Tales of mishap, casualty and bad luck for those coming into contact with a stone in Wexford.

Superstition is alive and well in Wexford. The retired lightship ‘Guillemot’, now a floating maritime museum at the Wexford Quays, is home to a stone which many believe to be unlucky.

Previously stationed at the Arklow sandbank, the ship contains an exhibition of items of nautical interest, acquired by the Wexford Maritime Institute. The museum has quickly become a tourist attraction, but visitors might do well to heed the advice of one retired mariner.

Bob Higginbottom went to sea when he was 16 years old, and served with the Commission of Irish Lights. He maintains that the stone, which an archaeologist claims dates from the 8th or 9th century, is unlucky, and should not be handled,

I wouldn’t touch it; I saw too many incidents happen.

Some unbelieving visitors have touched the stone. And a series of mishaps followed, in the form of accidents, punctured tyres, and one unfortunate man experienced both a flood and a fire in his home over the course of 24 hours.

Not normally superstitious, Bob Higginbottom is uneasy about having the stone on board since all these accidents started to happen. The challenge facing him now is finding someone who is willing to return it to the fairy fort where it allegedly came from,

The lorry driver that brought it in, one of our committee, he brought it in from Kilmore, and he won’t bring it back, but I will compel him to bring it back.

There is even a poem about the stone doing the rounds in Wexford at the moment,

And if you touch this rocky piece, your luck will surely change,
To run amok and come unstuck, like measles, or the mange.

So perhaps this reminder of what happened to others will make prospective visitors keep their hands to themselves,

They laughed all the way to the boat, but some of them are now in hospital.

This episode of ‘Newsbeat’ was broadcast on 3 December 1968. The reporter is Michael Ryan.