Thursday, July 17, 2014

If Stephen King Were Irish He Would Live Here

Can a house drive its residents to kill? The very notion sounds like the plot of a Stephen King novel, where a normally inanimate object comes to life...or perhaps we should say death.

There is a house in Lixnaw, in the quiet countryside of Kerry, that has seen more than a reasonable amount of death in the short amount of time it has stood on the side of the road. Locals think the place was built in the 1950s, after another house was razed. Right there you've got to wonder what went on in that other house, to perhaps make the ground itself imbued with some sort of horror. Like a miasma, you can imagine the evil penetrating through the floor boards of the replacement structure and infecting the new house.

Most recently, Susan Dunne was murdered in the house by her eighteen-year-old autistic son. She was well known in the area, given her leadership of Kerry Autism Action, and she often spoke out in support of aid to those dealing with autistic family members. What better advocate than one who is dealing with the very issues another is struggling with, but in the end, Ms. Dunne dealt with the most difficult issue of all in the growing physical strength of a young man who was mentally incapable of controlling that strength.

One tragedy is not enough to result in a local demand that a home be knocked, however.

Before Ms. Dunne took up residence, another resident of the house was murdered while in Wales. Before that, a tenant was killed in a road accident. And before that? Tragic deaths struck two other families, for a total of five deaths.

The confluence of tragedy has left local residents with a sense that the house is tainted and should be removed, so that no other unsuspecting resident will suffer. Given the record of deaths associated with the place, no one in the area would ever consider moving in, and you can bet that anyone from outside the area who was looking for a new place on the edge of a bog would be thoroughly warned off by the neighbors. Superstition? Or is merely coincidence?

A motion was floated at the last council meeting, and it is highly likely that action will be taken to demolish the cursed structure and leave the home's history to be told as ghost stories. For now, Ms. Dunne's personal belongings remain in the house until her family can remove them, but they will need time to get over the shock and sorrow. So the house will sit, unoccupied, dark and cold, where children will run up to the front door on Halloween, meeting the challenge of a dare.

There is a story to be told, the skeleton of a plot residing in the timbers and plaster of an unassuming council house in the quiet countryside of County Kerry. What better writing prompt could you ask for, heading into a summer weekend?

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