Annaghmakerrig and a ghost

In June, this year, we had a party at our residence in Dublin to celebrate a book launch-a beautiful little book, Ladakh, with poems by Sudeep Sen (http://www.sudeepsen.net/) and paintings by artist Janet Pierce (http://www.janetpierce.com/). Sudeep, as his name suggests, is Indian and Janet,as hers does not, is Scottish . On the times that I have met Janet she has been dressed in saris or salwars and bindis. She could pass off for an Indian but for her skin and hair colour-both quite white.
 
 
Indian Sudeep and Scottish Janet told me about an artists’ retreat in an Irish place called Annaghmakerrig where they were staying, and where, I discovered later, Janet owned a beautiful cottage. It had sounded idyllic. The name, as many Gaelic names, was, to me, unpronounceable when I read it. My Indian name ‘Adity’, I find, is just as unpronounceable to many Irish.
 
 
I had been invited over by Janet a few times but, for one reason or another, my  visit had not materialised until this Friday.
 
 
I met the wonderfully warm Janet at her cottage. There she was- a girl in cotton salwar-kurta, kashmiri shawl and silver bangles, a European in Indian dress! And here I was-a girl in pants and blazer, an Indian in European dress!

The retreat was the house of the well-known theatre director, Tyrone Guthrie, a cousin of the Hollywood actor Tyrone Power. In his lifetime, Tyrone Guthrie had many of his artist friends, among them Laurence Olivier and Alec Guinness, come and stay and write, paint or compose. In his will he bequeathed the house built in the 19th century and its grounds to the Irish government requesting it to be made into a residence for artists where they could live and work.


The main house at Annaghmakerrig


But how fabulously he and his ancestors, as indeed many other English in Ireland, lived!  

And what a wonderful job the Irish Office of Public Works has done of restoring it !


Janet and I in the drawing room of the house
 
Through an electronic white gate, probably modern and possibly the only jarring point in a beautifully natural and restored place, a winding path takes you past breathtaking glimpses of a lake and enormous grounds to a severe looking , imposing house which rambles out and back into what were stables and staff quarters. 

The interior, however, was the opposite of severe and imposing.  In other words, warm and beautiful. It was wood panelled and full of light. Its different rooms and corridors were painted in soft corals, ambers and emeralds, the stucco work on the ceilings perfectly restored. It’s furniture, a lot of it original, was upholstered in elegant, jewel-hued fabric.  The walls were tastefully covered with paintings gifted by various artists in residence. And, best of all, through many of the windows, there was a glorious view of the beautiful, green grounds and the lake beyond. Anyone would be absolutely delighted to live in it. They are. And, it turns out, not just mortals.

The hallway inside the house (it is only Janet in the doorway!)

 

The evening before going to Annaghmakerrig  I happened to speak to a friend, Joan.  She is a writer turned painter(just as I am a painter turned writer). She told me she had done a residency there and asked if I had heard about the ghost of Annaghmakerrig. She went on to tell me about her hair-raising experience of feeling the presence of a ghost in the house. I was told that many people have experienced sensations ranging from freezing cold to a weight on their legs while spending nights in a particular room of the house.
 
 
This room is supposed to have belonged to Miss Worby, a lady’s companion to Lady Guthrie. The story goes that upon her death her brother cremated her body instead of taking it back to England and burying it there as she had asked.  And so, they say, her ghost wanders, hoping to be taken back to England one day.  Joan had been given this room and had experienced freezing cold to a point where she had to leave the room (she was terrified!). She slept, for the remaining part of the night and for some inexplicable reason, under a piano in the hall.
 
 
Another lovely person I know,Pat, told me about the time when she happened to be all alone in the big house. I like Pat for many reasons–and now bravery is one of them! She went into one of the rooms and plugged in her laptop to write. She settled in when, she says, suddenly the window in front of her desk flew open. Such things, of course, only happen at night. She was frightened, she said, but walked bravely to the window, looked out and called asking if anyone was there, before shutting it firmly. She thinks it could have been the wind.
 
 
With a feeling which can be described, perhaps, as excitement, I asked Janet to show me the ‘room’.

The ‘room’

 

I entered it. It was a gloriously sunny day and any hopes I had of sensing some kind of ‘atmosphere’ disappeared. I was almost disappointed. The room was warm, light-filled, beautifully furnished with an interesting second door of fabric attached to the main door . I am quite sure, though, that I would not like to spend a night in there. The play of shadow, light and sound at night, especially in an old house with wooden floor boards, can wreak havoc with the imagination, especially after ghost stories!  Whether the airy characters exist or not is another matter.

Lady Guthrie’s room with a view of the grounds and lake

 

It is actually Lady Guthrie’s room that I would love to stay in.  Especially if I had the company of other mortals.
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About Adity

Hello ! You are either already a friend or will become one--through this medium! I am an artist and jewellery maker, a wife and mother to two lovely children. Beautiful homes, food, nature and wonderful things happening around me make me ecstatic. That is why I started to write this blog-- to share with you all of these things. After all what good is any experience if not shared !
This entry was posted in Public House Tour, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Annaghmakerrig and a ghost

  1. nita says:

    i like the narration style.
    you really would find a writing group very encouraging, and challenging!

  2. Uttora Ratna says:

    You are a great story teller-all the stories we would huddle up to hear from the Dida's,Mashi's and Maima's keep coming back.
    What beautiful places and homes ……..and experiences!
    Reminds me of the ghost stories told by Sanyal Dida of the homes she had to hide in with baby 'Shantimama' before the Kakori Case and thereafter.

  3. Thank you! Wish I had pictures of these amazing personalities. I wonder if ghosts exist ??

  4. Uttora Ratna says:

    Don't know much about this but Sanyal Dida was a no nonsense person and she had lots to tell—so do many old families who have lived in havelis and Bagan Badis. I always loved Casper!

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