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Shankill Graveyard, Lurgan, Co Armagh

Died Once Buried Twice


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Like almost every other old burial ground Shankill has traditions, the most curious being the “resurrection” of a lady known as Margery McCall. There is abundant proof that at a family bearing the name of McCall resided in Lurgan in the late 17th century. In 1689 the Patriot Parliament of James II, attained “John McCall of Lurgan, gent”. In 1719 the same John McCall was one of a deputation appointed by Presbyterian congregation to attend the synod and request that the Rev James Fleming should be allowed to remain in Lurgan. Probably this John McCall was the husband of the lady who is the subject of this questioning tradition.

 

It appears that the McCall’s lived in Market Place on a site now occupied by the L.C.A. Reading Rooms. According to tradition Margery the mother of a young family departed this life and was duly interred in Shankill Graveyard. At the time of her supposed death she was in possession of a very valuable ring, but her family were family were unable to remove from her finger. This being the case there was no other alternative but allow the ring to go with the deceased to the grave. The night of her burial the grave attacked by thieves who having opened the grave tried to remove the ring by cutting the finger off deceased. In attempting this gruesome deed he drew blood and the body the began to show life and rose to confront the thief. This was more than the thief had bargained for and fled the spot with the utmost speed..

 

Meanwhile the disconsolate husband had been sitting at home with his family mourning the loss of his loved partner. A knock was herd at the door. “Ah!” he said, if your mother were alive I would swear that was her knock. Something prompted him to go and answer the knock and on opening the door there stood Margery arrayed in her grave close. Broken down as he was by anxiety and grief , he was ill able to bear the shock and he fainted on the spot. He soon recovered however, and then he found to his great joy that, by a remarkable interposition of providence , his wife was in a trance when she was supposed to be dead, had been restored to him. It is also clamed that some years afterwards she had another son who became a non-conformist minister. But time came at last when Margery went the way of all flesh and was again interred in Shankill; at her grave was placed a stone recording the fact that she had been twice buried, recording the date of each internment.

 

There are several versions of the story, but I wonder if anybody heard it told in verse. The following is believed to have been penned by a local scribe under the name of Cortze, at her graveside in Shankill some time in the closing decades of the 19th century.

 

Died Once Buried Twice

 

There lowly beneath lonely sod,

A lady twice entombed,

Tradition has it noised abroad,

She was exhumed alive.

 

Her precious ring her finger bore,

From her bright wedding day;

And in death likewise wore

When buried in the clay.

 

But a foul thief to steal the ring,

Did cast the clay aside

And he to life did quickly bring

She who lately died.

 

For he should cut the finger round,

To gain the golden prize,

But when the blood flowed from the wound

She spoke and did arise.

 

And straight away to her home did go

In her dead robes so white;

Like a wandering spirit free from woe,

But doomed to roam at night.

 

And when she reached her husbands door,

She gave her well known knock

An he fell senseless to the floor,

Un-nerved by the strange shock.

 

Her children knew here gentle voice

And flew to her embrace;

And all the neighbours did rejoice,

But marvelled at the case.

 

But death at last took here away,

As he will sure take all

And not again to Judgement Day

Shall Rise Margery McCaull..

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