31st May 1931
I have given it more thought and decided to look into the history of Grattan Hall. I believe there are public records kept in the post office in the village and no doubt my uncle will have gathered notes and data on the house. There are plenty of boxes to search through in the attic belonging to him.
Meanwhile strange things continue to happen, the worst being an insane laughter echoing throughout the house. This occurs almost nightly and can sometimes last for up to half an hour, working itself into such frenzy that, on occasion, it drives me to the edge of lunacy. The source of this laughter is, of course, the cellar, but I cannot bring myself to go down there, alone and at night.
My nerves are on edge every waking moment; that is why I write in this awful shaky scrawl, not helped by the fact that I must convey my thoughts and feelings in the dimness of a burning candle set upon the writing desk in my study. I stay awake every night because how can one sleep knowing the strange goings on in this house? I feel less threatened by day and so I am able to sleep then, but it is an uneasy sleep plagued by the most terrible dreams. And yet, still I cannot bring myself to leave. I know you will never understand but I am inexplicably drawn to Grattan Hall.
I’ll be sure to keep you informed of any further developments.
Your good friend,
2nd June 1931
I cannot stress enough my concern for your well-being. I deeply implore you to follow another course. You can always stay with me until you have settled your affairs. You do not have to prove anything to your uncle, or to yourself, or to anyone for that matter. If there are ghosts in Grattan Hall then they are best left alone. In any case this could all be an elaborate hoax.
For God’s sake, or if not for His then for your own, quit what you are doing now and return to Dublin. You said yourself you have no friends in the north, what good will it do if you see out the rest of your days alone and afraid? I’m sure your uncle would not have wanted you to come to any harm.
If I cannot persuade you to leave then you must promise you will stay in touch.
Yours most anxiously
Letter from Joseph Quinn to Turlough Quinn - no date given.
My Dear Nephew,
If you have found, along with my journal, this note, then my time has passed and you are the new owner of Grattan Hall and all its ghostly powers. Given my life’s pursuit and morbid fascination of the supernatural, it is ironic that, in a sense, I am now speaking to you from beyond the grave.
Over the years I have documented all my experiences. Some have been shocking but most, I must confess, have been quite mundane and easily explained using scientific research. Once you’ve read through my journal, however, I think you’ll agree my time spent at Grattan Hall has been the most disturbing and most blasphemous of all.
I hope to uncover the secret at Grattan Hall in the next few weeks and months but I am not the young man I once was so I feel it necessary to take these precautions and write down all that I know in case something should happen to me.
Let me start by telling you how Grattan Hall first came to my attention and how I acquired it.
An old friend, whom I studied with at Trinity, Andrew Taylor, contacted me in March last year and asked if we could meet. The poor fellow was a wreck. He told me he had recently taken possession of a haunted house in the Mournes and quickly wanted shot of it. Of course, being who I am, I was interested and we negotiated the sale there and then over drinks. He even had the deeds of the house with him. I know the circumstances were more than a little peculiar but Taylor was a man whom I’ve always trusted. I was most shocked to learn of his death a short time after. I believe he threw himself in front of a train in London.
It soon became apparent that Grattan Hall is indeed violently haunted so immediately I started researching its background.
Few people, if any, from the village will talk about the house, and of those that do none of them in any real sense regard Grattan Hall as “haunted”. I failed to uncover any land registry for the site before the house was built but I was in no way deterred and so delved into public records at the town hall. There was nothing to suggest that a terrible crime had ever been committed at Grattan Hall or that any of its previous owners dabbled in occult practises or played any part in a séance. But ownership of the house did change hands a curiously great number of times during the first fifty years of its inception. After which the house stood empty from 1856 to 1912. What did become apparent, however, was that an alarming amount of people disappeared from the village after Grattan Hall was first built. So I concentrated my investigation on Henry Grattan himself.
Henry Grattan, a cousin of the then Earl of Downshire, was reputed to have been a bit of a cad. His family were wealthy landowners, sent to Ireland by Cromwell sometime in the 1640’s to oversee his plantations. After little more than a decade residing at the newly built stately mansion he went missing and was never seen again. It was rumoured he had massive gambling debts and was well known for his drunken debauchery. But it was his violent temper that added real infamy to his character as he often beat his servants and even pushed his first wife down the stairs at Grattan Hall killing her.
