The lady lived once, but was buried twice

By Eve Rosato

Image source, BBC Sport
Image caption,
Tombstones dating back to the 1600s

Tucked away behind residential streets in the heart of Lurgan lies the centuries old Shankill Graveyard.

If you dare to creep through the wrought iron gates and move amongst the sinking tombstones, you're sure to find a few spine-chilling tales.

Local historian, Jim Conway, is the authority on the horrifying stories that haunt the 17th century site.

Margorie McCall is the first grave he leads me to, the woman who was buried twice.

Image caption,
Margorie's first, second and last resting place

In 1695, Margorie caught a fever and, believed to be dead, her family held a wake and promptly buried her.

Soon after she was laid to rest, grave robbers, who regularly ransacked newly buried coffins, dug her up and attempted to steal a valuable ring she was still wearing.

Unable to remove the ring from her finger, the robbers decided to cut the finger off.

But as they began their gruesome task, the lady awoke and, as Jim puts it, "she scared the devil out of the grave robbers, who soon skedaddled".

Image caption,
Gives the saying "you only live once" a whole new meaning

Margorie got out of her grave, dusted herself off and went home, but when she got there her husband nearly died of shock.

Jim says the story goes that on hearing his wife's knock at the door, Mr McCall said to his children: "If I hadn't buried your mother, I would swear that was her knock."

When he opened the door he fainted and, according to Jim, his hair went white overnight.

Margorie lived on and even had another child after her ordeal, before being buried once more in what proved to be her final resting place.

Image caption,
Tragic Henry Cuppage's family plot

Not all graveyard tales can end so happily though.

In the very furthest corner of the hallowed ground, lies the plot of the Cuppage family.

Jim paints a tragic picture of one of the occupants of the grave.

Indian curse

A lieutenant in the British Army, Henry was stationed in India where he met and married an Indian princess.

Jim says Henry eventually wanted to return to Ireland, but due to the conservative society of the time, was unable to bring his wife with him.

"The story goes that as he was leaving on the boat she threw herself in the sea and was drowned. It's also said that she put a curse on him.

"After about a year, he fell in love with a girl from Dublin who said she would marry him, but then she changed her mind and we think it's because she found out about the curse", says Jim.

The former soldier was so distraught by this second loss that he went to the railway line and was killed by the passing mail train.

In a twist of fate, the train was carrying a letter from his beloved accepting his proposal of marriage.

According to Jim "his spirit has never settled from that time and he can be seen around the graveyard with his head under his arm".