Pay Your Debts And Do Not Cross The Water Again
Acrylic and pastel on paper
40 x 28cm, 15.7 x 11″
Professionally framed in white wood & double mounted, size:
56.5 x 44.5 x 5cm, 22 x 17.5 x 2″
Beside the lake in Gowna in a small house lived a widower, Paddy Hoey.
He was the father of eight children and the poor man was compelled to travel through the country each day to some farmers’ land to work for his livelihood. During the winter he often had to row over Lough Gowna in a small boat, but as he was a good oarsman, he did not mind.
It so happened that Paddy made the acquaintance of a retired schoolteacher who longed to travel with Paddy in the boat as the water was beneficial to his health. As card playing was much indulged in at that time in the Lough Gowna area Paddy and the school teacher often rowed across the lake to a friendly farmhouse for a game of cards.
One particular winter’s night they left the farmhouse at exactly midnight. They had the boat anchored by the shore and very soon Paddy and his companion were steering homewards.
Suddenly a dark cloud overshadowed the moon and the two friends saw the apparition of a woman sitting alongside them in a boat. They were both horrified and neither spoke a word. On examination of the phantom woman the schoolteacher recognised her as Paddy Hoey’s wife. He told later that he would never forget the terrible experience of that night; it would remain with him until he died.
When they had crossed the lake the same cloud appeared again and the woman vanished. Both men secured the boat by the water’s edge and made for Paddy’s house as fast as possible.
The next day Paddy visited a clergyman to ask his advice on the apparition. The priest told him to go to the boat the next night and cross the lake. If the woman appeared he was to ask her what she wanted.
The schoolteacher agreed to accompany Paddy and the next night, as the boat moved into the lake, the woman again appeared from the cloud. Paddy then took courage and asked his wife what was troubling her. She answered him in a harsh, strong, voice saying, “You took your time to talk.”
She told Paddy that since she had died (four years ago now) none of the debts that she owed to various people and shops had been paid. Paddy would have to sell some of his cattle in order to pay the debts as she was compelled to wander until they were paid. She also told Paddy to take the family to America, for if they stayed at home, they would contract tuberculosis and die. And Paddy was to sell the boat and never cross the water again or he would be drowned. Her final command was that he leave the district and settle in a faraway place where he would have peace and happiness as long as he lived.
Paddy Hoey soon afterwards did as he was advised: sold his little farm and cottage, paid all the money due by his wife and found a cottage in another district. His wife never again appeared to him or anyone else; she was at rest.