Saturday, January 4, 2014

His Heart Was Still In Ireland

This is a favorite real-life story from my personal archives:

I have been a collector and dealer of autographs for over 30 years. In July 1997, I received a telephone call from a cheerful lady who was answering my newspaper ad for autographs and old documents. She stated she lived in Thurmont, Maryland and that she had a steamer trunk full of artifacts and documents, mostly from the late 1800’s. We made an appointment for me to come to her home the following day.

It was late afternoon when I arrived and the first thing I noticed was the house, a beautiful Victorian style house painted deep brown with many high hedges and thick pines. A stereotypical “haunted house” we used to see in the old horror movies. I parked the car in the front and walked up the steep pavement and porch steps, each footstep on the porch creaked and moaned. I knocked on the large wooden door and almost immediately the door opened and a pleasant woman reached out her hand for mine and introduced herself. “Just call me Mary, everybody else does” she said. I said “OK, Mary. Thank you for inviting me to your wonderful home.” That was no overstatement, this place was like a step into the past...gasoliers, pedestal sinks, sconces, bronzes, etc.

She motioned to the large sitting room where a steamer chest was sitting by a beautiful daybed. She explained that her late father had collected the contents and simply placed everything in the steamer trunk. He had an interest in documents that described historic events. As well, he had collected several older autographs. The trunk was used by him when he immigrated from Ireland in the 1918.

I opened the lid and was hit in the face by the typical musty aroma of old paper. I started to sift through the items and quickly read over the papers to see exactly what was before me. Many of the items were personal letters written in Gaelic. Included were soldiers correspondence from France, no doubt during the First World War. Then I came across a 7x9 inch photo of King George V of Great Britain that was signed by the monarch. As I touched the piece, I knew there was a history behind it.

I sat motionless for a minute or so, long enough to be noticed by Mary. She inquired if anything was wrong? I told her that I got a sense of hatred and pain when I touched this photograph. She then noticed what I was holding and sighed….then tried to hold back tears. I explained to her that I was able to sense residual feelings and events and that I had performed paranormal investigations for many years. She smiled and told me why she was displaying tearful emotions.

Mary explained that her father was a member of the Irish resistance in Dublin and that he had always blamed King George V for the death of his brother during the 1916 “Easter Rising”. Her father was also captured by the British troops but managed to escape and make his way to the United States. He always wanted to go back to Ireland to reunite with family but was afraid that he would still be considered a fugitive. He eventually got married and raised a family. He worked as a gunsmith and bricklayer. Mary said he would pace in his study daily wondering how his friends and family in Ireland were getting along. In 1935, he had gathered enough money together to visit Ireland after he had received a visa. Then tragedy struck when her father suffered a severe stroke. The money he saved for his trip was used for his cremation and funeral.

Mary then stood up and said “please, follow me.” We walked down the hallway into a study and library. “This is where my father resides.” Mary stated. “I hear his footsteps and moans every night.” I was speechless. I asked her if she thought he may want to 'move on.' She said “No, that’s not necessary. He wouldn’t understand…besides, he talks to me every evening.”

I did purchase the items and the steamer trunk. The signed photograph of King George V of Great Britain remains in my collection and continues to remind me of the sad Irish immigrant who simply wanted to see home one more time.

NOTE: Mary's recall of history may not have been totally correct but I felt that the encounter should be written as stated in her words. I continued to purchase pieces from Mary for several years after our original meeting. Sadly, Mary passed away in 2002 while on Ireland. I fondly remember a phrase she would repeat each time we would depart company..."may the rocks in your field turn to gold." I was told her father's ashes were sent to Ireland to be mixed with Mary's ashes and scattered at an undisclosed location...Lon