[IRL] ‘Destination Truth’ Banshees – Blond? Shrouded?

Castle tower ruinsBanshees… what do they really look like?

That’s the subject of a video at SyFy’s Destination: Truth website, related to their 2011 St. Patrick’s Day show from Ireland.

In that live show broadcast from the castle, they investigated the castle at Duckett’s Grove in County Carlow, Ireland.

Travel tips: Duckett’s Grove is off the R418 near Rainestown.  The site is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and admission is free.

If you’re going there, also explore Castledermot cemetery and monastery ruins, off the N9.  They’re about 6km from Duckett’s Grove Castle, and well worth a visit.

If you’re especially courageous (or foolhardy), continue to Castledermot and investigate the ring fort at Mullaghrelan wood near Kilkea, not far from Athy.

The mini-vlog from the Destination: Truth episode about Banshees was brief and while it wasn’t entirely inaccurate, it could be misleading unless you conduct further paranormal research.

In that short discussion, the Banshee was described as usually being female, usually having blond hair, and usually wearing a shroud.

One out of those three is generally (but not always) correct:  Most Banshees seem to be female.

The truth

Banshees have been reported (and studied) for many years. The best academic study was published by Patricia Lysaght as the 1986 book, The Banshee: The Irish Death Messenger

Here are a few key points from my encounter with a Banshee, first-person accounts, and Lysaght’s study:

  1. A Banshee (bean sidhe) is seen more often than she’s heard.
  2. Banshees are usually reported wearing gowns — white, black, or green — but some appear to wear a shroud.
  3. If the Banshee is actually wearing a shroud (distinguished from a gown because a shroud will partially covers the head of the Banshee), the hair color won’t be visible.
  4. The hair color of the Banshee is usually related to the hair color of the person (or ghost) she seems to represent.   Most Banshees seem to represent a specific ancestor related to the family (or household) she protects.
  5. Almost every family with Irish ancestry has a family (or household) Banshee.

For more information about real Banshees and when they appear, see my 1999 article, Banshee – Ghost, faerie or something else?

To learn far more about Duckett’s Grove Castle and its ghosts, see Duckett’s Grove Castle, Ireland – Ghost Hunting Tips.

According to the popular lore, Duckett’s Grove Castle is “cursed” with a Banshee… a woman who was one of the owner’s mistresses.  Discover the other, older curse on the Duckett family in The Duckett Family Curse.

Photo credit: damin, USA

This is the kind of information covered in my book, Ghosts – What They Are and What They Aren’t.  

[IRL] Duckett’s Grove Castle, Ireland – Ghost Hunting Tips

Castle ruins in IrelandDuckett’s Grove Castle was featured in a March 2011 episode of the SyFy TV show, Destination: Truth.

The purpose of that show was to find evidence of Banshees. I never recommend looking for Banshees, but Duckett’s Grove Castle (via Wayback Machine) and several local sites are well worth investigating… for ghosts.

How to get there

Duckett’s Grove Castle is in County Carlow, Ireland, about 40 miles from Dublin.

Driving directions: From Naas Road (Dublin), take the M7 to the M9 toward Waterford, and exit at the R418. Follow the R418 to the signed junction for Duckett’s Grove.

Parking is free, and parts (but not all) of the site is wheelchair accessible.

The castle grounds are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and admission is free.  After hours, you’ll need permission to visit the site.

Duckett’s family history

Duckett’s Grove is related to the Duckett family. Though the Duckett name is often associated with Ulster (Northern Ireland), the Duckett name has appeared throughout the Republic as well.

No matter where they lived in Ireland, most Ducketts trace their roots to England.  In 1572, Lionel Duckett was London’s Lord Mayor.

Some records indicate that the first Duckett in the Carlow area was Sir George Duckett of England; he arrived during the 17th century when Cromwell was a controversial figure in English politics, and shortly before George’s  Duckett cousins in England were cursed.

However, there were at least two George Ducketts: One was an attorney and an MP for Calne.  He was born in 1632 and, if records are correct, lived 100 years.  The other was Sir George Jackson Duckett, 1st Baronet (1725 – 1822), of Hartham.

Two mottos have been associated with the Duckett family:

  • Je veux le droit, literally “I want what’s right,” but usually translated to mean “I desire justice.”
  • Spectemur agendo, “Let us be judged by our acts,” the motto of The Royal Dragoons (1st Dragoons) regiment of the British Army. This also appears on the Irish family crests of the McAleer, Donnelly, Shannon and Mott families.

Duckett’s Grove Castle history

Thomas Duckett is most often associated with the original house at Duckett’s Grove.

According to some historians, the house began as a modest cottage and was later enlarged at least twice.  The biggest transformation was made for owner J. D. Duckett by Carlow architect Thomas A. Cobden, around 1830.  That’s when it became a castle.

