This ghost story is a favorite of Danny and Kevin and is one that every person in the city is told at some point in their lives. The Long Tower Gamblers has several titles and several versions of the story but they all come to the same grisly end.
In a blacksmith’s forge at the top of Howard Street a group of men from the Bishop Street and Long Tower area started playing cards. They did not have a lot of money between the so the bets they made were small as they needed to keep their money to feed their families.
The games had been going on for several weeks until one night a stranger joined them. The stranger had been chatting with one of the men in a local pub and they started talking about the card games. The man invited the stranger along to play. After some debate the other men decided that this stranger seemed friendly enough and he was interested in cards so it would be good to have another player. The stranger started to loose large sums of money and appeared to be quite poor at playing the game, so this pleased the men and encouraged them to start betting bigger sums themselves.
The strangers luck soon turned however after several weeks and he started to win, taking the money the men had worked long, hard hours for. The stakes got higher and higher still and the men started to become desperate. Some of them were going home with no money at all to feed and care for their families.
During a game the stakes were so high that one of the men remarked that he would sell his very soul just to beat the stranger. The stranger laughed and thumped the table causing cards and coins to fall to the ground. A strange noise was then heard but the men ignored it. The dealer bent down to pick up the fallen cards and soon found the source of the noise. Under the table he realised that the stranger had cloven-feet and it was his foot making the strange noise. He shot up from the table and shouted for the men to run. The man who had claimed to want to sell his soul to win the game appeared to be paralyzed. The men ran to pull him away from the stranger but he had a firm grip on the man. It took all of their strength to pull the man free and they ran from the forge. They ran all the way to St. Columb’s Well. In the light of a nearby gas lamp the men saw the imprint of the stranger’s hand burned onto their friend’s skin. As they drank from the well and bless themselves the Blacksmith’s forge burst into flames behind them.
Have you heard this story before or another version of it?
Would you play cards with the devil? 😉