Cormac McCarty’s Ghast

28 Oct

Deteriorated Castle


I found the manuscript among old and yellowed papers of a home I was hired to clean out. Now, even though I told someone that I was doing the clean out as a favor to him, I am not going to attempt to pass that lie off to you. My real intention was to find a few old coins or baseball cards that I could sell on Craigslist. This is the way I pay for my food and drink; mostly my drink.


The home belonged to one Frank Peauterbaugh, who for nearly thirty years worked as a Systems Programmer in Endicott.


He had croaked.


The manuscript was the only paper that I could read; the others were in some programming language or another. I have never been good at languages. Even failed English in high school. Never had the guts to try anything other than Latin; which I also failed.


Frank collected coins and baseball cards for the most part. That is why I bid so low on the job; I really needed this particular clean out. My booze cupboard was empty.


I was disappointed with the results. Frank had already sold all of his ‘treasures.’


But I never knew about his love for the Irish, until, in the bottom of a desk drawer, I found the following manuscript. From what I could gather (from other notes kept in the same envelope) the manuscript was written by Patsy McCarty. Patsy at the time of the writing was working on the Utica to Binghamton ‘Chenango Canal.’ However he had an important tale to record before he died.


Patsy was shot by a militia man at the battle of Deansboro.


But that battle between the canal laborers and the New York State Militia is not important. What is important are the words that Patsy McCarty, bless his soul, put down on paper.


And this is what he wrote;


Me Oncle Michael, he was a sober a man, other than he was quite fond of the bottle. There wasn’t more than one of him in the County Corcaigh; ready for labourin’ and diggin’.


He could’ta done carpenther’s work if he was a tad more precise; or sober.


An’ so he tuk up with well diggin’, as was most nathural, for none of them could come up to him in placin’ the stone that kept God’s earth from fall’n. An’ sure, there never was a well digger got so much custom work buildn’ stone fences all oer’ County Cork.


‘Tis a quare story, an’ as thrue as you’re sittin’ there; and I’d make bould to say there isn’t a man in the seven parishes could lay a stone better nor cwickther than Oncle Michael, for ’twas my father’s brother himself.


An’ many’s the time I heerd it out iv his own mouth; an’ I can say, an’ I’m proud av that same, my oncle’s word was as incredible as any Monsignor’s in the county. An’ if a poor man got any unlucky throuble with his well runnin’ dry, Oncle Michael was the boy id go to.


He was as honest and as sober a man, barrin’ he was a little bit ‘too partial to the glass’; as me sweet mither would often say.


Well, Oncle Michael McCarty began to feel his arse gowin’ numb, and his purse empty. An’ he took a bit iv a leave from well diggin’. Put his mind to buildin’ a three foot squar stone wall around Cormac McCarty’s ould castle, given to Cormac by Robert the Bruce in 1314.


Just undher the ould castle, an’ a pleasant little spot it was; an’ day an’ mornin’ poor Oncle Michael McCarty was not able to put a stone to the ground. With broken nose, and broken promise, he’d be comin’ ramblin’ in from some spirit grocer feeln’ a wee bit o’ the Irish. Well, – – – all this was as well as well could be; but it was customary when Cormac McCarty’s ghast id go anywhere it pleased, some iv the tinants would sit up all night to watch, from afar o’ course, from the ould castle. There wasn’t a man of them but knew there was something quare about ould Oncle Michael McCarty and Cormac’s ghast.


The neighbours had it, that ould Oncle Michael McCarty’s great-great grandfather, five times over, as good a gintlenman – – – God be with him – – – as I heer’d, as ever stood in sheep-leather, used to keep walkin’ about in the middle iv the night, ever sinst he bursted a blood vessel pullin’ out a cork out iv a bottle, as you or I might be doin’, and will too, plase God — but that doesn’t mather. So, as I was sayin’, the ould grandfather used to come down out of the castle an break the wall thit Oncle Michael McCarty had built the day afore – – – God be marciful to us all- – – looking as quite an’ as innocent as if he didn’t know anything about it — the mischievous ould ghast.


Well – – – as I was sayin’, one time some of the tinants had to watch the castle, and the third night it kem to my Oncle Michael McCarty’s turn. Says he to hisself; “Oh, none but an’ tounsan’ must I sit up all night, and that ould vagabone of a sperit – – – glory be to God – – – serenadin’ through the castle, an’ doin’ all sorts iv mischief?”


However, there was no gettin’ aff, and so he put a bould face on it, an’ he went up at nightfall with a bottle of pottieen, and another of holy wather.


‘It was rainin’ smart enough, an’ the evenin’ was darksome and gloomy, when my Oncle Michael McCarty got in from the spirit grocer; and what with the rain he got, and the holy wather he sprinkled on himself, it wasn’t long till he had to swally a cup iv the pottieen, to keep the cowld out iv his heart and his arse.


It was the marnin’ afore he kem around to himself.


Whin he kem to himself the cheerful marnin’ sun was shinin’ through the decayed castle, an’ he was lying flat an his back, with the empty bottle of ould pottieen. My ould Oncle Michael McCarty wint that mornin’ to the Monsignior, an’ from that to the day of his death, he never neglected confission nor mass, an’ what he tould was betther believed that he hardly never spake av it – – – but oft’n and frequenthly.

An’, as for the ghast, that is the sperit, whether it was that he did not like his liquor, or by rason iv the loss iv his estate, he was never known to walk the grounds agin.


Author Fanu


One Response to “Cormac McCarty’s Ghast”

  1. Waldo "Wally" Tomosky October 28, 2015 at 1:58 am #

    Reblogged this on waldotomosky.

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