Since most of the work on the castle took place in the early 1800s, the building is usually described as “mock Gothic.”  In other words, the ruins aren’t necessarily as old as you might expect.

A tragic fire that destroyed much of the building in 1933.  The site is currently being restored and it is well worth visiting as an historic location with lovely landscaping and ruins.

Tips for ghost hunters

To investigate the site after dark, contact the Carlow Tourism Office, Website : www.carlowtourism.com.  Tel : +353 (0) 59 9130411.

The landscaped and garden areas are flat and have smooth paths.  You’ll need a flashlight after dark, but you’re unlikely to trip or fall there.

The ruins are less accessible, especially after dark.  Trousers, long-sleeved shirts, and running or hiking footwear are recommended.

Paragenealogy tip – You may trigger even more hauntings if your family tree includes these surnames: Campion, Crosthwaite, Cumming, de la Poer, Duckett* (also Duchette), O’Grady, Philpotts, Seton, Thompson (any related spelling), or de Windesore (Windsor, Winsor, or variations).

Also, carrying anything related to the Roman Catholic Church is likely to evoke extra paranormal activity at Duckett’s Grove Castle.  At least one of the Duckett’s Grove’s former residents was scathingly antagonistic towards Catholics.

In the same general part of Ireland, I’d recommend researching Castledermot (exit 4 off the M9), where the area’s history — related to Robert Bruce and Henry VIII — could present spirits from Viking raids as well as more recent spectres.

While you’re exploring Castledermot, if Kilkea Castle is open, it’s one of Ireland’s oldest castle hotels.

If your paranormal research includes paragenealogy connections, you may have the best Kilkea ghost encounters if your family tree includes these surnames: Delacy, Delancy, Moore (or O’Moore), and Dempsey (or O’Dempsey).

For those with nerves of steel, the ring fort area at Mullaghrelan wood (near Athy and not far from Castledermot) is an important site. However, I do not recommend the risks if you’re visiting Mullaghrelan wood — or any fae-related location — at dawn, dusk, or midnight.

Athy has its own quirky history, and some may be intrigued by the literal roots of the town’s name: the ford of AE.

For additional research

Duckett’s Grove brochure (PDF)

Duckett’s Grove website (from the Wayback Machine)

*In the United States, most people with the Duckett surname live in Arkansas, Georgia, the Carolinas, Pennsylvania, or Texas.  According to one (of several) family stories, three Duckett brothers left England in the late 17th century.  One died at sea and the other two settled in Maryland or around the Carolinas.

In the 19th century, most Duckett descendants in America were farmers.

In the U.K., members of the Duckett family usually trace their immediate roots to Yorkshire or Lancashire.

Scottish Ducketts are usually from the Dumfries area, Lanarkshire, or Stirlingshire.

[IRL] The Duckett Family Curse

Duckett’s Grove Castle — featured in a March 2011 episode of Destination: Truth –  isn’t the only haunted location associated with the Duckett family.  A little paragenealogy reveals an interesting history.

The Duckett family’s ancestral homes was Grayrigg Hall, a medieval manor estate in Cumbria, England.

In the 17th century, Grayrigg Hall was owned by Justice Anthony Duckett (1636 – ca. 1692).  Duckett was known for being a persecutor of the Quakers a very new and controversial religion in that era.

One legal case involved Francis Howgill, a Quaker who’d refused to take an oath of allegiance (to King Charles II) and was sent to prison.

Anthony Duckett was one of the magistrates when Howgill was sentenced to jail.

During Howgill’s imprisonment, he was released for a couple of days to attend to some business at home.  While there, he visited Justice Duckett at Grayrigg Hall.

After the magistrate expressed surprise on seeing the prisoner, Mr. Howgill delivered this curse:

“…I am come with a message from the Lord. Thou hast persecuted the Lord’s people, but His hand is now against thee, and He will send a blast upon all that thou hast, and thy name shall rot out of the earth, and this thy dwelling shall become desolate, and a habitation for owls and jackdaws.”

Shortly after that, the Duckett family began to have problems.  All of Anthony Duckett’s male children died without heirs.  The estate failed and it was sold, around 1685, to a neighbor and family friend, Sir John Lowther.

That was around the time Anthony Duckett’s cousins began acquiring land at Duckett’s Grove in Ireland.

It seems that both the Duckett family and Grayrigg Hall itself were equally cursed.  In the 1777 book, The history and antiquities of the counties of Westmorland and Cumberland, here’s how Grayrigg Hall was described:

Grayrigg Hall being the ancient manor house, was a strong old building, in a quadrangular form, adapted for defence more than for convenience. It is now totally in ruins, most of the lead and timber thereof having been removed to Lowther.

