Michael G Crawford was among a number of people who claimed to have witnessed at first hand the famous ghost-ship of Carlingford Lough, the Lord Blaney.
That brig sank with considerable loss of life more than a century and a half ago, but its ghostly re-enactment of its own final moments have often be seen again since, usually presaging another imminent shipping tragedy.
She was said to have been seen, for example, some nights before the terrible loss of the Retriever/Connemara in November 1916.
‘ … That night the moon was up on our (almost) landlocked Lough and it was looking its best, mirroring a clear moonlight sky. There was just enough frost to make the fish bite well and it was our intention to stop out all night.
The water was like a mirror – not a ripple disturbed the silvery surface on the bay – not a breadth of wind from the Benns of Burka or Carlingford. Manannan the Sea God of the Gael and his brother Gaoith, the God of the Wind, had gone to sleep.
As midnight drew near we were very much surprised to see a small, white, vapoury cloud, low down in the water, out towards the Bar. It came drifting up in our direction, towards Warrenpoint and in a straight line from where we rode at anchor.
We felt alarmed at this extraordinary phenomenon and observed it closely. As it approached us we could see appear dimly through the mist the tall masts and funnel of a steamer, as if she was rising from the breast of the sea. Then the mast-head light, shining like a star, burst full upon us.
The ship was tossing, as if knocked about in a storm although we lay in the dead calm. We could hear the sound of the water rushing against her sides and the wind blowing fiercely against her rigging as she rolled onward on her course.
When she came opposite to the Quays at Warrenpoint we saw the clouds of steam go up as if the whistle was shrieking a warning. Then suddenly she slowly sank, her stern lights vanishing below the waves. The vapoury cloud in which she was enveloped dissolved, fading out of sight, and nothing was left to our view but the calm moonlit waters of Carlingford Lough.
The boatmen in our humble craft were half-frozen with fear and the dread of the supernatural scene they had just witnessed and prayed to be themselves delivered from such phantoms of the deep.
I was personally convinced that I had witnessed a good ship go down just off the pier-head and I thought perhaps she had struck the ‘Scaur’ – a submerged bank that reaches out at that point. I forced the boatmen to row over to that place where we had seen the vessel sink. I fancied perhaps that some of her people might yet be holding on to floating pieces of wreckage.
We searched all about for some considerable time but all in vain. There was no evidence at all that a vessel had just gone down in that spot.
‘It was the Fetch! Or Ghost Ship of the Lord Blaney!’