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More Death Omens


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#1    dancin'hamster

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Posted 07 February 2004 - 02:14 PM

Oooooohhhhhh ........... this is fascintating!!!
I have heard of many legends and local tales of Corpse Candles, Banshees, Knocks of Death, Grim Reaper sightings etc etc but until today I had never heard of the 'coach-a-bower' - the Death Coach !!!!!
Mind you, having travelled on National Express I suspect I may have an idea.......

This is taken fron an Irish site, and is told in local dialect by an elderly lady ~

"This happened long ago when I was only a slip of a girl, living on the edge of the Sperrins. We lived in a very lonely place, beside a road which ran through the mountains and down into Pomeroy, twisting and turning like an eel as it did so. I must have been about twelve or thirteen when all this first took place. There was a turf stack a little ways down the road and, every night, one of us young ones had to go down to it and get some peat for the fire. This night, at the very edge of winter, it was my turn to go and so I set off to bring home a bag of it.
It was a clear and frosty night with the moon as big as a shilling and twice as bright, and I wasn't afraid of anything in those days. The turf had been brought out of the bog about a week before, so it was very dry, but it was also very heavy. That didn't bother me much for I was big and strong for a girl. I heaved the bag up onto my shoulders and turned for home, walking a bit slow on account of the weight.
Well, I had only taken a couple of steps towards our house when I heard the sound of wheels on the road behind me. It was louder than you would have heard from a pony and trap and it was coming up on me very quick. I thought it might be one of our neighbours in a hurry, so I turned to see who it was and what was wrong. The road lay behind me, twisting and curling across the hills and, because of the moonlight, I could see along its length for miles. There wasn't a thing on it. I looked again to make sure that I hadn't been mistaken but it was still empty as you please. Yet all the time I could hear the sound of wheels drawing closer.
I thought that it might be a cart or a carriage some distance away and that the frosty air was making the sound travel, so I put down the turf-sack and waited to see if anything would come into view. Still I saw nothing and the sound drew closer and closer but the divil a thing did I see, although I looked and looked. Then, suddenly, it was right up beside me and I was pushed tight up against the ditch as if something was trying to get past me. And still there was nothing to be seen, nothing at all. There was just the fields, white with frost, and the empty road all around me. The best way that I can describe it was that it was like trying to push into a strong wind and the whole night was filled with its sound.
And then it was gone by me and away down the road before me. I heard the sound of its wheels getting further and further from me and still there was nothing to be seen, even though the moonlight was as clear as day.
Well, you wouldn't believe the speed that I made home. I left the bag of turf standing in the middle of the road and ran for dear life. I'd have outstripped the best runner in the district, so I would, just to get to my own front door and shut it tight after me. I told all in the house what I'd heard but nobody would believe me and my father made me go back for the bag of turf. They all made such fun of me that I eventually began to believe that the experience had been nothing more than my own imagination.
Anyway, with other things going on, I'd all but forgotten about the whole affair when, some time after, I was talking to an old woman, Ellen Bradley, who used to come about our house. She was greatly regarded as a wise woman in the locality and was always telling stories about the fairies and of the ghosts who wandered across the mountains. I told her about the noise that I'd heard on the road. At the very mention of it, she started up and crossed herself.
'God between us and harm!' says she. 'It's not right that such a young person should hear these things! That was the coshta bower - the death coach - that you surely heard. There is misery for some poor crathur somewhere in this locality in its passing.'
She told me that the coshta-bower, or the coach-a-bower as it is sometimes called, carried death into a neighbourhood. It was a death warning like a banshee, she said, but it was never seen at all. The sound of its wheels were sometimes heard going past upon the road outside on frosty nights and if they stopped by a door then you knew that death would visit that house. Well, as you might guess, this greatly troubled me for a time and I watched anxiously to see if anyone in our district would die.
