The 'Haunted' tree in the village of Finnis, Co.Down. Powerlines had to be re-routed.
The island of Ireland must have a hundred thousand or more stories of ghosties, ghoulies and things that go bump or shriek in the night. They've been handed down through the generations and, in the re-telling, have been enhanced and embellished, sometimes out of recognition.
Yet sometimes a story sticks out because it is so local and because it is readily identifiable to a single artefact and thus goes the story of the haunted tree in the village of Finnis near Dromara in County Down.
In the early years of the 20th century a malevolent spirit is said to have haunted the area around the Dree Hill Road bridge, in the centre of Finnis, which spans the upper reaches of the River Lagan. By this bridge stood a large and beautiful sycamore tree. Knowing the terror the bridge set in the hearts of his parishioners, the village priest set out to exorcise the spirit and managed to capture it in a bottle. He then placed the bottle of spirits inside the sycamore tree.
There it remained and the bridge became free of the hauntings. From that day on and, with knowledge of the tree's part in the exorcism, nobody in Finnis would touch the tree nor would they allow anyone else to touch it either.
Subsequently the tree died and now looks as though it has been killed by a lightning strike but still it stands untouched. Some years back, when either power lines or telephone lines were being run through the village, the tree stood in the way of progress and the priest had to be called to stop the workers from cutting it down. As a result they had to run the cables through the tree's upper branches.
Today the tree continues to stand as testimony to a local legend. Any mention of removing it still stirs serious local emotion.
Share stories about 'special' trees in
your area, discuss this article at the bottom
of the page.
Virginia Maguire (nee Doloughan) - Jan '07
My Aunt died as a result of an accident at this
bridge which is the stone wall you can see in
the photo, just to the right of this tree, in
late Feb 1931. The bridge as most will know,
is over the river Lagan. My Aunts name was Mary
Doloughan, she was only 19 years old and was
to have been bridesmaid at my parents wedding
which took place just 3 weeks later. My father
John Doloughan and my Aunt Mary were cycling
home to Ballyvicknakelly, from visiting my mother
Agnes Newell, who lived at Finnis, just up the
road in a house right on the crossroads, (My
mothers brother Tommy Newell had been killed
just outside that house aged 16, on the 12th
of July, I'm not sure of the year, he, was getting
off the bus coming back from "the field",
unfortunately the bus moved off before he was
clear and the back wheel went over him! ) The
house is still there today. It was a moonlit
night and Daddy had cycled on ahead (I think,
with the intention of hiding on my Aunt, possibly
to scare her,
maybe they knew the story).. Apparently, as she came down the hill on her bike,
Aunt Mary mistook the moonlight on the river for the road, she hit the wall to
the right of the tree and went right over into the lagan below..Daddy, had waited
for her on down the road, when she didn't arrive he went back to look for her..to
be met only with her moans from the riverbed, somehow, he managed to get her
out of the river..She died several weeks later in Dromore Cowan Herron Hospital.
Two terrible endings for two young lives not more than a mile apart.
I never knew the story of the tree until just now..I wonder did my parents and
my Aunt know it...could the haunting have anything to do with my Aunts accident? an
anyone tell me when the exorcism by the priest took place?
Can anyone tell me when the exorcism by the priest took place?
I just wondered was it before or after my Aunt's accident?
Patrick Mc Clure - Oct '06
I would just like to let you know about the picture
on this web site a few weeks ago a car came around
the corner and crashed into the telephone box
[completely demolishing it] how it missed the
tree I don't know but one thing is for sure, whatever
spirit is in that tree is there to stay. As for
the village of finnis it is in an area of outstanding
natural beauty' it is well worth a visit; close
by is the legnanny dolmen [a mini stonehenge]
on a good day it is a sight to behold. Also nearby
is the souterraine a ninth century underground
passage [you must visit it; you can feel the hand
of history on you when you enter it; but do go
when the weather is dry [it is prone to flooding;and
don't worry about the dark it is powered by solar
lighting. Make a point of visiting you won't regret
Matthew Graham - June '06
In responce to Alison I will say that there are
records of the exorcisim in the records of the
church and the vatican and this story is not made
up! If you dont beleve me then cut down the tree
and see what happens.
Yolande Saulters - June '06
I'm a relative of Matthew's and was pleasantly
surprised to find his comment on your site! I
wholeheartedly agree - Dromara and it's people
are the best around - although I live in Newtownards
I spent my childhood in Dromara and have many
good memories. I wasn't aware either until now
that the tree is haunted, but I'm sure my granny
( Matthew's great granny) will know all about
it as she lives just down the road from it.
Nearby resident - May '06
I think the area of Finnis and Dromara CO. Down
is just beautiful, the people are so friendly
and the church near the haunted (St. Michael's)
is just loving, the grounds, lawns and flower
beds is just so well kept. They all really work
as a community.
Alison - March '06
I think whoever made this stuff up should definetily
Matthew Graham - Mar 06
i was born in dromara. i am now 13 years old and
i live in rossglass now but i still have family
in dromara and thy to get there as most as i possibly
can. it is to me a beautifull place and i love
Pattie - Oct 05
The tree in question at Finnis is not close to
Cabra Towers. Cabra Towers is closer to the village
of Kilcoo. It is about half way between Rathfriland
Alecia - April '05
Could anyone tell me if this tree is near Cabra
Towers I think this was the tree we chatted about
as children that it was haunted when we went to
Cabra for school trips. Could anyone clarify if
this is the same tree?
Ruth Davidson - November - 04
I have just completed a painting of James King
Pub and this famous tree opposite it. I had no
idea about its haunting until I showed my painting
to a neighbour. Thanks for this interesting piece
of information and I can really appreciate just
what I have painted.