I have managed to piece together some of the wicked events that took place there during that period.
Servant gossip, chronicled in letters and diaries, may seem an unreliable form of collecting data but newspaper cuttings back up a lot of their stories. From my understanding it has always been difficult to employ servants who would stay at Grattan Hall and the first ten years were no exception. One servant however, Catherine Wesley, remained on perhaps more out of a sense of duty to her son than any misguided loyalty to the master of the house.
It was believed that Miss Wesley gave birth to Henry Grattan’s bastard son and that the child was badly deformed. Because of this the unnamed child remained locked up in the cellar away from prying eyes. Quite often servants could hear the child crying but only Miss Wesley was allowed to see the boy. Indeed the boy’s very existence would often lead to conflict between the master of the house and his wife. It was during such a dispute that Henry pushed his young wife down the stairs. Despite the fact that there were many eyewitnesses, Henry claimed she slipped and fell of her own accord. No one was brave enough to challenge him.
After this terrible event Catherine Wesley thought that Henry would marry her but he rejected her. The story goes that she ran upstairs and locked herself in one of the guest rooms. She was heard crying by some of the other servants and later she hanged herself from the chandelier in that very room.
Henry remarried the following year.
Over the years Henry was the only one allowed to go down into the cellar. There were rumours that he had chained his unseen son to a wall so that he couldn’t escape. Eventually his second wife gave him another son - a normal, healthy boy this time and soon after, his first son was forgotten.
Everyone believed his first son to be dead. Indeed Henry had not been down in the cellar for six months and the crying that the servants sometimes heard ceased altogether.
Then one evening, much to everyone’s horror, the crying recommenced. The boy was still alive after all, but how? One servant, John McGrath, wrote in his diary:
The wails of the unseen boy returned to strike terror at the hearts of so many of us. The master of the house fetched his gun and descended into the abyss of the cellar alone. The wailing stopped and was replaced by laughter that was equally frightening. Neither was seen again.
Even as I write this letter I can hear that insane dissonance of laughter.
Whatever happened to Henry Grattan after that terrible night in 1815 remains unaccounted. It was in the months that followed that people from the village went missing. There were all sorts of wild rumours and accusations going around at that time, including stories of vampirism, cannibalism, devil worshipping and human sacrifices. None of which I give any credence to but it is an historical fact that his evil legacy lives on in this house – the evidence I feel is incontrovertible.
Henry Grattan’s widow and second son moved to England shortly after Henry went missing and the house was then sold. Both died prematurely in suspicious circumstances.
In the forty years that followed there were nine different owners. Five of them suffered a terrible tragedy in this house. Other shocking events, recorded in vivid detail, are suggestive of extreme poltergeist activity.
In all of this I have not told you what I plan to do.
First of all I hope to uncover the rest of the facts surrounding events on the night Henry Grattan vanished along with his deformed son. And secondly, if possible, I want to destroy the evil that is resident in this house.
To do the latter I must first know and understand the force with which I am dealing. Therefore I will keep an all night vigil in the cellar, each night for as long as is necessary.
You must think I’m a damned fool but you must also understand that this is what my life’s work has been building up to. This is perhaps my best ever chance to prove to a disbelieving world that there is substance and energy beyond the known three dimensions.
It would be untrue of me if I were to say I’m not afraid but it is my firm belief that good shall triumph over evil.
May God be with us all.
Your loving uncle,
30th June 1931
Four weeks have elapsed since my last letter to you and I have not heard back. Perhaps you are just distracted by this witch-hunt you have embarked upon but I fear the worst. You have always been a fairly good correspondent in sickness and in health.
Please set my mind at ease and contact me as soon you receive this note.
Your faithful friend,
Sean Farrell’s Diary
Tuesday 14th July 1931
It has been two weeks since I wrote my most recent letter to Turlough and six weeks since I last heard from him. It is so unlike him not to respond. I fear something terrible has happened.
