In the 1950’s our family travelled to Ireland to live and remained there for more than three years. While there, my parents rented part of a castle. We inhabited the top quarter which did include a round tower. Another family lived in the lower quarter, while the main half was inhabited by the owner and his housekeeper, Bridie.
The castle was part of a working farm on the outskirts of a village. There was a long drive which ran between fields and curved up a hill to the castle.
One day, while we were outside playing, we saw a man appear round the curve. He was very tall and wore a black greatcoat, cap and large boots and to our eyes was the embodiment of “The Boogeyman”. He was known locally as Galway Jack. To return inside we would have to get to the door before him. The housekeeper, Bridie, had noticed him and quickly opened her kitchen window and dragged us inside. She warned us that he did not like children and that we should avoid him.
Looking back, as an adult, I can imagine that the poor man had been teased by children and thus had no love for them, but I doubt he would have hurt us. Being children, we did not enquire into his story. As he only appeared in the village from time to time, I think he spent his life on the road. Now I have many questions about him which, unfortunately, will remain unanswered. I wonder where he slept and how he found shelter and food. I imagine he came from Galway because of his name.
This memory returns from time to time. I eventually rang one of my brothers last week and asked him if he remembered Galway Jack. Before I could say anything else, he laughed and said he was dragged through the window by Bridie to escape from him. Thus, my memory is true and not a figment of my imagination.
My one regret is that I will never know his story.