As today is Halloween I thought it would be appropriate to talk about the spooky ghost stories that surround the city of Derry. With the Legend of Stumpy’s Brae (a classic Ulster-Scotch poem by Cecil Frances Alexander) being broadcast on BBC Two NI tonight at 10pm I feel like some other other amazing, horrifying stories should be portrayed today 😀
To start with…the tale of Maggie Murphy’s Lane.
For years in the Waterside area of Derry the local children, and even adults, have been afraid to walk down Maggie Murphy’s Lane. This lane is a short cut between two estates (Kilfennan and Nelson Drive) and, when walking, this lane cut’s your walking distance in half. However people often go out of their way to avoid this lane and will walk twice as far as they need to just to avoid the spooky darkness that always persists down the lane.
Why is this?
A lot of people believe that an old Hag by the name of Maggie Murphy lives down the lane and likes to hang people from the tress. Others believe that an evil spirit haunts the lane and will posses any passer by force them to hang themselves from a tree. Yet others say that when they go down the lane they can hear the voice of a girl telling them to ‘run’. All are rather gruesome and involve hanging from trees but the real (or what can assume to be real) story is far more interesting and dark.
There once was a girl called Miss Margaret Murphy. She lived with her father on a dairy farm and he lovingly called her ‘Maggie’. Her father owned quite a bit of land and he has prospered with the invention of new farming tools in the 1880’s. Maggie aided her father with the animals on the farm and that was how she made her living. She and her father were friendly with their neighbors, who were also farmers, and it was through these neighbors that Maggie met the love of her life. Conor Doherty was his name and he was a farm laborer. He was a handsome lad and worked hard to earn his meager wage. He was well spoken and cared for his family however he and Maggie were from different backgrounds which made their love forbidden.
Conor and Maggie would meet in the lane that separated the two farms when they were going about their daily business and this is where their love blossomed. Naturally they gave in to their basic urges and ended up conceiving a child. Maggie tried to hide her pregnancy from her father and she managed to do so until she started to show. Her father discovered of her love for Conor Doherty and was furious. Maggie’s father was a bigoted man and did not approve of Conor’s religious background. He forbade Maggie from seeing the farm hand ever again and he went to speak with his neighbor, telling him that Conor was no fit to work on the farm as he had gotten his daughter into trouble. Conor was sent away from the farm however his love for Maggie remained strong. He came back several days later and shouted from the top of his lungs, a marriage proposal to Maggie.
Maggie heard the proposal and quickly grabbed some of her mother’s belongings, some jewelry to sell for money and clothes and made to flee. Her father however has also heard Conor and was ready to catch Maggie went she made to leave. As she struggled with her father Conor burst into the house, apologized quickly to Mr. Murphy and took Maggie’s hands and pulled her from her father. They hurriedly ran down the lane where their love had blossomed. Mr. Murphy was so angry that he grabbed his gun.
As Maggie and Conor ran down the lane they got to the bend and a gun shot was heard. Conor ground to a halt and turned to see Maggie lying in a heap on the ground, dark crimson blood pouring from the gun shot wound in the back. As he knelt down to see to Maggie he heard a blood curdling scream that came from Mr. Murphy and looked towards the house to see Mr. Murphy turn the gun on himself. With another loud gun-shot Mr. Murphy was dead. The neighbors had heard the commotion and came out to see what was going on only to find Conor Doherty standing next to the body of Maggie, his hands covered in blood, and Mr. Murphy dead at his own front door.
The neighbors put two and two together only to get five. They blamed Conor for the death of Mr. Murphy and his daughter Maggie. They captured Conor and made a noose. They hung it from the large oak tree at the bend in the lane and from there they hung him for his crime.
Now knowing the truth…would you dare to go down Maggie Murphy’s Lane?