School is in recess for the summer. Usually my spirits are high at this time of year but I am too beset with worry for my friend to endure such merriment. Tomorrow I intend to travel north. I shall try to convince Turlough to return to Dublin with me. His six months at Grattan Hall have elapsed.
Thursday 15th July
Only this morning I would have described myself as a man of substance and well being, but now I ponder doubtlessly over my sanity. The events I am about to describe to you will go someway to explaining my torment but as the mantle of night waxes I must face up to the fact that I am irresolute, weak, and, I fear, on the very brink of madness.
Turlough is dead. I alone know what led to such a monstrous fate for which I am also bound. But if fate has decreed that I am to die here then I shall not succumb to it tamely.
I set out at 0900 hours. I was delayed leaving Dublin because there had been an accident involving a horse and cart and a motorised vehicle on the Belfast road. Outside Drogheda I was further delayed when my car broke down. I had no desire to arrive after dark but it seemed that unseen influences were working against me.
It was late afternoon when I reached the village of Glenmore. Again it was deserted and on that final stretch of road to Grattan Hall I met no other traffic. Already I was beginning to feel nervous.
When Grattan Hall loomed into view I was disappointed Turlough wasn’t standing outside his front door waiting to greet me, for in my mind I had hoped, in vain, that I would not have to venture inside.
I got out of the car and my eyes went immediately to the window where the ghost appeared in the photograph. It was empty.
Surprised that no one was yet alerted to my presence I rapped the front door. I waited and waited but there was no answer. I rapped harder and the door creaked open slightly.
The silence was almost unbearable.
I wandered through the various rooms downstairs calling out his name. The library, the drawing room, the dining room and the kitchen - my heart stilled briefly when I went by the closed door leading down to the cellar. The house was empty. I was sure of it but I hadn’t come all this way to turn back so easily.
With my nerves biting at me I made my way upstairs and looked in his bedroom. The bed was unmade and empty, the curtains drawn.
I continued my ascent to the next floor. As far as I knew Turlough didn’t use any of these rooms, which left but one option – the attic.
The narrow stairs to the attic made a noise like grating teeth when I stood on them. The doorknob rattled loosely under my hand and its hinges rasped. The interior was dimly lighted and shadows draped its walls.
But there was no Turlough.
He had, however, left an unfinished letter upon his writing desk…
9th July 1931
You do me an injustice by merely stating it is a witch-hunt I am pursuing. Grattan Hall is unreservedly evil and must be destroyed.
In doing so I must be sacrificed, for the house will not let me leave. Its doors are sealed and its windows will not break. I am a prisoner.
Many times I have tried setting it alight but its wooden beams, its floorboards and even its curtains will not burn.
I am doomed to fail.
I fear even God has abandoned me because all the religious medals and icons I once owned have been disfigured by the evil. Faith is all I have left but that too is waning.
I am left but one course, and that is to face the evil armed only with a revolver…
(Sean Farrell’s diary continued - Thursday 15th July).
I had no more finished his letter when I heard a disturbance inside the house. Someone stampeded up the stairs at a superhuman speed. I hastened down the attic staircase and caught a glimpse of a door slamming shut.
I was filled with a terrible misgiving as I hurried towards that door. It was the room directly above the guest room I slept in on my first night. When I motioned inside it was a gut-wrenching moment. I looked up and saw a young woman, dressed in a black silk gown, hanging by her neck from the chandelier. I shook uncontrollably. The woman’s skin was the colour of grey slate with black rings around her sunken eyes. She had black patches on either side of her purple, swollen lips, and suppurating blisters on a bloated, misshapen nose.
I turned away from her. I had to. Panic-stricken and out of control, I bolted out of the room and made for the stairs. I barely gave myself a second to consider if the woman was real or if she was a ghost. I didn’t care. I just wanted away from Grattan Hall as far as possible.
I ran down the first flight of stairs. At the top of the second flight I halted, brought up short by the horrifying realisation that something lay in my path. It looked like a large sack; all bunched up and ragged. As I drew closer to it a strong doubt began to uncoil in my mind like a snake. I reached the bottom stair and stepped over it. There was fresh blood on the floor next to the sack. I rolled it over with my foot. A woman’s bruised and battered face stared up at me. I was rigid with horror.
