GHOST OF A KNOCKING GIRL AT RATHPEAK HOUSE

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Rathpeak House, also known as Woodpark Lodge, was once a fine mansion in the townland of Rathpeak in County Roscommon, near the border of Galway. It was built by Owen Lynch, a wealthy landowner and notorious duellist, in the early 1800s. The house was described as “a fine house, three stories high and in tolerable repair” in 1837 and as “a mansion house which originally cost several thousand pounds to build” in 1861. However, by the end of the twentieth century, the house was demolished and replaced by modern farm sheds.

But what happened to Rathpeak House and its inhabitants? And who is the ghostly girl that has been seen and heard in the ruins of the former mansion?

Rathpeak House was the seat of Owen Lynch, a descendant of the O’Kellys, who owned large estates in Roscommon and Galway. Owen Lynch was a prominent figure in his time, serving as a magistrate, a High Sheriff and a Member of Parliament for Roscommon. He was also a notorious duellist, who fought at least 16 duels in his life, killing several opponents. He was known as “the fighting squire” and “the terror of Connaught” for his bravery and ferocity.

Owen Lynch married Mary Anne Mather, a daughter of an English merchant, in 1811. They had six children, four sons and two daughters. Owen Lynch died in 1894 at the age of 83, leaving his estate to his eldest son, Edwin Lynch.

Edwin Lynch inherited Rathpeak House and continued to live there with his family until his death in 1918. He was also a magistrate and a High Sheriff, but less involved in politics than his father. He married Elizabeth Jane Whyte, a daughter of another wealthy landowner, in 1845. They had nine children, five sons and four daughters.

One of their daughters was Mary Anne Lynch, who was born in 1856. She married John Joseph O’Connor, a barrister and a Member of Parliament for Westmeath, in 1881. They had four children, two sons and two daughters.

Another daughter was Emily Lynch, who was born in 1860. She married William Henry Bowman, a solicitor and a coroner for Roscommon, in 1886. They had six children, three sons and three daughters.

The fate of the other children of Edwin and Elizabeth Lynch is unknown.

According to local legend, Rathpeak House was haunted by the ghost of a young girl who died there under mysterious circumstances. The girl was said to be one of the daughters or granddaughters of Owen Lynch, but her identity and cause of death are unclear.

Some say she was Mary Anne Lynch O’Connor, who died in childbirth in 1890 at the age of 34. Others say she was Emily Lynch Bowman, who died in 1929 at the age of 69. Still others say she was one of their daughters or nieces, who died young or disappeared without a trace.

The ghost of the girl was said to appear by an upstairs window of Rathpeak House, looking out with a sad expression. She was also said to make loud knocking noises on the walls and doors of the house, as if trying to get someone’s attention or ask for help.

The haunting was reported by several witnesses over the years, including some members of the Lynch family and their servants. Some people claimed to have seen or heard the ghost while visiting or passing by Rathpeak House. Others claimed to have experienced strange phenomena while living or working near the ruins of the house after it was demolished.

One such witness was Mrs. C.M. Bowman, a granddaughter-in-law of Emily Lynch Bowman. She lived in Woodpark House (not to be confused with Woodpark Lodge), a nearby property that was also owned by the Lynch family. She recalled seeing the ghost of the girl by the window of Rathpeak House in the 1950s, when she was a young woman. She also heard the knocking noises coming from the ruins of the house in the 1980s, when she was an elderly lady.

Another witness, a local historian and author, visited Rathpeak House in the 1970s, when it was still standing but in a dilapidated state. He took some photographs of the house, which he later published in his book “The Landed Gentry of Roscommon”. He also heard the knocking noises coming from the house, which he described as “very loud and very eerie”.

The haunting of Rathpeak House remains a mystery to this day. No one knows for sure who the ghost of the girl is, why she haunts the house, or what she wants.

Whatever the case may be, the ghost of the girl has become part of the folklore and history of Rathpeak House and its surroundings. She is a reminder of the past glory and mystery of the once grand mansion and its colourful inhabitants.

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Ghost of a Knocking Girl.

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