By Andrew Doherty
Many years ago a wealthy lady from Ballinlaw, Co. Kilkenny, on the banks of the River Barrow died and was later buried in Slieverue. It was a time when even the dead could not rest in the country and later that night, the dreaded grave robbers arrived. They broke into the limestone tomb within which she lay.
As they uncovered her burial shroud a diamond ring glittered in their torchlight. As her fingers had swollen prior to her death, her husband could not bear to have her rings removed.
Now although they were there for the corpse, greed overtook them. Try as they might they could not remove the wedding ring as they squabbled, jostled, and pushed each other aside.
Finally, as one held out the wedding finger on the tomb, another brought down a shovel. With a crack, the finger was parted and the ring flew onto the ground. The thieves dived on it and started squabbling again.
When they finally stood up from the ground, they found the corpse sitting up in the tomb.
The elderly lady, pale and gaunt, was groaning and looking from one to the other with bloodshot eyes.
As they fled the graveyard she rose from her tomb returning to her home, minus her finger and her wedding ring. She lived for several more months to come.
Whether true or not, the account drew on a very macabre era in Irish history. It was the era of the Grave robbers, the body snatchers, the “sack ‘em up men” or the Resurrectionists.
Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own