So, the original (and possibly cursed) Grayrigg Hall is now gone.  If you’re looking for its location, here are the coordinates:  Latitude 54.3711, Longitude -2.6496

Another Grayrigg Hall was built near the church.  Don’t confuse it with the old, reputedly haunted Grayrigg.

If you’re looking for the remnants of the haunted Grayrigg Hall, visit Lowther Castle.  As described in the 1777 book, timber and lead from Grayrigg were used to expand Lowther Castle.

Did the curse continue there?  It seems as if it did.

According to Simon Marsden’s website, Lowther Castle was inherited in 1784 by Sir James Lowther, the 1st Earl of Lonsdale, also known as “Wicked Jimmy.”

By the time of his death in 1802, Lowther’s young wife had died, he had no children, and depression had driven him to madness.  His ghost has been reported at Lowther Castle.

To learn far more about Duckett’s Grove Castle (Ireland) and its ghosts, see Duckett’s Grove Castle, Ireland – Ghost Hunting Tips.

Full text of the Grayrigg Hall story and curse, from The Haunted Homes and Family Traditions of Great Britain, by John Henry Ingram, published in 1884.

GRAYRIGG HALL.

In Ducketiana it is stated by Sir G. B. Duckett, that not a vestige remains of those extensive foundations which, a hundred years ago, attested the solidity and importance of the Westmoreland Ducketts’ residence, the Manor House known formerly as Grayrigg Hall.

A strange story is told of the last member of this opulent family, who inhabited this fine old English mansion ere it was dismantled.

The narrative has been detailed with great similarity in various works, such as Ferguson’s Early Cumberland and Westmoreland Friends, and Backhouse’s Life of Howgill, and is popularly known as “The Quaker’s Curse and its Fulfilment.”

Francis Howgill, a noted member of the Society of Friends, resided at Todthorne, near Grayrigg, in Westmoreland, about the middle of the seventeenth century.

At one time he travelled about the south of England preaching, and when he visited Bristol, in company with his compatriot, John Camm, his preaching was made the occasion of great rioting.

In 1663 he returned to his own neighbourhood, whither his reputation had apparently preceded him, for, upon arriving at the market-place of Kendal, he was summoned to appear before the Justices, who were holding a court in a tavern.

They tendered Howgill the oath of allegiance when he came before them, and as he refused to take it they committed him to confinement in Appleby jail.

It may be pointed out, as a matter of history, that in the earliest days of the brotherhood, members of the Society of Friends were often subjected to severe penalties and much persecution for their refusal to conform to the taking of judicial oaths.

At Appleby the judges of Assizes also tendered Howgill the same oath and, on his refusal to swear it, ordered him to be indicted at the next Assizes. Meanwhile they offered to release him from custody if he would give a bond for his good behaviour in the interim, but this he refused to do, and therefore was re-committed to prison.

During his imprisonment a curious incident happened. Howgill was allowed by the magistrates to go home toGrayrigg for a few days on private affairs, and in the course of the time he was at liberty the Quaker felt himself compelled to visit a justice of the name of Duckett, residing at Grayrigg Hall, who was a great persecutor of the Quakers, and was, also, one of the magistrates concerned in committing him to prison.

Francis Howgill, on this occasion, was accompanied by a friend who, over the initials “J. D.” would appear to have left a written report of the interview.

Justice Duckett expressed much surprise at seeing Howgill, and said to him, ” What is your wish now, Francis? I thought you had been in Appleby jail.”

Howgill replied to this effect, “No, I am not, but I am come with a message from the Lord. Thou hast persecuted the Lord’s people, but His hand is now against thee, and He will send a blast upon all that thou hast, and thy name shall rot out of the earth, and this thy dwelling shall become desolate, and a habitation for owls and jackdaws.”

When Howgill had delivered this message, the Justice trembled, and said, ” Francis, are you in earnest?” To which Howgill responded, “Yes, I am in earnest, it is the word of the Lord to thee, and there are many now living who will see it.”

Photo credit: Bartek Szewczyk, Poland

Looking for UFOs? Look for WMDs.

radio telescopesIs there a UFO – nuclear weapon connection?

When looking for paranormal reports… well, I never know where I’ll find something off-the-wall. It’s the nature of this field.

However, this report is an odd one: U.S. Nuclear Weapons Have Been Compromised by Unidentified Aerial Objects (article at Wayback Machine).

It’s filed at Reuters. That’s not where I’d expect a report like this. (If that link is broken, search on the article title. It’s probably somewhere.)

So, if I were a UFO tracker — which I’m not, except as part of my larger paranormal research — I’d probably point my telescope (or camera) toward the sky over any regional military bases and nuclear plants.

Sure, you’ll see experimental aircraft that may complicate your research, but… it’s worth a try.