There was a man who lived further along the road, just below us, who was very fond of the drink. They said that he was very bad to his wife and I had often seen him passing by our house, coming from some pub or other, in a great state of intoxication. One evening, about two months after I had heard the coshta bower, he came past our door, more drunk than usual, and passed on down the road towards his own house. As he was going past our turf-stack, didn't the drink trip him up and he fell heavily at the very place that I had heard the sound. He cut his leg badly but, being a strong enough man and well full of the drink, he never gave it much attention. It swelled up with blood poisoning a couple of days after and they had to rush him to the hospital in Omagh where I heard that he died in spite of everything that the doctors could do for him. That was why the coshta-bower had been on our road, leaving death and grief in its wake. What I heard at that time was a death-warning sure enough and it was a long, long time before anybody could get me to go back to the turf-stack after that!
I only heard the coach-a-bower one other time, about three or four years after the experience at the turf-stack. This was when my sister Annie was taken very ill with the pneumonia and had to be kept in her bed. I must have been in my sixteenth year at the time. This happened on a cold winter's evening, when my mother had gone down to see her sister who was married and lived in Pomeroy. My father was still out at work and I was in the house on my own, looking after Annie and waiting for my mother's return. While I was waiting, a neighbour of ours, Maggie Donnelly, called to see how Annie was and I encouraged her to stay for a while. I knew that my mother was in very low spirits about Annie and that she would enjoy Maggie's crack when she returned. Maggie readily agreed and I made some tea for the both of us and, in truth, the stories which she told greatly lifted my own spirits.
As we sat talking by the fire, I heard a sound far away on the Pomeroy road, like a horse and trap, approaching our house very quickly. It was a sound like the 'clop-clop' of horses' hooves on the frosty road, hurrying onward through the gathering dark to get home. It drew closer and closer then, all of a sudden, it seemed to slow down. I thought that it might be one of my uncles giving Mother a lift home from her sister's place or some neighbour coming to see how Annie was.
'There's Mother now', says I, getting up to go to the door. And sure enough, the sound stopped when it drew level with our house. I went to the window to look out before I opened the door for I wanted to see who had left her home. There was nothing at all to be seen on the road outside. Then I thought back to the night by the turf-stack and the coshta-bower that had pushed past me those three or four years before. Suddenly, I heard three low but very clear raps. I don't know if they came from the window or the door but I can vouch that I heard them distinctly. They were like the noise of a stick hitting the bottom of an empty wooden bucket - sort of hollow-sounding and echoing and shivery. It wasn't a good sound to hear at all.
I know that Maggie heard them too for she jumped up with a start and looked around her, as if trying to see where they had come from. Then, without warning, the coach wheels started on the road outside again, heading away up into the mountains. The sound grew fainter and fainter until it died away altogether and I heard it no more. Maggie became very pale and crossed herself.
'Come away from the window, Mary!' says she, very sternly. 'That was the coach-a-bower come for your sister's soul. Don't look out for you don't know what you might see! Annie is not long for this world at all!' Soon after, my mother came home and we told her what had happened. I don't know whether she believed us or not for she was a very level-headed woman. There were always old stories in the countryside about three knocks on the window preceding a death, but she had never paid them any heed. She went in to look at Annie, who was sleeping soundly. We thought that she seemed to be improving a little bit. After Maggie had left and my father had come home, we all went to our beds and I tried to put the strange experience to the back of my mind.
Later that night, however, Annie's fever got worse and she took a turn. A doctor was sent for but it was morning before he could get to our house and my sister was already dead. The death coach had come for her soul all right! I heard afterwards that a number of other people in our locality had heard the coach-a-bower that same night. It had passed by their houses but all of them were afraid to look out.
Many had guessed that it was coming to our house. Sometime after, I was speaking to people in our neighbourhood and they said that they had heard it on another occasion as well. When an old man called Barnett died some years ago, away across the mountains, everybody in the district heard the death coach going past their doors as it went for his soul.
They say that it is the devil himself who drives it and that the horses that pull it are all headless but that no mortal eye can see it as it goes past. Three raps on the window are a sure sign that death is in a house but if the coach only stops at a door then it is a signal that there will be a lasting sickness in that place. That was what I heard anyway.
There are those, too, who will tell you nowadays that these are only old stories told by superstitious people and that any sound that you might hear on the road is only the smugglers running their poteen down to Pomeroy from stills away up in the mountains. They say that it is the smugglers themselves that put these stories about to keep people from seeing them as they pass. But I'm an old woman now and I've no cause to lie. I know what I heard all those years ago and I know the way that it was."
http://www.irelandseye.com/

What a wonderful story..........

