US & Canada

Is Canada's official residence in Ireland haunted?

Former Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper shakes hands with Kevin Vickers in the House of Commons Image copyright PMO via Getty Images
Image caption Kevin Vickers was Sergeant-at-Arms in Canada's House of Commons before being appointed ambassador

Canada's ambassador to Ireland is concerned about ghosts.

Specifically, Ambassador Kevin Vickers is worried about a spirit that might be haunting Canada's official residence in Dublin.

In a recent Facebook post, the ambassador describes hearing unusual bangs, laboured breathing and heavy footsteps in the residence's halls.

Mr Vickers, a history buff, suggests it may be the spirit of one of the leaders of Ireland's 1916 Easter Rising.

When he first moved into the residence, the ambassador heard rumours that Irish nationalist Patrick Pearse had once lived at the home in Dublin's Ranelagh district.

Pearse was one of the architects of the April 1916 rebellion to overthrow British rule and set up an Irish republic.

Over 450 people were killed during the six-day armed struggle and more than 2,600 were injured.

Pearse was court-martialled and executed for his role in the rebellion.

'Heavy chain'

In a 2016 interview with Maclean's magazine, Mr Vickers described how the rumours that the Irish nationalist leader lived in the home spurred him to dig up documents signed by Pearse to lease the residence's grounds between 1908 and 1912.

"So I wonder if it is he who walks the hallways of this residence," Mr Vickers wrote in the 16 August Facebook post first reported on by CTV News.

Mr Vickers said he did not believe in ghosts until moving into the official residence, Glanmire House.

"Some evenings he or she seems agitated. Then days go by and all is quiet," he said.

The evening before writing the post he was watching TV "when all of sudden I heard a heavy chain fall on the floor in the dining room. I immediately went there and there was nothing on the floor".

Image caption Patrick Pearse was executed in 1916

Mr Vickers says a couple of weeks prior he heard heavy footsteps on the stairs and laboured breathing but that no-one was in the hallway when he checked.

His "wonderful maid, Anna" sometimes refuses to go upstairs.

"If anyone doubts the validity of this story, you are welcome to come and stay a night or two here," he said.

"Just now I heard an unusual bang downstairs."

Mr Vickers was appointed Canada's ambassador to Ireland in January 2015.

He had a nearly 30-year career with the Canadian Mounties and in 2006 was appointed Sergeant-at-Arms in Canada's House of Commons.

He became well-known to Canadians when he and a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer shot dead a gunman who rampaged through the parliament building on 22 October 2014.

The attacker had earlier killed a soldier, Cpl Nathan Cirillo, who was on ceremonial guard duty at the nearby National War Memorial.

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