Was it a case of telepathy between two twin brothers in a Christmas tragedy that took place in Waterford many years ago, asks Cian Manning
The riverbank of Ireland’s oldest city has seen many curious characters and macabre marauders set foot upon its storied soil. From Vikings to Victorians, Waterford has played host to powerful Jarls and English monarchs over the centuries, inevitably the city has its own tales inspired by Norse myths, Gaelic legends to murky occurrences that provide a parable to placate the perceived moralities of their times.
One such story comes from the 19th century and concerns the fate of Jack Hayson at Yuletide.
One Christmas Eve night, the Hayson household, residing along the River Suir, was at ease as its inhabitants slept in preparation for the festivities to come in the morning. Around midnight, Eli Hayson was about to go to bed till he was startled by the noise of footsteps running along the Quayside.
Curiosity led Eli to approach the window to witness who was running at such an hour.
The moon lit the city and allowed Eli to make out clearly the moored vessels, but his attention was broken by seeing the figure of a man wearing a grey jersey and dark trousers racing frantically towards the Hayson house.
Eventually, as the figure came closer, Eli could make out that it was his twin brother, Jack, who was running towards their home.
This mysterious state of circumstances was further compounded as Eli believed Jack was to be on the Thomas Emery vessel, which was docked in the neighbouring city of Cork.
As Eli was about to move to unbolt the door to allow Jack to enter, he noticed several dark figures behind his brother, which appeared to rise from the waters of the Suir.
Gripped by fear and concern for the welfare of his brother, Eli attempted to shout a warning to Jack, but was struck dumb and stuck to the spot by the window. Witnessing Jack reaching the door, hurriedly trying to force it open, these shadowy figures closed in on Eli’s brother and overpowered the man like a pack of hounds snaring their game.
As the terror increased, all Eli could do was watch his brother absorbed by the horror, which led him to scream, “For God’s sake help me!”
As the clouds passed across the light path of the moon, darkness engulfed the Quay, Eli ran down the stairs, and when he opened the door, his brother Jack and his attackers were gone. Eli couldn’t elucidate on what appeared to be an unexplainable occurrence on that Christmas Eve.
Was it a vivid dream or an apparition? Worse, and less explainable still, had Eli witnessed a ghost? Unsettled by such a ghostly vision, Eli struggled to sleep as Christmas Day dawned.
The following morning, on Christmas Day, the Hayson family in Waterford received the tragic news that Jack had fallen overboard from the Thomas Emery while it was in Cork harbour.
They were told that Jack had been sleepwalking, and in the mist of this somnambulism, fallen into the River Lee and drowned.
The conclusion of the inquest which followed saw a verdict of death by accidental drowning returned. Though, some versions of the story record that the verdict was recorded as ‘Found drowned’.
This provided little closure to the Hayson family, who still had many unanswered questions which arose from that Christmas Eve.
Further suspicions were aroused when Eli told the family of what he began to term a ‘strange vision’, as they continued to query the nature of Jack’s propensity for sleepwalking, which they had never witnessed. Perhaps it was an example of telepathy experienced by a strong connection between the twin brothers. Sadly, the Haysons would have to wait almost 20 years to attain the closure they desperately sought.
Continue reading in this year’s Christmas Annual 2022