Hammy x x x


#2    Cufflink

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Posted 07 February 2004 - 02:52 PM

Hmmmmmm...I believe the old lady's initial story.  Perhaps it was a phantom carriage, unconnected with the legend.  Or some sort of folk memory, or an elemental force that sounded like a carriage.

I'm afraid the rest of it is almost certainly superstition and traditional storytelling.



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#3    Thistle

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Posted 07 February 2004 - 03:09 PM

Did anyone else try to read that with an Irish accent ????????   laugh.gif

I can't help but think that the coach driver must be very patient when waiting to collect his souls though, I mean he waited 2 months for the first guy to cut his leg.  whistling2.gif

I liked it though, can't help but have a soft spot for this type of traditional ghostie tale......and who's to say that some superstitions don't have some kind of basis in fact?


#4    Cufflink

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Posted 09 February 2004 - 09:56 AM

QUOTE (thistle1 @ Feb 7 2004, 03:09 PM)
Did anyone else try to read that with an Irish accent ????????   laugh.gif

I was going to, sweety, but I was thrown by the following passage...

QUOTE
While I was waiting, a neighbour of ours, Maggie Donnelly, called to see how Annie was and I encouraged her to stay for a while. I knew that my mother was in very low spirits about Annie and that she would enjoy Maggie's crack when she returned. Maggie readily agreed and I made some tea for the both of us and, in truth, the stories which she told greatly lifted my own spirits.


whistling2.gif


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#5    Thistle

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Posted 09 February 2004 - 11:34 AM

  w00t.gif  w00t.gif  w00t.gif  w00t.gif

Bad Cuffy !!!!!!!! Now I can't read that without an entirely different meaning coming to mind.

* goes of to cleanse her mind *  


#6    Cufflink

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Posted 09 February 2004 - 11:57 AM

QUOTE (thistle1 @ Feb 9 2004, 11:34 AM)
w00t.gif  w00t.gif  w00t.gif  w00t.gif

Bad Cuffy !!!!!!!! Now I can't read that without an entirely different meaning coming to mind.

* goes of to cleanse her mind *

laugh.gif  laugh.gif  laugh.gif

Hehehehehehehehehe


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#7    Salsawilks

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Posted 09 February 2004 - 01:34 PM

Excellent story telling as always Hammy.

There was a series on not so long ago, called Strange.  It had Samantha Janus in it and one episode actually featured the Death Coach and it had come to collect a banshee would you believe it:D

I'm like thistle, I've a bit of soft spot for stories like these.

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#8    doomgirl

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Posted 09 February 2004 - 02:22 PM

cool story  thumbsup.gif

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#9    Cufflink

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Posted 09 February 2004 - 07:09 PM

I've just remembered the cool GW ghostly coach model.


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#10    dancin'hamster

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Posted 09 February 2004 - 08:44 PM

...........oh...................my...........................god..........

do you actually collect that kak Cuffy????????????????????

LLLLLLMMMMAAAAAAAAOOOOOOOOOOOO

*mental note to self ~ I must encourage Cuff to get out more*


#11    Cufflink

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Posted 09 February 2004 - 08:53 PM

QUOTE (dancin'hamster @ Feb 9 2004, 08:44 PM)
...........oh...................my...........................god..........

do you actually collect that kak Cuffy????????????????????

LLLLLLMMMMAAAAAAAAOOOOOOOOOOOO

*mental note to self ~ I must encourage Cuff to get out more*

Um, no, sweety.  rolleyes.gif  

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