Samurai Dave: The Roving Ronin Report

Rambling Narrative of Travels, Thoughts, and Embellishments

St. Paddy’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day Represents Celtic Survival
Despite oppression and defeat Celtic culture is still strong

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They’ll be a-murdin’ Danny Boy in the pubs tonight…

Ah, the Irish and the Irish-blooded will be drinking their Guinesses, and Kilkennies and whiskeys deep this night as they sing songs of a battles lost, heroes martyred, whiskey plundered, potatoes ungrown, and women’s hearts stolen. Nothing becomes an Irishman more than defeat and hardship. The Irish (and to a degree the Scots and Welsh) remember more the battles they lost than the victors do who won them. this proud tradition carries on in the Scots and Irish descendants in Southern America where old swords still hang above fireplaces and a long ago lost war is vividly remembered .

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Very few cultures have suffered so many defeats militarily, culturally, and religiously (except for the Jews and the Palestinians) like the Celts. Once they spread across much of Europe. They raided into Greece and even sacked Rome but in the end Rome conquerored much of Celtic lands save for Ireland and northern Scotland. Still under Roman sway, Briton kept many of its Celtic ways. King Arthur was the last of the great Celtic heroes before Britain sank beneath an Anglo-Saxon flood. His legend is still fresh and vibrant to this day.

In faerie-haunted Ireland, the Celtic ways continued with some Christian mixing brought by St. Padriac – Patrick. Some centuries later came the sea-roving plunderers, the Vikings. They made quite a mess of things. 1014 King Brian Boru fought a great battle with the Vikings – and naturally some enemy Irish – and in true Irish fashion got killed in the victory. Later the Normans from England came and mucked things up a bit but eventually they got absorbed into the local culture.

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Then after more English meddling came Oliver Cromwell, an all round bastard on both isles. By the 18th century all things Celtic from bagpipes to Scottish tartans to mustaches were forbidden by the English. In effect to be distinctively Celtic was a crime. The bastions of Celtic culture were cleared out like the Scottish Highlands while others fleeing famine, the law, debts came to the Americas to make a new go of things.

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No that in America they had an easy go of it either. “No Irish need apply” signs were up everywhere. In the South rich Anglo-southern plantation owners would hire an Irishman for a bottle of whiskey a day to do dangerous work they couldn’t afford expensive slaves to do.

With all these things stack against them its a wonder that one talks of Irish, Scots, and Welsh. But true to the Celtic spirit of being too strong to go down and too stupid to know when to quit, they have survived. If anything their defeats and hardships have gone on to ensure they would never be forgotten by themselves or anyone.

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Tonight I’ll a drink a Guinness to my Celtic forebears of Scottish and Welsh extraction and think about my saintly red-haired red-blooded Irish grandmother who sadly passed away before I was old enough to know her.

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

May ye be a half-hour in Heaven
Before the Devil knows your dead!

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March 18, 2007 Posted by | Celtic, Guinness, Ireland, Irish, japan, life, Pub, St. Patrick's Day, tokyo, travel | 1 Comment

Staying a Night at York’s Most Haunted Pub

Staying at the Most Haunted Pub in York
– A Survivor’s Tale

The Haunted Golden Fleece Inn

The northern English city of York is a notorious haunt for living-impaired discorporeal entities, or ghosts. Small wonder given York’s bloody history over the centuries. Vikings in the 9th Century ravaged it before finally turning York into a little Scandinavia on English shores. Two centuries later, William the Conqueror razed the city and the surrounding countryside in the aftermath of the Battle of Hastings. In the 12th Century, the Jewish population was completely massacred by bloodthirsty mobs. Then there are those other unfortunates — plague victims, malnourished paupers, tortured prisoners, executed criminals — who met unhappy ends. York is literally brimming over with ghosts.

The Golden Fleece lays claim to the most Haunted Inn/Pub in York. Several ghosts have been sighted or experienced here over its long history. It’s been featured in several books written about the ghosts of York and has even been shown on TV as one of Britain’s most haunted places.

The Fleece was built back in 1503. The name derives from its original ownership by wool merchants — an important industry for York. The upstairs has a few rooms for the brave and foolhardy to stay in. Downstairs is a charming old English pub serving hand-pulled ales for those with a thirst for traditional liquid fare. The Golden Fleece doesn’t rest on solid foundations so its slanting ground floor rolls and pitches like the deck of a ship in rough weather robbing visitors of their confidence in walking especially after a pint or two.

The Shambles Road Leading to the Golden Fleece

The Ghosts of the Golden Fleece

The Golden Fleece has ghosts to spare for both lodgers and pub customers. For pub-goers, they have to take care for a grumpy old codger ghost who likes the corner seats in the back room. He’s been known to push customers out of their seats from time to time. I’m not sure the alcohol level of the push-ees, but I somehow imagine it has certainly played a considerable role in this particular paranormal phenomenon.

Another pub ghost is that of a young lad killed in an accident during the Victorian Age (1837-1901). His ghost reportedly tries to pick-pocket customers. This must explain satisfactorily to some the mysterious disappearance of all the money that customers came into the pub with but somehow left without.

This Will Certainly Pull In the Punters With Heart Conditions

The upstairs rooms are haunted primarily by female ghost known as Lady Peckett. Guests have reported seeing her blithely passing through the walls on a ghostly stroll. Others have heard disembodied laughter — presumably the pub downstairs was closed at the time — unexplained noises and doors slamming shut sometimes right in people’s faces.