I’d also take a closer look at what was going on at Roswell immediately before the UFO-related incidents of 1947.

Did alien craft have a reason to study that landscape from a very low elevation?

These are the kinds of things that go through my mind, as I consider odd news reports.

On the other hand, if it looks like a UFO and flashes lights like a UFO… it’s not always a UFO: Looks Like a Crashed UFO, But It’s Really a Solar Water Cleanup System.

Really, we have to keep a sense of humor in this.

Photo credit: Herman Brinkman

Here’s the full press release:

Witness testimony from more than 120 former or retired military personnel points to an ongoing and alarming intervention by unidentified aerial objects at nuclear weapons sites, as recently as 2003. In some cases, several nuclear missiles simultaneously and inexplicably malfunctioned while a disc-shaped object silently hovered nearby. Six former U.S. Air Force officers and one former enlisted man will break their silence about these events at the National Press Club and urge the government to publicly confirm their reality.

One of them, ICBM launch officer Captain Robert Salas, was on duty during one missile disruption incident at Malmstrom Air Force Base and was ordered to never discuss it. Another participant, retired Col. Charles Halt, observed a disc-shaped object directing beams of light down into the RAF Bentwaters airbase in England and heard on the radio that they landed in the nuclear weapons storage area. Both men will provide stunning details about these events, and reveal how the U.S. military responded.

Captain Salas notes, “The U.S. Air Force is lying about the national security implications of unidentified aerial objects at nuclear bases and we can prove it.” Col. Halt adds, “I believe that the security services of both the United States and the United Kingdom have attempted—both then and now—to subvert the significance of what occurred at RAF Bentwaters by the use of well-practiced methods of disinformation.”

The group of witnesses and a leading researcher, who has brought them together for the first time, will discuss the national security implications of these and other alarmingly similar incidents and will urge the government to reveal all information about them. This is a public-awareness issue.

Declassified U.S. government documents, to be distributed at the event, now substantiate the reality of UFO activity at nuclear weapons sites extending back to 1948. The press conference will also address present-day concerns about the abuse of government secrecy as well as the ongoing threat of nuclear weapons.

WHO: Dwynne Arneson, USAF Lt. Col. Ret., communications center officer-in-charge

Bruce Fenstermacher, former USAF nuclear missile launch officer

Charles Halt, USAF Col. Ret., former deputy base commander

Robert Hastings, researcher and author

Robert Jamison, former USAF nuclear missile targeting officer

Patrick McDonough, former USAF nuclear missile site geodetic surveyor

Jerome Nelson, former USAF nuclear missile launch officer

Robert Salas, former USAF nuclear missile launch officer

WHAT: Noted researcher Robert Hastings, author of UFOs and Nukes: Extraordinary Encounters at Nuclear Weapons Sites, will moderate a distinguished panel of former U.S. Air Force officers involved in UFO incidents at nuclear missile sites near Malmstrom, F.E. Warren, and Walker AFBs, as well as the nuclear weapons depot at RAF Bentwaters.

WHEN: Monday, September 27, 2010

12:30 p.m.

WHERE: National Press Club

Holeman Lounge

Event open to credentialed media and Congressional staff only

[TX] Austin – Governors Mansion Photo – Premonition?

My “ghost” photo of the Texas Governor’s Mansion has always bothered me. There was something odd about it, and I asked for comments.

There seemed to be something prophetic in the image, and I wasn’t sure what it was.

Well, I had some ideas, but I needed a good second opinion.

For me, the confirmation arrived in the form of headlines in the June 2008 newspapers.

Since it’s easy to say that something was a “premonition” after the fact, I’ve avoided saying that this photo predicted the fire that destroyed much of the Governor’s Mansion on June 8, 2008.

However, when I looked at the photo, I always saw fire. I was looking for someone else to confirm that.

This morning, someone commented about that possibility, in reference to the tragic June fire.

I’m not sure what to think about this.  It’s not the first time I’ve had a premonition, and felt prompted to take a photo.  However, this particular photo looked like a fire at the Governor’s Mansion in Austin, Texas, and I didn’t feel that it was an image from the past.

I don’t like predicting tragedy, especially when I have no information to support it, and nothing helpful to prevent what I “see.”

But, this is one of those photos that has troubled me, and it emphasizes the importance of saving all of the “odd” photos that you take, especially in haunted places.

As with this Austin, Texas photo, later events may reveal what the anomaly was.

It may not be a glimpse of the past, but a look ahead to the future.

For me, this concept is chilling.

Since this photo was posted online in March 2006, many people have had a chance to look at it.  Take a second look.  I’m not sure that was a visual premonition of the fire, but it’s certainly an odd photo.

[Link: Austin –  Texas Governor’s Mansion photo ]