The infamous Cooneen Ghost may still lurk in the shadows of the iconic stone building that has stood in the townland of Cornarusland since the early 1900s, a local paranormal investigator has claimed.
The cottage that belonged to the Widow Murphy has been exposed for the first time in recent history. Traditionally surrounded by creaking forestry trees, the Cooneen Ghost House was brought to light recently when NI Forest Service chopped down the surrounding trees.
Forestry officials want to hear from anyone interested in developing the cultural landmark as a tourism destination but the local ghost expert warned that increased visitor numbers will “upset the energy within the house.”
Famous for a terrifying poltergeist that plagued Bridget Murphy and her seven children by creating loud noises and footsteps in the loft; banging and rapping on the walls – sometimes to the tune of The Soldiers Song and The Boyne Water; throwing plates across the room and lifting the beds off the floor as the children slept, the Cooneen Ghost House is believed to be the only house in Ireland in which an exorcism was carried out.
The story says that a priest called Father Coyle was given permission for two exorcisms to be performed in the house. They didn’t appear to work and the Murphy family decided to emigrate to America in 1913. To their horror, the poltergeist followed them on the ship but later seemed to disappear.
Graham Gunn, who heads the Fermanagh Paranormal Society, told The Impartial Reporter: “Ghosts are unable to move or travel over water. However I believe it travelled with the family [for a time] and it could be claimed that the poltergeist then returned to the house.”
The public can be reassured that the loss of the forestry trees will not allow the Cooneen Ghost to roam the nearby hills. “The poltergeist is claimed to be attached to the house and not the surrounding area,” Graham explained.
In the early 1990s the Cooneen/Coonian Community Development Association began exploring the possibility of attracting more tourists to the ghost house. Their plans were quickly dashed by the local priest who warned them that trouble would befall the members if they disturbed the haunted building.
Graham also urges caution, stating: “There is a very heavy and eerie atmosphere surrounding the house. The reason it is such an attraction to many paranormal enthusiasts is due to the story of the actual hauntings as well as being one of the few places that an exorcism has been performed in Ireland.
“I can understand the point the local priest has made as I think the Cooneen Ghost House should only be visited by those that want to further understand the story of it and not have the house exploited by those who want to commercialise it.”
He suggests that ‘paranormal evenings’ where people are encouraged to share stories and host talks and discussions would “help promote the local history and folklore of the area” and could coincide with visits to the house.
A Forest Service spokeswoman told this paper: “The Ghost House is not registered by the Department of Environment as a listed building although Forest Service recognises the cultural significance of the Ghost House and would welcome proposals from interested bodies for any development that would promote its special interest.”
Fermanagh and Omagh District Council’s forthcoming Tourism Development Strategy aims to maximise the tourism potential of the entire district, “rather than promote individual facilities” and the Council “does not have in place a haunted buildings policy.”