Another ghost is from more recent times — a Canadian airman from the Second World War. He apparently had had too much to drink and fell to his death inside the inn — perhaps the grumpy ghost has a specially reserved seat up at the top as well. One Canadian woman supposedly had the ghost follow her all the way back to Canada — this was back in the pre-911 days when passengers were allowed up to 2 discorporeal entities. The woman awoke in her own bed back home to find a sad-looking fellow in her room. She fell back to sleep and woke up again finding that in her sleep she had somehow written the name of the ghost.

There’s also an invisible dog that goes around brushing up against pub customers as they drink. When they reached down to pet an expected pub-owner’s dog there is of course nothing there. The currently owners actually have a dog that slinks silently about. The poor thing seems to have a rather nervous disposition and barks at everything and anything in a frightened manner. Being gifted (or cursed depending on how you look at it) with extra strong senses denied his human owners, the dog is probably often wondering why his owners don’t get the hell out of this place full of ghastly ghosts.

The charming front section of the Golden Fleece Pub

The ‘Most Stupidest’ Questions asked of the Staff of the Most Haunted Inn in York

Working at a haunted pub and inn, one would think you would need nerves of steel, a steadfast disposition, and healthy dose of stout courage to bear with whatever phantasmological horrors from the hoary netherworld haunt the place. What’s needed more than anything, in fact, is a lot of patience and straight face when visitors ask some of the stupidest questions in all sincerity and honest naivety.

“At what time do the ghosts appear?”

“Does the price guarantee seeing a ghost?”

These are two of the most popular inane questions amongst the staff. Whilst most of the world is in doubt on the existence of ghosts, these questioners go so far as to believe ghosts are not only real but on the payroll no less.

Dream Premonitions the Night Before

Staying at a haunted inn was just too good of an opportunity for me to pass up so after having dinner and a pint in the pub, I made a reservation for the following night. That night I stayed at a hostel in a dormitory room that was not haunted except for the all too real presence of foot odor. That night I had a dream about staying at the Golden Fleece. I dreamt on the walls of the room the silhouette of two sisters appeared. Then the white curtains began to blow softly though the window was closed. As I drew near the curtains (I realized I was dreaming because under normal circumstances I would have been out the door or window whichever was quicker), one of the curtains suddenly shot forward as though propelled by an invisible hand and a light gust of wind blew on my face which did not come from the window. I thought I heard definite whispers.

I awoke back in my hostel bed with a start. Only the lingering presence of body odor accompanied by some gentle snoring disturbed the otherwise tranquil setting. However I was in a bit of fright and began to have reservations about my reservation. It’s not that I necessarily believe in ghosts but I can’t help but worry that they might believe in me. In the light of day or even at night as long as there is someone else with me, my attitude is “bring on the hoary hordes!” But at night when I’m all by myself, the depths of my courage wouldn’t drown a flea.

The Pub’s Rear Room Where Supposedly a Pushy Ghost Haunts

A Spooky Night at the Haunted Golden Fleece

My courage returned with the coming daylight and I was determined not to be deterred. Later that evening I spoke with some of the staff. Some of them had never experienced anything because they mainly just worked the pub and had more to worry about from drunken patrons and teens with fake IDs that say they are 35. However they reported that in the past they have had frighten guests flee in the middle of the night leaving the keys on the bar.

A Narrow Creaky Staircase

I was worried. I paid a hefty 45 pounds for my rooms so my frugal side was in conflict with my cowardly side. I thought I’d be damned if some ghost was going to scare me out of a 45-quid room. If it were 10 or 20, I’d be out of there the first sign of reddish tint to the walls. At 45 pounds, it would have to take quite a few walls running red with blood, a dozen bloody spectral severed heads popping up, and a vampire or two to make me flee without getting a refund.

The room was spacious with old wooden furniture, a large four-poster bed, and a door with a deliciously hideous creak to it. It looked perfect for a proper haunting.

A lovely quaint room perfect for a good old fashion haunting

The night passed slowly but I was able to get to sleep with the aid of a few choice ales. Sometime during the night I woke up suddenly.

I heard voices!
But then I remembered I had left the TV on all night – or rather I should say I strategically left the TV on all night. I was determined not to be put out by any strange noises that my possible ghostly antagonist might use against me so the TV served as an audio buffer against such an assault.

As the night wore on, I awoke again with a strange sensation.

There was something on my face!


It was my glasses. I had fallen asleep with them on. I took them off and slept soundly the rest of the night though I left the bedside lamp on – just in case.

In the morning at breakfast I encountered the most unholiest of abominations that turned the very blood in my veins to ice while my mind screamed soundlessly in abject horror.

They served baked beans with breakfast!

Now don’t get me wrong, I like baked beans but as an American, baked beans in my mind are for lunch or dinner only. They simply do not belong to the breakfast club.

Horror Upon Horror! Baked Beans For Breakfast!

While I do feel now in the comforting rays of the sunlight some slight disappointment that I did not encounter a haunting which would have proven in my mind the existence of such things, I realize that some things are best left undisturbed when one is alone and in the dark. Perhaps I will return someday preferably with some company to face those ghostly inhabitants with unwilting courage and learn more about one of life’s most enduring mysteries – why do the British eat baked beans for breakfast?

November 11, 2006 Posted by | Blogroll, England, Ghosts, Golden Fleece, Haunted, Hauntings, Pub, Spirits, travel, UK, York | 38 Comments