The ghost of Moll O’Shaughnessy (Sprid na mBearna) was once said to haunt the vicinity of Barna in Limerick. According to some, she still does.
In the late 19th-century, Moll was suddenly overcome with a horrendous rage and brutally slaughtered her husband and child. Prior to this shocking event, Moll had been a well-regarded and good-natured member of what was a very close community.
One version of the story recounts that when her crime was discovered, the villagers executed Moll by placing her in a barrel lined with nails and rolling her down a hill. Another version says she was caught red-handed having dismembered her husband and was hanged for the murder, while a third suggests that she died of natural causes and that her soul was doomed to walk the earth. Irrespective of how she died, tales soon began to circulate that her restless spirit had been spotted in the vicinity. Some reports spoke of her appearing in the form of a weeping woman, while others saw a ghostly greyhound. Her presence was often destructive. When appearing in the form of a greyhound, she would disrupt the work of local farmers during harvest, and in human form, she would attempt to mount the horses of men who were riding through the area after dark. On one occasion, it is said that a horse bolted during one such attempt, and the rider was thrown to his death.
Some say that the bridge where she was said to be most active was blessed by a priest and that Moll’s spirit was moved on. Others say that her spirit was given penance and that she returned after seven years of banishment in the form of a hare, only to be banished again.
So what of the more recent accounts of a presence in the area? Maybe Moll succeeded in her mission to empty the red sea with a bottomless thimble – one of the alleged penances given? And what of the stone embedded in the Old Barna Bridge, which appears to feature the likeness of a screaming woman and which is said to move? Have you encountered anything strange in the vicinity? Hit “Add Your Experience” and tell us all about it!
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