11 March 2014

The Docholer

The Docholer, or Dotchler was a name given to a mysterious human-boar hybrid which, legend has it, roamed the streets of The Liberties district in the old city of Dublin during the early Victorian era. Even though I myself was born in 1960's Dublin, as I came from a very old, working class background and along with this, the culture I was raised in was essentially Victorian in nature (perhaps even older) these kinds of legends and stories were part of my childhood. Working class Dubliners from the older parts of the city retained this almost 'Joycean' surrealist folk culture until the late 1970's, when the last of the old hold-outs died off. 

One of the stories I recall being told was of a creature called the "Docholer" (as older folks I knew pronounced it), the giant Pig-Man with tusks who attacked late at night in the Liberties and Christchurch area. I have only come across one written version of the story, and that was a press clipping from the now defunct Evening Press newspaper, which during the winter months would carry a local ghosts and mysteries column on certain week nights.

Stories of human-swine hybrids are not unique to Dublin, as there was something of a craze in Victorian England of 'Pig-Faced Women' dressed-up in full Victorian attire reported as having been seen walking in various cities, most noticeably Manchester. This very interesting psycho-cultural hysteria seems to have started in Dublin at the turn of late 1700/early 1800's period, and differs from the other reports in that the hybrid was not a fully clothed female, and had a name: the Docholer.

While it is possible that a pig, or even an imported wild boar (they were extinct in Ireland by 1800) could have escaped and ran around the city living off scraps, weeds and other refuge at night, only to return at dawn to hide out in some park or underground river such as the Poddle, the terror that the creature stuck into the residents was in no doubt. The old Viking streets around Christchurch were off-limits after midnight, as people claimed to have been attacked and injured by a giant pig with horns and sharp teeth, which could stand up on two legs like a man. The stories persisted until a drunken off-duty soldier from Dublin Castle, killed a large black pig late one night which he encountered coming back from a brothel. We'll never know if this part of the story may have been fabricated in order to quell public hysteria. It is interesting, how well over a century later, people in that part of the city still had the legend of the Docholer held deep within their collective psyche.

If anyone has any more to add to this story in terms of reports or written or recorded details, please add to the comments below, as I am nearly 100% sure the stories have been archived somewhere. I have also been trying to discover the etymology of the term Docholer, but can find no Gaelic word close to it.

9 March 2014

The Ghost Trams of Dublin

Following the closure of the once vast network of the Dublin United Tramway system in July 1949, the last tram through the city centre was followed by thousands of people wanting to experience the farewell rattle of the metal and wooden CIE double-decker tram No. 252 as it made its last midnight run to the depot at Blackrock in the south of the city. The scenes of near euphoria created by the Dublin public as they said good bye to a tram service - which had operated in and throughout the city all during the years of uprising and revolution - as if they were pouring the collective soul of the city's residents into the farewell to the 'deh trams' experience. Then, under police escort, the final tram was placed inside the running shed at Blackrock, and with the closing of the doors to the depot, an era had come to an end. Dubliners never developed the same sense of affection for the replacement buses they once reserved for the rattling electric trams which sparked, trundled and rang their bells during the late hours through the city's ancient and historic streetscapes.

Within no time, the tracks were paved over, and the trams, along with the overhead electrical wires which had powered them with 600 volts of DC current, were all removed and scrapped. The rattle of the old electric trams could no longer be heard echoing through the city late at night. 

In the 1960's, years after the last tram was out of service, older people in the Rialto neighbourhood of the city began to report on the sound of trams and their distinctive bell sounding in the early morning hours. A nurse at a hospital at Glasnevin, on the north of the city - while waiting for the last bus to take her back home to her flat - claims that a tram filled with people in Victorian attire passed by the bus stop she was waiting at, and then vanished into a 'mist' at the end of the street. The stories of late night ghost trams moving through the city streets went on for decades afterwards. In many cases, we can assume that too much indulgence of libation by some of the city's residents coming home from the pubs may have created this ghostly public transport. However, the stories were far too common and reported by people of all walks of life to be completely shunned off.

If was almost as if the personal and collective human experiences of over a century of the city's residents - often during times of war and conflict - had been so emotionally poured into the tram system raising the idea that the tracks of the tram network still buried under the streets became a kind of magnetic recording device which under certain circumstances, are 'played back'. When one considers the thoughts and feelings of the people inside the trams; with their broken hearts, elations, fears and dreams all captured by the electric current surrounding them, and then recorded into the iron rails embedded into the roadway below, is such an idea really so far fetched? 

So next time you are wandering through the old streets of Dublin late at night, you might be surprised to behold a dark blue, double decker tram rattling through the night festooned with advertisements for Fry's Cocoa and Shaw's Sausages coming into sight, while a young lady in an Edwardian dress ascends to the upper deck, as the conductor closes the 'Modesty Shutter' so her ankles are not visible to the young 'gurriers' on the lower deck. 

Disturbing Visit to Lisheen House Ruins

Following reports that a ruined stately home not far from where I live was being used for ‘satanic’ rituals, I decided to check the location out. It takes a lot for me to be scared. However, Lisheen House had me leaving in a hurry. The building is literally saturated with a sense of foreboding and dread. I have not before experience anything like this. The walls were almost aggressive in their nature. While I was there I could hear bricks and other debris falling from the high walls to the ground below as if they were being hurled at me. I laughed at first assuming it was teenagers having a joke. It’s wasn’t - Lisheen House is a place of evil in every sense of the word.

The former home of William Phibbs, the ruins of Lisheen House stand on the outskirts of Strandhill, County Sligo overlooking Ballysadare Bay. The building was once used to house a huge collection of esoteric artefacts allegedly brought out during ‘rituals’ which took place in the ‘long gallery’ on the first floor, including Egyptian mummies, swords and daggers which were collected by Owen Phibbs. The house was vacated in 1938 - if local rumour is to be believed - when a coach brought ‘the Devil’ to the front door one evening. Following this unexpected visitor the house was then subjected to intense poltergeist activity (confirmed and well documented) as objects and even furniture was being constantly smashed every night. After all the staff had resigned and the family could find no one to work there due to the supernatural events taking place, the house was sold in 1938 and given to the entities which now occupy the ruin.

Take notice of the strange graffiti and images on the walls left by the ‘Satanists’ - the building literally reeks of demonic and archontic energies.

The Demonic Residence at Lisheen House:

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