You’ve heard of haunted houses, but did you know that Cork is home to a haunted bush?
Yes, you are reading that correctly.
Deep in the unspoilt West Cork peninsula of Sheep’s Head, day trippers regularly set out to visit the haunted elder bush.
“Somewhere on that road is an elder bush that we were always told was haunted, and they said “Beware of the elder bush at night.'” says Eileen O’Mahony, a local historian from Kilcrohane.
‘And let the stinking elder, grief, untwine’
A great deal of superstition surrounds the elder bush. Shakespeare, in Cymbeline, singles it out as a symbol of grief, referring to it as ‘the stinking Elder’.
In fact, years ago, many country dwellers would refuse to cut the bush back for fear of being cursed with bad luck.
The Danish believe the elder is inhabited by a tree nymph called Hylde-Moer who haunts anyone who uses its wood.
In the UK, farmers would use elder wood to make a cross to keep evil spirits out of their cowsheds and 17th Century lore suggests elder leaves collected on the last day of April would deter witches from visiting your home.
But where exactly is Cork’s haunted elder bush?
The precise location is a bit of a mystery, but these directions will probably make more sense when you’re following the walking route…
‘When you come off the hill and finally onto a small tarred road, TURN LEFT when you meet the main road, and then very quickly TURN RIGHT and then back up onto the hill.
After a few miles the walk comes off the hill and you are approaching a house in front of you to the east. Just before said house take a small detour to your right (south). Just a few yards from the walk you will come across a fallen standing stone with a small hole in it.’
Have you ever visited the haunted elderbush? Let us know on Twitter @YayCork.