Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

"The Haunted Organist of Hurley Burly" by Rosa Mulholland Irish Short Story Week

"The Haunted Organist of Hurly Burly" by Rosa Mulholland (1891, 8 pages)

Day Nine
Ghost Stories
Rosa Mulholland

Ghost stories have been a part of the Irish Short Story from the very start.    A country with as tragic a history as Ireland is bound to have a lot of ghosts.    

"Hey, when will there be a Leprechaun  short
story day??-it is bad luck to ignore us!"-Rory
Rosa Mullholland (Belfast, Ireland-1841 to 1921)  was born into an affluent family of physicians.    She met Charles Dickens who was impressed with some short stories she had written which he had published.   He encouraged her to write.    She married Sir John Gilbert, a noted Irish historian and she helped him with his research into Irish folk ways and Celtic history.    She wrote numerous novels, all dealing with the lives of members of the Catholic Irish gentry.     Amazon has several of her books for sale.     I think it is her stories of the supernatural that are most read today.    After reading, "The Haunted Organist of Hurley Burley"   I can see  why Dickens liked her work so much.

As the story opens we meet a married couple in their forties.   They seem happy enough and are settled in a routine.    They are bonded in sadness by the death of their son, their only child, many years ago and the age of twenty.    A really lot of suspense is built up in this short story.     The son was a wild young man (something that is half or more admired in the stories I have read) much given to drinking,  crazy pranks with friends, and time spent in the company of any willing women he could find.   But all in all he was a good son and the love of both his parents lives.     One day he begins to play an old organ the parents have in their manor house.    He becomes obsessed with playing the organ and he plays more and more his health begins to fail.   He is found dead at the organ, a near skeleton.

Twenty years go by.   The couple never had anymore children and never really get over what happens to him.   Then one day a young woman of about twenty, Lisa, shows up at their door claiming last month their son proposed marriage to her and told her to come to his parents house.    They met in Rome, Lisa's home.   At first the couple is convinced the girl is either a schemer or has been deceived by someone using their son's identity for some unknown reason.    They have a lot of family portraits of young men in their house, cousins and nephews.     They show her a dozen pictures and ask her to identify there son.    She does it easily, describing how he dressed and acted perfectly.    They decide she must be suffering from a horrible delusion and they take her to see the woman who was to marry her son, before he died.    Now things get really strange and actually pretty exciting.   I will not tell any more of the plot as you can read it in just a few minutes.

You can read it online at Horror Masters.

I hope to post on one or two Irish Ghost stories (I like ghost stories!) today.    Tomorrow will, unless I change my mind again, be the last day of my posting in individual works for Irish Short Story Day-I do not know for sure yet what I will post on tomorrow-Maybe on Irish Fairy tales or leprechaun stories.   Stephen Vincent Benet (American) wrote a wonderful one,  "O'Hallorhan and the Luck of the Irish"  in which Rory was born.      I am very open to ideas and suggestions.    As you can see, I am in not rush to close down Irish Short Story Week.

Everyone is invited to participate-just post on one short story by an Irish Author and send me the link in a comment, anywhere in the blog.   I will in a few days after I close out the week, do a master posts with links to all the posts by participants.  

Mel u

1 comment:

Teddy Rose said...

This sounds like a really good story. I'll have to check it out.

I must confess that I'm not in the Irish spirit right now. I reviews an Oscar Wilder short.