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The Familiar

MoLI Christmas Ghost Story

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.

Recently returned to Ireland after retiring from the navy in 1794, Captain Barton intends to settle into a quiet life of solitude. His plans, however, are interrupted, when one evening he is followed by an unseen villain through the lonely, unbuilt streets of eighteenth-century Dublin. As the ghostly footsteps escalate into something more sinister, it becomes apparent that there is something uncannily familiar about this pursuer. 

Will Barton escape from his stalker, or are his past misdeeds finally coming to haunt him? Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu was an Anglo-Irish Victorian master of mystery and the supernatural, and this tale of suspense – performed by Michael James Ford – projects psychological terror onto the backdrop of Dublin’s city streets.

Edited and abridged by Dr Katie Mishler, Irish Research Council Enterprise Partnership Postdoctoral Fellow, UCD School of English, Drama & Film. Additional research by Professor Gerardine Meaney, Director Centre for Cultural Analytics, UCD School of English, Drama & Film. Produced by Benedict Schlepper-Connolly for RadioMoLI with additional recording by Patrik Åberg. Research for this programme was generously funded by the Irish Research Council Enterprise Partnership Postdoctoral Scheme.

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