‘She isn’t real. This isn’t happening,’ I told myself.
I backed away from the corpse - heart galloping. Then, as if I had a sudden surge of energy, I rushed toward the front door. That was when I first heard his voice calling my name, pleading with me not to leave him behind but to save him.
I turned away from the front door. ‘Turlough.’
‘Seannnn… help me…’
How could I live with myself if I left him here, inside the devil’s abode?
I tried not to look at the dead corpse lying at the foot of the stairs. I tried not to think about the woman hanging upstairs.
‘Turlough, where are you?’
‘I’m down here,’
Right away I knew where he meant.
‘I’m injured, Sean, help me.’
The cellar door lay open like a dark mouth waiting to swallow me. If I had hesitated I would never have gone down there. I found a torch sitting on a sideboard. Its narrow beam pierced the darkness. I descended the steps into that dark abyss.
I thought about ghosts. Demons. Dead people.
At the bottom of the steps I heard a grunting noise. I turned the torch one-way and then the other.
Madness or hell, I wasn’t sure anymore because all sense of reason had abandoned me. Turlough’s mangled corpse lay in a heap in the corner. Eyes open wide. Those unseeing eyes caught the light and gleamed. Blind. Inanimate. Like a dead man’s eyes should be.
But who’s voice was I hearing?
I took an involuntary step back and stood on something hard. It felt like a bone. I looked down. It was Turlough’s revolver.
I grabbed hold of it and when I straightened up I nearly died of fright. For trapped in the torch’s light was a small boy, a deformed boy, with one arm considerably shorter than the other, chained to the wall. His hairless, misshapen skull had a gaping hole on one side as if he had been shot through the head or bludgeoned. And his eyes were like dark pools, with no expression, but unlike Turlough he was alive. God he was alive.
Sheer terror destroyed my last vestige of self-control. I dropped the torch, turned and charged up the steps. As I rushed for the front door I could hear laughter echoing throughout the house. So desperate was I to flee that I threw my all against the heavy door. Winded by the impact I reached for the handle and tried pulling the door towards me. It wouldn’t budge. I ran to the drawing room, grabbed a chair and threw it at the window, but the glass was unbreakable.
The house wouldn’t let me leave. I was a prisoner.
When I came out of the drawing room I realised the corpse at the bottom of the stairs was gone. There was still a bloodstain on the floorboards.
Meanwhile the laughing had stopped and the sound of footsteps ascending from the cellar sent a fresh wave of ice-cold fear through my body.
I scrambled upstairs. When I looked back I saw the dead woman at the bottom of the stairs smiling up at me. Her body was broken and twisted but she was standing.
Eternities seemed to pass as window after window I tried to break with furniture and even fired shots at from the revolver. But it was hopeless.
The footsteps grew louder.
I bolted up the next flight of stairs and was confronted by the woman with the noose around her neck. She came towards me with her hands outstretched. I fired a shot but it seemed to pass right through her.
There was only one place left I could go.
I succeeded in bolting the attic door, but even as I did so I could hear footsteps traipsing along the second floor of the house. For a moment I simply held my breath and waited. Then the creaking on the attic stairs began. Suddenly I knew the strength of ten men. I dragged all sorts of furniture across the room; a wooden chest, an old wardrobe, a dust-covered bureau, and stacked them against the door.
Expecting the door to come under attack I retreated to the far corner and took careful aim with the revolver. Everything became very still. Perhaps this was the calm before the storm.
But the storm didn’t come immediately.
For a long time I was too afraid to move in case any sound I made started the assault.
Whatever earlier intentions I may have had for keeping this diary seems quite distant to me now, for it has since become a personal testament of sorts.
My advice to anyone reading this is to leave at once and put as much distance between yourself and Grattan Hall as possible. That way you can more freely adjudge these nervously scribbled words without having to constantly look over your shoulder.
Even as I write the wooden panels on the door are starting to give.
My revolver has three shots left. The first two are for whoever or whatever comes through that door. The last is for me.