Did someone say Ghost?

Haunted Derry author Madeline McCully pictured at her Kingsfort home this week. DER2915MC002
Haunted Derry author Madeline McCully pictured at her Kingsfort home this week. DER2915MC002

Something spooky happened Madeline McCully when she was penning the book ‘Haunted Derry,’ but you’ll have to read the story collection to find out what.

The former art teacher is keeping it all hush until the book’s launch on October 5.

Could it be the ghosts that haunt Boom Hall, Henry, the Ghost of the Old Mansion or even the Radio Foyle poltergeist?

Published by the History Press with an introduction by Eamon Friel, ‘Haunted Derry’ is Madeline McCully’s first official book.

“I’ve had a few anthologies,” she said, “and done quite a lot of storytelling.”

It is Madeline’s love of talking to people and hearing their stories that led to ‘Haunted Derry’.

Initially the History Press were interested in a book of folk tales from Madeline. But when they heard about the ghost stories, they decided to publish a haunted book at Hallowe’en and follow it up with folk tales at Christmas.

It was back in 2000 that Madeline first set up derryghosts.com with Raymond Brady and Christiane (Khun) McGuffin. The website was hugely popular and even won awards but Madeline always had the intention of writing a book of ghost stories some day.

“I was to write folk tales of Derry, but in the proposal I put forward I mentioned the website, and they asked me to write ‘Haunted Derry’ first,” she said.

“I’ve done storytelling on the east and west coast of America and it’s amazing how many of the Irish stories, particularly the ghost ones have travelled to America and come back here again.”

Madeline has great respect for Peter McCartney who wrote the famous Derry book ‘Parade of Phantoms’ but she says this book will be different.

“Of course there are stories that people know such as the one at Prehen House but there are other stories that have been around a long time but aren’t in any books.

“I was asked if would I be able to concentrate the search in the city and also County Derry where there are tremendous stories that haven’t really had a showing.

“I got an amazing number of stories from people who just wanted to tell their story and I enjoyed going round and listening to people and hearing their stories and putting them into context. It was almost like a domino effect and one story often led to another.

“In fact at the end of the day I had so many stories I couldn’t include them all so there’s scope for volume 2.”

Madeline has illustrated the book herself with her own sketches and pictures.

But she says she’s had a lot of help from the likes of Jim McCallion who reignited her interest in photoshop, the Central Library which will host the launch on October 5 and helped with her research - and her husband Tom who she says made her endless cups of tea and kept her calm.

Prof. Georgia Rhodes from Appalachian State University who wrote the foreward said: “Those of us who have been able to hear Madeline tell stories will recognize her powerful voice in these tales and imagine that she is talking to us as we sit in a firelit circle. In this collection, she honours folk, wisdom and creativity, listeners and tellers.”

Eamon Friel who wrote the introduction said: “Madeline has done a lot of digging into background detail and the supporting chapter and verse she includes here vividly enlivens the stories she unfolds in the book.”

The book will be published on October 5 with an official launch at Central Library.