Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Wide Atlantic Weird: The Cult Of The Minnesota Runestone


Wide Atlantic Weird is an ongoing series of stories that explore the folkloric and sometimes spooky side of the Irish-American connection. It's a selection of urban-legend styled stories that attempt to create that feeling you get when you come across a delicious little fragment of weirdness, a story that's so out-there it can't possibly be true, yet one which you can't dismiss out of hand. When you stumble across such a tale buried in a chapter of an old collection of 'unexplained' stories, or when you hear an unbelievable story from a listener to a podcast, that's Wide Atlantic Weird.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Book Review: The Man Who Missed The War by Dennis Wheatley (1945)


My job, for odd reasons, gives me access to untold amounts of beat-up old pulp paperbacks, which gives me no end of joy. Dennis Wheatleys are fairly common, probably because here in the UK, it seems up until some point in the 70s, every house was contractually obliged to have at least a small number of them. Despite being something of an amateur expert on Britain's 'occult uncle' (I even read the mammoth biography The Devil Is A Gentleman), I'd never heard of this week's offering, The Man Who Missed The War. That's partly because Wheatley was so damn prolific, but also because it's not one of his occult-themed books, so it has been somewhat forgotten about over time.

Book Review: The Abominable by Dan Simmons (2013)



I guess I have a complicated history with Dan Simmons now. His last mammoth, brick-like epic novel about survival in extreme cold, The Terror, stuck around my house for months haunting me before I could bring myself to crack into it. But once I did, I became consumed by its tale of the 1845 Franklin expedition and its doomed attempts to find the NorthWest passage. The book got me through a weird, lonely time in which I returned to my house one Christmas only to find that nobody else was home, and the heating was broken. I shivered through several days before either of these situations could be rectified, eating up the pages of Simmons' masterpiece, glad only that I was at least safe from the twin horrors of cannibalism and being stalked by unknowable Arctic monsters. The book even left me with a recurring fascination with polar exploration, and the Franklin expedition in particular.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Wide Atlantic Weird: The Washington Sound Map


Wide Atlantic Weird is an on-going collection of stories that comment on the connections between Ireland and America - in particular, the shared weirdness that I have found in both cultures. I was going through a fairly big Sasquatch phase when I wrote this one. I've always been fascinated by the big guy, ever since I collected potboiler books of 'the unexplained' edited by Colin Wilson when I was a kid. In college, I got to do a bit of travellling and camping in California and Oregon, and this inspired this little tale...

(Received via email, August 2018)

Hi Cian,

Call me Claire Redfield. I’m a fan of the show. I’m especially enjoying the listener-submitted stories, and I have a story myself that I think will be suitable for inclusion, if you can bring yourself to believe it.

In late August 2013, I was just out of college, and I was hiking a section of the famous Pacific Crest Trail. The year before, I had read Wild by Cheryl Strayed, and like many others, I was inspired to lace up a pair of boots and follow her out into the wilderness. Also like many others, I had never even heard of the PCT before reading the book, and I was probably a bit under-prepared for the reality of it. Especially considering I’m from Wicklow town, where the biggest wilderness I had access to was the Wicklow mountains. And while it’s just possible to get lost in the those mountains (a small number of people do every year), it’s difficult to feel that the area is big enough to hide anything from humanity.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Wide Atlantic Weird: The Legend Of The Inisfola Broadcast





Wide Atlantic Weird is an on-going collection of stories that attempt to create that feeling you get when you come across a delicious little fragment of weirdness, a story that's so out-there it can't possibly be true, yet one which you can't dismiss out of hand. When you stumble across such a tale buried in a chapter of an old collection of 'unexplained' stories, or when you hear an unbelievable story from a listener to a podcast, that's Wide Atlantic Weird.

Source: Strange World, B.W. Bourke, 1995

Though Ireland was neutral during World War 2, the Irish government maintained a radio outpost off the coast of Kerry in order to monitor both Allied and Axis military radio chatter. The location of this facility was Inisfola Island, about fifty miles off the Deargalagh peninsula. A radio tower was built, as well as several maintenance and residential buildings, and the facility was staffed by Irish Army officers who were formerly stationed at the Curragh, where both British and German POWs were held, so they themselves were fluent in German. During their three years of operation, they recorded no definite evidence of military activities that threatened to breach Irish neutrality. However, in January 1945, they received a transmission that remains unexplained to this day.

Wide Atlantic Weird: A Phone RInging In A Deserted Hotel






Wide Atlantic Weird is an on-going collection of stories that attempt to create that feeling you get when you come across a delicious little fragment of weirdness, a story that's so out-there it can't possibly be true, yet one which you can't dismiss out of hand. When you stumble across such a tale buried in a chapter of an old collection of 'unexplained' stories, or when a friend reluctantly tells you an impossible story in the small hours after a night of playing Resident Evil, that's Wide Atlantic Weird.


Source: An email from a friend I will refer to as ‘Chris Redfield.’

Hi Cian,
We’ve been talking a lot recently about the subject of the supernatural, and I know you’re looking for some stories to read on your show. Well, I’ve got at least one story I can share with you that I think would be suitable. I haven’t told it to you before because it’s from a somewhat dark time in my life, and it brings up some bad memories. I don’t know for sure that this is because of the unexplained event that happened to me, but this strange happening and my dark mental state at the time are inextricably linked for me.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Irish Horror: The Lodgers (2017)

The Lodgers is a 2017 Irish film directed by Brian O'Malley, stars Charlotte Vega, Bill Milner and Eugene Simon, and was filmed almost entirely at the infamous Loftus Hall in County Wexford, a real-life source of many urban legends and the location of much legend-tripping.

I first heard stories about Loftus Hall while I was was in college. Many of my colleagues from the southeast side of the country knew of this place. Today it has been reinvented as a tourist attraction (dark tourism, I guess) but back then it was dilapidated, rotting, and hella spooky. Pretty much everyone who spoke to me of the place had visited with their friends upon a dark night on a 'dare.' There are myriad local legends about the place, some of them unique to Loftus Hall, others seeming to be the kind of generic myths that get attached to any spooky old building. In particular, it was most often said that a gentleman visiting the Hall centuries ago was revealed to have been the Devil himself (he revealed a cloven hoof when a lady bent over to pick up a dropped playing card), upon which he disappeared through the roof in a pillar of fire. The patch where he burst through the roof was said to be still visible. Suffice it to say that Loftus Hall is a unique location in which to set a period ghost story movie, and I heartily approve.