Dublin Gothic

The Christmas Ghost Story

The Victorians invented many of our modern Christmas traditions: decorating trees, singing carols, and sharing food with family. These practices have their roots in the pagan celebrations of Yuletide. One tradition that has, unfortunately, disappeared over time is the practice of sharing ghost stories not only at Samhain, or Halloween, but closer to the winter solstice, when the days are short and the nights are cold. 

The Christmas ghost story was commercialised by Victorian periodicals that dedicated seasonal issues to the form. Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s ‘Green Tea’ (1869) was published in Charles Dickens’ Christmas issue of All the Year Round, and ‘The Judge’s House’ (1891) by Bram Stoker featured in the Holly Leaves annual.

RadioMoLI revives this forgotten tradition by publishing a Christmas ghost story every year in December. We invite you to listen with friends and family or, if you’re brave enough, on your own, as you walk through the cold deserted streets of your city.

Hertford O'Donnell's Warning
MoLI presents the third annual MoLI Christmas Ghost Story: ‘Hertford O’Donnell’s Warning’ (1867) by Charlotte Riddell, performed by Kathy Rose O’Brien, in an edited and abridged form.
The Demon Lover
The 2021 Christmas Ghost Story was Elizabeth Bowen’s ‘The Demon Lover’ (1945), performed in its entirety by Derbhle Crotty.
The Familiar
In 2020, MoLI presented this recording of Sheridan Le Fanu’s story ‘The Familiar’ in the old tradition of telling ghost stories at Christmas. Originally published in 1847 as ‘The Watcher’, the story is performed here by Michael James Ford in an edited and abridged version.
Number Ninety
MoLI, in collaboration with the UCD Centre for Cultural Analytics, presents its fourth annual Christmas Ghost Story: ‘Number Ninety’ (1895) by Bithia May Croker, performed by Ned Dennehy.