks on the night of a new moon. Most people don't know how easy it is to escape or cure the "touch" but Mick did. They said that Mick knew well the Ghost of Connemaroo and had escaped the "touch" many times and lived to speak of it. And people wanted this knowledge.
Mick lived alone in a small cottage near the bog (if it could be called a cottage, he even brought in his ass, dog, and cat for the winter). Some said he had books even the "parish priest", couldn't understand. Still, people were glad to see him but he rarely visited. Sometimes he would go off and visit an unknown person or pub, just by chance.
People knew he wasn't a religious person but he knew well the tricks of the Ghost of Connemaroo. They all knew that everyone had their mark, Mick could only cry from his left eye and that was his mark. Everyone talked about it. But they weren't afraid; as it made them who weren't so obviously marked feel better.
Mick new it was a new moon, he didn't want to go out, but he was drawn out of his cottage. He put his cap and coat on and the night drew him out. After passing the oldest cemetery in the parish he drifted with the wind and enjoyed being lost. Then he came to a cottage and was compelled to knock.
Grey smoke was coming out of the chimney. The light from the window was very bright, like all the candles in the house were in one place or on one table. Mick seemed to float to the door. First he listened and could hear a low moan and then sobbing. Mick knew then he was at the right place and proceeded to knock on the door.
Mick knocked twice but there was no answer, but the moaning and sobbing had stopped. Again Mick knocked twice. He heard a weak, scared voice say, "Who's there". Mick was quick with his normal reply. "I stopped by to see how yer doin." As the door opened the person inside said "Who are ya"? "I'm Mick the Bogman." replied Mick as he stepped in and saw the little old lady in the bright candlelight. She had never seen Mick, but still she was not afraid. She saw something in his face, the light of Mick's eyes, and she remembered he said he was here to see how she was doing. She was a bit startled but happy to have this stranger in the house. She had heard of "Mick the Bogman", but had never seen him. She found him a "very" handsome man.
She smiled and invited Mick in. Not looking at Mick, she asked him if he would like some tea and a bit to eat. Mick said that would be grand. As she went into her kitchen, Mick looked at the tidy little living room of her house. He saw on the mantle an old wedding picture but no pictures of children. She returned with a pot of tea and a plate of cheese, soda bread, and ham. Mick hadn't tasted meat in weeks and saw a good feed before him. As he started to eat, he asked the old woman about the picture. She was recently widowed and they had no children. Still she would not look at his face. Mick asked, "Have you been to the cemetery this night?" The lady looked surprised and told him that she had been to visit her husband's grave, just at sundown. Mick knew that was when the ghost had "touched" her.
Mick asked her if she knew about the Ghost of Connemaroo. She said she did, paused, and then asked Mick if he thought she had been touched. Mick told her of how the ghost reaches its strength on the night of the full moon and that "yes" he thought she had been touched. She started to cry and told Mick of how she loved her husband and how bad she felt after his death and now she was living all alone. She asked Mick if he could help her. Mick drank some tea and thought about her situation. Mick asked, "Would ya have any relatives to move in with?" She told him that her relatives had immigrated to America and she wouldn't leave her house, as it would be like leaving her husband, which she couldn't do. She asked Mick if the church could help her. Mick knew the church was like old shoes when it came the Ghost of Connemaroo, good for nothing. And that the local priest would try to have her moved into a home and have the church take over her house and land. Didn't Mick know that the Ghost of Cannemaroo just laughed at the priests, because it was a pagan spirit, here long before the Catholic Church.
Mick cut off a piece of ham and put it in his pocket, he didn't know why, it was just a little piece of ham. The old lady sat down near the turf fire and stared into the fire. Mick knew she had been "touched". Mick was rubbing his head and trying to figure out a cure for the nice old lady. They both then heard a noise at the door. Not a normal noise but a strange little noise. Mick thought the Ghost of Connemaroo was trying to get into her house. He looked for some wheat grains to ward off the ghost. He could find none in the house. Mick moved his chair closer to the fire and near the old lady. She seemed to be mesmerized by the fire. Again, they heard the same noise at the door, but just little louder this time. The old lady finally looked at Mick in a sad and scared expression. She had lost all hope, but Mick wasn't done yet. He knew he could do something for her.
Again they heard the noise at the door, neither of them wanted to open the door. Mick knew it could be a trick to get at the old lady. He was very careful when he was with the "touched". The lady was so scared she could only look at Mick for reassurance. Mick finished his feed and lit his pipe; he always had tobacco, but not food. That was ok with Mick. He knew what bog worms were good to eat and how to cook them. But cheese, soda bread, and ham were sometimes a rare delicacy for Mick. Again the strange noise at the door. Mick wasn't sure what to do. He rose and looked at the door, the lady looked at Mick with a look that told him please don't open the door. But Mick was ready for any trick and said not a word as he slowly walked to the door.
He touched the latch to see if it was cold to the touch, a trick he knew well, but
the latch felt normal. He lifted the latch and slowly opens the door. Mick looked into the darkness and saw nothing. Puzzled, he turned and looked at the old lady. At that moment Mick's cat ran into the room and sat in the middle of the room looking at Mick. Mick didn't say a word but knew what to do. He walked near to the old lady and took the piece of meat out of his pocket and dropped it at the side of the old lady without her seeing it. The cat smelled the meat and came over to the woman and ate the meat. The old lady she immediately began to smile and talk to the cat. She loved to see and touch the cat. The cat jumped onto her lap and settled in. Didn't Mick know the cat was a chancer and spoiled by him? Mick didn't say a word but watched in amazement as he saw the change come over the old lady. Now she would not be lonely, now she could love the cat and be loved by the cat. Mick knew the cat was going to stay with the old lady. And he was glad. This was just another cure for the "touch".
Mick told the old lady that the cat was sent to her, to help her be happy. She smiled like a little girl and embraced the cat in her arms, she was so happy. Now Mick knew why he had put the bit of meat in his pocket. He had beaten the Ghost of Connemaroo again, but only because he was there to help. Mick also knew that old stray cat had been with him for about a year, but they were perfect for each other.
Mick told the old lady that if she kept the cat, she would be free from the "touch" and she believed him. Mick could always get another stray cat.
The author is a drifter and an ex-carny.
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