The Bar Spirits
There are several stories about bars in the town being haunted.
The Rocking Chair
One of the female workers in the Rocking Chair was working in the lounge on the middle floor. She was setting tables for a function that evening. The lounge on this floor is on two levels, the second level being approached through a wide archway opposite the doorway. She heard the door open and assumed that it was the waiter passing through. She was standing sideways and saw only the dark shape of a man from the tail of her eye.
The footsteps went on up the stairs to the top floor and she heard tables being moved and other loud sounds from above. After a few moments she went to the stairs and called up to ask the waiter to bring down some items that she needed. The sounds didn’t stop so she called louder. The waiter came through the door from downstairs and approached her. She was shocked when he appeared beside her.
They both heard the sounds but when he called the sounds stopped. She felt something brush past her and asked the waiter to check who was upstairs. He came down a few minutes later to tell her that no one was there although some of the tables were out of place. Both were adamant that they heard and felt the presence of someone or something.
The Castle Bar
This is a well documented story about the presence of a ghost on the top floor of the Castle Bar. The bar was apparently owned by a sea captain during the nineteenth century. It had a reputation as a brothel.
The owner knew that sailors needed some relief when they came into port. So apart from looking after the thirst of the visiting sailors, the captain himself arranged prostitutes. They could use the uppermost room to carry on their business. Unfortunately the girls themselves did not always have a say in the matter and many were abducted and forced into prostitution.
One such story records that a young girl fought off a drunken sailor refusing to be used in such a way. When the drunken sailor could not quell her screams he hit her with a lamp, killing her stone dead. He was spirited away by the captain's men and they apparently hid the body of the girl under the floorboards. The ghost of the young girl reputedly haunts the top room.
Certainly the stories tell of an apparition of a young woman of about fifteen years, dressed in unfashionable 17th century clothes felt and seen in the top room.
A bar man who worked there said that he felt her breath and heard her sighing and at the same time the room became clammy and icy cold. Even though other workers laughed at him two agreed that they too had experienced the same thing but were afraid of being thought foolish and fanciful. He left his job when he had a second similar experience.
The Park Bar
The Park Bar on the corner of Francis Street and Great James Street reputedly has a ghost of a lady. She appears in one of the windows facing the St. Eugene’s Cathedral but only when all is quiet and still. She apparently wears very elegant clothes which were fashionable about 100 years ago. She has a melancholy expression on her face and as the apparition disappears and reappears every ten minutes or so her features become less distinct.
The Mourne Bar
The Mourne Bar on Foyle Street was a famous landmark in the city. For a few years before it was demolished it had a large mural painted on the gable depicting an envelope with a partially protruding loveletter.
The Derry people smiled when they saw this since Foyle Street was known as a street of ‘ill-repute’. They wondered if the mural was intended to symbolise the fact that many of the clientele of previous years had been involved in loving pursuits!
However there was a more sinister atmosphere in the top attic room of the bar. Strange weeping sounds were often heard accompanied by movement of furniture. No-one could explain it and few wished to discuss it.
One of the past owners said that when she reached a certain stair on the way to the attic for stores she was overcome by a suffocatingly cold, clammy feeling, as if all the heat and oxygen had been sucked from the air. Once this sensation passed she tried to move again but there seemed to be an invisible wall of ice in front of her, barring her way up.
When this happened once she convinced herself that she must have imagined it. When it happened a second time she knew that it was a real experience. She mentioned it in a half joking way to one of the part-time workers who had resigned a few weeks earlier. He told her that this was the reason he had left.
Other owners and patrons told the same tale and one said that it the demolition was the best thing that could have happened to it.
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