Ballycarry author explores if there is really no smoke without fire

East Antrim folklore and superstitions are comprehensively explored in a new publication by author and broadcaster Dr David Hume.

The Ballycarry historian and former Larne Times journalist also relates ghost stories and other examples of the unexplained in ‘No Smoke without Fire’.

David is a regular on the talk circuit for local historical societies and says there is always an incredible interest in superstition.

“I aim to explore some of the superstitions and beliefs which have come down through generations and explain them – such as with the fairies, whose legend probably draws on the history of underground chambers from pre-Christian times, which people believed were the homes of the fairy folk, and the Irish folklores surrounding the Tuatha de Danaan people, who supposedly retreated to the ‘underworld’ after they were defeated by new invaders.

Jo Zebedee and Chris Disley, of The Secret Bookshop, with author David Hume at the book launch.

“The belief in the fairies is one of the strongest and longest-lasting elements of folklore in our society. The last remnant of a strong belief system is the avoidance by most sensible people of cutting down or damaging the fairy thorn tree – something which is also, of course, helpful to the environment!”

With a wealth of stories from Islandmagee, Ballycarry, Carrickfergus, Kilwaughter and elsewhere, the book examines tales of bogles (goblins), ghostly horse riders, ‘White Lady’ ghosts, holy wells, witches, banshees and unusual practices such as the burial of horse skulls in farmhouse gables.

“I have always been fascinated by stories of strange goings on, and intrigued by superstition and belief, so this book has brought together a lot of notes and research gathered over the years and a few stories that have been passed on to me that would not otherwise have been recorded,” David said.

“I think that there is truth in the saying that there is no smoke without fire, and that means most of the stories and folklore can be explained at some level based on events from the past,” he added.

Some of those who attended the book launch in Carrickfergus of David Hume's new book, No Smoke without Fire.

There was a chance to hear first-hand about the background to some of the stories when Jo Zebedee and Chris Disley hosted a book launch of the publication at The Secret Bookshop in Carrickfergus.

There was a capacity audience for a discussion with the author hosted by Jo and also a reading from the book and a question and answer session.

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No Smoke without Fire, priced £10.99, is on sale at the Book Nook in Larne; The Secret Bookshop in Carrickfergus; C. F. Beatties in Ballycarry; the Gobbins Visitor Centre and The Rinkha in Islandmagee.

Alison Kane (left) and Vanessa Postle with David Hume at the launch of No Smoke without Fire